Feeling devastated; Disability retirement denied (NOT SSDI!)

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by teach6, Dec 13, 2002.

  1. teach6

    teach6 New Member

    I got a certified letter from the state retirement system this evening and I have been in tears ever since I opened it. Not only have I been denied, it seems the whole denial was based on the report of the psychiatrist they sent me to see. I saw no mention of reports from my treating doctor, my therapist, the psychologist who tested me for cognitive dysfunction and found that I had major cognitive problems.

    I am in total shock. I have the backing of everyone except, it seems, their doctor who is so out of touch that he actually says in his report that FM "is not in and of itself a disabling difficulty."

    He states I have no cognitive dysfunction, based on asking me a couple of questions like count backward by sevens. Since I had listened to my son do the same stupid test when we were trying to get him hospitalized I was kind of already in practice on that one.

    He says I am depressed, which I'm not sure how he got that out of a thiry minute interview in which he asked me nothing about my emotinal history or how I was feeling at the time. He says I have mild to moderate depression, even though my own therapist dismissed me because I was doing so well and was no longer having any symptoms of depression.

    He says "he felt the reference to chronic fatigue syndrome is part of the depression, with the conclusion that most of my symptoms are secondary to depression."

    Of course I will appeal this. But I have waited since June for a response and they ignored everything my own doctors said and based the whole thing on the report of some forensic psychiatrist (I didn't know I had committed a crime) who knows absolutely nothing about my illnesses. I guess he missed the footstool I took out to keep my knees raised above my hips so the NMH symptoms wouldn't be so bad.

    I feel like mailing the man a ton of literature about CFIDS, NMH and FM so he can enter the 21st century and become informed.

    The worst thing is I really need the retirement, not for the money, but for the health insurance. From day one the local rep assured me this should be no problem at all since I had a whole medical team in my corner. Well, here we go again with a bunch of misinformed people making decisions that affect our entire futures.

    I'm not depressed, but I'm upset and right now I can't stop crying. I've been in tears ever since I opened the envelope.

    Barbara
    [This Message was Edited on 12/14/2002]
  2. teach6

    teach6 New Member

    I got a certified letter from the state retirement system this evening and I have been in tears ever since I opened it. Not only have I been denied, it seems the whole denial was based on the report of the psychiatrist they sent me to see. I saw no mention of reports from my treating doctor, my therapist, the psychologist who tested me for cognitive dysfunction and found that I had major cognitive problems.

    I am in total shock. I have the backing of everyone except, it seems, their doctor who is so out of touch that he actually says in his report that FM "is not in and of itself a disabling difficulty."

    He states I have no cognitive dysfunction, based on asking me a couple of questions like count backward by sevens. Since I had listened to my son do the same stupid test when we were trying to get him hospitalized I was kind of already in practice on that one.

    He says I am depressed, which I'm not sure how he got that out of a thiry minute interview in which he asked me nothing about my emotinal history or how I was feeling at the time. He says I have mild to moderate depression, even though my own therapist dismissed me because I was doing so well and was no longer having any symptoms of depression.

    He says "he felt the reference to chronic fatigue syndrome is part of the depression, with the conclusion that most of my symptoms are secondary to depression."

    Of course I will appeal this. But I have waited since June for a response and they ignored everything my own doctors said and based the whole thing on the report of some forensic psychiatrist (I didn't know I had committed a crime) who knows absolutely nothing about my illnesses. I guess he missed the footstool I took out to keep my knees raised above my hips so the NMH symptoms wouldn't be so bad.

    I feel like mailing the man a ton of literature about CFIDS, NMH and FM so he can enter the 21st century and become informed.

    The worst thing is I really need the retirement, not for the money, but for the health insurance. From day one the local rep assured me this should be no problem at all since I had a whole medical team in my corner. Well, here we go again with a bunch of misinformed people making decisions that affect our entire futures.

    I'm not depressed, but I'm upset and right now I can't stop crying. I've been in tears ever since I opened the envelope.

