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PreHearing meeting with attorney

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by Billt, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. Billt

    Billt Senior Member

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    Well hear we are days away from the disability hearing for my son. Our attorney has been less than stellar for the whole process. We have had to send and resend things to them so many times ,, etc

    Our meeting didn't go well at all. In fact since my son has trouble with focus and question answering, the attn actually said she didn't believe him !!! WOW how is that for support. At this, we are to close to hearinf to get someone else and I'm not even sure we can do that just because we have a conflict.
    He try's to answer questions honestly but really can't explain why he feels like he does.
    This process has set him really back and he wants to give up. I don't know what else to try at this point.
    Seems like not maybe people and even less attorney's understand his condition.
    We do have lots of documentation but feel the judge may ask questions he doesn't know how to answer.
    Attorney says even going for a quick bite with a friend shows he is not disabled

    I know this is a major process for all, but has anybody ran into something like this..

    Thanks for listening .... Billt
     
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  2. *GG*

    *GG* Senior Member

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    Re-sending sounds like my lawyer, but he is about 80 years old, and has moved office recently.

    Going out for a quick bite, does Not show you are not disabled. I can exercise, and my lawyer knows it. Having a career/full time job requires reliability (worked ill for 10 years, caused lots of conflict at work, and they repeatedly changed rules due to my calling out sick and going to the Drs), which I know I am not!

    Should you find a new lawyer now? Not sure of that. He doesn't sound competent and knowledgeable about the illness, so perhaps is better to start over now rather than later, might be less work that way!

    GG
     
  3. ScottTriGuy

    ScottTriGuy Stop the harm. Start the research and treatment.

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    I wonder if you can request to have the hearing delayed based on your very serious concerns about the competency of your lawyer, and that would allow you time to find an appropriate lawyer. Perhaps consider filing an official complaint to the governing body for lawyers as an indication of your concerns about competency and need for a new lawyer, and use that to back up your request for a delay of the hearing.
     
  4. Billt

    Billt Senior Member

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    Thanks , when we started with this lawyer they told us they had experience with CFS cases. but the questions they ask and just just don't GET IT that he can't answer some questions. He's just blank.. Of course they say they have never ever had a person that couldn't completely describe their complaints. I think it is just there way and maybe they are good in court, but they also said that they don't do much in court. All the questions go to him.
    Kind of a pickle right now and thinking of what we can or should do. Since it's so close I hope I can talk him into going and see what happens. If denied, then maybe find someone else.
    At this point he is ready to quit but doesn't understand that there is no money coming in for him and what that will mean for the future.
     
  5. jimells

    jimells Senior Member

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    I assume the hearing is at the administrative law judge (ALJ) level. At this point the ALJ is concerned with one question: Can the applicant perform any job anywhere in the U.S. for 40 hours per week? If not, then benefits are awarded. It really is that simple. So the diagnosis label doesn't matter much, and the lawyer mostly acts as a clerk to make sure all the medical records are collected and sent to Social Security.

    What matters to an honest ALJ (apparently many are biased) is evidence of the impairments that stop a person from working. The most important evidence is a doctor's report that outlines the impairments, the evidence for the impairments, and a statement by the doctor that the person can not work any full time job.

    There was a years-long delay between my original disability application and the ALJ hearing, but it didn't matter because most of that time I had no doctor that understood that I had a real illness and would write a favorable report. I have no doubt that without a favorable report I would've been turned down by the ALJ. With that report in evidence, the actual hearing was short and more of a formality than anything else, and it was clear during the hearing that the ALJ had previously read the file and was ready to believe that I could not work.

    So it all depends on what is in the Social Security file. The entire file is available on CD, and I suggest it would be helpful to get it. It used to be directly available from Social Security, then they changed the rules and required me to get the CD from the lawyer, who claimed they couldn't make a CD because they had no blank CDs. Idiots. This was a few years ago, so the procedure to get a copy of the file is probably changed again by now.

