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Questions on SSDI/SSI hearing

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by August59, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. August59

    August59 Daughters High School Graduation

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    Upstate SC, USA
    I've been trying to get SSDI/SSI since April 2011. I did the initial application online and of course was denied and was granted reconsideration and was denied. This was when I was told to get an attorney as I was applying for the ALJ hearing. My initial attorney made the application, but at the last minute bailed out because I got my hearing aappoint exactly 3 months from the date of application and I didn't even have time to write my dire needs letter.

    I had however contacted my Senator for any possible assitance and he has followed it closely and I believe he is the one responsible for getting my hearing so quick. So, it will end up being approximately 18 months from the date of initial application to hearing date. I do know that this particular ALJ office is averaging 13 months from application to hearing, so I have to say I encourage anyone to contact their respective senator, especially if you are in a dire needs situation. I had explained my dire needs situation to my senator though and he was aware of it and my have passed it along to ODAR.

    There is going to be an "Occupational Representative" attending and the letter from my Senator said that it was an informal hearing to review my records, but I received the normal hearing form from ODAR. So I have a question or two from anyone that has recent experience with winning disability.

    1) Does the attorney do most of the talking on your behalf or is there a significant amount expected of me? (I'm having terrible anxiety righ now is why I'm asking.)

    2) Is the dress really very informal, as I don't mean blue jeans with holes in them, but a nice pullover and dress shorts if warm and if cold dress jeans or khakis would be exceptable. I grew a beard so I wouldn't have to shave for some reason my face turns beet red in splotches wherever I shave, plus my hair is till very brown and my beard is silver grey.

    3) If someone is approved, how long after the hearing is it before I receive "back pay" (if awarded) and when my first check is deposited.

    4) I feel like I know this answer, but will ask anyway, is "direct deposit" faster than "check by mail"?

    Thanks ahead of time for any information and if anyone has questions I'll be glad to answer the best I can and if I don't know I'll see if I can find out something for you.
    AFCFS likes this.
  2. beaker

    beaker CFS/ME 1986

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    I did not have to go to court .( was very lucky).
    However, any time in any court, I would dress with respect for the court. No shorts no jeans. no tee shirts. no sandals. nice khakis and a nice shirt ( maybe even tie), imho, would work. Jacket, weather depending. But I would assume AC in court . Of course, any lawyer worth anything, would advise you on appropriate dress code for your case.

    Direct deposit works fine and saves trees and your energy ( fewer trips to the bank! )
    AFCFS likes this.
  3. WillowJ

    WillowJ Senior Member

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    I had to talk a lot, answering lots of questions. This was actually helpful because the judge could see that I began to have problems finding words and concentrating. This is a lot different from a doctor's visit where they may not see this because they talk to you for a relatively short amount of time.

    Other than brain fog and concentration issues, the questions were not tricky. They were to ask what one can do, what symptoms one has, how long one has had them, in what way they stop one from doing things. The hard part was what effect from one particular condition, if one has several which could cause similar effects.
    AFCFS likes this.
  4. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    I hope things go well for you..

    I dont know anything at all about this area but from Willows post it sounds like it would be a good idea to make sure you have notes so you dont leave things out, in case you are asked things like what your symptoms all are.
  5. Tammy

    Tammy Senior Member

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    August.......from what I remember I didn't have to do a whole lot of talking. Many of the questions the judge asked were very simple and required a yes or no answer.......there may have been a few times I would add something in or he would ask to explain. I hear every judge is a bit different in their line of questioning. Your lawyer will know how to handle everything. That was my experience. I know that you are anxious right now...........sending good vibes your way! I really think things will go your way.
  6. caledonia

    caledonia

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    My case was decided "on the record" so I didn't have to go to court, but this is what I've learned through my research on the Disinissues list and some personal experience:

    1. The attorney does most of the talking (legalese), but they may ask you some questions to clarify things. For example, they asked me why I was off work starting in July, but got paid through October. The reason was that I had accumulated many unused sick days over the years of working there, and that's what they were paying me. This was an acceptable answer.

