Common Crazy Med Crap Index
< Part 2: Getting Your Medical Records Together | SSDI/SSI Index | Part 4: The Interview & Consultative Examination

1.  Apply Yourself to the Problem

To apply for SSDI/SSI — these are two separate programs — SSDI eligibility is based on your disability and your having earned enough work credits, where as SSI is based on your lack of income and assets as well as your disability. It is possible to get both (although if you get SSDI, your SSI amount will be reduced).

There are three ways to apply for benefits, online, over the phone, or in person. To increase chances of winning your claim, you must apply IN PERSON. Yes, you COULD apply by PHONE OR ONLINE, but you will likely not win your case. I would not trust SSA to take write down all you have to tell them on the phone. The Internet is a pain in the butt to use — and there is not enough space to list information.

The SSA needs to have a telephone number at which you can be reached or left a message — be sure to provide a phone number where you can easily be reached or respond to, and preferably not a cell phone number.

And keep your address updated. Preferably one address you can use all along, even if it is a PO Box that you check frequently. This way you can return forms and respond to requests from the SSA in a timely fashion.

1.1  Waiting Online

Jerod wrote this section.

Back in 2002, when Bryan and I each went through the SSDI process, applying for benefits online was a recent development. I applied online. Yes, I was denied my first time, so are two thirds of people with mental and/or neurological impairments. But with severe agoraphobia and, at the time, the occasional bad stutter, it was the only way I was going to get an application in. As of 2012 SSA wants everyone to apply for SSDI online. While the application process hasn’t changed all that much since 2002, it isn’t as bad as it used to be.

If you’re applying for SSDI, start here. If you don’t know if you should apply for SSDI or SSI, go back to the previous page in this article.

As of right now you can apply for SSI only in person. The SSA page on SSI benefits has the details on making an appointment and doing what you can online to get as much out of the way as possible.

Back to Bryan’s original article…

1.2  Getting Personal

To begin the application process, call toll-free 1–800–772–1213 and mention that you would like to apply for SSDI and SSI and would like to schedule an appointment to apply IN PERSON. Be sure to KEEP YOUR APPOINTMENT. Rescheduling causes more delay, and if you miss your rescheduled appointment you have to wait another 60 days before you can schedule another appointment. Hey, no one said that the process is friendly toward folks with mental illness! When on the phone be prepared to give your name, social security number, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name. Also ask for directions to/location of your local Social Security Office. You can also look this up at the front of your telephone directory.

The SSA should tell you what you need to bring to the appointment. Among the list includes copies of your medical records. Don’t bring these along — unless you have COMPLETE medical records of ALL your medical sources. The SSA only will accept signed copies of medical records that have “certified as a valid copy of the original.” It is strongly recommended that you let the SSA contact your medical sources directly to avoid any confusion. Also, if you currently have health insurance coverage — be sure to have the name and address of the insurer with you.

They will schedule a date and send you a form called Disability Adult Report Form (Form SSA-3368-BK) and a Work History Report Form (Form SSA-3369-BK). YOU WILL NEED TO FULLY COMPLETE THESE FORMS before your interview. BEFORE filling this out, make at least TWO BLANK COPIES of ALL of the pages. Fill this out completely (get someone to help you), including the names and UPDATED addresses of all your medical sources, with the phone numbers, too. That’s right — you even want the correct zip codes. If possible, include the fax number. Look them up or call the facility if necessary. Tell them your exact diagnoses — consistent with what is in your medical records (ask your doctor/psychologist if you do not know).
Note from Jerod - These forms appear to be current, but I can’t compare them with the online application without actually applying. The last revision dates were 2010 and 2011, so they are probably just as out-of-date as ever. If you read them you can see how the only jobs people who become disabled have involve moving and stacking crates. One downside to applying in person is you may have to go twice. Once to apply and again for the interview. That’s not always the case, but it often was up through 2006. The likelihood of having to go into the local SSA office more than once when not applying online or over the phone varies from state to state.

1.3  Phoning it in

Jerod again. Applying over the phone is essentially the same as applying in person, other than not actually having to go to an SSA office. It’s still a good idea to have someone with you and copies of all the forms you’ve sent them along with all the records Bryan wrote about above. There is one advantage to doing it over the phone: if you get your forms back in time the application and interview often happen at the same time. That’s not always the case when you go in person.