    Barbara
    [This Message was Edited on 12/14/2002]
  3. Shirl

    Shirl New Member

    I am so sorry you have been denied, that is so unfair. I am not familiar with any of this, but common sense tells me that you have been treated badly.

    I hope you can get an attorney to fight this for you, as you sure need one.
    To say that; 'FM is of and in itself not a disabling difficulty' would be funny if it were not so sad!

    I feel pretty good these days, but believe me, I cannot even mop my kitchen floor all at the same time, unless I want to spend a day in bed. I have to mop half in the morning and the other half in the evening!

    I sure hope you get some help with this soon.

    Shalom, Shirl

  4. fibolady

    fibolady New Member

    through this, and then go through the process again. this dd is just one battle after another. the process they go through to make their decisions are ridiculous, if you ask me. maybe they would like to send someone over to your house for a week, then i am sure they would accept yours in a heartbeat.

    i am just mad right now, mad for you! like jaimy said, you will try again and hopefully this time with another strategy (maybe some legal help would be beneficial, are there groups they can help if you can't afford expensive lawyers?) isn't it funny how their decision is based on the one person THEY sent you to see, sounds funny business to me.

    anyway, just wanted to let you know my thoughts are with you.

    warmest regards, fibolady
  5. missvickielynn

    missvickielynn New Member

    Barbara,

    I feel so strongly the pain you are feeling right now. I completely understand the sense of utter frustration you must feel. It sometimes seems almost "unreal" how insensitive, unfair, and even downright sinister this kind of treatment and mentality is, when it is obvious that the agenda is to deny us, regardless of what the facts are. The sad truth is that we become the victims of hired guns.

    I am in the first stage of SSDI. I will be going for my "consultative exams" next week, which I am going to try to post about seperately later. I have the medical exam on Tuesday, and the Psych exam on Wednesday. I am sure you can imagine how stressed out I am at the prospect of those exams......but I know there is nothing I can do except try to get through them. Just one of the many hoops we must jump through to pursue the help and benefits to which we are entitled.

    I have printed out several articles which I plan to take to both doctors I am seeing next week. I have no illusions that it will make any difference.....they may both throw the articles in the trash, even if they bother to read them. But it will make me feel a little better just having done that much. It helps me to feel a little less powerless.....like at least I am doing SOMETHING in response to the prejudiced attitudes.

    I have been in tears for the last 2 days since I got the notices of the upcoming exams. I would give anything if I had some support here with me while I endure the ordeal of these exams.

    I hope you have some supportive family or friends who will be there for you.....not only right now, but through all you will have to go through with this process in the future.

    I have no advice to give you that has not already been said. But, if I could, I would be there for you, to at least give you a shoulder to cry on. Just know that I, and everyone else who deals with these illnesses, completely understand how dismissed, let down and frustrated you feel.

    Wishing you God's peace and comfort.....

    Vickie
  6. dhcpolwnk

    dhcpolwnk New Member

    I logged on to the group to vent about my own problems today (which I'll do in a separate message), but I noticed your message and can't help responding. Don't let these jerks get away with this! It stinks that when you already have such limited energy resources, these people put you through the wringer simple to get the treatment to which you are ethically and legally entitled. Maybe I missed it, but I wasn't sure just who the doctor who undercut your claim works for. When I applied for SSDI (for MS, not fibro, which I didn't yet know I had), Social Security was about to send me to their doctors for tests, but they sent me a form that my own doctor could fill out and return to them. After my neuro did that, SSA cancelled the appointments with their docs. I think that was good. Since then, I've had a neuro-cognitive test, which showed I have a normal-to-good memory--but the test wasn't done in normal work-typ circumstances, i.e., where you need to remember six things at once while you're doing a seventh and being bombarded to do an eighth! The memory tests were all done in a nice, quiet room with no distractions or interruptions. Under those circumstances, a lot of us can manage, even with some memory deficits. But put us in the real world, and the memory problems become much more apparent!

