Social Security Disability - I FINALLY got my MONEY

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by ChristineInPA, Mar 31, 2007.

  1. ChristineInPA

    ChristineInPA New Member

    I posted about my horrendous battles with SS trying to get disability for ME on the CFS board, and I'm not sure if they are still there.

    I did a post a while ago after I won my case in June 2006, and I'm not sure if it was deemed OT and deleted, or if it still exists somewhere on this site.

    In a nutshell, I got sick in July 2003. Filed for SS at the insistance of my LTD provider in 2004. Was immediately denied. Got lawyer (Thomas Cook of Cook & Niven here in PA) and it took until June 06 for my hearing and decision.

    My monthly payments started right away, but I was awarded back-payments.

    It took from June 2006 until THIS VERY DAY to get my back-payments. NINE MONTHS.

    I cannot begin to express what I have gone through. I'm not even happy or relieved to finally have the money. I am so ANGRY that it took this long to get what I worked for from the age of 16 to the age of 41 that I am just sick and disgusted and worn to the bone.

    I have to pay part of my LTD back and have other bills that piled up while I was sick, so that back-award will be gone in no time.

    I could go off on this for hours, but I won't. I just want to share some advice from everything I've been through, hoping that it might help someone:

    1. Go through your expenses. I use my debit card for almost everything, so all I had to do was go through my bank statements. If there's a place to cut back, do it NOW. The SSD process can take a long time, and every penny you can save matters. I stopped the hair salon, buying expensive make-up & hair-products, cut way back on movie rentals, restaurants, clothes shopping, shoes (THAT HURT!!), magazine subscriptions, extra channels on cable, and the list goes on. I started making less-expensive meals when possible (beans are CHEAP), buying store-brand stuff instead of "name brand", and picking up cleaning supplies/household stuff at the Dollar Store. I stopped wearing stuff that has to be dry-cleaned. I was not a shop-a-holic, or like the women you see on "Real Housewives" on TV, but I found so many places to cut back, and it helped so much. You would be surprised if you sit and look at it in detail.

    2. Don't be surprised if you are denied on your first filing. I would not suggest a lawyer for your first filing. If you get awarded on your first attempt, you are very fortunate indeed.

    3. To appeal the denial, get an attorney. You can ask on this message board and get some great advice. I LOVED my attorney. He knew what he was doing.

    4. Keep notes on EVERYTHING. When you go to the Dr., ask for a copy of your file. I had a copy of each of my doctor's files/notes/test results, and found some things were never written down, or were wrong. I'm not going to vent here about the medical community, but let's just say they aren't exactly my heroes.

    5. Keep a daily diary. Write down how you feel in detail. Also keep track of how your illness prevented you from doing something. For example: "My best friend had a cookout today, but I had to cancel. My joints in my knees and hands hurt too much and I'm dizzy." I have problems showering, doing dishes, cleaning my apartment, etc. and all of that documentation helped my attorney.

    6. Don't try to hide or lessen the illness. When you have to fill out paperwork, don't type it or try to make it look nice. You are DISABLED. I heard stories of people that lost their case because everything was so neat and organised. Also, describe your symptoms based on the worst of it. You really need to be completely honest about just how horrible this all is. It's no time to be brave.

    7. If you win and are entitled to a back-payment, do not wait like I did. Everytime I called SS to find out where my money was, they gave me a 2-week timeframe. If you don't have that money in 90 days from your hearing, call your local Congressman and get him/her to intervene. It costs nothing and let me tell you, that was the ONLY THING that worked. I wrote letters to my local office, called the toll-free number almost WEEKLY, and got the run-around for the past 9 months. There was no reason for the delay. They didn't have to deduct SSI or any other governmental assistance from it and they paid my lawyer in July 2006. That money should have been in my bank by August at the latest. What I'm trying to say is just go to the top. I gave them time and nothing got done. I'd still be waiting if the congressman hadn't stepped in.

    So, that's my experience and I will be happy to answer any questions if you should have any. After this fiasco, the least I can do is help someone else.

    [This Message was Edited on 03/31/2007]
    [This Message was Edited on 03/31/2007]
    [This Message was Edited on 03/31/2007]
    [This Message was Edited on 03/31/2007]
  2. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I was awarded SSDI in February of last year and two months ago, I was finally awarded private long-term disability. I consulted a lawyer but luckily, didn't have to go to court. It's still very difficult to earn benefits for those of us with CFS or Fibro, but I think it's slowly becoming easier.

  3. 69mach1

    69mach1 New Member

    first judge gave me a closed case decisison, basically i had surgery and my divorce was over so i must be better....ha i had to wait forever for that money$

    then i had to refile again..then i won w/o a denial on the first application...i am still battling them out for the money they owe me still to this day...

    did everything you is absolutely crazy...i need to call congressman's office again...

  4. Engel

    Engel New Member

    Glad you finally got it BUT that really sucks that it took so long and soooo much effort on your part. How about the atty fees for all of this? Is that out of YOUR pocket?
  5. jmq

    jmq New Member

    and thank you sooooo much for sharing it. I am getting ready to start the disabiltiy journey and you gave some great advise.