UPDATE: SS Disability Doctor's Appt!

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by UmiBear, Mar 13, 2003.

  1. UmiBear

    UmiBear New Member

    Hi gang. Thanks again for your support. On Tuesday I went to see the Psychologist for the Exam arranged by Social Security. Wow. I don't know where to begin. The appt. took about 2 1/2 HOURS. The doctor, who was cordial, seemed surprised when I told him that SS told me that I was there to have my memory/cognitive skills tested. He verified who I was again to make sure he was talking to the right person, then he said SS told him I was there for "an IQ test". Mmmm. Then he said that the SS Office often messes up and asks for the wrong thing, but since I was there he had to do what he was instructed. Then I went through a TESTING MARATHON that included written and oral spelling and math tests, just to name a few! He tested me in an abundance of ways, most of which I couldn't figure out the relevance of to Fibromyalgia. He asked me to name the President, and a series of super easy questions like: What year is this? What day is it? Where am I? Who am I talking too? Count back from 100. Have I ever thought of hurting others (that one came out of the blue and totally shocked me). I had to put together all these puzzles, with blocks and cards. The puzzle and card tests were timed (he had a stop watch and timed me). Needless to say this was a bit overwhelming and it flustered me. When I told him I had to go to the bathroom he reluctantly let me go twice, then when I came back he reiterated that we were on time schedule and to give short answers and hurry along. That put the pressure on and I hurried through the answers as fast as I could. But it didn't allow me to explain anything, which I think is going to hurt my case. Anyway, I also had to do fractions and algebra! I felt like I was back in high school or college. Also I had to take these little cards and arrange them to make a story, and I had to look at pictures of things (frogs, people, bridges, buildings) and tell him "what was missing" from each picture. I had to answer questions like "does the sun rise in the east or west" and all kinds of what I would call "general knowledge questions" that most people know. Example, I had to give a definition to a whole series of words, most of them easy. Actually, the whole test was fairly easy, EXCEPT FOR THE HARD MATH -- I hadn't seen math like that in a long time. But the easy math was things like, if you go to the store and they're having a 50% off sale and an item costs $50, how much would you pay for the item? Those type of questions were verbal. Then we left the "testing room" (which was a small room where we sat at a small table together) and went to his office, which was huge and beautiful. That's where he asked me the off-the-wall stuff, like have I ever thought of hurting myself. Then he said he had one more question to ask but he was out of time, and he said he'd call me that evening or the next morning to ask it. He told me the question was to describe an average day, so to be ready to answer it when he called. Well I've been waiting at home for the call, and I've stayed off-line so he could reach me (that's why this update is late, because I didn't want to tie up the phone line by being on the computer) but he hasn't called. Who knows if he will, but he said he couldn't submit the paperwork without the answer to that question. In the very beginning of the testing/interview we talked briefly about Fibromyalgia, and I told him that my memory and cognitive skills (I used the term brain fog to describe it to him) were a major reason for not being able to work. He said matter-of-factly that he treats Fibro patients all the time, and that memory problems ARE NOT part of Fibrmyalgia! I dropped my jaw and was speechless (he was, after all, supposed to know about Fibro). He also asked why I wasn't on a special diet to help Fibro, and if I ate potatoes. He said Fibro people shouldn't eat potatoes. I was still in shock over his memory statement, so I just said I've heard and read about a lot of so-called cures but potatoes, or lack thereof, wasn't one of them. During the testing he said my problem wasn't my memory but that I don't appear too attentive to details, and I get distracted. Well I KNOW I have memory problems, and who knows how this will all end up, but it sure was a strange experience. And the "memory testing" if you could call it that, wasn't quite right in my view for Fibro patients. He'd repeat a series of numbers, like, 3, 5, 7, then IMMEDIATELY ask me to repeat them, so I'd say 3, 5, 7. Of course I can do that. I can't remember all the other stuff he had me do, but that's it as far as I can recall. Thanks again for all your support. I'll keep you informed about my SS Disability progress. He did ask me if I drove there myself, but didn't listen when I explained that I was able to do so because his office was just 5 miles from my house, plus my husband and I had a "dry run" to his office the day before to make sure I could get there okay. All he wrote down was "yes" as my answer as to whether I drove myself. Oh, he took notes the whole time and wrote down brief answers to his questions. I don't know what to think of all of this. It really didn't seem like a "real" IQ test, and it wasn't really a "memory test" -- so I'm just confused. He also said, while looking at me, that he had to write down for SS a description of me, so I sat there while he looked at me and wrote down what I looked like.

