Question for those who have went through the disability maze...

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by srobins, Apr 5, 2006.

  1. srobins

    srobins New Member

    For those who had to go before the ALJ, did you see a SSA doctor? I have my hearing on Monday and I was never sent to one. Just curious!
  2. bluestanglady

    bluestanglady New Member

    I don't remember going to a SSA doctor. I was seeing my rheumatologist and had been seeing him and a neurosurgeon plus had had many sessions with physical therapists. Plus I had private disability insurance and had seen a pain specialist during the approval stage for that insurance. But I was sent to a SSA psychiatrist before my SSA hearing before the judge. Do you have an attorney? If you have an attorney, you shouldn't have to worry because he/she should have taken all the steps necessary to make your case clear to the hearing judge. Good luck on Monday!
  3. cerise

    cerise New Member

    Believe me, going to a consulatiative examination is NOT a good thing! These doctors are paid by SSA and they are not on your side. They also know nothing about ME/CFS or FM so their evaluations are not constructive and are used by the ALJ's in denying you benefits.

    I applied for SSDI back in 1995 and am getting ready to file in federal court for the second time! I had 2 CE and they have been a nightmare for me.

    I have had 3 administrative hearings before 3 different ALJ's.

    First of all, I sure hope you have an attorney representing you. If you don't, you may want to ask for a continuance to seek legal represenatation.

    The hearing was not what I had expected and it's nothing like going to regular court.

    If the ALJ has requested that a Vocational Expert (VE) attend your hearing, I strongly recommend you get an attorney. The questions that the ALJ asks of the VE can be overwhelming.

    Also, if you're well enough to represent yourself, the ALJ will assume that you're well enough to work!

    Unfortunately, looks and appearances do matter and you will be judged on how you appear (do you look sick) and if you can withstand the length of the hearing without any noticeable problems.

    Medical records are key. Whatever you filed in your claim as the reason for your disability has to be supported by medical evidence as required under SSA regulations, not just your doctor's opinions.

    I suggest you do your homework on the internet to prepare for your hearing. There are some excellent websites that provide helpful information.

    Off of the top of my head I would suggest checking out and Also the Mass. CFIDS Support Group provides an excellent handbook on SSD and the hearing process which you can download for free.

    One more thing, don't do your hair and don't wear any make-up. And don't carry a purse into the hearing with you.

    Good Luck!
  4. srobins

    srobins New Member

    although I am not very happy with her. I do also look sick and very fatigued all of the time. Along with CFIDS and FM, I also have Interstitial Cystitis so I know that I will not be able to make it through the hearing without needing to use the restroom several times.

    I am glad that I did not have to see a SSA doctor because of the horror stories I have heard and read. I didn't know if it was normal not to have to see one though.

    My letter from the Office of Hearings and Appeals said that there will be a vocational expert and a medical expert there to testify as well.
  5. amymb74

    amymb74 New Member

    he was actually very helpful for my case. But, I saw another of their docs during a review & he was awful but my benefits continued w/o a problem. Good luck at the hearing. AMY
  6. cerise

    cerise New Member

    That way you'll know more about how you feel about your attorney, as well as what is going on with the hearing.

    Important to know if your attorney is only for what they call the initial entitlememnt phase of your case. That means that your attorney may only be legally qualified to represent you up through your appeal to the Appeals Council should you receive an unfavorable decision or partially favorable decision from the ALJ.

    I have no experience with a medical expert being present at the hearing, just VE.

    The entire hearing will be tape recorded for the record.

    Don't be discouraged if you don't receive a favorable decision. It will take about 3 months to get a decision after your hearing.

    Reread your letter called Notice of Hearing. Go to the part discussing Issues. See if there is anything you might object to, and let your attorney know. You have the right to object to any of the issues that the ALJ has listed in the letter. This I have only recently found out about.

    Remember, the only person on your side at the hearing is yourself, your attorney and any witnesses testifying on your behalf.

    From this point on it is critical to your case to watch your deadlines for anything you need to file following the hearing.

    Keep us posted on how it goes. I'm always interested in how everyone else's hearings go!

    Sadly, it really all boils down to the judge you draw for your hearing and really what part of the country you are in plays a big part in how ALJ's view our types of cases.

    Going to the bathroom a lot could be viewed as a stunt by the judge and/or a drug problem believe it or not.

    Think twice and pause before answering any question the judge asks you.

    You have an opportunity to make a statement at the end usually or to tell the judge anything you want to add. Convey for the record anything you feel your attorney may have overlooked as far as your personal situation as to why you are unable to work.