    As for asking for a delay, I don't know anything about that, but I would guess that it is possible. There might be something on the Social Security website. I can imagine that conflicts between applicants and their lawyers happen regularly, and being a rigid bureaucracy, Social Security will have a convoluted, arbitrary procedure designed to drive one batty.

    What really burns me is the attitude and design of the whole machine. Everything it does is aimed at Delay, Deny, and Hope They Die. And the longer the delay, the more money the lawyers get, since they are paid 25% of the retroactive benefits. What a racket.
     
  6. Billt

    Billt Senior Member

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    jimells, you are so right about the money. They longer it drags out, the more they get !! I really think at this point if I can get him ( and if he is able ) to go, then we just go see what happens.
    We did get a very good letter from the dr so really hoping that helps. I think the judge will be easier than this lawyer grilling him !!

    If judge could just read that letter and keep everything short, he could maybe get through it. So much stress on him.
    And as I understand we can't go in with him either ..

    If it's just that one question, that is a pretty easy answer NO he can't work 40 hours !! He can only do things in 10 - 15 mins spells and then rest. Boy I hope it would be that easy for him.
    We have so much documentation, that seems as though it will help.

    Attorney did say she knew the judge and he is fair and treats with respect. More than I can say for lawyer ..

    Thanks for the reply Billt
     
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  7. Kati

    Kati Patient in training

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    Valentijn and Billt like this.
  8. maybe some day

    maybe some day Senior Member

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    Your son has to demonstrate that he can do nothing. Absolutely nothing, not go for a walk, not go to the store, public trans. drive etc.. Because if he says otherwise the administrative law judge will notion he can be retrained for another line of work. I went down that road and failed. I chose not to pursue it any further as I was feeling a little better and was able to make some income.
    Also a Drs letter diagnosing that your son has cfs. It must be in writing and clearly state chronic fatig. syndr.
     
    Billt likes this.
  9. Gingergrrl

    Gingergrrl Senior Member

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    @Billt Am just seeing this and am SO sorry this is going on. Will reply via e-mail and sorry I am so far behind. Am so mad to hear how this attorney is treating your son. He is her client and she is being paid (if he wins) to represent him!!! Will give you the info on my disability atty in case it helps.
     
    Billt likes this.
  10. Billt

    Billt Senior Member

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    Thank you maybe , we do have that letter and it is pretty specific. That may be where we are at too.
    Can he do some things ?? yes he can .. but for 5 to 10 mins then must rest 30-40 mins. not sure what job he could do like that. He would love to be well enough to work and make some money. It has been very hard on him having to move home. Of course my big worry is what happens when Mom and Dad are not there anymore ...
     
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  11. Billt

    Billt Senior Member

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    Thank Ginger ,,, It has been really crazy around here of late. Sorry I haven't gotten in touch.
    This whole thing just seems like a bad dream that won't end. Can't imagine how he feels..
    Take care
     
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  12. Gingergrrl

    Gingergrrl Senior Member

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    I just checked and is definitely me who got behind and owes you a reply, not the other way around! Regardless, I just wanted to add that you are such a good father and your son is so lucky to have you fighting for him. I have witnessed fathers who do not get involved and it is amazing what you are doing. Am tagging someone who is also a caregiver for their adult son in case she has any ideas on this one @Never Give Up.
     
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  13. geraldt52

    geraldt52 Senior Member

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    Your son's immediate future is almost entirely in the hands of the ALJ. Most of the questions will be directed to your son by the ALJ, and he will believe your son, or he will not. The ALJ will give credence to your son's medical file, or he will not. There is little any lawyer, or any doctor, can do to change any of that. Which ALJ you get is everything, and it's just the luck of the draw.

    A diagnosis of CFS will do little to help the cause. As has been pointed out, the outcome will hinge on your son's inability to hold a job, any job...not his diagnosis. Your son should be honest but very careful not to understate how bad his condition is, which people with CFS tend to do. If you luck out and get an ALJ who is sympathetic to CFS, and the doctor's notes support your son's testimony regarding his disability, you do stand a reasonable chance of the ALJ awarding benefits.