    Anyway, I never had to tak their neuro-cog tests, and my MRI was pretty conclusive; so that combined with the form my neuro filled out was enough to qualify me for disability on the first try.

    However, it sounds as if you're trying to get approval for early retirement, and if the doc who gave you the "bad report" works for your employer, you certainly should be able to challenge that with reports from independent physicians!

    Anyway, I wish you the best of luck. As you can tell from the other responses to your message, you have a lot of people pulling for you!

    Regards,
    Laura R.M.
  7. teach6

    teach6 New Member

    I really appreciate all your support. The doc they are basing this on is the one the state retirement system sent me to. I saw him for 30 minutes, max and then he gave me a multiphasic personality test to atke home and complete (it had over 500 questions). I guess he decided I was not bipolar from that.

    I don't have a clue how he knows I am more depressed than I was before since I only saw him one and he really didn't ask me for a history of my emotional problems (that I recall, LOL).

    My SSDI attorney had me go to a psychologist of his choosing for cognitive testing. I came out looking pretty messed up on those. I asked him to send a copy of that to the state for this application also. As far as I know he did.

    Here is a copy of a letter my doc sent to the local retirement person to forward to the state:

    This letter is being written on behalf of Barbara _____, with respect to disability claims. Prior to answering the specific questions, let me first preface by communicating what the underlying disabling process represents. CFS/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFIDS/Chronic Fatigue Immunedysfunction Syndrome can be characterized by the "working case definition," as developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and published in the March 1988 Annals of Internal Medicine (Holmes,G.P., Kaplan,J.E., Gantez,N.M., et al) and subsequently modified in the December 15, 1994 Annals of Internal Medicine update, by Fukuda, K, et al. To Meet the CDC case definition, a patient must exclude another cause of chronic fatigue (ie disabling and lasting >6mos) and fulfill at least 4 of 8 "symptom criteria."
    The CDC's symptom criteria include onset of the symptom complex over a few hours or days and the presence of 4 of 8 other symptoms (such as profound or prolonged fatigue, painful lymph nodes, muscle weakness or discomfort, sleep disturbance, joint tenderness and several neuropsychological symptoms such as confusion, forgetfullness, difficulty concentrating to name a few).
    CFS is a real entity that most likely involves abnormalities of multiple systems, including immune, cardiovascular, endocrine and neurologic. This is probably triggered by some stress, often one or more viruses or bacteria, in susceptible individuals. The cause, or causes, have yet to be consistently determined. Unfortunately, there are no clearly identifiable physical or laboratory markers to establish the diagnosis of this syndrome.
    1) The patient's present condition remains disabled, being able to perform minimal activities, that generally cause significant fatigue,associated with difficulty in concentrating. This thus limits cognitive functioning and menial tasks.
    2) Current extent of physical activities are limited particularly because of the consistent nature of this process.
    Activity for a few hours one day, might very well place the patient in a bedridden state for several days following.
    3) Restrictions and limitations are thus quite significant. The patient has limited capacity to lift anything more than just a few pounds, or to to remain standing for any more than just a few minutes.
    4) In my professional opinion, the patient is unfortunately NOT showing any signs of significant recovery. Based on the above information, the transitory nature the patient's ability to perform a strength related task, is limited by the lack of any "reserve" that would allow for any degree of consistent functioning in that capacity. In essence, the qualification on standard disability forms relative to strength, are inapproppriate in this setting.
    If you should have any further questions, I can be reached at the above address.
    Sincerely,
    _____________________

    Associate Clinical Professor
    George Washington University
    Health Care Sciences

    Obviously they only read what they wanted to and threw out any valid criteria for assessing my condition.

