Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Hopeful_In_San_Francisco, Jun 27, 2017.
I never had to have a hearing but when I appealed my original SSDI denial, an attorney told me to use the words "I cannot work because ...." and then state why, so those words may be something to keep in mind. Somehow I won on appeal, I never knew for sure why, though think it may have been because of a letter by my doctor added to my file, which said I had PTSD - which I guess was true, but wasn't why I was seeking disability (due to ME/CFS).
I wish you luck, hopefully someone else on the board can give you some pointers!
I posted about this a bit in this thread
They are looking for reasons to deny you, so don't give them any ins. Answer all questions succinctly, honestly and without too much detail but enough to get what your trying to explain. Be serious, polite and focused on what your trying to say. Let them see you in your natural state, don't try to hide it. But try not to go in with serious PEM where you can't think straight because you need to be able answer their questions. They will try to trick you with questions that are contradictory, that you already answered or suggesting what they want to believe so if your not sure take your time in answering and if you can have someone with you who knows your condition well try to take them along. repeating yourself is okay and feel free to do it as long as your not sounding like your crazy. If a break is available and you need it, take it. Do you have legal help in this? Since its tomorrow it would be tricky to arrange if you don't, but keep in mind if needed in future for appeals.
They will want to know physical reasons so explain your life from functioning to crashing to PEM, how long, physical symptoms, severity and timings. Also explain your mental symptoms, how they fit in, and don''t let them suggest you could do a mental but not physical job, make sure your explain why you can't do either. Explain how your disease has progressed (in short) and if its still getting worse, but do this bearing in mind they ultimately care nothing about the history of your condition, they care about now and why you can't work. Emphasize the evidence your presenting from tests to doc reports, if you have anything new and are allowed to submit it and it helps your case or is additional to evidence you have already submitted add it. This depends on their rules. You want to think of any objections they have in advance and have answers ready if they are asked. Think of this hearing as being a court room and you have to convince the judge.
Tell them all your difficulties, your adaptions, what you have tried to get better (they want to know you have tried everything possible), and depending on who your speaking with it can be worth going into your history of getting the diagnosis, if your like many of us who took many years, many tests and many doctors.
Don't make this about the system, the state of ME/CFS research, PACE or dismissive doctors or lack of test criteria, this hearing is about you and your ability to not work. If they ask questions relating to exercise/CBT if you have tried it it gets tricky because people who believe lies won't listen to evidence. Use your submitted tests and reports to paint a picture of how exercise makes you worse, especially if a specific episode caused a sudden decline especially if its something normal people can do. As for CBT if you have depression and under care for it or have tried treatments bring this up as evidence, whether its counseling or medication, its still legitimate treatment prescribed by legitimate docs and makes you a compliant patient. Try to minimize discussions of alternative medicine because most officials consider it quackery, if some supplement has helped with a specific symptom and/or you have a test proving its deficient so your taking it its ok to mention it, but don't paint a picture that your only interested in alternative medicine or they might think you would be treatable if you were willing to use modern medicine (even though for this condition modern medicine has nothing for us, but these guys are not ME/CFS specialists, they are hearing specialists who see every disabling condition known to man and many do have treatments with varying levels of effectiveness).
The goal of the hearing is to show them you have this condition, its severe, you have tried hard to find treatments and you can't do anything more about your current situation so you need them to approve your application. If they ask if you would be willing to try new treatments say yes you would definitely consider it. Remember that considering is not the same as as trying anything, if there was a drug that killed 99% of users but cured people who don't die from it your not obligated to take it, your saying you will think about (consider) new treatments.
Now my head is really throbbing so i hope i didn't miss anything and i hope this helps. Just try to remember you can do this, so try not to get overwhelmed even though i know i wrote you a novel.
thank you thank you! have legal help
If they ask how you do specific tasks, or if they ask "do you make your own meals...." for example,
tell them HOW and WHEN you do, what type you can and cant, and why,
and if it is not reliable, then say so,
and tell them how your worse days are, and if they are predictable or not,
and tell them the limitations you find you have, in all of your daily living, work and recreation too.
How the illness symptoms vary, and how you cannot plan or be relied on, ... they need to know the specific symptoms, and how they impact your actions, and your work ability.
Rather thn a simple yes, about whether or not you could do some task, answer with whether you could do it every day, and how it would not be done in a normal way you would do it, if you were well.
Be honest, but don't try to politely hide difficulties you truly have, when you try to plan ahead to repeatedly show up someplace on time, or to try to complete a task , well, that takes some time.
Inconsistency is a problem at jobs. Try to be specific with examples of how your illness and the symtoms effect you, each day, with each task, and with any work related task.
Include your specific difficulties, such as if standing or sitting for a long period is not possible, or not taking naps is not possible... whatever your specifc reasons are, that a job would not be able to accommodate.
I agree with above,
make a list, of the reasons you can't work.
Example for anyone concerned on this general topic:
They asked me if I handle my own bank account/ checking, etc.
I responded, with the actual truth:
" I only do it on the best moments of my best days,
I have to wait till whenever those happen.
I also wait , after that, if possible, and double check, some other day, at a moment I can focus, before I send any checks out. I make mistakes, I didn't make before I got so sick. "
Those types of answers to all of the questions put to me, seemed to work much better, than the simple yes or no, answer, that they seem to obviously want, and are tempting to give,
but actually a yes, would have been misleading, and made me appear more capable (and less disabled) than I was/am.
Stay calm. Take as much time as you need to formulate an answer before speaking. Be convincing. Be consistent. Don't ramble.
If possible, try a 'mock hearing', and practice with a friend. Record it...then play it back...do you sound credible?
It's your job to "sell" the judge about how your life has been impacted. Give specific examples to support your point.
If you have time, learn the social security disability regulations.
For example to receive disability they have to find that you're unable to perform any job, even being the ticket taker at a movie theater. The truth is that if you have severe me you are unable to perform any job, because there is no job that allows you to sleep during work, or show up only on good days. If you were too ashamed to admit that much of the time you are stuck in in bed all day, and that you can't pick which days those are, thejudge will have to find that you can do some sort of job.
2. Be aware that it's gotten much more restrictive for ppl with M.E since about 2012. A little before that the criteria for SSI disability were loosened so that people who are able bodied but can't read or have a drug problem, can qualify for disability. Net, The disability system is seriously strained. There was no publicity about this, there's also no public announcement about the greater level of rejections: I learned of the latter from an excellent lawyer who's been practicing disability for decades.
3. While you can do it yourself if you get enough breaks from brain fog, the costs for an SSDI lawyer are quite modest. They only collect out of back pay that's owed when your case finally settles; if they win you get the same going forward as you would have otherwise. There's only a small upfront filing fee, much less than the usual lawyer bill. If you do get a lawyer avoid the ones that advertise on TV, posters on a bus, etc. that's a factory operation, you don't want that for this type of case.
4. It is common to be rejected on the first try and approved on appeal.
That's a good idea! But be sure you have at least rough knowledge of the law. Even if the judge is sympathetic, if the law doesn't match the evidence you brought, they can't find for you. Well, in most places.
You can also try a Google Site Search
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