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2.  Forms, Forms, and More Forms

When filling out forms use blue or black ink. Handwrite legibly — do not type. MAKE COPIES OF ALL YOUR COMPLETE FORMS — AT LEAST 2 COPIES. SOMETIMES THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (SSA) “LOSES” FORMS.
Note from Jerod - from the experiences of people I know who have applied, paperwork is more likely to be lost at the local offices. Although the feds once sent me the response to the paperwork someone else completed along with my own.

One question is “What are the illness/injuries/conditions that limit your ability to work?” Write down your diagnosed conditions that are consistent with your medical records. List ONLY the conditions that limit your ability to work. Do not include physical conditions unless they limit your ability to work and you have the same type of medical evidence. It is generally NOT a good idea to include migraines/fibromyalgia.
Note from Jerod - Even though fibro is now covered, it’s still considered a vague diagnosis, so if it’s not your primary diagnosis, don’t list it. That applies to everything not in the Blue Book.

If you have epilepsy—you shouldn’t include your epilepsy, though (it just gives them one more excuse to deny your case), UNLESS: you regularly visit a NEUROLOGIST to manage your seizures; you still continue to have the seizures at least twice a month, despite compliance with anti-epileptic medication; and you have recent EEG tests to prove it. You see, getting SSDI/SSI based on epilepsy is very difficult, and if you list epilepsy but don’t have records to prove it, you will almost certainly be denied. Oh, and if you consume alcohol while having epilepsy, you will be denied because you’re not following your doctor’s advice. Oh, and besides, they’ll send you in for medication blood levels to ensure compliance with treatment, and they’ll ask for pharmacy records to monitor compliance (the assumption is that if you’re getting your medications filled regularly, you are taking them). The main point: CONSIDER whether you put seizures as a disabling impairment!
Note from Jerod - my lawyer concurs with these statements on the SSA’s anti-epileptic bias. Basically if you aren’t flopping around most of the time each day you’re just fine, quit complaining and get back to work. No, it doesn’t matter that the anticonvulsants make you too tired to do anything but sleep all day you lazy bum, even if that is something that should qualify you for benefits. However, that was ten years ago. It might be different now.

List how your condition impairs your ability to work (inability to concentrate and meet productivity standards, social interaction, reliability problems, problems thinking clearly, inability to communicate effectively, etc.) List ALL the clinics, psychiatrists, neurologists, psychologists/psychological testing places, hospitals, emergency room visits (if applicable). Need more space? Attach a clearly written, legible sheet(s) of paper, each titled with your name and social security number and “Answer to Question ##, Part XXX, Form SSA-3368-BK — Disability Report Form — Adult.”

“How do your condition(s) limit your ability to work?” To this, you can write “See Attached Page.” Then, you attach a typed page, with your name, SSN and titled “Continuation of Form SSA-3368-BK, Disability Report Form — Adult, Question ## Part XX” and then you can type, up to a page, on your limitations. Include all your symptoms and how they impair work-related activities. Do you have crying spells? How often? How often do you shift moods? What is it like? Does it impair your ability to concentrate? Complete home activities within a schedule? Ability to respond appropriately to others? Social functioning? Do the side effects of your medication affect your ability to live and work? How so? Which medications cause what side effects? Maybe you should have someone type up the report for you, referring to you in the third person, then you sign and date the page. Of course, you will make at least 2 copies for yourself before the interview. You will also STAPLE this and any other sheets to the form.

List name of physicians or clinic, correct phone number, even include a fax number, if possible, updated address and zip code, phone number (include fax number, if possible) and dates of service (if you don’t know the exact dates, write something like “April 2003″ Or “2003-current,” or “2002″ or “Summer 2004″ or “around July 2003″ (examples). Again use additional sheets of paper if needed.

Also the section on Medications: List all medications you currently taking (list them by brand name) and even though the form doesn’t ask for it — list the dosage and frequency taken. If you need more space, again, attach a separate sheet of paper and write legibly. Be sure to explain the side effects, if any — again, use a separate page(s).
Note from Jerod - the SSA has a form for medications. DO NOT use this form with your application. This is only as a guide for how they like things arranged.

Here is a note regarding the part of the form that asks for sources of hospitals/clinics/doctors that you have seen, as well as the “Medications section.” Do not list any non-psychiatric/neurological medications that you are taking. Also, do not list clinics/doctors/hospitals for any non-psychiatric issues. You see, the SSA is not interested in whether you have the flu or what hormone pills you take, for instance (unless those pills are for a condition that prevents you from working).