    The next day after the appt. I was in a flare-up and had more pain, fatigue, and was a bit stressed. I'm better today. Thanks again for your interest!
  2. joannie1

    joannie1 New Member

    That sounds more to me like a part of the testing that they do for a functional capacity eval, Not what you went for. And I do know how you feel about him "suposedly" being a Fibro expert. I seen a Doctor a few weeks ago who suposedly is an expert and isn't!! and until they been here and done been through it they are clueless. Sounds like he got his schooling at the Mayo clinic personally.
    I wish you the very best of luck and I truly hope that you have success with your disability. it is such a tough thing for us but you have to deal with, but no matter what just keep fighting for what you deserve, your Disability.
    Good luck, don't let him get you down, and take care okay.
    Joannie
  3. Tattoopixie

    Tattoopixie New Member

    I think I must've had the longest test of anyone here...4hrs! I went through all those tests you mentioned & then some. I also had to give my background, what my family was like, etc. I think I got most of the tests 'right' but also had some trouble with some of them.
    I recieved a denial letter a month later-but you've got to remember that the Dr doesn't make the decision SSI does & I hear they always deny the first time. I am going to get a lawyer & appeal.
    I hope you have better luck than I had. Sending good vibes to you!
    Pixie
  4. UmiBear

    UmiBear New Member

    Thanks, Joanie and Pixie, for your encouragment. Pixie, whoa -- yes you DO win the prize for longest exam! When you got your denial letter, did it say why, or if it was something that came up in that long exam that made them deny? Just curious. Everyone's experiences helps shed light on this process. Take care. I'll be rooting for you too!

    Umi
  5. Tattoopixie

    Tattoopixie New Member

    They didn't specify other than I can do 'less demanding work' whatever the heck that means! I did call the psychologist & ask to be sent a copy of my report that she did, but of course, I have received no reply, so I will ask my psychiatrist to get it for me-grrrrrrr!
    Pixie
  6. UmiBear

    UmiBear New Member

    Guess what? The psychologist who performed the 2 1/2 hour exam last week DID keep his word and call me to finish up the exam. He asked me to describe what I do in a typical day, but once again he wouldn't let me elaborate (he seems to want one-word answers, and as you all know, that doesn't cut it for describing Fibro). I tried to tell him that the first 2 hours of a day are the hardest, and it takes me that long to "get going". But he cut to the chase and just wanted to know what time I get up; period. He asked me again if I cook. That seems to be a critical question (he had asked it when I was at his office, and he seemed somewhat sheepish about it). I wonder if that's some big important thing to Social Security -- if you cook in any way then you can work. That's it; claim denied. Again, I tried to explain that I do light cooking and that my husband does the heavy work, like peeling a sack of potatoes, but basically he just wanted a yes or no. Do you cook or not? I had to say yes because I do light cooking, not every day, but I do cook things. That's all he wanted to kow. I imagine his findings won't be helpful for my claim. Friday I got a letter from SS telling me to go to a PHYSICAL exam for them. I think that makes more sense and hopefully that will go well. But I'm already worried that the doctor will push on my tender points or chest, so I think I'll have my husband take me to the appt. I'll keep everyone posted. It IS helpful for all of us trying to get SS Disability to share our experiences. Thanks again, all. Take care!
  7. Bellesmom

    Bellesmom New Member

    I truly believe that since Soc Security pays for these visits that's what it's all about. It's like gambling in Nevada or wherever - the house has the advantage.

    I, too, have had the experience of being required to go to the state doctors. They weren't interested in what I had. I don't think they're very good doctors, either, for the most part. They just want to get done with their paperwork and send in a bill for what they did. It's not about us - it's about them and a government system that's so out of whack.

    That is why some attorneys who used to work for Social Security now work in private practice - because they know what really goes on and how to actually give us some help.