    2. Dress respectfully (nothing torn or dirty), but not like you're going to work. So I would nix the tie the other poster talked about. I've heard of people who wore no makeup, or dressed in the wrong colors that made their skin tone look bad, or didn't take pain pills that day. The idea is that we often don't "look sick", so anything you can do to look bad is good. So maybe shaving and having the red blotches would actually be a good idea.

    3. I got my back pay about a month after being approved (I knew I had won the day of the trial), the first monthly check starting the month thereafter, the letter saying that I had gotten approved and some back pay was coming after that, and the judge's decision letter after that. Some people have to wait considerably longer than this.

    4. Definitely go with direct deposit. I think I got a paper check first, then signed up for DD. They are phasing out paper checks anyway.
    August59 likes this.
  7. August59

    August59 Daughters High School Graduation

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    I thought if your case was decided based "on the records" that you didn't have to appear in court?

    Did you get "back pay"? If so, how was it paid out to you? In increments?

    I thought about shaving, but I grow a terrible looking beard and it is very grey so I figured i would look much older, plus not the best groomed because of my shabby beard no matter how I trim it.

    When you get you approval letter, does it contain a lot of information or is it just simply a one page letter stating approval?
    Thank you Caldonia and as you said I probably will not take my pain meds prior to the hearing.
  8. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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    Amersfoort, Netherlands
    Definitely slacks and a nice shirt.

    My dad went to court over a parking ticket in Hawaii, and got kicked out for wearing shorts :p Fortunately he did have a pair of pants buried in the closet!
  9. caledonia

    caledonia

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    Correct, if your case is decided "on the record", you don't have to appear in person.

    Yes, I got 3 years worth of back pay. If I'm remembering correctly it's paid in two pieces - a bigger lump sum, with a portion held back while they calculate your lawyer's pay. Then the remainder is sent after the lawyer's pay is deducted.

    Again, if I'm remembering correctly, there is a simple letter saying that your back pay is coming (which often ironically is received AFTER you actually get the money). Then the judge's decision letter, in which he explains how he came to the decision to approve you. It takes the judge awhile to write this up, so that one comes last. I think mine was at least 5 pages.

    My judge said in his letter that he especially liked my documentation of being continuously disabled for the 2 years while I was waiting for a hearing. This was accomplished by going to my doc every 3 months and having him fill out a simple form (provided by my lawyer), that I was still disabled.

    One of your letters will also state your review schedule. It can be a one year, three year, or five year review. One year means they think you'll get better. Three years means they think you may or may not get better. Five years means they think you'll never get better. Mine is three years.
  10. August59

    August59 Daughters High School Graduation

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    I feel like post are disappearing because I know I was on here last night to share the news concerning my disability hearing yesterday and how much I appreciate all the feed back which much of it I used to in various forms. When I met with my lawyer and a matter of fact she was not even a lawyer, but had the credentials to represent on disability cases and she was absolutely wonderful. But to make things short and sweet

    I WON, I WON MY DISABILTY CASE!!!! As an old Alka Seltzer commercial would say "FLOP, FLOP, FIZZ, FIZZ, Oh what a relief it is"

    What a burden has been lifted off of my shoulders. The judge is going to personally oversee that my "Backpay" is expedited ASAP and that she would not be surprised if I received my backpay before I even receive the decision letter.
    My senator was responsible for the expedited hearing in which I had sent him a dire needs letter during the reconsideration hearing.

    My lawyer also said that I stood a very good chance of winning during my "reconsideration" phase, but SSA only received at most 50% of the records that they had requested, which left them with no choice but to deny and they had expressed that in their notes for the "Judges" eys only. My attorney had very good relationships with the judges. But do to time constraints we were not able to get any of the "Physical, Mental and Meineres Functionality Questionaires" completed by any of my doctors.

    I also found out that in certain offices that typical dire need cases go to the most strict judges because some of the dire need request were being sent through without any documentation attached. I was very lucky in that I got one of the best judges I could have. The other best judge was a stiil sitting judge at the age of 91 years old and my lawyer said that if she could have requested 2 judges that it would have been the on e I got or the 91 year old judge as both of them had a very compassionate side to them.

