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Old 03-15-2013, 07:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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disability

I appeared before a judge for my 2d appeals today.
He interviewed me and allowed me to speak.
It took only a few minutes.
He treated me with dignity and graciousness.
I DID have a huge file of medical records and statements from 5? saying I was unable to sustain gainful employment.
It was a good experience and tho it isn't official until I get it in the mail, I was approved.
The ****** thing is that my mental illnesses has wrought havoc in my life for 20 years, therefore my earnings did not qualify me for as much as I need, esp as that income will automatically take away $200 in food stamps.
We did stipulate to only go back to 2009 instead of 2004..mainly because my pdr at that time had a ****** office manager and we were unable to get those medical records. That cost me ALOT of money!

I have so many conflicting feelings. This is not a woo-hoo money from the gov for doing nothing. I would far rather function in my professional dress with laptop and briefcase, make an adequate income and have the self-esteem and social standing.

The past 20 years of suffering, struggles, hardship, tragedies with a silent illness so misunderstood that we are thought malingers and maltreated by family as well as the rest of society are not worth this check. It's a ruined life that had much potential until it was finally too broken to hobble along.

How do you accept and integrate that all the professionals have made statements that I am too impaired to participate in normal society.

It's my fault I waited far to long to apply for disability, I suffered from hope that I would gain my footing enough to work and contribute.

This evening I am also feeling bitter about my family's absence in times of great need...and a judge is more compassionate in 10-15 minutes.
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Old 03-15-2013, 07:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hello, Live. I was of those fortunate few who paid a lot into the system over 40 years, so ended getting the max benefits. And I am among the luckier few that was approved the first time I applied, my disability being major depression. I had 20 years of shrink records and a host of other medical records I submitted with my application.

But if you had to appeal, isn't your first award dated from your first application date?

Also, a major benefit to be grateful for is the Medicare, which will kick in one year after benefit starts, but I also wonder if your qualifying date isn't backed up to your initial application date, wouldn't you qualify for Medicare earlier? Like now?

I receive SSD, but it's also my understanding that if you didn't pay much into the system and your monthly benefit isn't high, you qualify for SSDI, which is for low income people?

Did you have to use a lawyer for your appeal? Most suck up nearly 50 percent of your first award check, which is a total of three months of benefits. I was told to use a lawyer when applying. It was my medicated understanding at the time that they only represented me if I was denied and had to appeal. All the lawyer did was have me bring them all of my records and mailed them into SSA. Four years later, they notified SSA that I owed them $1,500 for their "successful" representation. SSS made me pay it. Just wanted you to be warned.

Congratulations. And don't fall into the trap of feeling like a leech off the government. Disabilities is what they system is there to help with.
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Live, I am thankful you are finally going to see some relief from disability. As you know I have struggled with fighting for disability for the past 7 years so I do understand the frustration with the system.

I was just approved this past month. That was after having dropped my first case when it came down to the only way I could fight it any longer was in civil court as I had exhausted all the other appeals processes and there was little chance I would win so the best bet was to drop that and just start over. What happened with that case was the psych doctor that I had initially been using, who incidentally would just throw meds at me every time I would come in with a complaint (at one time she had me on 10 different meds), threw me under the bus by saying that there was nothing wrong with me. I can't for the life of me see how she could justify that with as many medications as she was throwing at me but she had issues with people on disability and made that clear when I told her I was going to pursue it. It took changing doctors before I was approved. She also taught me that I need to partner in my care and not just blindly follow what the doctor says to do as not every doctor knows what is best for me. When they approved me they did go back to a disability determination date in 2010 but are only giving back pay for one year prior to the date that I filed which last April. But thankfully it is enough to pay off my attorney and student loans so I am quite thankful for that. As far as an attorney goes the maximum an attorney can charge for a Social Security claim amounts to about $6000. My attorney has been working my claim since my first appeal on my first try back in 2007 and $6000 is all that she can charge. Social Security is paying her directly out of my back pay. I may be wrong but I was told that medicare starts after 2 years of disability. I am fortunate as mine will start next month.