    If you don't luck out, and end up with an ALJ who is unsympathetic to CFS, he will most definitely find a "reason" for denial, even if he has to make one up with no evidence to support it. That's when you need a lawyer. Your lawyer will be given an opportunity to ask some questions of your son for the record, and should use that opportunity to make sure that the ALJ isn't able to create a record that is entirely one-sided. It won't help change that ALJ's mind, but it will be crucial at any following level of appeal.

    If you lose at the ALJ level it isn't the end, but it can be a long, frustrating road that you need to be prepared for. I wish your son the best of luck.
     
  14. GreyOwl

    GreyOwl Dx: strong belief system, avoidance, hypervigilant

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    Yes, it is revolting.

    @Billt, your son is lucky to have you in his corner.
     
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  15. Never Give Up

    Never Give Up Collecting improvements, until there's a cure.

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  16. Alvin2

    Alvin2 If humans were rational...

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    You need a good lawyer so if you can delay and find someone else then you should do so.
    Some lawyers will throw their clients under the bus because they don't understand what they are doing, one who does not have your best interests at heart could destroy your case.
    A good attorney can guide you though how to make your case succeed and what procedural details you need to know.
    If your not confident with who you have your adding one more strike against your case.
    I'm telling you this from experience :(
     
    Billt likes this.
  17. Billt

    Billt Senior Member

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    Thank you for the great resources. The whole process is a bit overwhelming for both of us. He is 27
     
  18. Billt

    Billt Senior Member

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    Alvin2 This does sound like our lawyer. There attitude is he looks fine, he must be fine. I need to find out if we can get out from this lawyer and since hearing is so close could we delay it.
    Thank you for your advice....
     
    Alvin2 likes this.
  19. Groggy Doggy

    Groggy Doggy Senior Member

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    @Billt

    I had a lot of doubt too, before my ALJ hearing. I would suggest practicing a mock hearing with your son. My ALJ tried to trip me up on the first comment/question. But I was honest, consistent, and stood my ground. The ALJ tried to ask the same question in different ways to see if I was telling the truth. ALJ tried everything possibe to find something inconsistent. I felt like I was being grilled on the witness stand by a clever attorney. I found it to be an over the top exhausting experience, and I let the ALJ know that my energy expended during the hearing would make me crash for days. I had to stay "as cool as a cucumber", and recall as many facts as I could to support each answer.

    I somehow rose to the occasion to get thru it all.

    Best of luck,
     
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  20. caledonia

    caledonia

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    The information in your son's claim needs to show that he can't sit and work at any job 8 hours a day, 40 days a week. That's the definition of a sedentary job, the lightest form of work.

    Hopefully he's done a functional capacity evaluation showing how fatigue and pain inhibit his ability to work on a consistent basis and a neuropsych test showing the concentration issues and any mental health issues. SS should have paid for and sent him to these tests.

    The doctor's letter is good too. Plus any abnormal labs mentioned in the ME/CFS letter put out by SS defining how to adjudicate it.

    In my case, it was also very helpful to have a record of continuing disability, accomplished by seeing the doctor every 3 months and reporting that I was still disabled. My lawyer had a nifty form for my doc to fill out for this. By the time I got to the ALJ, I had two years of this evidence.

    If this kind of medical evidence is not in your file, it might be better to delay the hearing, get a new lawyer, and get this evidence.

    Your son having trouble answering questions should actually support a finding of severe concentration issues in his medical evidence. However, if he's like a lot of us, he should be able to rise to occasion for a brief period.

    If he would get denied at the ALJ stage, then you do need a lawyer to appeal the case at the Federal level. It takes several more years to get a hearing. I've heard of people waiting as long as 7 years from initial claim to a hearing at the Federal level.

    My memory is getting fuzzy here - you can search and look back at my old posts, but I believe at this point you should also file a new claim (in the case that he would get denied).
     
    Billt likes this.

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