The Aftermath

My disability hearing is over. I think it went much better this time, in that the judge actually looked in my direction and allowed me to talk when I had something to say.

I’d pre-medicated for the hearing, because I was afraid if I threw up or passed out they’d make me come back and try again three years later. That didn’t make the pain of a one-hour hearing any less brutal. I hadn’t been able to keep food down for three days, so I doubted I’d do any real damage, but if I was going to puke it was going in the general direction of the adjudicator in the green suit. Really, his suit couldn’t have looked worse.

This judge actually met my eyes and smiled, and looked at me rather than down at his desk when asking me questions, which made me much more comfortable. Nonetheless, my hearing took a full hour, maybe more. I don’t usually wear a watch, so I’m going by Michael’s count – he was in the waiting room.

I think it went well. I was horribly embarrassed when I couldn’t find a word I was looking for, or provide a place in time where a certain change occurred. But since it was MY hearing, no one could jump in and save me except the judge, who did so on a couple of occasions, giving me options. It was to my own benefit that I not be able to answer questions, but I was frustrated and in horrific pain.

So the third time I forgot my own lawyer asked me the same fairly simple two-part question, then retracted it because I’d answered part of it and asked to have it repeated twice, I slapped my hand on the table and said, “Ask me again, this is important!” He did, and I replied. I have NO idea what we were talking about. It could have been the appropriate time to plant turnips for all I know.

I just remember that it was incredibly difficult for me to even stand (with my purple cane) to exit the courtroom. My lawyer had me perch on a windowsill near the exit while he signed me out and grabbed my husband to take me to the car. The lawyer was all smiles.

We found out it would be three months or more until we received a verdict (WTF?), and then thirty – sixty days after that until I was actually awarded disability. AND that if they wished they could backdate my disability not to the day I last worked (April 2011) but to when I turned FIFTY (December 2016). Seriously? Seriously.

Really? Did fifty feel like some magical age for any of you who’ve passed it? I am DONE with birthdays (of my own). They can just pass without recognition from now on. I’ve hit the age, so pay me. I know it’s supposed to be 50% of my pay, but I’m sure it will be less. Just pay me so I can go on with my life. I am SO done with jumping through hoops like a dog. Not that dogs who jump through hoops aren’t great, but I want the details of the hoop before I jump through it!

I’m Still Here.

Just in case any of you thought I’d gone off the deep end to one end or the other! No, I’m still here. I made it through the disability hearing (just barely). Without the help of my purple cane and my lawyer I wouldn’t have managed standing up and walking three yards to lean against the wall outside the courtroom. My lawyer offered to sign me out and bring my husband to me, so I didn’t have to walk any further. His name is Phil Rich, BTW, in case you are ever in need of his services. If he’d had a tail it would have been wagging once the trial was over. The judge smiled, met my eyes, and asked very appropriate questions, unlike the reptile I had last time. But the hearing alone took a full hour of sitting. In a hardback chair. I ended up in bed the rest of that day and for two days to follow. I’ve had invasive procedures that took less recovery time!

Long story short: they don’t give out results at the hearing anymore. It may be three months or more before I get a decision. And after that 30-60 more days until I get paid. And even though I’ve been in constant pain since 2009 and off work since 2011. . . odds are the only back pay I’ll get is to December 2016 – when I turned fifty. Of course that won’t even cover the debts I’ve taken on to keep a roof over our heads and our youngest in college once you consider the fees for Allsup and my attorney (both WELL worth the price!)

But I’m staggering slowly back into Social Media, so bear with me. I didn’t check my e-mail for three days, and everyone knows I ALWAYS check my email. My brother (when we were still speaking) emailed me with a request to call him at 4:30 am. This wasn’t a problem, because I checked my personal email before going to work, and I got to work at 4am. This was before cell phones were common.

Anyway, I’m here. Made it through with my dignity intact (no crying) even when my attempted suicide was mentioned. Not sure what’s to come, but it will certainly include family, food, and fur-babies!

Why Does a Stranger Get to Control My Life?

This is as close as I could find to a representation of my last disability hearing:

People who have applied for disability and not been approved at the two earlier stages end up with a hearing. There is a door at the back where the possibly-disabled and their attorney enter. The seats closest to them are where they sit, as if disability of any kind was contagious. There is a stenographer to my left on the square of tables, and a disability occupations adjudicator at the table to my attorney’s right. Directly in front of me is a dais. Once everyone is settled in the judge will enter from a door directly opposite the one I walked through. In his or her black robes, of course. My judge this time is male, and I suspect is the same judge I had last time.

So before a word has been spoken the stage is set. The judge, formally dressed, sitting higher than anyone else. The stenographer and adjudicator sitting close to, but lower than the judge and at an angle toward him. My attorney sits beside me. He doesn’t know me at all, even though we’ve been through a hearing together before and everyone insists he’s great. He was assigned to me by Allsup, a company I’ll be happy to pay since THEY jumped through all the hoops for me. If you need someone, call and mention my name. I think I should have frequent flyer points to share or something.They have a 97% success rate!

My judge has a documented 38%  approval on disability cases, which I found out yesterday. The adjudicator guy will do most of the talking. He’ll list all the jobs I could do full-time, since I clearly can’t return to Nursing. Pretty much I sit there and they talk about me between themselves. This time I’ll stand and tell my own story. No one in that room knows me or my family or what we’ve been through.

If they did they’d all give me gentle hugs, tell me I was in their prayers, and approve me for disability all the way back to the start date of 2009. My children, too, since my pain screwed up both of their lives, plus Michael’s. I don’t think they give compensation to spouses, but he deserves something for all he’s endured.

My hearing is Tuesday (the 14th) at 10 a.m. I would be incredibly thankful if my friends could pray for me, send some positive energy, or just think about me that morning, please. I’d appreciate it SO much! Even if I’ve been a bitch to you lately (as I have to most of those closest to me) just think back to the good times we’ve had and think fondly of me, even if it’s only a minute or two.

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