by Diane H.
Social Security Disability can drive you crazy even if youíre already there! I want to try to post tips, tricks, and answers to those people who are battling for their rights to benefits. There is so much info it would be impossible to list everything at once so I will do my best to post it in sections. There may be things your past or that you already know but donít get discouraged you never know what might help and when. First thing that you need to remember when dealing with the benefits process is that SOCIAL SECURITY REPS WILL LIE TO YOU. It is not their faults and many are not interracially or maliciously trying to mislead you. New laws, policies, and information is released almost hourly to these people. Not even the greatest minds of our time could be expected to keep up! Donít let that scare you! Just because they canít do their job does not mean that you canít use their loopholes. Note that there are 2 documents when dealing with Social Security that can literally make or break your case. This will be your original application (usually a green or blue) and the follow up application(s) you will be asked to fill out. It is a misconception that cases can be decided favorably 1st time out by anything your doctor does or does not say. That factors in later if an appeal is necessary. My hope is to help you get your case won 1st time out if I can, and if you are already past this point donít fret! I have some helpful info for you too that I will share as we go. Before the first pen stroke swipes that application, sit down with a pen and paper and start a list. Write down everything, EVERYTHING, that is or could be wrong with you. This is especially true in mental health cases because of the wide interpretations in the world of medical science. Research conditions online or at the library to find out if they apply. Take online mental health tests (which are admissible in your case eval, however not given a large amount of credence) and look up symptoms and diagnosis of conditions using a site like Yahoo Health. The trick here is that if you write it down they have the option of approving you for it, but if you donít they can, and most likely will, ignore it if they want to. Now take your list and visit the SSA.gov site. Look at their list of disabling conditions. Find their names and descriptions for things because this will be important to write on your application. You must LEARN THEIR LANGUAGE to present a strong and worthwhile case. People who apply through a lawyer know that this is what you pay them to do. You can do it yourself though, and save a lot of cash, but do understand that in many cases applying for disability benefits can feel like a FULL TIME JOB.
Example: My Explanation: I have a back problem, which causes a severe pain in my spine making it impossible for me to move. SSAís Explanation of My Back Problem: 1.04 Disorders of the spine (e.g., herniated nucleus pulposus, spinal arachnoiditis, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, facet arthritis, vertebral fracture), resulting in compromise of a nerve root (including the cauda equina) or the spinal cord. With: A. Evidence of nerve root compression characterized by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle weakness or muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back, positive straight-leg raising test (sitting and supine); OR B. Spinal arachnoiditis, confirmed by an operative note or pathology report of tissue biopsy, or by appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by severe burning or painful dysesthesia, resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every 2 hours; OR C. Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication, established by findings on appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and weakness, and resulting in inability to ambulate effectively, as defined in 1.00B2b. My NEW Explanation: I have degenerative disc disease causing a limitation of movement in my spine, muscle weakening, and sensory/reflex loss. I suffer excruciatingly painful dysesthesia constantly making it impossible to stay seated or standing in the same place for more then 10 minutes at a time. FREQUENCY, SEVERITY, & DURATION are the three most important words to remember when filing out anything! I cannot stress this enough. Knowing this lets rewrite he explanation one more time before putting it to our application. FINAL EXPLINATION: My disabilities are degenerative disc disease, spinal damage, muscle weakness, sensory/reflex loss, sleeping disorder, dysesthesia, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder. These disorders/diseases cause me EXCRUSIATING PAIN and an INABILITY TO FUNCTION on a DAILY if not MINUTE-TO-MINUTE basis. PAIN NEVER GOES AWAY and is MORE FREQUENT and SEVERE during morning hours and damp weather. Because I CANNOT FUNCTION NORMALLY I have been UNABLE TO SLEEP or EAT NORMALLY. I have a CONSTANT FELLING OF FEAR and of BEING OVERWHELMED due to being unable to care for myself. It is obvious to those who know me, treat me, and to myself that I have an INABILITY TO ENGAGE IN ANY SUBSTANTIAL GAINFUL ACTIVITY because of my disabilities/disorders. This has continued for years and WILL NOT get better regardless of therapy or medication. Now remember that this is an EXAMPLE ONLY. You know what you need help because of and will do best to use your own interpretations of the SSAís listings. This will also prepare you for a court appearance if one is needed later.
Another term you need to remember is: INABILITY TO ENGAGE IN ANY SUBSTANTIAL GAINFUL ACTIVITY/EMPLOYMENT. Try to fit this into your answers as much and as often as possible. SSA Definition of Disability: Definition of Disability (Adult) For all individuals applying for disability benefits under title II, and for adults applying under title XVI, the definition of disability is the same. The law defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. Disability in Children Under title XVI, a child under age 18 will be considered disabled if he or she has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments that causes marked and severe functional limitations, and that can be expected to cause death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.
"The Administrative Law Judge finds that the claimant does not have the residual functional capacity to perform sustained work activity at any exertional level. The claimant has a history of fibromyalgia with little relief form medication and treatment. Additionally, the claimant suffers from chronic fistula, which have required surgery. Further, the claimant has also been diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder with a very low Global Assessment Functioning of 35." That Global Assessment Functioning of 35 falls in the 31-40 range which means: Some impairment in reality testing OR impairment in speech and communication OR serious impairment in several of the following: occupational or school functioning, interpersonal relationships, judgment, thinking, or mood. Having a Global Assessment Functioning Exam done by a Psychiatrist is very important to proving that your can't function in a work environment. Dirty F
(* Note:The GAF scoring is accessed everytime you see you Psychariatrist)
Diane H: Yes, a GAF score can be imperative. Your eligibility worker will tell you it is not a big deal but it can make or break a case. It is important to understand how one comes to the decision determining what a GAF score might be. You can learn a lot about the process at this site: eSW Global Assessment of Functioning Scale
Peace be upon you
Applying For Benefits - Tips & Tricks 01 - Benefit & Resource Assistance For Those In Need! - Care2.com
*Note: I asked my Psychiatrist for a GAF and he told me he does a GAF everytime I see him.