- Last Updated: 20 November 2015 20 November 2015
Applying for Social Security Disability
To apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you simply call your Social Security office and state that you are disabled and need to apply. You should ask that an application be sent to you in the mail and should also request a date for a telephone interview. You should fill out the application prior to the telephone interview, so that your answers will be well-considered and clear.
One date of importance is the date you became disabled—that is you stopped being able "to do any work, even part-time sedentary work, on a predictable basis." You may have been out of work for some period of time. Give the earliest date you fit this definition. You will also be asked when you first became ill. Give the date as requested—this may have been many months or years before you became disabled.
When you are interviewed for your application, make sure you communicate just how ill and disabled you normally are. If you have been having a few good days, you may be feeling hopeful and therefore tend to understate the severity of your illness. Most people want to be working and are ambivalent about being "disabled." As a result, they will express themselves to Social Security as if they are less ill than they actually are. Moreover, some patients go into a job interview mode and "put their best face forward."
If you do not communicate to Social Security just how severely and chronically ill you are, then Social Security cannot know—and therefore has no good reason to grant benefits. If truthful, patients should think first of when they are having a bad day or a bad week in order to balance their presentation.
Social Security may have an application online. If possible it's best to fill out paperwork off-line, since then you can take time to consider and answer questions. A formal telephone interview is best, but if you are asked to be interviewed in person, then you must do so, unless you can persuade Social Security otherwise.
Applying for Social Security Disability can be a daunting and sometimes an extended process. Our Social Security Disability booklet Mass CFIDS/ME & FM Disability Handbook: How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits if You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/CFIDS) will arm you with the knowledge and persistence to navigate the process.
There are normally three stages before a claim is approved, although sometimes a person can be approved at stage one or two. The better and more complete your medical documentation, the higher the chances are for a quicker approval.
But you should not give up if you are disapproved at stage 1 or 2. Ninety percent of people who are approved are approved at stage 3. Most people with ME/CFS or FM who are truly disabled are accepted, although there is variation depending on the region of the country you live in.