What you were saying about having mixed feelings about winning the case I completely related to. The last place I pictured myself at 12 years of sobriety was unable to work and on disability. I pictured myself having continued success in my career and having all the great things that come with that. That includes the respect that people seem to automatically give to people that work for a living. When people ask what I do for a living I just tell them I am retired. It is partially true since I was forced to put my nursing and paramedic ******** in retirement as I was not able to work enough hours to renew them so I don't feel like I am lying plus it saves me from having to explain myself to people who really won't understand anyway. There is a lot of shame associated with being on disability like some how we are less than, lazy, worthless, or unable to make any real contributions to society because we are no longer able to work for a living. It has taken me a lot of work to come to terms with how I fit into society and be a contributing member of society as a person who does not work for a living. I am very fortunate to have close friends and a partner who accept me as I am and still show me that they feel I am valuable even though I do not work for a living. I think this feeling is similar to what people go through when they retire, of course not the same because when people look at us they see bodies that look like we should still be out in the work force so they don't understand why we are not there. I wish I had some wonderful words of wisdom to help you come to terms with this struggle but all I can say is be patient and kind to yourself. It helped me to try and view myself as how would I treat and view a friend who was in my shoes. Would I judge them or think less of them because of their disability and not being able to work? If not then why would I treat myself with any less respect and care? That approach helped me a lot in coming to terms with my new state of being. Be kind and patient to you as you truly deserve the kindness and patience.
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Old 03-15-2013, 10:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I did some research on this way back and found out its very difficult to get disablity if you refuse medication so I didnt even try to get it. Its no secret how I feel about it, I post here enough on how much that med stuff hurt me and how it only made me disabled and sick.

This system is messed up, they will pay 10s of thousands of $ to give you inpatient psychiatry you dont want behind a locked door, been there done that, or the endless search for "the right meds" making the psych industry rich but when disabled people need help to live its 20,000 miles of red tape and run arounds to get a few bucks to survive.

I think its criminal whats going on.
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Old 03-17-2013, 02:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hi Live! Congratulations for getting on SSD. I know how difficult that is and how hard and triggering and even traumatizing the process can be. I also know how lifesaving being on Disability has been for me.

It is a complicated thing. Like you said, it's not a woohoo free money! It's about surviving and providing for ourselves when we can no longer do it in the ways available in our culture. I too would rather be able to work, have the self-esteem that goes along with that, but no one is going to hire someone who needs three days of recovery after two hours of work!

So I have had to learn, and continually remind myself that it is okay that I am on Disablitiy. That I tried my hardest to make it in a culture that doesn't have much room for me and wants to deny what my reality is. My disabilities all stem from severe childhood abuse and abandonment. I pushed myself all my life, used up every last bit of inner resources and finally came to the place where there was simply nothing left. It was go on Disability or die.

So I have to remind myself to be proud of all of my achievements, especially in the face of overwhelming odds. I have to remind myself that I am taking care of myself and providing for myself the best I can. I have to remind myself that it is okay to need, to ask for and to receive assistance.

There are many who would judge and I suppose that's okay, too. I hope they will learn compassion. For those who are jealous, who want to swap places or think I didn't "earn" it I tell them that if they want the "free" ride then they must also be jealous of and have MY life. They must pay in all the ways I paid, starting literally from conception.

I didn't ask to be disabled and I must do what I need to in order to survive. I give thanks for government benefits for without them I would be dead at least three times over. I do feel guilty at times and I just hope that I live a life that gives back in whatever ways possible.

I am blessed to have a couple of friends who remind me of my worth, remind me that worth is far more than what job you do and how much you earn. I do believe in that, that is my value system and that does help me. It is who we are, how we treat others, how much we care that are truly important. Just the fact that you want to heal yourself is actually a very precious thing on this planet right now. You are adding to the energy of healing and that is paramount.

I know I"ve rambled on a bit, I hope this all makes sense and is helpful. I was just discussing this very issue with a friend earlier today. I hope you can feel good about being able to receive the help you deserve.

Take care.
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Old 03-17-2013, 02:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I really believe that one day my daughter will have to take this journey, and it seems very overwlelming. Can anyone tell me, the short version, lol, of where to get started?
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Old 03-18-2013, 07:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Congrats of getting approved. I fought for over 3 years and 4 or 5 appeals for SSDI. In the end, I was denied because my mental illness was caused from my substance abuse. This is untrue and I was furious for a long time. A Federal Appeals court Judge basically told me that if I had the ability to buy drugs & commit crimes than I can obtain a job. I wouldn't worry about what others will think. Yes, some will judge you and feel that you shouldn't receive a "government handout" but you deserve it.
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Old 03-18-2013, 10:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Wow, Justfor1, that totally sucks. I wish I could say I can't believe that Judge was so rude to you, but unfortunately I can.