    One of the quesions that the judge ask me was "You appear to have been receiving you best possible care when you were going to the Hunter Hopkins Center. Why did you not continue to seek treatment through them. My reply was "Most clinics that specalize in Chronic diseases that are poorly understood by the mainstream medical community, which are unable to treat these diseases because they either do not understand the disease or the amount of time needed to treat us appropriately is not allowed by their office management because the doctor cannot reach their quotas" She smiled, but she did not seem surprised.

    I am just so happy, but in a somber kind of way because I would have preferred much more to be able to go back to work, which I will if i can and my next year is devoted toward that goal. If it doesn't work out then so be it, but my goal from that point on will be to try and do everthing I can to put this disease in front of the people that can make difference!

    I'll be glad to answer any questions that I possibly can.
    WillowJ, ahimsa, Valentijn and 2 others like this.
  11. Nielk

    Nielk

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    I'm so glad to hear the good news. Yeah!!:thumbsup:
  12. heapsreal

    heapsreal iherb 10% discount code OPA989,

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    australia (brisbane)
    great news ;)
    So when one gets disability are you diagnosed with cfs/me??
  13. Tammy

    Tammy Senior Member

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    YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WAY TO GO AUGUST! I know you must be relieved............the process can be so overwhelming...........it's over...Yeah! I am so happy for you!
  14. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    Congrats.:) . I know what a huge relief that is.

    I hope others who need to be getting this kind of benefit feel encouraged to apply. (Maybe if the World Governments had tons of those with ME/CFS they were having to pay pensions for so costing them heaps (rather then so many relying on their family support out of fear of the fight to get what one should be getting from our systems), maybe the governments then would put more money into research on it.
  15. August59

    August59 Daughters High School Graduation

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    One thing I forgot was when I put down my onset date i was still collecting unemployment. I just wasn't thinking. The judge ask my lawyer if adjusting the date up to a date a week or so after my last unemployment check and of course I agreed.

    That left me with 17 months of backpay, but SSDI will only go back for 12 months, so since I had applied for SSI as well my SSI is going to cover months 13 through 17. The real pain in the butt out of all this is I will have to go 5 or 6 months without my Medicaid, which means no prescription coverage. So, we will have to see how many "Name Brand" medictions I can get and get on their "Patient Assistance" programs. I can weather this storm though that is assuming there is a Medicare when I get ready to enroll!!!
  16. Parismountain

    Parismountain Senior Member

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    Very happy for your victory to get your benefits. I didn't understand your answer to the judge on the judge's question.


    "One of the quesions that the judge ask me was "You appear to have been receiving you best possible care when you were going to the Hunter Hopkins Center. Why did you not continue to seek treatment through them. My reply was "Most clinics that specalize in Chronic diseases that are poorly understood by the mainstream medical community, which are unable to treat these diseases because they either do not understand the disease or the amount of time needed to treat us appropriately is not allowed by their office management because the doctor cannot reach their quotas" She smiled, but she did not seem surprised"

    The judge was asking why you stopped going to Hunter Hopkins. If I understand your answer you answered explaining mainstream doctors, why one wouldn't treat with them. I thought your answer was going to be because I don't have $500 every six months plus travel to get there, all nonreimbursed.

    Anyhow good job and happy for you.
    WillowJ likes this.
  17. jimells

    jimells Senior Member

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    WooHoo!!! It's always good to hear of people who are actually winning their claims.

    You probably already know this: Social Security has a special program for people trying to go back to work. I can't remember what it's called, but I seem to recall a friend telling me that they actually bought him a new computer and application development software so he could try programming again. It sounded like a good program to check out.
  18. SpecialK82

    SpecialK82 Senior Member

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    :balloons: How Incredibly Awesome August!! :balloons: Big CONGRATULATIONS, what a relief.

    I was just talking with my lawyer today about my pending hearing, it's great to hear that the system worked for you!

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