Applying and receiving Social Security disability is a very long, tiring process. But if you are truly ill enough that you cannot work, you need to push through the process.
One reason the process can be so long is because there are people out there who are really not that sick who are filing claims and that slows down the process for those who truly are. There are people who file claims for disability merely because they are pregnant!
Approximately 85% of initial claims made to the SSA are denied. They deny most of these just because they know a lot of people will give up and not press on. If you continue to fight it, your chances improve.
The next stage will either be the “reconsideration” stage, or an ALJ Hearing (depending on the state you live in). In my state, they have speeded up the process by skipping the reconsideration stage. If you fall in a state that has the reconsideration stage, most claims at this stage are denied as well.
Once you get to the ALJ stage, and it is advisable to retain an attorney at this point, your chances for an approval are 50%. Even though your attorney will get 25% of the backpay you are awarded (up to a certain amount), it is well worth it. At the ALJ hearing they know just what questions to ask you, and the occupational expert, to help your case. They have lots of experience with SSA and they know how to work the system, so to speak.
When finding an attorney, shop around. Make sure you retain an attorney who has experience dealing with clients with your specific illness. My attorney had dealt with lots of cases of CFIDS and FM – so she knew what questions to ask me and how to turn things around in my favor.
Hopefully you will get a judge who is sympathetic and believes in your illness. I was very fortunate. I have read horror stories of others who have had ALJ hearings where the judge was just plain cruel and would turn the situation around to hurt the applicant. In my case, the judge was doing everything necessary to help me. I thank God for that.
But the main thing to remember is – TO NOT GIVE UP! Eventually, if you are truly ill, you will get it!
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