Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I returned home from vacation to find a response from the Social Security Administration in my mail.

The good news is that they have determined I am not disabled and can still work full-time as a management consultant - hey, isn't that great?  I wish I knew that years ago... think of all the income I could have been earning!

Specifically, they said:

We have determined that your condition was not disabling on any date...

While your conditions caused you to experience occasional bouts of extreme fatigue, the evidence shows your energy level was adequate for your daily activities.  Based on your description of the job you performed as a consultant, we have concluded that you have the ability to perform this same type of work as it is usually performed in the national economy.

Even though I expected to be rejected, this wording still feels like a slap in the face.  My state, Delaware, has one of the lowest approval rates in the U.S. (I think we're fourth worst with only a 37% approval rate in the first step).

I talked to my lawyer today, and they said it's no big deal, to be expected, and they will file the appeal for me.  I kept asking in-depth questions about what else I could send in to prove I'm disabled, but my contact just laughed and told me I'm reading way too much into what is likely a form rejection letter.  She said this is all normal procedure, they'll take care of it and will let me now if they need anything else.

So, more waiting now.


  1. I understand the slap in the face. I got rejected round one and I was told it was 90% rejection.

    Still, it was so humiliating in the first place to admit I was too sick to work and then apply, that the first....and second..and third letters led to much self doubt.

    I think it's just part of the process, though.

  2. Best of luck to you! I hope everything turns out ok!

  3. I was so angry when I got my rejection letter from LTD. Yes, it felt like they were calling me a liar. And yes it is standard procedure for them.

    With regards to what you can do I just wrote a very long blog article on what I did to win both SSD and LTD. I think with SSD the biggest thing was putting together a resume, specialized training list, a how CFS affects my ability to work list and a daily symptom log that I kept for several months. With SSD if you don't have sufficient medical evidence a symptom diary and letters from friends and relatives can be used to prove your case.

    Don't worry as horrible as teh rejection letter feels they are very common. I used my rejection letter to guide what I needed to include in my appeal and I added tons of stuff that wasn't submitted in the original filing.


    Hang in there. It can be done!!

  4. I don't know if this will help, Sue but I got through the first time and years later when I had to go before a judge for permanent disability I sailed through.

    I focused on the neurological complications and the inability to multi-task AND I took in friends, teachers, etc (you could submit letters) who separately supported and clarified what I was saying.

    The judge told me that was what sold him that I could no longer work.

    With the original application, like I said, I focused on what I could no longer do more then on what I could do. And I specifically focused on the neurological issues.

    Anyway, I don't know if that will help you or not but I thought I'd share it with you.

    I agree with upnorth that this seems to be part of the 'process' if you will.

  5. Thanks for all the tips!
    My lawyer said I don't need to add anything new (I had already included a 7-page narrative explaining how CFS affects me), but perhaps I will add something.

    Dominique -
    I don't really have much in the way of neurological symptoms, unless I am severely crashed. Only very mild things like word-finding.

    Thanks, everyone!


  6. Oh, and I also included years' worth of daily symptom logs with daily ratings of how I felt overall (on a 1 to 5 scale) - graphed! and going back the entire 9 years I have been sick.

    I asked the lawyer about letters from other people, and she said SS will ask us for those later.


  7. I'm sorry, Sue. It sounds like your lawyer is on top of it though and that you'll ultimately succeed.

    But I reading that letter must have just felt awful. I hope the sting has worn off.

  8. I was rejected too and then I applied thru my work and got rejected again. They said that I had not tried all therapies. Luckily, I got a lawyer and appealed and was accepted thru the OPM system in which I worked for many years. Dont give up!!! Keep pressing thru.

    I understand the sting of being rejected. It like we have not done enough to make ourselves better or that we are lying or something. Don't give up!!!

  9. Oh Sue,
    I'm so sorry! I was honestly blessed as mine went thru the first time (unheard of according to a friend who works in the system).

    My husband has had a much harder time. He suffers from heart disease, bi-polar depression, and artheritis. He had to get an advocate and it finally went thru.

    Hang in there! I agree with the others tho---I focused on what I could NO longer do and the list was frightening. I hated to see my losses in black and white!


  10. Wow what a process - sounds very unfair.

    here is a podcast link that was on our NZ radio - thought you might be interested in listening to it.


    Love Leanne

  11. I first filed in 2008 & was finally approved earlier this year. In fact I am still waiting on my back pay.

    I know it is an exhausting & long process. Don't give up though.

    I had a social worker tell me that on average, after three denials one will typically get approved. My case ended up in front of a judge after three denials, but thankfully I got a judge who could see the pain (physical & emotional) I was in.

  12. Anonymous10:29 PM

    Here comes another punch!... I do not want you to put that label of disabled on yourself so I am relieved and grateful for this news! You know me well enough to know where I am coming from without feeling insulted or offended... I trust!


  13. Good grief! This all sounds horribly familiar. Don't they realise the appeals process costs everybody, in time, money and health. I'm furious on your behalf. Having just been through this nightmare myself I have no advice except try not to take it personally. Take care xx

  14. Sad. Still a big slap in the face to the person on the receiving end, right? Thank goodness your lawyer has experience and knows the ropes of the system.

    We experienced the same with insurance when Jessie was first sick.

    Sit tight and enjoy the rest of your summer!

    P.S. My PT is for tendonosis in my forearm - something about working too much. Hmm...wonder if I can get assistance. lol.

  15. @ Lori - Sorry to hear about your arm! Sounds painful. I hope it heals quickly!

    @ Jo - Thanks - I know you have just been through this yourself (only worse!).

    @ Judy - Yes, of course I understand where you are coming from! I don't want to be labeled disabled either, but the medical bills are getting higher every year (doubled last year), while freelance writing gets tighter and tighter in this economy. The money sure would help to offset the medical bills.


  16. It is to be expected. The system is very faulty, and you usually have to keep telling them that you are disabled. I know it's frustrating isn't it.

  17. Thanks for the link, Leanne!

  18. Just hang in there and do not give up and copy everything you send them to refer back to when they ask the same question 5 times in a different way. I had two denials before getting mine. I do not know anyone who was given a favorable decision the first and only a few on the second appeal....this is in Missouri..