    The reason we have to fight so hard to be acknowledged as disabled is they have it set up for us to fail. That's why you have to have a really good attorney.

    If we go to war and all those billions are spent in Iraq you can just get your bottom dollar that programs like SSDI, Medicare (read it in the paper already) and the VA are going to be cut back to the bone.

    Just hang in there and remember - it's way to their advantage to just play with you and let you think you're being processed properly.

    As I said, that's just my opinion.

    Pam
  8. JLH

    JLH New Member

    You know what luck I had with my doctor who performed by psyc test? She told me that she, too, had fibro, but was still able to work. Now, how would you like to start out your interview after just hearing that statement!!! I felt a deep thug in my chest and figured I was a loser with a capital "L" !!

    My test took around 2-1/2 hrs., too.

    I know a doctor personally who has a contract with the Soc Sec Adm to perform testing on disability applicants. (I didn't get to go to him because he practices in another state.) I think they do different types of tests for those applying for SSI and those applying for SSDI. Also, I think it's standard procedure to ask if you have ever tried to hurt yourself or anyone else, especially if you are taking any type of anti-depressant med, which most of us do to help with our sleep. It wouldn't be a psyc test if they didn't ask you if you had suicidal thoughts or about you childhood!!! lol

    These doctors who do the testing for Soc Sec are normally (not always, but normally) psychologists, who are PhD's and not MDs. Since they are NOT MEDICAL doctors, they are NOT experts on fibro or any other disease. I have never asked this person I know exactly how much medical training he had, but I think it is very, very little. So, we have to remember that. They are taught to administer standardized tests and how to interpret what the answers mean. The Soc. Sec. Adm. has told them what they need to know to find out about an applicant's capabilities, and that's all they are there to do. I am sure people with other disabling diseases think they are out in left field when they leave their appointments! They do NOT work for the Soc Sec Adm and could care less if you are awarded benefits or not, all they do is report to Sec Sec your answers and how you scored on the standardized tests. The Soc Sec Adm takes it from there. These docs are just doing their jobs.

    The medical review doctor has a little more clout, though, I think! Even though he isn't a Soc Sec employee, either, his medical opinion is important--in my reply letter, they quoted part of his evaluation of me! So I know they take them seriously!
  9. beckster

    beckster New Member

    UMI,
    Sorry about all this awful stuff. Thanks for keeping us
    posted.
    If I were you, I would take and keep very accurate notes about your appointments. Such as, the "doctor" says (s)he
    treats fibro and it doesn't include fibro fog or cognitive problems. Then, on the next level of appeal, I would include the docs stated opinion juxtaposed with a statement
    from the official fibro association stating that a major
    and disabling symptom of fibro IS cognitive problems.

    Anyway, these "interviewing" jerks aren't your treating physician and shouldn't carry as much weight. (See my previous post.) Make sure SS knows you know this.

    Some people, when asked questions like "do you cook?"
    answer as if they were having their worst day, for which the
    obvious answer then is NO, or hardly ever, or something like that. OR, if I have to cook, I cant function the next two days, and what job can you have when you cook one day and can't work the next two. Or, I shop one day, cook the next, lie in bed three days, open a can of soup the next, keep lots of fruit or canned soup on hand because MAINLY I cant do this, and do the laundry on the fifth day, and then rest two more days. Part of the problem is they ask you questions like this, which are a kind of trap, PLUS you aren't expecting this, and although we may be aware there is something "off" about them at the time, we aren't quick
    enough on our (thinking)feet to give a representative reply.
    Of course, the exam and question is designed to under cut the true amount of diasabililty (not to mention when given by ill-informed professionals); also, not being able to think on our feet is one of the disabling and frustrating
    parts of our illness. (Nothing like trying to catch a person in their weak spot!). Keep at it; you'll survive.
  10. catgal

    catgal New Member

    One of the reasons they ask if you can cook (yes or no) is because cooking is a physical activity that requires movement from every part of the body (physical ability, & capability); plus time & endurance (duration & stamina); and mental clarity, memory, and focus (being able to follow a sequence of procedures such as read a recipe, measure; remember what you've put in and what you haven't; ability to stay on task, and not burn the meal or the house down).

