Catching Up: Disability Hearing

Hello!!!!! *waves* Hi!!! How the hell has everyone been!?!

I’ve been….well…..I’m living lol and I guess that’s a good thing, but also I have been missing writing and sharing my, sometimes unwanted, opinions and thoughts about things. I still struggle with the fear of talking too much about my pain self and all of the things she goes through. Though we are, indeed, the same person I find it hard to accept that part of my life all the time and let it into everyday life. It seems like it’s all or nothing. Either I am all pain talk and nothing else, or I bury the pain stuff and talk about, well, everything else.

*sigh*

I’ll let you know if I ever figure it all out.

So many things to tell you guys about. What’s the biggest news right now?

Hmmmm….

How about I tell you about my Disability case with Social Security?

Yeah?

Okay.

I had my court hearing on the 20th of September (I know, it’s been a minute) and it was really not as bad, and every bit as bad as I thought it would be.

After all of the conversations we had about my last post Look the Part, I decided to go middle of the road. It was almost 80 degrees here that day so my maxi dress wasn’t out of place and it was covered with a wrap type thing. I did wear makeup, just the basics which is something I would do any other day too and I did put my hair up in a messy bun. I looked presentable but not “done up”. In retrospect I should have taken a pic for you guys.

Sorry.

So it was at the Social Security office in Minneapolis in a huge building on the third floor in a tiny space you would never guess was government property. I’ve been in court rooms before and this was nothing like those times. The room court room was small and crammed full of people around a table in the middle of the room. There was a bench to the left and the judge sat at the front of the room on a slightly raised platform. His court recorder (the only other female in the room) sat to his left and the doctor, vocational expert, my lawyer and myself all sat at the table in the middle of the room. A huge downside was my The Hubs wasn’t allowed in during my hearing, so it was just me with all of these men asking questions about why my vagina hurt.

Prior to my hearing Ed and I met in a small conference room to go over our “strategy” and so he could prep me for when and how to answer questions. He told me to give short, concise answers when the judge asked me questions, but to elaborate when it was Ed’s turn to ask questions.

The judge asked lots of questions, and the amount of information he had about me was almost terrifying. Every single doctor appointment, every single thing I ever said to a doctor was right there staring me in the face.

He asked about my attempts at a gym schedule, the elliptical we bought for the house, the knee injury I sustain in a two-minute wrestle match with The Hubs. The times I tried to cut back on pain meds, physical therapy, vacations, you name it; it came up. While I think his impression was that I seemed quit able, I had the opportunity to explain that the elliptical only lasted three weeks because the pain flares were too much. The gym schedules never solidified because I am almost always recovering from some kind of surgery. Yes, I’ve been on vacation and yes, I have been the pumpkin patch; I’m in pain I’m not dead (I promise I didn’t say it quit that sarcastically).

It was a lot of explaining that while on vacation the kids did water slides and running around I did lazy rivers and laying on lounge chairs. The judge seemed to want to understand and did ask me to elaborate on the questions I gave that were short which I think was a good thing. Ultimately though, when it came time for the “unbiased” doctor to comment on my case it did not go wonderfully. When the judge asked him if my conditions qualified me for Disability the doctor said “Well there isn’t a listing for Pelvic Congestion Syndrome so, no, it does not qualify her.”

Thankfully Ed was able to redirect the opinion by getting the doctor to admit that yes, it is possible for me to be in as much pain as I am based on my conditions and that yes, they would legitimately keep me from working consistently. If nothing else, I’m not embellishing or making it up. (This is a whole different topic that we NEED to discuss)

The vocational expert was not so convinced and determined that based on my physical abilities I could work in a job that only required minimal use of my arms and upper body for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

This was a tough one for me guys. I wanted to say “Are you kidding me? I’m a smart, capable woman who is determined and could do any number of high functioning positions.” And then I remembered that I shouldn’t say that because that wouldn’t help my case. It felt so insulting. So demeaning to the other work I have done. To this blog right here.

Ed, again being so fantastic, reminded the vocational expert that the problem isn’t so much what I am capable of physically or mentally but that the pain gets in the way. The problem isn’t that I can’t think or move my body; the problem is the pain flares that keep me from leaving my couch, the meds that cloud my mind and make me forget things. The problem is that no employer can have an employee who contributes in any real way leaving every few months to have surgery and recover for six weeks at a time.

The vocation expert advised that that would be based on employer tolerance and I may be able to find a job that would allow that. But he did agree it would be difficult. The problem is he doesn’t have to worry about whether or not I can get the job, it’s whether I can do the job. So it’s all kinds of tricky.

It’s been three weeks since my hearing and I haven’t heard a peep from anyone. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad but I’ve got enough on my plate to keep me busy while I wait for an answer. If they rule in my favor I get a big ol’ back-pay check to September 5th, 2013 and then monthly benefits after that. If they say “no” I have solid grounds for an appeal but I honestly don’t know if I can go through all this again.

People who are fighting cancer with ports in their bodies or a limited life expectancy get denied Disability every day because they are technically physically able to do a job so I’m feeling like a shot in the dark here. I honestly don’t know what to do……

I’ll keep you posted.

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