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Old 06-16-2010, 02:19 AM   #26
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Entertainment for the birds
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Old 06-16-2010, 01:05 PM   #27
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Hugs for you Tina.
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Old 06-16-2010, 03:35 PM   #28
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I hope things get better soon Tina.
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Old 06-16-2010, 06:25 PM   #29
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Just wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you, Tina. You have always been an inspiration to me in many ways, and right now I'm inspired by your spiritual strength ... You are mighty.

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Old 06-17-2010, 11:53 AM   #30
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Thank you so much for posting, all of you. I didn't write much, because things aren't really moving in any good direction. It's like everything takes so much time with various agencies. Some good things are happening in my life, so I hold onto them, but at this point, my son is homeless and we're still trying to get help for him. He has some pretty good days and some *really* bad days, and I can't feel good saying, publicly, what the really bad days entail. But having my jewelry design helps me to get through by giving me something to focus on. Friends help me get through, my husband helps me to get through, and compartmentalisation definitely helps me to get through.

My spiritual and Buddhist beliefs given me a good perspective, most of the time. I believe things happen for a reason -- even if at the time I cannot see any reason and it all just feels f-d up. It also helps to know that people care. My friends here help -- knowing that you care enough to post helps. Doesn't change anything concrete day to day, but it lightens my spirit and that's worth a lot. Thank you.
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:10 PM   #31
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Just dropping by to let you know I care. I hope things happen for the good for your son soon.
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Old 06-18-2010, 02:52 AM   #32
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Tina,

I wish there was something we could do to help. Is there anything that tens of thousands of women and men could do to move a few sluggish state or federal agencies (I'll bet there is). I'm not talking about a hard kick. I am talking about a gentle prods & requests to examine your son's case expeditiously following their rules & regulations.

Perhaps phone calls, letters, or emails to our senators or represenatives asking them to check on your son's case. (If he's working thru a state agency, chances are good, their program is heavily funded and regulated by federal grants.) I could make up a sample letter, email, or phone dialouge for doing this.

For those of us whole live in the state where his case is, they can contact their lawmakers directly. I could make up a sample letter, email, or phone dialouge for this as well.

Just a few brainstorming ideas.
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Old 06-18-2010, 08:16 AM   #33
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Thank you, Ella.

Deborah, you're a force of nature. I can't tell you how touched I am by your post. And if he loses his appeal I will take you up on it for sure. Thank you! You have been a most kind and generous friend to me, Deb. Thank you so very much.
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Old 06-18-2010, 09:11 AM   #34
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Hi Tina,

I'm so sorry to hear about your son's problems with SSDI. It is, unfortunately, a horrible process to go through. I worked for an SSDI attorney for a few years, and I came to the conclusion that their standard tactic is deny, deny, deny and hope that people either give up or die before they get their benefits. I'm basing this on the fact that not one of our clients ever received their benefits until it went to the hearing stage - even a man with pancreatic cancer with 2 years left to live. It's just sickening.

It's fantastic that you've engaged a lawyer because they really can help with the process. A claim can (and will) be denied for the simplest reasons - such as a missing signature or an unanswered question.

Please let your son know that the denial is no reflection on his condition - it's just the standard process. I hate to say it, but it is more than likely his appeal (if this is his first appeal) will also be denied. The good news is that his 2nd appeal is the one that results in a court hearing, where a judge determines whether or not he is eligible for benefits. Most people do not get their benefits until that stage, and he is that much closer to it now, so that's a good thing.

Also, his lawyer should know this but just so you can double check with him, make sure that any new medical records are copied and sent directly to the SSA. The SSA will tell you that they will obtain copies on your behalf, but all they do is send a letter and release form to the doctor/facility that provided care - if the provider doesn't send the records, SSA makes no effort to obtain them again and makes a judgement without them. You are better off having the lawyer (or more likely, his paralegal - this is what about 90% of my job was) pester the providers until he or she gets the copies, then he or she should send them via registered mail to SSA.

