Hi Mary Ann. I filled out the SSA forms myself. It's extremely important that you get medical records from ANY doc you saw while trying to get diagnosed and
all records from your current docs. Make copies for you as well as copies for SSA which should cost about
$100. You will also need letters from your rheumy and PC describing your problems. Documentation regarding everything your work has done to help you be able to work even when ill (such as working from home). It's a huge amount of work.
Luckily I had been collecting records so I didn't need many, but I was very ill when I completed my SSA application and I had to push myself to do this. I had all the documentation collected before I submitted my SSA application. I placed the stack of documents on my rolling walker and went to the closest SSA office two days after I submitted my application. My SSA was approved one month after my submission.
The alternative is to let SSA do all of this, calling you frequently. I worked for the Feds most of my life and I don't think the SSA employees are going to push themselves to get all your information. Most folks are denied and then hire a lawyer who take a percentage of your benefits.
If you have any questions feel free to look up my email and drop me a line. Love, Butterflake