Disability: Denied

After waiting nearly five months for a decision on my disability trial, in yesterday’s mail I received an “unfavorable” decision.  I don’t know how well I will write about this because in my heart I felt that I would get my disability and that the reason it was taking so long was that they were just trying to figure out how they would award me.  My lawyer’s office had said they were expecting a fully favorable outcome and when last we talked my lawyer said that the evidence presented by my treating doctors was one of the strongest he has ever seen.  I called the office immediately yesterday and they told me that they had also received the decision, that my lawyer would probably start reviewing the case today and get back to me within a week to ten days about what his recommendation would be.  I have sixty days to notify them if I will appeal the decision.  Until I speak to him I am not quite sure what will happen next.

The decision was more than 10 pages long and I have not even looked at it and don’t know if I even can.  When I saw the lies the Social Security doctors had written about me and the true results of my case not put in the exam, it nearly brought me over the edge.  I really thought the rebuttal letters from my lawyer and I would shake things up a bit, but were they even read by my judge? These doctors committed medical malpractice, they lied and they did not put in pertinent information that would have been favorable to my case…what recourse do I have towards them?  Who pays for this besides myself and my family?

I know that when I originally had my disability trial on July 19th, I did not blog about it because I felt it was too traumatizing to relive it on paper but now I feel compelled to write about it, at least the major highlights.  I truly felt I did not have “my day in court”, the judge kept looking at the clock.  I had over a dozen diagnoses, took many medications but she only asked me three questions.

1) “What do you take for your Lupus?”

“I take Orencia.”

“What is that?”

What is that?  What is that? You, the person in charge of my future, you, who hears testimony from sick people every day…has never heard of Orencia??  Do you watch television?

When we got into the courtroom, I put my feet up, as I cannot for any length of time sit with my feet down due to the swelling.  But the room was too small so I put my feet up to my chest.

2) “How come you can put your feet to your chest?”

“It is easy for me because I am hypermobile.”

“What is that?”

I would think that any idiot would be able to figure out what “hyper” and “mobile” might be.  Need I write any more about this one?

3) You take Pristiq for your depression.  What side effects do you experience on this?

“Not too many, except for the sexual side effects.”

3a) How much sex are you having?

I was in shock, what in God’s name does that have to do with whether or not I am capable of doing a job?  I looked at my lawyer and he said I had to answer the question.  I answered it, I will leave the how much or how little to your imagination but it was embarrassing and degrading.

Most of the time was spent with the judge offering up jobs that she thought I could do and my lawyer knocking down each one, I did feel he was a very good lawyer.

I think my whole trial was about 30-35 minutes long.  When she was wrapping things up I got up and told her I had a few statements of my own to make, which she allowed.

I said, “I can’t believe you are trying to figure out what jobs I can do.  I am bedridden on most days!  Every single second of my life is miserable and were it not for my child I would not BE HERE!”

I was angry and crying.  She said, “Well, I hope you feel better” and I said, “With all due respect, your honor I will NEVER feel better!”

I feel like I couldn’t have gotten a worse judge.  My lawyer said she was one of the worst he has ever experienced but not the very worst.  When I went for my court ordered doctors’ exams, people asked me what judge I had and when I told them her name one man groaned and shook his head.  Apparently she had somewhat of a reputation.

Back to the here and now.  I have heard of people needing to go to court two or three times for their disability but I never thought I would be one of them.  My Rheumatologist told me in her experience they always denied the sickest people.

As I break the news to my family and friends, I know that some will question if I am really deserving of my disability, and that maybe some of you will too.  The only thing I can say is that being this sick, and not being able to work because of it has put my family into poverty.  I will never be able to help my child go to college or maybe ever take him on a vacation.  I don’t see how they could think anyone with a family would deliberately not work if there was any way that they could.  I did work disabled for five years and I just couldn’t do it any more and I wish to God that I could.  This was not the track I was on, my future looked very bright.

Going through this process, now over two years, has been the hardest thing I have ever done, physically and mentally and if I didn’t need the money, if Grant were not also disabled I wouldn’t do it, it’s just too hard to beat this literally criminal process.  But I don’t have any choice but to continue on with this fight.

 

 

 

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About mamasick

Emily Cullen is a pen-name. I suffer from chronic illnesses and diseases which include Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Diabetes and Fibromyalgia. I had battled Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis but there is no longer evidence of me having these diseases and my Rheumatologist has declared them to be "burnt out" of my system. I am separated from my husband, “Grant”. Our son, “Tyler” was born in September of 2006 and suffers from tics and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is delayed in fine and gross motor skills. In my blog I seek to let sick moms know that they are not the only ones going through this, and to educate people about what can happens when one becomes catastrophically ill. I also strive to break down stereotypes of what a “Welfare Mom” is like. Anything that I have gone through due to being sick, is written on the pages of Mama Sick.
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18 Responses to Disability: Denied

  1. Debra says:

    I’m so sorry to read about this and so sorry for what you’ve had to go thru to come to get to this horrible news. I’ve been following it all along – and can’t believe the hoops you’ve had to go thru. I hope that your lawyer will have some good suggestions for an appeal.

  2. Tina says:

    So sorry to hear. (((Hugs)))

  3. maggiemunkee says:

    holy. shit.

    i can’t believe they denied you. i am so sorry. i sincerely hope your appeal goes better. and that you get a better judge.

  4. Maureen says:

    I’m so sorry you were denied. I hope your lawyer gets an appeal date set up for you and letters from doctors to explain how the Social Security doctors got it so wrong. Being in the position to have to apply for disability, never mind the process that comes after it, is a battle that no one should not have to endure. Hugs to you and your family.