    Barbara
  8. allhart

    allhart New Member

    im so so sorry thats what my happened with my denials the based it on there drs not mine! i did send the there dr info on cfs and fm,please dont let them get to you its there job to make us look bad,just keep fighting ss told me to write my congressmen and complain so thats what i did havent heard anything yet but you should write also and also the sentor and govener,right after you you appeal
  9. ihurtallover

    ihurtallover New Member

    I believe your pain is greatly felt amongst us all. I am 37, and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 10 years ago. I believe we all share with you this constant battle of fighting for our rights, especially when this fighting consumes so much of the energy we thrive so hard to maintain each day. Try not to waste to many tears on these people who choose to judge us with their ignorance. Also remember a little bit of constructive anger can give us some of the push we need to fight against this, for every lady like yourself who will eventually succeed you will also succeed for the rest of us and I thank you for this. Please don't cry!
    I will pray for you and hope for the best to come.
    Karol
  10. teach6

    teach6 New Member

    This is disability retirement from the school system, not SSDI. I haven't heard from them yet. With my luck I'll get that one tomorrow!

    Barbara
  11. phenom

    phenom New Member

    it is so shocking that in this day and age there are doctors who still think they know everything after a half hour visit. don't give up! i'm in an appeals process myself for disability support - they said the symptoms of FM were mild and did not hinder the completion of any activities = i can't walk! well i hope you fight this and get what you deserve. good luck.

    phenom
  12. 2BPainfree

    2BPainfree New Member

    My Rheumy Said Almost everyone gets refused the first go around. The second go around she said isn't much better. BUT the third time you hire a good SS lawyer and claims go through 90-100% of the time. i don't know if this is because I also have R-Arthritis or if this is the average for everyone. I have been turned down 2 times because:

    Achhemm....."Given your age (38) your level of education (I'm a RN) and the fact that you CAN stand or sit for a min of 6 hours at a time AND lift a min of 30Lbs I should be retrainable for work" WHAT A FLIPPIN JOKE!!!!
    Wherein the World did they get I could stand or sit and lift that amount of weight????? I have to sit to make my kids lunches half of the time....and daily get reminded I "mixed" up the sandwhiches yet "again"

    My Doctor and lawyer BOTH said those letters mean nothing. They are computer generated and NO ONE really even ever looks at them!!! Can you beleive it!! Like we need that stress, and all it is is a big joke to them.

    My advise: Hire a lawyer and don't stress out over the first two rejections.
    Get all the facts you can and let him handle it ALL. You don't need the agony. The lawyer is used to the system...make sure you get a GOOD one that deals with cases like ours.

    Good luck to us all!! (((Hugs))) to you!

    Susan B.


  13. Bellesmom

    Bellesmom New Member

    Hi:

    I was turned down about a month ago by Soc Sec Disability and my first thought was just give it up as I can begin receiving early Soc Sec the end of Apr (just signed up end of Nov for that). But then I started coming to this board and have really been encouraged to stand up for myself.

    You have given given a lot of heartfelt love, advice and support here. Hope it helps you thru the next step.

    Just don't give up!!!

    Pam
  14. Nancy

    Nancy New Member

    Barbara, we all share in your frustrations and tears about dealing with such ignorant people who make life changing decisions concerning us. It infuriates me when they play games like this! I was wondering if your teachers Union can help you? When I first applied for LTD with my employer's carrier, they denied me before I even got my paperwork to them! I had previously done some research on FMS/CFS court cases and found a ruling regarding "a fair and reasonable review of LTD application". Well, I sat down and wrote the Plan Administrator (they have a big stake in keeping the lawyers away) and stated I had NOT received a fair and reasonable review" and why. I told him/her that I had hoped they would act fairly and I would not need to retain an attorney. I also demanded a copy of the LTD legal plan for my employer. Human Resources had only given us a LTD Summary. Well, I got a reply back that my claim was "reclassified" and was being reviewed again! I also got the LTD legal plan. It was hard to fight when I was feeling abused but it paid off. I was approved 5 weeks later! I also was approved by Social Security for Disability about a month ago. They don't want to give up anything without a fight! I hope this wasn't too long a reply but I'm passionate about "our" LTD rights!
  15. sofy

    sofy New Member

    cant add anything but ditto to all the above. Allow yourself a while to cry and be poor me and then regroup for the attack.
  16. pam_d

    pam_d New Member

    What about the teachers union, Barbara? My teacher friend was also a union rep, the union took up many different causes on behalf of individual teacher situations. Check this out---and please don't give up the fight! We will all be pulling for you, & look forward to the day you let us know of your success. Don't give up!!

