Hi, Deb. I live in California. I applied for SSDI in early 06/2009, after it was clear that I wasn't going to make it back to work. I applied online and then had some documents taken down to the local SSA office to complete my file (e.g. my birth certificate, my last pay stub). The SSA representative was extremely nice and helpful. I was very meticulous with respect to filling out the application (I estimate that it took me almost two full days to complete the online forms and proofread the information before submitting everything to SSA). I only followed up with the Disability Determination Services representative twice: once to submit the "Daily Activities Questionnaire" form and another time to confirm that all of my medical records were received (they were, but it took about a month and a half for all of the records to trickle in). Last week, I received a phone call from the SSA local office. I was approved. Just like that. In less than three months.
I was very surprised that my approval was granted so fast. I'm in my early 30s, and I have a college degree. Based on all of the negative posts that I've read on various message boards, I was extremely apprehensive about being denied at the initial application stage. If you believe half of what you read on these forums, you would think that a denial is a foregone conclusion. When I found out that I was approved, I wasn't ecstatic; rather, I just felt a tremendous sense of relief.
My disability is related to my right knee. I had a failed total knee replacement last year, and the metal implant was removed in January 2009. There was a very nasty staph infection involved, and the long-term result is that I have a cement spacer instead of a right knee (I had two separate staph infections in the knee as a child, so the joint was in awful shape to begin with). My right knee doesn't bear any weight, and I can only move around using two crutches. My right leg is stuck in a fixed extended position (similar to a fusion, but not nearly as stable). If it should happen to get infected again (there's no reason to believe that it will), or if I experience any further structural problems with the spacer, the leg will be amputated above the knee. Needless to say, my right leg hurts whenever I move it (I keep it wrapped up tight in an immobilizer most of the time).
I applied for and was approved for SSDI solely on the basis of my knee problem. Everything that's wrong with my knee is congruent with the language in Listing 1.02 in the SSA Listing of Impairments. I have no mental problems and no other debilitating physical issues besides the knee (believe me, the knee is enough -- ever try to get in and out of the shower on one leg?
Deb, I hope everything works out well for you in your dealings with the SSA. I am certainly no expert on the SSDI application process (actually, I knew next to nothing about the disability system before I had to have my knee removed). However, if you have any questions about my experience, feel free to ask. Good luck to you!