Tips On Winning Your Disability Claim

ProHealth has a great article by attorney, Jonathan Ginsberg, on how to win your disability claim for ME/CFS & Fibromyalgia and what to expect at your Social Security hearing. Ginsberg specializes in Social Security disability cases for CFS & Fibromyalgia patients. Jonathan also runs the Social Security Disability Resource Website.  Here are a few tips from Jonathan Ginsberg’s article, Tips for Winning a Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Disability Case…and…What actually happens at a Social Security Disability Hearing?

The key to winning your Social Security disability claim is that you have to be able to prove that you can’t work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  The one misconception about SSDI is that many people believe that you can’t work at all.  That’s not the case.  Jonathan says:

Your underlying medical condition FM, CFS, or any other medical problem, is only important to the Social Security Judge if your symptoms limit you from performing a job 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. In most cases, the judge’s decision really boils down to his/her decision about whether you could hold down a simple, sit-down type of job that requires no training; that allows you to sit, stand, and adjust your position; and that is not production oriented.

When I had my hearing, there was a vocational expert that who told the judge that with my health problems I would be unable to work a full-time job and that “no employer would keep me” with my problems. The purpose of the vocational expert is to also tell the judge whether there are any jobs at all that someone with your health condition can do.

Detailed medical records that suggest the patient’s work limitations are important. Jonathan says he will “review all of the medical records, then create a functional capacity checklist that includes both the limitations associated with your particular case and the impairment categories used in Social Security cases.” When the attorney contacts your physician for medical records, the doctor cannot say that you are “disabled”. Their job is to list how your medical conditions affect work limitations.

When talking about your symptoms to the judge, you need to give specific details. Just saying that you “hurt all over” isn’t specific enough. I looked at it as though I were explaining the illness to someone as if they had never heard of CFS or Fibromyalgia. One mistake that is often made is that the patient can overlook some symptoms because we deal with them every day and to us it is just a normal part of life. You want the judge to know about every symptom.

Jonathan recommends his clients do the following:

One technique I recommend to my clients is to obtain a calendar and keep diary notes about how you feel and what symptoms you experience each day. Make lists. Ask for your spouse’s or children’s observations. It has been my experience that judges may not want to grant your case based on overall body pain, but may feel more comfortable focusing on your digestive or balance problems. Make the judge’s (and your lawyer’s) job easy!

I did this when I was working on my disability case. I kept a journal and my lawyer was thrilled to receive such detailed information about my daily life.  

There are still judges out there who do not believe that illnesses like CFS & Fibromyalgia exist.  I was fortunate and had a very compassionate judge.  To read more about what all is involved during a Social Security disability hearing, click the source link below and scroll down to the bottom half of the article.

To see what a fully favorable decision looks like, you can view the judge’s remarks HERE.


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  1. It’s really essential to have a vocational expert at your hearing. The one at mine managed to tip the balance and I got my disability claim which was a massive weight lifted from my shoulders.

  2. My brother got into a pretty scary accident last week, and I think he was pretty seriously injured. I’ll have to see if we can find a lawyer to help with his disability claim. I just hope that we’ll be able to figure out all of this mess.

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