I won my Social Security Disability hearing

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by ChristineInPA, Jul 23, 2006.

  1. ChristineInPA

    ChristineInPA New Member

    If anyone is going through this, or is ready to go through this, here are some things I found useful:

    Cut back on your spending as much as possible, as the whole process could take 2 years. Find ways to save in every area, as you might not see any payment for quite some time.

    Make sure you see all the doctors on a regular basis. If they suggest tests, have them done. I don't remember how many specialists I saw, and I think I had every test there is (including CAT SCRATCH FEVER and a SPINAL TAP).

    Make sure you get a copy of the notes from each visit and review them for misinterpretations. The notes need to list your specific ailments and the effect on your day-to-day life.

    If you have a dr that thinks it's all in your head, bring him/her printouts from this site. My GP was a bit skeptical 3 years ago. He's a believer now. If your dr does not come around, switch to a new one. Your doctor's opinion will win or lose your case.

    If you have depression, or any other psychological problems, see a therapist and make sure her/his notes are well documented.

    When I first applied, I called an attorney for advice. He was very straight-forward and told me that I would probably get rejected on first try and to call him when I got that rejection letter. They did turn me down, and I called him.

    It took awhile (a year at least), but I finally had my hearing last month. The judge approved me in 3 days. I just got my award information packet last week. Technically, the State can appeal, but my attorney doubts it, since I have my award info and a date for my 1st check.

    So, the key is thorough and specific documentation from as many sources as possible. Also, I would suggest you keep a health diary and write in it several times every day.

    For example: 07/20/06 9:00 am: tried to shower but was too dizzy. 12:00: severe pain in hands when attempting to wash dishes.

    And get an attorney for the refile process. Most work without payment up front, but will get a chunk of the award. Keep copies of everything.

    My attorney was Thomas Cook of Cook & Niven and I would not trade him for the world.

    I wish the best of luck to anyone who will go through this or is going through it now. It is a very frustrating process and I'm not sure how I made it through without losing all my marbles.

    But, the main this is to NOT GIVE UP. You deserve the benefits.

    I hope this might help someone. If you have any questions, please ask, and I'll be glad to answer what I can.
    [This Message was Edited on 08/12/2006]
  2. 69mach1

    69mach1 New Member

    you will be fine and you will get your check.

    jodie
  3. lovethesun

    lovethesun New Member

    I got mine on my first try so they are really coming around
  4. jjdg

    jjdg New Member

    I'm so happy for u,i have started the process online have to finish it,i was turned down in 2001 and never tried i just thought thge hell with it,sorry i did that,spend the money wisely. I'm a Pa. girl too! Bucks County and Potter County
    janet
  5. ckball

    ckball New Member

    I hate to hear it took so long, but it does happen.

    Now you can relax a bit and really take care of yourself, you deserve it.

    You have a lot of great advice. I did the same thing, except I didn't use a lawyer, got it on the 2nd request.

    Document, document. The pain dairy is a very good. Because by the time we get to the Dr we have forgot half of our symptoms. They rush you in and out, with the diary you have details and that is what they want. Silly as it may be, I guess that is how thry are trained

    Great stuff- enjoy-Carla
  6. ChristineInPA

    ChristineInPA New Member

    Of course it is a personal decision, but everything I read says to have an lawyer rep you at the hearing and I couldn't agree more.

    CFS and Fibro do not fit under any of the catagories of SS's definition of "disabled", so we are not easily classified. It sometimes takes some wiggling to get the judge to approve a condition that's not part of the "official" list.

    Also, my lawyer took care of getting all the stuff from my doctors, submitted it, and kept everything organized. That alone is worth it, if you have brain fog, exhaustion, etc.

    Also, he's been doing this for 20 years and knew the judge, so he knew what to expect from the "inquisition". The judge tried to trick me twice, so you really need to be on your toes.

    Like I said, if you are at the point where you were denied once and need to file an appeal, I really would look into getting an attorney.

    Mine wouldn't get paid a penny if I had lost, and his payment is coming right out of my back reward.

    Congrats to those that won and best wishes to those who are going through this process. DON'T GIVE UP!

    Hugs,
    Christine

    Link that helped me:
    http://www.immunesupport.com/library/showarticle.cfm/id/3900

    http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/tip4.html

    http://www.immunesupport.com/disability/faq.cfm

    http://www.immunesupport.com/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-symptoms.htm


    Make sure you address each and every symptom you have and use them in your journal. Like
    "I dropped a glass trying to pour OJ because of the pain in my hands" Or "I can't remember if I took my meds. My brain is really foggy this morning". Don't get all fancy and type it on the computer. If you can do that, you can do data entry at a job. Don't worry about the spelling or how it looks.

    Remember, YOU ARE SICK. Make sure that's obvious and don't try to play it down.

    I hope this helps someone. If you have any questions, just post for me, OK?[This Message was Edited on 07/24/2006]
    [This Message was Edited on 08/13/2006]
  7. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Glad to hear the good news.
  8. ChristineInPA

    ChristineInPA New Member

    Sorry that I haven't checked in and JUST got the email notices that there were replies on here. Took 2 days for the notices to show in my email.

