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I don't make New Year's Resolutions. I don't think I ever really did, but the last decade or two would have been enough to stifle that impulse. I've just been too aware that I don't have that much control over what happens in my life.
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Letters of Support

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by Gray Lady, Apr 17, 2015.

  1. Gray Lady

    Gray Lady

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    I have three days until my SSDI supplemental hearing and am freaking out. I am in the process of asking ppl who have been around me (non-medical professional friends) to write letters of support to send to the ALJ for this Monday. I've never done this before. What important information should be included to convince the judge I am disabled? I have ideas but don't want to miss anything.

    Also, what is the easiest way for my friend to electronically sign the Word document that will be sent to me electronically?

    Thank you very much.
     
    oceiv likes this.
  2. Denise

    Denise Senior Member

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    Hopefully others can tell you how someone can electronically sign the word document.

    As for what should be in your letters of support - I hope the following might be of some help:

    If your friend knew you before you got sick perhaps she/he could relate what you used to be able to do before and in what ways you are now limited.

    If your friend doesn't have pre-illness context, can she/he talk about times you have had to say no to events (and things like how often do you say yes as compared to how often you say no)? Can they provide details about instances when they have seen you when you are less well (physically and or cognitively) and how that differs from other times they have seen you?

    How predictable is your level of function? Can your friends speak to that?

    The more detail the ALJ has about your previous and current level of function, the better your chances ought to be.
     
    oceiv and Gray Lady like this.
  3. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    When I had to appeal my disability denial, I was told by an attorney to say I could not work because " fill in the blank" - that was the key issue, whether or not I could work.

    Denise gives you some very good suggestions.

    I don't know anything about electronically signing a Word document (have been out of the loop too long I think!)

    Best wishes - I hope it goes well for you.
     
    ahimsa and Gray Lady like this.
  4. Denise

    Denise Senior Member

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    I should have been clear earlier - I don't know what to tell you about electronically signing so I hope others can help with that. (I apologize for sounding as though I was brushing that off.)

    In addition to @Mary's point about "I can't work because..." I would make it very clear about whether or not you could reliably work full or part-time on a scheduled basis.
     
    ahimsa, oceiv and Gray Lady like this.
  5. oceiv

    oceiv Senior Member

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    I don't know anything about the electronic signatures, but I googled and found these step-by-step instructions for Word:

    http://www.wikihow.com/Add-a-Digital-Signature-in-an-MS-Word-Document

    If that doesn't work, I've sometimes had to send a signed letter by (old-school) fax. Local copy stores, Kinko's, UPS, etc usually offer this service.

    It may good to include what you can and can't do on typical and bad days. Good luck to you in the disability hearing, @Gray Lady !
     
    Gray Lady likes this.
  6. Denise

    Denise Senior Member

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    @oceiv has a very good point about documenting function on typical and bad days. It may also be good to speak about numbers of typical vs bad days you experience in a month.
     
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  7. CFS_for_19_years

    CFS_for_19_years Hoarder of biscuits

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    Forget about transcripts and documents. Ask your friends to show up in person so they can be interviewed one by one by the judge, without you in the room. The judge will ask the questions (with witnesses under oath) that they deem important. This is what my attorney suggested when I had to go before an administrative law judge in order to be approved for SSDI. Even my own mother showed up. And yes, I was eventually approved.

    Do you watch Judge Judy in the US? She doesn't accept documents from witnesses either. She wants to speak to people directly and ask them questions under oath. (I'm a fan of Judge Judy.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2015
    Gray Lady likes this.
  8. Gray Lady

    Gray Lady

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    Hey, thank you guys for the great advice.

    Judge has still not made a decision.

    I told my lawyer there are people I was willing to ask to write letters...two professors who knew me. One observed me clinically and in the classroom. I think she was also my advisor and I had gone to her when I was really sick, could not do the coursework, and had to drop. I was also late to classes getting lost to a familiar building and was totally out of it during the injection clinic, etc.

    I can get testimony from a former classmate and friend who knew me pre- and post-illness, and also a former church leader.

    My lawyer said medical records are what is needed, and "statements of this nature are not going to help."

    I don't know if I should pursue contacting all these people I haven't talked to in years or listen to my lawyer and do nothing.

    I would have a couple weeks to do this but apparently without my lawyer's support.
     
  9. CFS_for_19_years

    CFS_for_19_years Hoarder of biscuits

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    Listen to your attorney. Doesn't she get 25% of your unpaid benefits? My attorney specifically asked me if I had any lay witnesses I could bring to the hearing, meaning people not from CFS support groups. He wanted witnesses who could attest to my daily ability to function. This strategy must have worked in similar cases, otherwise he wouldn't have recommended it. Statements are worthless, as I mentioned in my previous post. Witnesses need to be questioned under oath (raise your right hand, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, etc.).

    It might have been helpful to bring witnesses to your hearing who were familiar with your everyday functioning today. Sometimes those people don't exist if you're isolated like most of us. My mother was familiar with the fact that I needed to rest on her bed when I came to visit and that I often had to cancel planned visits. Those are the types of things that show an inability to show up to work on a daily basis.

    In my case it took several weeks for the judge to make a decision. All you can do now is wait.
     
    Valentijn likes this.

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