Also, don't worry about the legal fees - the lawyer takes his or her fee out of the settlement check for back dated benefits and that amount is capped. I'm not sure what the current cap is, but I would guess about $3,000-$3,500. And benefits will be paid dating back to the date of disability according to the paperwork your son initially filed. So he's looking at a year or more of benefits in that first check. The only out of pocket fees you may have to cover are for copies of the medical records and perhaps postage.

Best of luck to you and your son. It is an arduous process, and I understand that that is so to weed out scammers, but it is a real shame for people who genuinely need their benefits and have such a difficult time getting them.
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Old 06-18-2010, 09:57 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by CrankySpice View Post
Hi Tina,

I'm so sorry to hear about your son's problems with SSDI. It is, unfortunately, a horrible process to go through. I worked for an SSDI attorney for a few years, and I came to the conclusion that their standard tactic is deny, deny, deny and hope that people either give up or die before they get their benefits. I'm basing this on the fact that not one of our clients ever received their benefits until it went to the hearing stage - even a man with pancreatic cancer with 2 years left to live. It's just sickening.

It's fantastic that you've engaged a lawyer because they really can help with the process. A claim can (and will) be denied for the simplest reasons - such as a missing signature or an unanswered question.

Please let your son know that the denial is no reflection on his condition - it's just the standard process. I hate to say it, but it is more than likely his appeal (if this is his first appeal) will also be denied. The good news is that his 2nd appeal is the one that results in a court hearing, where a judge determines whether or not he is eligible for benefits. Most people do not get their benefits until that stage, and he is that much closer to it now, so that's a good thing.

Also, his lawyer should know this but just so you can double check with him, make sure that any new medical records are copied and sent directly to the SSA. The SSA will tell you that they will obtain copies on your behalf, but all they do is send a letter and release form to the doctor/facility that provided care - if the provider doesn't send the records, SSA makes no effort to obtain them again and makes a judgement without them. You are better off having the lawyer (or more likely, his paralegal - this is what about 90% of my job was) pester the providers until he or she gets the copies, then he or she should send them via registered mail to SSA.

Also, don't worry about the legal fees - the lawyer takes his or her fee out of the settlement check for back dated benefits and that amount is capped. I'm not sure what the current cap is, but I would guess about $3,000-$3,500. And benefits will be paid dating back to the date of disability according to the paperwork your son initially filed. So he's looking at a year or more of benefits in that first check. The only out of pocket fees you may have to cover are for copies of the medical records and perhaps postage.

Best of luck to you and your son. It is an arduous process, and I understand that that is so to weed out scammers, but it is a real shame for people who genuinely need their benefits and have such a difficult time getting them.
I think they cap it at 2 years or so. I know i got 14,000 back pay myself. I got my disability on the first try amazingly enough. However by then i had suffered a near total nervous breakdown in front of the Doctor the SSA sent me to so i'm thinking that might have helped matters.
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Old 06-18-2010, 11:50 AM   #36
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Thank you, Pey and Cinna. You know, Cinna, I've had two friends receive it first try, within 6 months, baddabing, baddaboom, that's it. Amazing. That was some years ago, though. I'm guessing the breakdown did help, but given the state of affairs as Pey has outlined it, I wouldn't be surprised if the doc had walked away and your claim been denied.

Pey, the attn'y I helped my son retain has a $6,500 cap, I think. It's high, but I knew that trying to do the appeal on my own would 1) not be as successful as hiring an attn'y 2) drive me batty. I'm so overloaded as it is I'm having a hard time getting everything done, even working often 7 days a week. I want to thank you for posting this. it's good information to have and it is very kind of you to have taken the time to do it.