    Cooking covers all the physical/mental aspects required in a job except for sitting. And unless you're terminally ill, they figure that if you can go through the time and all that is required to cook a meal (one to 3 meals a day) then there is some type of work you could do. For instance, my Grandma Gray Mountain got disability immediately because she could not cook--could not be trusted to cook or even be in kitchen. She couldn't follow the sequence of cooking foods, and often added more or left out essential ingredients; she couldn't remember what she had put in and what she hadn't. She couldn't measure ingredients because her cognitive skills had left her. She couldn't stand long enough to finish cooking the meal, and would often leave the kitchen to lay down and leave the burners on. Stuff would burn on the stove and four times she almost burned her little house down.

    In short, she could not meet the requirements of cooking.
    She could not stay on task nor be trusted in the kitchen. And if you can't do that--then it is highly unlikely that you could function in any job. She did not have the physical ability or mental clarity, to do it. She was literally a "danger" in the kitchen.

    Since cooking involves all the elements of physical and mental functioning (except sitting)--if you can cook then they figure you are capable of doing some type of labor.

    I am a therapist, and for the most part of the working day I sit and listen to clients. It is not labor intensive, but requires the physical endurance and stamina that I be able to sit in a chair hour after hour all day long without being able to move around for 60 minutes at a time (per session) which is difficult and painful when you have FM, degenerative disc disease with multiple back problems and nerve damage, and osteo/psoriatic/rheumatoid arthritis. It is very mentally demanding, requires high level memory capabilities, and the ability to analyze extremely complex behavioral/psychological/emotional conditions. This becomes quite difficult on brain-fog days because I cannot think clearly; in general my memory has gone to hell, and I have to write everything down during the session which makes clients uncomfortable and paranoid; and my analytical abiities are definitely impaired on brain-fog days or when I am in pain.

    But, I can cook. Infact, I used to love to cook fancy, gourmet meals. It was a spiritual passion for me. For I believe that the love and healing energy you prepare the meal with goes into the food, and when you eat it--the love and healing goes into your body.

    Though I can still cook, I can no longer endure the physical labor that goes into cooking a gourmet meal--standing, stretching, reaching, stirring, lifting heavy pots, opening lids/cans, nor do I have the stamina & endurance for the amount of time it takes. I can cook a quick, simple, meal, but not even one meal "everyday" anymore--and no cooking at all on the days that I work--I am just too exhausted and pained. My mate does alot of the cooking, and I have to eat off of paper plates and drink out of paper cups because otherwise I drop the glass plates & glasses due to the weakness in my hands caused by the arthritis. I can't keep up with all the written paperwork at the office because of the arthritic swelling, pain, and weakness in my hands.

    However, if an interviewer asked me if I cooked, and I replied "Yes"....the interviewer would "assume" that I could hold down some type of job. Many of these disability interview questions are yes or no answers--you either can or you can't. They are not interested in lengthly explanations about how you can do it one day and can't the next. It doesn't make sense to them. And the more you try to "explain" your answer--the worse you look because it sounds as though you are trying to convince the interviewer rather than telling the truth. Either you can or you can't.

    Just like asking if you can do the laundry--just think about how many physical movements from beginning to end and mental processes there are to that household chore. If you can do laundry (especially an entire family's laundry), then they figure there is some type of work you could do.

    ***They ask questions about "ability" while your answers must be about "inability"--yes or no--without lengthly explanation. The same with simple questions like grocery shopping--examine all the physical & mental requirements there are to grocery shopping. These are the type of questions they are looking for answers to. I can't grocery shop anymore because it hurts my back & legs to walk up & down the isles; I can't stretch & reach for items because I no longer have that range of motion; it hurts my hands, neck, and shoulders to push the cart as it gets heavier; I drop heavy items like a gallon of milk; cat litter; bag of potatoes, etc because of the arthritic weakness in my hands.

    ***The interviewer's questions may seem simple and to have nothing to do with fibro or whatever illness you have--but what they are looking for is "ability", and our short and yes or no answers speak "DIS-ABILITY".

    Sorry this is so long, but hope it helps. I used to do these disability interviews many years ago. I hope this helps. Carol...

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