They will send you a “Work History Report Form” — include all jobs—even 2-day or 2-week “unsuccessful work attempts.” Explain the duration of the job and why you quit working (again, use a separate piece of paper). If fired, why were you fired? Couldn’t meet productivity standards because of your poor concentration? Had a manic episode that interfered with your inability to respond appropriately with your supervisor or co-workers? Yes, even if you have no physical limitations — still include what they ask for. For example, if you were a grocery bagger — you may have walked less than 1/16th of a mile to help a customer unload groceries. How many hours per day did you sit, stand, walk, stoop, etc.? Yes, even though you’re filing for a mental disability, take this seriously. Also, if shift hours varied, you can write a range (e.g. you would spend 4–6 hours walking while on the job). Or for example, you might have carried a 20-lb bag of dog food for 15 seconds before placing it on a cart — whatever you did in that particular job. If you need more space, PHOTOCOPY as many “blank” pages as necessary and fill out the information for ALL jobs—Just write Job #8 and Job #9, etc. on each of the pages. Also, mention how many hours per week you worked at each job (if the hours varied — explain how much they varied — try to give an estimate.

You will also be sent in the mail at least two other forms, but click on the links and start working on them NOW, that way you can meet their 10-day deadline when SSA sends you these forms. Do not treat these forms lightly; they are as vital as medical evidence!

1) Function Report Adult (SSA-3373-BK) How you spend your day.

2) Function Report Adult - Third Party (SSA-3380-BK) How someone who lives with you or knows you well — friends, relatives are fine). The more of these you can get filled out, the better.

For the “Third Party Report Form.” Get someone who knows you well (yes, this could be a family member) to give SPECIFIC EXAMPLES. Do not take this lightly. Try to use the form and not attach additional sheets of paper. AGAIN, at least 2 photocopies of the COMPLETED form.

Then you will get the “Activities of Daily Living Form.” Again, this form is VITAL. Plan on setting aside two days to complete this. Plan to spend HOURS completing this form (not the 30 minutes that the instructions give!) Be honest, give specific examples, and have someone help you with the form. (There’s even a question that asks you this.) There is a question that says “Describe how you spend a typical day.” Write see attached page.” And explain using 1 page max. a broken down day. If you have no typical day, how many good days, fair days, and poor days do you have? And how do they differ? Meal preparation? Be honest. If you make your own meals, say simple meals, like a sandwich or bowl of soup, tell them that. Do you frequently bathe and brush your teeth on your own? Sometimes? Or do you forget/need reminders? When it asks about various activities — if you do them, explain to what extent you do them, to what extent you require assistance and why (e.g. stamina, mood swings, depression). For example, it asks if you take care of any pets. Do you feed them a can of dog food twice a week? Does another person do the grooming, etc.? Be specific and write small yet legibly to include all relevant information! If you cannot do this, have someone else write for you. And don’t attach TOO MANY extra forms to this sheet. Just up to one to two pages should suffice. Send in these forms within the 10-day time limit that they give you (again, have someone help you with all of this). AGAIN, at least TWO photocopies of this completed form (and any attached page).

You’ll also need to get HIPAA authorization for disclosure form and print out one copy of the form for EACH of the sources — doctors, hospitals, clinics — with your signature, date, your address and home phone number and have a witness sign and legibly print their name and address.
Note from Jerod - One more reason why the SSA wants everyone to apply online is to avoid HIPAA paperwork. The online process now has an online HIPAA disclosure to deal with it.

SEND IN THESE SIGNED FORMS along with your Function Report and Third Party Reports. Better yet, put these form in an addressed envelope, with your return address, and take this to a post office and tell them that you would like to send this “certified mail, return receipt requested.” It is well worth the extra expense.

It’s sort of a Catch-22 — if you are able to fill out the forms, go into the office for an interview on time, meet deadline, file an appeal if your claim is denied — then you should be able to work some job in the nation’s economy. We know that this is not necessarily true.

Note from Jerod - Helpful hint: have someone else fill out the forms for you, because you’re too messed up to fill out the forms yourself. This is not meant as a way to scam disability benefits. From my own experience I was too messed up to fill out the forms properly. It’s one of those things you need to accept about being disabled due to a mental or neurological impairment, and/or the side effects of the medication you take to control its symptoms.
At least the current form isn’t as bad as the old Adult Daily Living Questionnaire. That was pretty much designed to describe someone in a nursing home. It wasn’t much more than a longer and somewhat more complete version of what I filled out for people I was looking after when I worked in such a facility, and had no bearing on the reality of someone who is not “physically” (for lack of a better term) disabled and lives at home.