    Go to to review the 5 steps that the ALJ will be following to judge your case. Step 4 is if you can do past relevant work from the past 15 years and Step 5 is if you can do any work (and I mean any work) -- that's what the VE is there for. It doesn't matter if the job exists where you live or whether it is below your skill level.

    My first ALJ determined that I was not disabled because I could be a nut sorter since it was a sitting down job.

  7. srobins

    srobins New Member

    Unfortunately, I cannot control how much I go to the bathroom so I'll just have to see how things go.
  8. findmind

    findmind New Member

    If you have to go to the bathroom, ASK!

    At my hearing, I was braindead and a basket case, so upset over how my life had changed. I couldn't understand questions, and had to ask my attorney what they said several times. I was so embarrassed.

    I looked was in the morning, and I just crawled out of bed, put on jeans and shirt and jacket and went! I like to look nice when I leave house, but the stress of the hearing itself did me in.

    I also met two people there who talked on my behalf...partly with me present, then without me there. They told how sick I was (in there opinion) and how much pain I experienced and how I could not stay awake to save my life.

    The voc. expert said that because I needed so much sleep and had my days and nites upside down, he could't see how I could work any job.

    The psychiatrist said he could tell I was depressed BECAUSE I was sick, and he could tell I did not want to be sick or especially asking for disability, as I sounded like a proud person.

    My point? Just be yourself and totally honest..they'll get it, esp. if you have diagnoses and medical records to back you up.


  9. ephemera

    ephemera New Member

    lots of good advice here. I may need it too, soon.

    Very best thoughts.
  10. suzetal

    suzetal New Member

    The Ve said nothing at all .The judge never asked him any ?

    The doctor was a rheumy and he did speak.He actually sided with my doctors .He told the judge that all my medical records proved that I had seen many doctors to try and get better .I also had seen 4 rheumys and all 4 verified my FM.
    He told her that he did not believe any of my doctors would have me on heavy pain medication if I were not in pain.
    Than I got to tell her that there was no way I would have given up my job( I had just gotten a promotion)For 704.00 a month when I was making 4000.00 a month plus benefits.And that my DH who had just retierd from teaching after 34 yrs.

    Told her that he had to get a full time job to cover what I had lost.

    She looked at me and said that I was honest and sincere and gave me a bench approval.

    Oh I also had a letter from my former employer telling her that I worked 50 to 60 hrs a week and never missed a day in 8 yrs .Also that I went home sick and tried many times to go back.She wrote that she could see the pain in my face and that I tried really hard to stay until I could no longer walk due to pain in my legs.

    I got it on FM alone will have a revue in 2 yrs.The reason for that is the judge actually said that she hopes that they will find a cure .

    Please be yourself,if you need to cry cry I did......If you need to stand stand.

    I also heard allot of horror stories but all the judges are different.My attorney told me we had the toughest judge in my state.I had very good records and my doctors all supported me 100%.

    I will keep you in my thoughts that day .I wish you success .

  11. chickabee

    chickabee New Member

    I had to see a psychiatrist many months before I went before the ALJ. At my hearing, there was a psychiatrist and also a vocational and medical dr. there. Judge asked me questions, the drs. and my representative. I didn't have a lawyer, I had a gentleman that represented people trying to get SSI and other disability help. He was very good.

    I hadnt been diagnosed with FM at that time, but won on many other medical problems.

    Wishing you luck for Monday..

  12. cerise

    cerise New Member

    By all means if you have to use the restroom, do it. Your health comes first. I just meant to let you know just how some ALJ's may view it. It doesn't mean all of them, and certainly doesn't mean yours.

    My apologies if it came across wrong -- one of the many problems that I suffer with now -- can't say things the way I want to convey them!

    I would be sure and let the judge know ahead of time, so that way he doesn't misinterpret as a stunt. I should have said that to begin with; again my apologies.

    You should have gotten a map to tell you where to go for your hearing. If not, your attorney will probably want to meet with you about an hour prior to the hearing at the hearing location. That would be a good time to let him know to advise the judge of your personal needs during the hearing.

    You will proably want to work something out with your attorney to indicate to the Judge when you need to break so the proceedings can stop and start again.

    Best of luck and do let us know how it goes when you get back from the hearing.
  13. srobins

    srobins New Member

    No apology needed! I know you didn't mean anything by that. Actually, it has been worrying me a little bit because I thought the same thing. I just know though that I can't hold it. I didn't take your post the wrong way, it's okay! Take care!!