FM/CFS/ME RESOURCES - Applying For U.S. Disability


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Applying online for disability benefits offers several advantages:

  • You can start your disability claim immediately - no need to wait for an appointment
  • You can apply from the convenience of your own home or on any computer
  • You can avoid trips to a Social Security office, saving you time and money

Follow these 4 easy steps to apply online:

  1. Review the Adult Disability Checklist for details about what you will need before starting the online process.

  2. Fill out the online Disability Benefit Application to provide the Social Security Administration with information regarding eligibility for payment.

  3. Fill out the online Adult Disability Report to provide the Social Security Administration with medical and work history.

  4. Fill out, sign and mail or take the Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration Get Adobe Reader to your local Social Security Office.

Arrow   Apply For Disability Benefits

Arrow   Check Application Status

Arrow   Appeal Recent Medical Decision on Claim


The first step, once you decide you are going to apply for Social Security Disability, is to obtain and review the Adult Disability Starter Kit. The kit contains a:

  • Factsheet - The factsheet includes the definition of disability and answers questions about applying for disability benefits.

  • Checklist - This is a checklist of information and documents to have ready for your disability interview or when you complete the online Disability Report.

  • Worksheet - The worksheet can help you prepare for your disability interview or complete the Adult Disability Report on the Internet. It lists information that Social Security will ask you and provides space to write down this information.

An interesting fact - studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 3-in-10 chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age.

Step #1: Be Diagnosed by a Specialist

A huge number of claims for Social Security Insurance Disability (SSD) are denied, and because fibromyalgia (FM) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME/) are not well understood, your case may be especially difficult to prove.

You may be eligible for benefits if you have an adequate work history, can not work for an extended period of time and have an illness or injury that is unlikely to improve within the next six months. If you haven't worked long enough to be eligible, you may still qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

If you are eligible for SSD, the steps ahead will help you avoid common pitfalls and strengthen your case.

First, you should have your diagnosis either made or confirmed by a Rheumatologist or Orthopedist. This is because the diagnoses have so often been made incorrectly that case examiners give more credence to those made by specialists than those that come from an Internist, general practitioner or mental-health professional. It also will strengthen your claim if you have another, better-understood condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or degenerative disc disease along with FM or CFS/ME.

Step #2: Get Your Medical Records

You'll need to get a copy of your medical records, as well as multiple other records, to submit your claim anyway, but it's a good idea to get them as soon as you start considering a claim. More than one person has been surprised to find that their records do not actually say they have FM or CFS/ME. If that's the case, you'll need to speak to your doctor and have the diagnosis added to your records.

Step #3: Submit Your Application

You have several options for filing your application. It can be done online, by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or by visiting your local Social Security Office.

Be certain you have all forms completed and have included all necessary records or your claim will be delayed.

Step #4: Denied? Don't Give Up!

If your claim is denied, you have the right to file a Request for Reconsideration. That will lead to a complete review of your case by someone who was not involved in the original decision. You also can submit new evidence at this time.

Step #5: Still Denied? Request a Hearing

If your claim is still denied after reconsideration, you can ask for a hearing, which will be heard by an administrative law judge. This is the point at which you may want to get an attorney who specializes in disability claims. You and your attorney can then plead your case in person and the judge can call witnesses. You'll also be able to look at your file and present new evidence. To find an attorney who specializes in disability claims click here.

Important: You could have to wait several months or even a couple of years until your hearing, depending on where you live.

Tip #6: You Can Still Appeal

If you're not successful after the hearing, you can ask for review by Social Security's Appeals Council. The council can either refuse or grant your request.

Step #7: Last-Ditch Effort

If it refuses your request or finds against your claim, you can file a lawsuit in federal district court. This is your final chance to prove your claim, unless you want to start the entire process over again.

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