When I went through my first psych eval, with a "doc-in-the-box" in training it was similar. She sat there all slumped in her chair, couldn't care less, totally rude. She had the audacity to tell me I was "too intelligent and articulate" to be disabled! Wtf?! What has intelligence got to do with Major suicidal Depression and PTSD? She wouldn't say that to someone with diabetes or cancer!

Thankfully I had a really good lawyer and he got me on in my first appeal. And I will say again how grateful I am for it. I wouldn't be here right now typing this if it weren't for being on Disability!
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Old 03-18-2013, 10:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by julez View Post
I really believe that one day my daughter will have to take this journey, and it seems very overwlelming. Can anyone tell me, the short version, lol, of where to get started?
My advice would be to search and find a highly recommended lawyer. They can make all the difference and run interference on some of the stuff that would just be unnecessarily painful.

And remember that everyone, everyone, gets denied on their first application. That is where a good Disability lawyer can be worth their weight in gold, in getting that first appeal approved.

Good luck and keep posting with other questions. We're all here to help.
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Old 03-30-2013, 03:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thank you for all the replies with wisdom and compassion!

I got my approval letter which was a rather detailed document of my impairments from my medical records and therapists.
Frankly I was stunned and hurt.
Not a good way to find out how your trusted therapist is interpreting everything about you.
With my bipolar dx, everything I do can be pathologized, it's a no-win.

But I had to get a new one lately and hopefully she can get to know me better so that she can evaluate me more accurately, in light of my personality and values system.

On the outside, I no longer color my hair or wear makeup. I've gained a lot of weight and have few clothes. I don't spiff up anymore.
This gets noted.

On the inside I work on my spiritual and personal values everyday and feel the difference in my life every day. I suppose that is not so easy to see, but over time these qualities will be known.

I am now looking forward to having some money of my own, and yes, maybe I may qualify for SSI. I hope so.

I did hire a good attny firm, I wasn't up to all the paperwork, research & etc.
They key was that I have been in treatment for a very long time so had far more than enough medical documentation.
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Old 03-30-2013, 04:01 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I'm glad you finally got it.
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Old 03-30-2013, 04:49 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Here's a talk about SSDI I came across on a financial forum. It does seem tough to decide just what disability really means. : Trends With Benefits | This American Life
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Old 03-31-2013, 07:19 AM   #13 (permalink)
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BacktosquareOne,

Disability isn't a "fix" for me, it means poverty.
I would much rather return to my former occupations where I make enough money and have better medical benefits.
For me, disability means I am unable to, despite my desires, due to a constant illness that impairs every part of my life. It is a bitter pill to swallow.
I filed for disability as a last resort after many years of struggling to get my feet back under me and go back to work.
Getting disability means I can pay my own dr bills and not rely on family....or on inadequate public programs.
I still struggle with my illnesses every day, there's no cure.
I can't keep it together long enough to maintain an "underemployed" position either. I have tried more than once.
Disability means literally: unable to sustain gainful employment for a period of a year or more. That is the legal criteria.
The court found that my symptoms, as documented for over 20 years up to the present are consistent with my primary diagnosis, which is a legitimate disability listed under the social security codes.
The burden of proof is on the claimant.
It sucks to be poor, marginalized and stigmatized.
One loses far more than money when unable to participate in the workforce.
Whenever I meet someone on disability, I feel compassion for them. I know there is a silent story of tragedy and pain, struggles and limitations.
I know more than a few folks who sell their medications in order to be able to pay their rent and utilities, now that is a no-win!
I've never met disability cheats tho' I have heard of them. Doesn't seem like a sane or logical thing to do to me.
But you know what? If I try to work 9 times and fail, I will lose my disability. That is a real catch 22.
I can't marry my fiancee who is disabled either. We would be stripped down on benefits so greatly that we would go in the hole with no way out. I hate that. We WANT to marry.
I could go on..but will just leave it that disability payments is for me a necessary evil.
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