What’s a Disability Hearing Like?

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I tend to fling commas around with the reckless abandon of a drunken Mardi Gras partier with a fistful of beads ūüėČ

— 1 —

I was supposed to be in Atlanta this week. ¬†I was going to hang out with my best friend, watch her son’s high school marching band practice, and visit the Georgia Tech campus with her Sophomore daughter. ¬†I was going to cheer wildly for Katie McGarry and Leslie Lynch, two friends who are finalists in the romance writers’ version of the Academy Awards this year. ¬†I was going to have a wonderful roomie and travelling companion who understands what it’s like to deal with pain and mobility issues while away from home. ¬†Instead, I had my disability hearing.

— 2 —

I’ve been off work since mid-April of 2011. ¬†During that time I’ve had two neurosurgeries, more tests and treatments than I can count, and enough medications to sedate an entire third-world country. ¬†And the pain is no better. ¬†On top of dealing with the pain and with the depression that followed hard on the heels of losing my job of two decades I was buried under an avalanche of paperwork from my health insurance company, my disability insurance company, and SSI. ¬†Thankfully, I had a company called Allsup to help me deal with the government end of things. ¬†Otherwise I just don’t think I could have managed to get to this point.

— 3 —

As the date of my hearing drew closer I became more anxious. ¬†I’m all about being in control, and the thought of some stranger making decisions that would impact my life and the lives of my family in such a massive way had me lying awake at night. ¬†I sought out people who knew people who had experience with the disability process, but that only made me more anxious since everyone’s story was completely different. ¬†My attorney called the day before the hearing to answer my questions, but every single answer he gave me began with, “Well, that depends . . .” – so not helpful, even though it was the truth.

— 4 —

I fretted over what to wear (of course). ¬†After all, I was going to a Federal courthouse and would be meeting with a judge – a judge holding my future in his hands. ¬†Remember – I’m a bit of a control freak, and what I wore was pretty much the only thing completely under my control ūüôĀ ¬†So I ended up in a simple black above-the-knee dress with black flats and a silk fleur-de-lis print scarf. ¬†Minimal makeup, hair up in a clip as usual.

— 5 —

Thankfully, Michael was able to take off work and go with me. ¬†I honestly don’t think I could have driven downtown, let alone found an appropriate place to park or found the right department in the huge, maze-like courthouse. ¬†We had to present picture IDs and go through a metal detector, which of course was set off by all the hardware in my neck. ¬†Then up to the third floor, where I had to show ID and be wanded again before finding a seat in the large waiting room. ¬†Obviously no one else having a hearing that day had shared my concern over appropriate attire. ¬†Shorts, tank tops, and ball caps were the order of the day.

— 6 —

My attorney arrived and took me and Michael to a tiny private conference room to review all my paperwork and cover any last-minute questions. ¬†Right at the stroke of ten the court reporter knocked on the door to let us know the judge was ready to hear my case. ¬†Michael had to return to the waiting room and the attorney and I followed the court reporter to a larger room with a couple of banquet-style tables pushed up to a raised platform where the judge was seated. ¬†There was another man there, some sort of vocational specialist, who was apparently present in order to answer the judge’s questions about what jobs I might be qualified to do. ¬†I answered a few questions from my attorney and a few questions from the judge and it was over. ¬†No final decision yet, and it may be as long as two months before I hear anything. ¬†My attorney said he was confident I had a strong case, so I’m cautiously optimistic.

— 7 —

My biggest advantage was all the friends and family who were praying for me and thinking about me that morning. ¬†I could literally feel their support while I was in that room. ¬†I’m so glad I wasn’t shy about asking for prayers. ¬†And the timing of the hearing worked out perfectly for Michael to be able to go with me to noon Mass afterwards – that was the icing on the cake ūüôā

Regular readers, did you notice my grammar was better than usual in this post? ¬†There’s an excellent reason for that. ¬†I’ve discovered Grammarly, a service that allows writers to copy and paste documents to be proofread. ¬†My first draft of this post had three spelling errors, eleven grammatical errors, seven punctuation errors, and four style and word choice errors – YIKES!!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

*This post has been sponsored by Grammarly, but all opinions expressed are my own.

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