I, too, have come to the conclusion that they summarily dismiss claims in the hopes that people will just fall through the cracks or die so they save money. The first application, I called his claims worker often and faxed her medical records, etc. She was such a phoney twat I can't even begin to describe her, and won't bore you with it in any case. Of course he was turned down, even with a huge stack of records I faxed her myself. I have them all, because I had heard that about SS and so didn't want to rely on just them to get the records. I think she round-filed them. Used to be you could ask them to go back further; is that still true? Two years isn't long if one has had to wait five to finally get one's benefits. Also, how long would you say each appeal takes? A million thank yous for this!
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Old 06-18-2010, 11:55 AM   #37
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I, too, have come to the conclusion that they summarily dismiss claims in the hopes that people will just fall through the cracks or die so they save money.

I agree with you both. Also remember, most of the determinations are not made by SSA. They contract out the work of gathering the medical information, etc. There are a lot of steps at which someone could fall through the cracks. And when you think of people as numbers, not people, it's very easy to simply deny people who really need it, and still sleep at night.
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Old 06-18-2010, 01:11 PM   #38
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Thank you, Pey and Cinna. You know, Cinna, I've had two friends receive it first try, within 6 months, baddabing, baddaboom, that's it. Amazing. That was some years ago, though. I'm guessing the breakdown did help, but given the state of affairs as Pey has outlined it, I wouldn't be surprised if the doc had walked away and your claim been denied.

Pey, the attn'y I helped my son retain has a $6,500 cap, I think. It's high, but I knew that trying to do the appeal on my own would 1) not be as successful as hiring an attn'y 2) drive me batty. I'm so overloaded as it is I'm having a hard time getting everything done, even working often 7 days a week. I want to thank you for posting this. it's good information to have and it is very kind of you to have taken the time to do it.

I, too, have come to the conclusion that they summarily dismiss claims in the hopes that people will just fall through the cracks or die so they save money. The first application, I called his claims worker often and faxed her medical records, etc. She was such a phoney twat I can't even begin to describe her, and won't bore you with it in any case. Of course he was turned down, even with a huge stack of records I faxed her myself. I have them all, because I had heard that about SS and so didn't want to rely on just them to get the records. I think she round-filed them. Used to be you could ask them to go back further; is that still true? Two years isn't long if one has had to wait five to finally get one's benefits. Also, how long would you say each appeal takes? A million thank yous for this!
Hi Tina,

Picking a date for start of disability can be tricky, particularly if the person applying has periods of time where they are able to perform a full time job. Any evidence you can provide that shows a growing intensity of disability is a good thing as far as the claim goes; it will just reinforce the fact that, at some point, the claimant became fully disabled. If your son worked off and on (even after he filed his disability claim) the date of disability will be whatever the date is that he last held full time employment.

Unfortunately, SSDI does not allow for "partial" disability; it's all or nothing. They require an applicant to be "totally disabled" and yet still allow beneficiaries to work part time up to $800-1,000 per month (depends on the state, I believe) - I know it's completely nutty. Unfortunately, the best thing for a claimant is to not work at all before their claim is approved because any work performed could be seen as the lack of total disability and can also push their date for total disability forward (because SSA will say that obviously the claimant was not totally disabled since they were able to do XYZ on such-and-such date).

I just checked on the current statutory cap for attorneys and I'm amazed - something must've happened in the last two years that made it jump so high. When I worked in the field, the cap was $2,800 and that was from 2002 to 2005. In that time, it went from $2,300 to $2,800 so I based my guess on that. If you (or anyone else) is interested in reading about the cap, here's the most recent from SSA about it: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10075.pdf It's a good read and stuff you should know regarding using an atty/rep.

As for how long it takes from initial app to hearing - back then, it was generally 18 - 24 months. A lot of that time can depend upon how long it takes SSA to get all the records they request and how long it takes a claimant to file their appeals - you get 90 days after a rejection to file an appeal, so the longer one waits to file, the longer the wait stretches out. In general, once SSA has everything they need, tack another 6 months on for each stage. And they do everything they can to stretch out that time, believe me. They'll send you one additional form to be filled out, then you send it back and they send you another form to be filled out, then you send it back and then send another form to be filled out...and on and on. There's no reason they can't just send you all the forms at once, IMO, instead they mete them out one by one just to draw out the process. It's infuriating.