    Maureen
    Maureen´s last blog post ..Why The Hell Not!

  5. I’m so sorry, friend! I hope it all gets turned around soon!
    Beth Zimmerman´s last blog post ..Finally Fragmented

  6. I am so sorry to read this, but not surprised, this has happened to a family member of mine, and I can tell you, she kept fighting after the first denial and did eventually win her case. So dust this off, get an appeal going, (hopefully in front of a different judge) and keep up the fight!

    Sending prayers your way!
    Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly´s last blog post ..Butterflies in your stomach {Photo} + Great Holiday Giveaway!

  7. Tendai says:

    I am sorry. This is so wrong but you do have recourse to appeal at a higher level so it isn’t over yet. I know how tiring, demeaning, demoralizing and discouraging the process can be just for myself and can only imagine the suffering you are experiencing. Your experience has lead me to ask my lawyer a whole lot of “what if” questions but I would have rather you had not experienced this and had been approved when you first applied. This is not fair and it isn’t right. It is a reflection of how brutal our society is by how we treat those who are the least able to defend themselves.

  8. Rachael says:

    This:

    “She said, “Well, I hope you feel better”

    Makes me so mad. I feel like that alone should be enough to appeal on, as the judge obviously did not understand the nature of your conditions or was not paying attention AT ALL.

    I’m so sorry, and I hope that you can appeal it and it’s as painless a process as possible.
    Rachael´s last blog post ..Friday Fragments: Photos, Grizzlies, and Puns

  9. Shannon says:

    From what I’ve understood from may people who have applied for disability in the USA, the first application is nearly always denied. That ppl rarely get their disability until an appeal, or several even. Perhaps this is applicable in your case. I sure hope so! I know all too well how difficult it is to make ends meet when you can’t work. Especially when today’s economy pretty much demands both husband and wife work full time. *hugs* hon I’m sure this isn’t the end of the road for you! keep on keeping on!
    Shannon´s last blog post ..Pain Medication Discussions and Fibromyalgia Frustrations

  10. Karen says:

    I am so sorry that your first court decision was denied! I have a ton of words that I would like to say about it, but at the moment, my fibromyalgia among other illnesses are killing me. I’ve had no sleep and feel as if I have been run over by a mack truck! There is a curse with us. We suffer from invisible illnesses, so we must fight, endure, live the hard life just so the government doesn’t have to pay up! It’s stupid, ridiculous and totally unfair!!!!! I would certainly work if I could! I don’t enjoy being in pain! I don’t enjoy being bedridden almost every day! I don’t enjoy not being able to socialize with friends and family like humans are intended to do. I don’t enjoy the anxiety, the depression and the thousand of other side effects I live with daily due to medications I have no choice but to take! We will never get better! This isn’t the flu we are trying to recover from! And they don’t get it! They don’t even try to have compassion! Empathy! Anything! And all it does is cause those of us fighting the system because we really need the help, that much frustrated! But if we were willing to lie, cheat and steal, I’m sure that we would get it then! Ugh!!!!! It makes me so mad!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Jacki says:

    How heartless to say, “I hope you feel better.” Was she even listening to your case. I don’t know much about Lupus, but I know enough not to say those particular words. This isn’t a cold.

    I am glad you have a good lawyer, and I hope that if you decide to appeal, that you have better success!
    Jacki´s last blog post ..It’s My Day!

  12. it is really unbelievable that they denied you, really hard to believe, but hope everything will be ok very soon, they will realize their mistake.

  13. Mer says:

    So sorry
    Hang in there
    Don’t give up
    You did have a horrible judge
    Mine was awesome
    I felt degraded to even be there so I really bad for you.
    My judge did ask me questions but more like, what do you do during the day, how do you eat, things like that.

  14. SickMomma says:

    Oh, Emily, I’m so sorry to hear this. I was really thinking that once your husband was awarded disability, you would be too. I’m so sorry. I’m glad your lawyer is already working on the appeal. At least you’ll have a chance with another judge!
    SickMomma´s last blog post ..Crossing the NaBloPoMo & #NHBPM Finish Line

  15. Jennifer says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about this! I cant even imagine what you’re going through. I do sincerely hope the appeal goes better. Please be sure to keep us all informed. Xoxo!
    Jennifer´s last blog post ..OH FOR PETE’S SAKE!! IT’S A HEAD COLLAR… NOT A MUZZLE!! A Public Service Announcement

  16. Caroline says:

    Horrible, just HORRIBLE! I linked over to this post from your new years resolution blog (which I will go back and read), but I just can not believe how HORRIBLE this process has been for you. I’m glad you have a good lawyer.

    And, you DID write very well about this after all. Depression and frustration be damned!

  17. Sarah Hill says:

    I am so sorry. It’s unfortunate that many people (like that judge) do not know enough about these types of conditions. Lupus, among other chronic conditions, are often called “invisible disabilities” in support groups I regularly attend. But please do not give up hope, there are resources (like online lawyers: http://www.disabilitydenials.com/ask-a-question-to-a-lawyer-online.html) that can help you out. I wish you the best of luck…and I wish everyone the best of luck!

  18. I am so sorry to read about your ordeal. It’s terrible, how difficult it has been for you. I wish people would understand, as you pointed out, that “no one would” do this to their family willingly. It’s really hard work being sick, and I don’t know anyone that would voluntarily do it. The length of time that individuals go without income before receiving any money from SSD, should be telling. Who would do that?? As for the judge, there is a special place in hell for her. I secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) wish my illnesses upon people like that. I really hope this has been resolved since your last post. I am including your in my prayers.

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