When you apply IN PERSON, take these completed forms and GO WITH SOMEONE (e.g. good, understanding friend or family member). Of course, if you are in the hospital, you could have someone go in for you and mention that because of your condition, you are in the hospital. Bring a birth certificate and state-issued ID card or drivers license. Also, bring the name and address of any health insurance coverage that you have.

Have someone go with you to the sessions (e.g. friend, family member, someone you live with) to help give the doctor/psychologist an understanding of your limitations and how you spend a typical day, and side effects of medication. No matter where you need to go, your life will be a lot easier if someone goes with you. Especially if that person takes notes for the Function Reports.

If you cannot afford a medication or referral for counseling, then be sure to tell that to the doctor and have the doctor note that in his records.

I know that history of hospitalization or suicide attempts would suggest the seriousness of a problem. However, don’t be discouraged from not applying if you don’t have these factors. So would prolonged, detailed records of ongoing mental health treatment.

When applying for SSDI / SSI, you should not be working ANY job, not even part-time. Once you get benefits you might be able to work.
Note from Jerod - Yes, you can work. I don’t know about SSI, but with SSDI if you make $900 a month you’re earning enough to live off of, so you no longer need any benefits.

One has to “prove” to the Social Security that they cannot perform ANY substantially gainful, competitive employment that exists in the nation’s economy. Think of the most simple jobs that exist — sorting socks at a conveyor belt, working as a parking attendant, stuffing dolls, etc. The fact that no job exists in your area is irrelevant — you have to prove that even with medication, your condition renders you incompetent of working.
Note from Jerod - I, and everyone I know who has gone through this process, would have preferred to bag groceries, or a similar menial job, than be forced to live on the dole.

STAPLE any additional sheets of paper to the forms so they do not get lost. Of course, you should have photocopied at least two copies of the COMPLETED form (including additional sheets of paper.

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Common Crazy Med Crap Index
< Part 2: Getting Your Medical Records Together | SSDI/SSI Index | Part 4: The Interview & Consultative Examination

If you have any questions about SSDI/SSI or similar issues, there’s a part of the Crazymeds forum devoted to insurance, drug prices, applying for disability, etc. Medication Costs, Insurance, Disability & Assorted Issues - It Costs How Much? with the topic Q & A On The SSDI Approval Process.

Applying For SSDI/SSI: Part 3 The Application by Jerod Poore and Bryan is copyright © 2004 & 2012 Jerod Poore and Bryan

Last modified on Monday, 18 April, 2016 at 15:53:26 by JerodPoorePage Authors: Bryan, Jerod PooreDate created: 24 October 2004

All drug names are the trademarks of someone else. Look on the appropriate PI sheets or ask Google who the owners are. The way pharmaceutical companies buy each other and swap products like Monopoly™ real estate, the ownership of any trademarks may have changed without my noticing.

Page design and explanatory material by Jerod Poore, copyright © 2003 - 2016. All rights reserved.
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Almost all of the material on this site is by Jerod Poore and is copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Jerod Poore. Except, of course, the PI sheets - those are the property of the drug companies who developed the drugs the sheets are about - and any documents that are written by other people which may be posted to this site will remain the property of the original authors. You cannot reproduce this page or any other material on this site outside of the boundaries of fair use copying without the express permission of the copyright holder. That’s usually me, so just ask first. That means if want to print out a few pages to take to your doctor, therapist, counselor, support group, non-understanding family members or something like that - then that’s OK to just do. Go for it! Please. As long as you include this copyright notice and something along the lines of following disclaimer, I’m usually cool with it.