Cinnamitch, I'm thrilled that your bennies went through on the first try - really, really thrilled!! I hear of these now and then and I'm always happy to know at least one person didn't have to deal with the utter BS that is the SSDI process.

Tina, also take all of my advice/stories with a grain of salt because every state is a little different. Although SSDI is a federal program, the process is performed on a state level - so every state is a little different. If your son initially applied in VT, you may want to do some searches on "Vermont SSDI" or "Vermont SS applications & claims" or some such to get some idea of how that state handles their claims. Hopefully it will be more hopeful than it is here in Maine!

And lastly, and I cannot stress this enough, you should really let your son know that this isn't his fault. A lot of applicants feel guilty or judged or like the government thinks they are faking...and they shouldn't. It's just red tape bullshit and has no bearing on him or his condition in any way. Even if he hasn't voiced these concerns to you, you may want to let him know (if he's able to hear it) so if that's a burden he's carrying it may be lessened if he knows this is just how it is.

Yes, go back as far as you can with his medical files. As I said, it's a state level process so they may only technically consider the 2 most recent years, but IMO it can't hurt to have a full history. Although now that I think about it, it is wisest to ask your attorney about it - he or she will know if it will help or be a waste of time. In our office, we sent in absolutely everything we could get our hands on. And the registered mail thingy was to ensure that they didn't get round-filed - we'd have proof of them having been sent in so they couldn't say they were never received.

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Old 06-18-2010, 05:42 PM   #39
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I'm getting a headache just reading about it. Tina, I'm sorry you and your son are having to deal with all this mierda. Hang in there tho. Hopefully it will all work out well in the end.
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Old 06-18-2010, 08:05 PM   #40
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Thank you, Olwen -- we're hangin.' The thread gets thinner, though, as we are his sole financial support.

Pey, may I write you? I have a couple of questions (I called the attny's office today, too), but because this is so public, and I've had people use stuff I've written against me here before, I'm a bit reticent to add anything more than I have in the way of details. I promise not to burden you too much with it, though. And after looking at (and saving, thank you) that link, things definitely have changed!

I hate the government waste that is caused by all of this nonsense. I can understand if it's not made clear by medical records and a visit with their own doctor that a person is eligible, but to have people who are undeniably eligible have to wait years, spend money they don't have, live in abject poverty, and be forced to hire an attorney because of this game-playing... it seems amoral to me, and it should be illegal.
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Old 06-18-2010, 08:35 PM   #41
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Hi Tina,

I am so very sorry that you are going through this dear.

It seems so unfair that your son cannot be with you in Canada. His emotional wellbeing would most likely improve if he could at least be near his loved ones.

Keep strong, don't let the system beat you.

Your son has a recognized condition and he has a right to assistance and support.

Sending you lots of love.

You are a great girl.

xoxo
Shosh
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Old 06-19-2010, 03:03 PM   #42
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Thank you, Shosh. You have been very kind to me and I appreciate that so much. We're hanging in.
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Old 06-19-2010, 03:13 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tina View Post
Thank you, Olwen -- we're hangin.' The thread gets thinner, though, as we are his sole financial support.

Pey, may I write you? I have a couple of questions (I called the attny's office today, too), but because this is so public, and I've had people use stuff I've written against me here before, I'm a bit reticent to add anything more than I have in the way of details. I promise not to burden you too much with it, though. And after looking at (and saving, thank you) that link, things definitely have changed!

I hate the government waste that is caused by all of this nonsense. I can understand if it's not made clear by medical records and a visit with their own doctor that a person is eligible, but to have people who are undeniably eligible have to wait years, spend money they don't have, live in abject poverty, and be forced to hire an attorney because of this game-playing... it seems amoral to me, and it should be illegal.
Oh, absolutely, you can write to me, Tina. I'd be happy to help in any way I can. And I totally understand the wanting to keep things behind the scenes...heck, I'm pretty much the poster child for internet privacy.
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:00 PM   #44
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Sorry to hear about your trouble, Tina. I am praying for you and hope that things get better soon.
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