    Supportive Hugs,
    Pam
  17. epicurean

    epicurean New Member

    So,so sorry.Don't give up,fight them all the way-you deserve much better!!
    Wish you luck-although I know I can't helpI will keep you in mind and prayers.
    God-bless
  18. lisjhn

    lisjhn New Member

    I am so sorry. I hope you feel better this morning about the whole thing. Although this is a different retirement sort of disability, I cried my eyes out too the whole day after opening the envelope. A denial is a denial, plain hurts that they don't believe us. And the way they word things doesn't help at all either, just adding salt to the wound.

    Well, you know what you're supposed to do when you fall of that horse! Get back up and ride baby!

    ~LISA
    [This Message was Edited on 12/14/2002]
  19. northwoodssue

    northwoodssue New Member

    Barbara:
    I read all the other emails, and right on!!!
    I have another angle to offer. I couldn't get medical insurance due to fms and was turned down twice for it. However, In the state of Minnesota, they have insurance for high rish people and they have to insure you no matter what the reason you were denied insurance!! The insurance agent that turned me down referred me for this insurance, and it was a life saver. It didn't cover much except for hospitalization, but thank heavens for that.
    Maybe your state has a program like that? It's worth looking into with any insurance agency.
    Please hang in there and keep fighting for your disability thru work.
    good luck
    sue
  20. teach6

    teach6 New Member

    You guys are terrific! I hadn't thought of calling my local of the NEA. I'll do that also on Monday. In the past I had tried calling them about STD and felt like they were in cohoots with HR, which was giving me the runaround. Since this is at the state level I may be able to get some action.

    My first call will still be to my SSDI attorney. I'm hoping he'll be willing to add this on to my SSDI stuff, wince it's basically the same process. ALthough I believe that SS is smarter because they at least recognize that FM can be disabling, unlike that stupid shrink I saw.

    I have had good cognitive testing done, with a very favorable report. It was also sent to these wackos. To me it is obvious that they ignored all the evidence from my treatment team and went with their own.

    I'll also be calling my own shrink again. I haven't seen him since March, when he dismissed me becasue he agreed with my therapist that my emotional problems were all secondary to my physical ones. I want to get him involved so he can write an up-to-date report for me.

    My doc has done all the testing. He is very well-informed about CFS/NMH/FM. The first two are my most disabling illnesses. He attends the CFS conferences regularly and has been doing his own research. He teaches at a well known med school. He is very up to date and open to all types of treatment. Whatever works, is OK with him. I use a combo of meds and supplements.

    We have tried numerous meds to improve my fatigue, with no luck. If they work, I have had too many side effects that counter balanced the good. The only thing I haven't tried is Provigil because my insurance company won't pay for it. I've maxed out on my drug coverage so now all approbved rx's are free for the rest of the year. I have recently ordered, but not yet received undenatured whey protein from this site.

    I am feeling more positive today, but am sooo fatigued. I was hoping I would be able to rest and not go out, but my mom reminded me I took two kids from the Angel Tree at church and the gifts are due tomorrow by noon, so I guess I'm going out after all. I think I'll wait till the crowds thin down. That will be less draining for me and will allow me to get some input from my son, the artist, about the art gift for a 13 year old boy.

    Sue, my medical insurance isn't in jeopardy for a while. But I'm paying full price for it. With retirement it is subsidized $100 a month, which will be a big help. I'm currently on leave of absence from my job, so I'm not on COBRA yet. If this is continually denied, which I don't believe will happen, I would have to resign, but then I would have 3 years of COBRA coverage before I needed to worry.

    Thanks again for all your support. I really appreciate it. I needed it.

    Hugs,
    Barbara
    [This Message was Edited on 12/14/2002]