All rights reserved. No warranty is expressed or implied in this information. Consult one or more doctors and/or pharmacists before taking, or changing how you take any neurological and/or psychiatric medication. Your mileage may vary. What happened to us won’t necessarily happen to you. If you still have questions about a medication or condition that were not answered on any of the pages you read, please ask them on Crazy Talk: the Crazymeds Forum.
The information on Crazymeds pertains to and is intended for adults. While some information about children and adolescents is occasionally presented (e.g. US FDA approvals), pediatric-specific data such as dosages, side effects, off-label applications, etc. are rarely included in the articles on drugs or discussed on the forum. If you are looking for information regarding meds for children you’ll have to go somewhere else. Plus we are big pottymouths and talk about S-E-X a lot.
Know your sources!
Nobody on this site is a doctor, a therapist, or a pharmacist. We don’t portray them either here or on TV. Only doctors can diagnose and treat an illness. While it’s not as bad as it used to be, some doctors still get pissed off by patients who know too much about medications, so tread lightly when and where appropriate. Diagnosing yourself from a website is like defending yourself in court, you suddenly have a fool for a doctor. Don’t be a cyberchondriac, thinking you have every disease you see a website about, or that you’ll get every side effect from every medication1. Self-prescribing is as dangerous as buying meds from fraudulent online pharmacies that promise you medications without prescriptions.
All information on this site has been obtained from the medications’ product information / summary of product characteristic (PI/SPC) sheets and/or medication guides - which is all you get from sites like WebMD, RxList, NAMBLA NAMI, etc., the sources that are referenced throughout the site, our personal experience and the experiences family, friends, and what people have reported on various reputable sites all over teh intergoogles. As such the information presented here is not intended as a substitute for real medical advice from your real doctor, just a compliment to it. You should never, ever, replace what a real doctor tells you with something from a website on the Internet. The farthest you should ever take it is getting a second opinion from another real doctor. Educate yourself - always read the PI/SPC sheet or medication guide/patient information leaflet (PIL) that comes with your medications and never ever throw them away. OK, you can throw away duplicate copies, but keep at least one, as that’s your proof of purchase of having taken a med in case a doctor doubts your medical history. Plus they take up less space than a bottle, although keeping one inside of a pill bottle is even better.
Crazymeds is not responsible for the content of sites we provide links to. We like them, or they’re paid advertisements, or they’re something else we think you should read to help you make an informed decision about a particular med. Sometimes they’re more than one of those things. But what’s on those sites is their business, not ours.
Very little information about visitors to this site is collected or saved. From time to time I look at search terms used and which pages they bring up in an effort to make the information I present more relevant. And the country of origin, just because I’m geeky like that. That’s about it. Depending on how you feel about Schrodinger, our privacy policy should either assuage or exacerbate your paranoia.
Crazymeds is optimized for ridiculously large screens and browsers that don’t block ads. I use Firefox and Chrome, running under Windows 72. On a computer that sits on top of my desk. With a 23 inch monitor. Hey, at least you can make the text larger or smaller by clicking on the + or - buttons in the upper right hand corner. If you have Java enabled. Like 99% of the websites on the planet, Crazymeds is hosted on domain running an open source operating system with a variety of open source applications, including the software used to display what you’ve been reading. As such Crazymeds is not responsible for whatever weird shit your browser does or does not do when you read this site3.
Crazymeds now uses a secure server, but it is not so secure that you can discuss anything having to do with nuclear power facilities, air traffic control systems, aircraft navigation systems, weapons control systems, or any other system requiring failsafe operation whose failure could lead to injury, death or environmental damage. Just so you know. So if you’re mentally interesting and have a job that deals with that sort of thing, talk about said job elsewhere. Otherwise feel free to discuss your meds and brain cooties.
No neurologists, psychiatrists, therapists or pharmacists were harmed in the production of this website. Use only as directed. Void where prohibited. Contains nuts. Certain restrictions may apply. All data are subject to availability. Not available on all mobile devices, in the 12 Galaxies Guiltied to a Zegnatronic Rocket Society, or in all dimensions of reality. Hail Xenu!

‘Everything is true, nothing is permitted.’ - Jerod Poore

1 While there are plenty of books to help you with hypochondria, for some reason there’s not much in the way of websites. Then again, staying off of the Internet is a large part of curing/managing the disorder.

2 Remember kids, Microsloth operating systems are like TOS Star Trek movies with in that every other one sucks way, way more. With TOS Star Trek movies you don’t want to bother watching the odd-numbered ones. With Microsloth OS you don’t want to buy and install the even-numbered ones. Anyone who remembers ME and Vista knows what I mean.

3 Have I mentioned how open source operating systems for commercial applications is one of the dumbest ideas in the history of dumb ideas?* I don’t even need my big-ass rant any more. Heartbleed has made my case for me. And that’s just the one that got all the media attention. The very nature of an open source operating system makes security as much of an illusion as anonymity on teh Intergoogles. Before you flip out too much: the domain Crazymeds is hosted on uses a version of SSL that is not affected by the Heartbleed bug. That’s one of the many reasons why I pay a lot of money and keep this site on Lunarpages.

* Yes, I know I’m using open source browsers. I also test the site using the now-defunct IE and Safari browsers. Their popularity - and superiority - killed IE and Safari, so that’s why I rely on the open source browsers. It’s like brand vs. generic meds. Sometimes the generic is better than the brand.

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