    TWINELS: Cook and Niven would not have taken your case if they didn't think you could win. Don't worry about your record-keeping in the past. As long as you have been seeing a doctor, his/her notes and the forms the Dr. will fill out will be what really matters. I'm glad you started a journal. Put everything in there, like "tried to open bottle of soda, but hands hurt too much to unscrew lid". Also, make a list of the things you loved to do before you got sick and why you cannot do them anymore. For example, I used to ride horses, and certainly cannot do that now, due to dizziness, headaches, pain, and fatigue. Ask the lawyer all the questions you want. Nothing is a stupid question, and they will be paid enough, trust me. I wish you the best of luck.

    LAMOTTA77: When I got there, I met my lawyer and waited for the prior session to end. I would suggest getting there about 30 minutes early, as your file will be there to review. I strongly recommend that you look through it, as there was an error in mine. Someone along the way at SS stated I had a substance abuse problem, which was TOTALLY NOT TRUE, so my lawyer had to get that stricken from the records. Could be that someone checked a wrong box somewhere at SS when reading my Dr.'s notes. A tiny mistake like that can cause a HUGE problem, obviously. When it was time, we went into a small conference room. There was the Judge, my lawyer, and Occupational Specialist (from SS) and a stenographer. There was a microphone in front of me on the table. It was less formal than I expected, but I will still intimidated. The judge was nice, but tried to trip me up at least twice. Do not be afraid to be ill. Don't try to appear "normal". No firm handshakes or any of the things "normal" people do. You are DISABLED and need to prove it (unfortunately). I hope that answers some of your questions. If not, please feel free to post again here and hopefully I'll get the email notice a little faster next time. Best of luck to you on Tuesday. I'll have my fingers crossed.
    [This Message was Edited on 08/12/2006]
  9. Scapper

    Scapper New Member

    C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S!!

    So thoughtful of you to come and help others going through the process.
  10. ChristineInPA

    ChristineInPA New Member

    The information on this site, as well as the advice and support of the members are what got me through this arduous process.

    The least I can do is try to help someone else.
  11. ChristineInPA

    ChristineInPA New Member

    Here's what the Judge did:

    1. I was talking to my shrink and GP about going to Vermont. It was to go for a residential program for emotional overeating.
    The Judge said something like "I see here that you were planning on going away to Vermont." I explained that it was not a vacation, it was basically a rehab center. Later, my lawyer told me that the judge was looking at it as if I could go away to VT, then I must not be THAT disabled.

    2. I got married in May 2005. The judge said "I see that you had to see an orthopedic surgeon about your knee because of dancing at your wedding." My lawyer jumped in to point out that I hurt my knee practicing a dance for my wedding and that I was unable to dance (and barely walk) at my wedding. The judge was fishing around to see if I was able to really dance/party at my reception.

    Fortunately, my answers were right and it set him straight, but my lawyer told me afterward that the Judge was definately testing me.
  12. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    It took me 3 years.

    I'm very happy for you.

    Love, Mikie
  13. CockatooMom

    CockatooMom New Member

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

    And thank you for all of the great information!
  14. Astarte

    Astarte New Member

    Did you use an attorney? I am planning on using Binder and Binder, they worked wonders for my friend as I need my stress level cut down sharply. Apparently they will move a little quicker.

    Congratulations! Always good news to hear!
    Star
  15. IntuneJune

    IntuneJune New Member

    Hi Christine, thank you for sharing your information.

    You stated you had to have a SPINAL TAP. Which doctor ordered this, was this in your care from your physicians or was this requested in the disability case.

    That is really invasive if ONLY to be used in the disability case. Please let me know.

    You persevered! Good for you.
    Fondly, June
  16. ChristineInPA

    ChristineInPA New Member

    My GP ordered the spinal tap. It was done during the diagnosis stage, after a million other tests were done.

  17. ChristineInPA

    ChristineInPA New Member

    Yes, I used an attorney. As I said before, I would not get one until after the initial denial, but after that, I would say it's mandatory.

    My lawyer got $5,300. I won't miss it, because it's coming out of my back-payment, which I won't see for a little while.

    Worth every penny. They know how the system works and how to win the case. I would never recommend going to the hearing stage without one.


    [This Message was Edited on 08/13/2006]
  18. pammy52

    pammy52 New Member

    So good to hear you survived the battle and won.

    You definitely have give a boost to others here going thru the process.

    Hugs,
    Pammy
  19. wrthster

    wrthster New Member

    If you applied in Aug of 2001 I think you said, that is absolutely ridiculous! You should definately contact your local Congressman, and your state Senators. Write them a strong letter, and believe me they will more than likely look into it. Best of luck
  20. LouiseK

    LouiseK New Member

    Can you tell me what you do with the diary after you have kept it? Do you turn it in to SS or take it with you to your hearing (years later)? Would the judge look at it in the courtroom?

    Thank you so much for the info.

    I would hate to lose my case over something like this but I can't figure out what it's for . . .must be serious brainfog.