Community Questions

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The lawyers at Jeffrey A. Rabin & Associates, Ltd., are frequent contributors on the Internet volunteering their time for live chats and to answer posted questions at different websites on Social Security Disability Insurance law issues. These include sites dealing with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis and ankylosing spondylitis.

We have received the permission from the webmasters to cut and paste the questions and answers from the websites. We will indicate the website and leave the questions and answers as they were originally posted — typos and all — except to delete the poster’s identifying information.

We will also continue to add new questions and answers to this page.

A FIBROHUGS QUESTION:

Posted By: C T
Date: Monday, 1 December 2003, at 12:35 a.m.

I am very new at this and need to know just how and where to start a disability claim. I am in Wisconsin. I have lost my job as general manager based on my performance. I know this was caused by my problems with memory lapse and exhaustion. I am back to working part-time only and find I need to take Darvocet to get through the day. Now this has become a strain also. I feel useless, trapped and lost. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Posted By: Jeff Rabin
Date: Monday, 1 December 2003, at 8:44 p.m.

In Response To: disability (C T)

Hi C –

First, Social Security benefits are only available if the medical proof will establish that for at least 12 months you are so impaired that you can not perform “any substantial gainful activity”. In 2004 that means at least $810 gross per month so if you are earning that in your part time job you are not totally disabled and probably not eligible for assistance in these programs.

Second, you should talk with your treating rheumatologist and find out whether there are some accommodations that may be reasonable to both you and the employer so that you can continue working – it’s almost always better to work than to be on disability.

Third, you should download some of the chat transcripts from our live chats here on Fibrohugs – there is a lot of information that will help you understand the law, the different programs and what you need to do to prepare your claim. The link is on this USA Law page and is pretty easy to use.

Fourth, if you, the treating specialists and your family agree that disability is the way to go, talk to an experienced representative so that you can make sure that your claim will be as strong as possible.

I hope this helps.

Jeff Rabin


Posted By: M
Date: Monday, 1 December 2003, at 11:34 a.m.

In Response To: disability (C T)

I’ll tell you why. But first, just let me say that I am very sorry for what you’re going through. I know that feeling oh so well. You left a job that you were probably really good at but had deteriorated because of this DD and the associated meds we have to take just to function.

Listen, I tried to work for as long as I could…and I tried to function. I was driving company cars off the road. I was falling asleep at my desk. I couldn’t concentrate or communicate correctly anymore.

SO, my point it….YOU TRIED harder than I did. I for one, although I know it doesn’t mean much, applaud you for trying to keep it going. I’m sorry that your employer fired you. Did they know how you were struggling? Did they try to accommodate your needs? They obviously didn’t care enough to do it…who knows…but bottom line is, you did what you had to get by. You did your best and now you have to move on. Everything happens for a reason. You probably need this time to rest. But I DO understand the financial burden and the stress of this too.

Anyway, I’m really sorry and you are NOT alone. This can be a tough process. As the other post says, you may get turned down on the first try or two. But who knows!?! Just get started with the process. You can also apply on-line too. Just put Social Security Disability in your search engine. I don’t think I’m allowed to give you web addresses on these boards. But that should do the trick!

Jeff will give you good advice about how to proceed. In the mean time, hang in there. Take care of yourself. This too shall pass. Bottom line is, if your job performance was affected by your illness, chances are there isn’t a job in the world that you could do. THAT is what you have to ‘prove’ to SS. They need to know that you can’t do ANY job effectively. The fact that you tried and failed, may help your case depending on the records of why you got fired.

Keep your chin up! Keep the faith. Please let us know how things go!

HUGS! M

A FIBROHUGS QUESTION:


Posted By: L
Date: January 2004,

I’d like to hear from those of you who were denied SSDI but approved on reconsideration. Is there anyone here who was originally disabled for mental problems, but them developed FMS?

Also, what new information do you think helped you win upon reconsideration?

L


Posted By: Jeff Rabin
Date: January 2004, at 7:35 p.m.

Hi L –

Often claims are approved at reconsideration because there is more medical evidence of both the diagnosis and the severity of the symptoms on the ability to function. The additional time gives the reviewer a better “longitudinal” view of the severity of the problem over time.

Nationally, though, only about 17% of cases are awarded at reconsideration and that is one of the reasons SSA is testing phasing this stage out of the program.

Jeff


Posted By: M
Date: January 2004, at 10:06 a.m.

Do you mean that you were denied by letter? Has it been once or twice? More often than not, with fibro, you will get denied on paper and then when you meet with the ALJ for the hearing, you have a better chance at winning. (Obviously, no guarantees).

I was awarded after the hearing (two letter denials prior to that). I was awarded for severe depression AND severe chronic pain due to fibromyalgia. So it was a based on both.

I come up for review in a little over a year.

Let me know exactly where you are in the process…

Hugs! M


Posted By: L
Date: Saturday, 10 January 2004, at 12:04 a.m.

When I first applied, it was for major depression, attention and concentration problems, and although I reported migraine, they said it wasn’t severe enough to count.

My depression is better, but I have lots of anxiety and “nervousness”. I keep Xanax on my person all the time and take it when I feel like I’m about to psycho out and hurt somebody. My letter said I was better and could go back to my previous occupation as a child care giver. No way would I be responsible for children for an extended period of time. Although I have never done so, I have lots of times with my own kids that I am “this close” to really hurting them.

I have various complaints, but none of them individually or together was considered by SSA to be disabling. I am aware of my limitations and I take care of myself–which includes not taking on more than I can physically or mentally handle.

My concentration is dramatically worse than a few years ago. I have to read the same thing over and over to retain some of it. I stay off my feet as much as I can because if I don’t I suffer for it. I wear $400 orthotic insoles, but I still avoid being on my feet too much.

Between migraine, extreme fatigue, poor concentration, troublesome feet, widespread pain and poor grip, and other problems, I think it is unrealistic to expect me to hold down a regular job. Employers need dependable people. I never know what my body is going to do. My ex husband was very upset with me today because I took my daughter to school 1 1/2 hours late because I had a migraine and severe back and neck pain that I waited from 5:45 for about 3 hours until I was able to get out of bed. He told me that I’d never hold down a job as undependable as I was. I didn’t say anything back to him (no point in arguing), but that is my point in applying for SSDI. I have a part time (3-4 hours one day a week) cleaning a friend’s house. I did go today, but I had to lie down on the floor half way through and ice down my neck and back. There have been many days I have been unable to clean her house either for physical reasons, or mental (having panic attacks or depressed.) She NEVER has complained when I didn’t show up. I don’t know of any employer that could reasonably allow that kind of flexibility. I might have even a few good days in a row where I feel like “Oh, I might be able to work”, but I always get laid low again.

My letter from SSA said, “you have these problems, but none of them are severe enough to keep you from working.” I beg to differ. I have told them that I am trying to work, but so far I haven’t been able to work 20 hours a week, and I haven’t made any money. I’m wanting to be self employed and work in real estate wholesaling.

Well, I am in the process of filling out my paperwork for the review. Then, I guess it is out of my hands. Nothing would please me better than to get a real estate deal or two under my belt (along with a couple of partners who take up my slack!), and be able to say, “Thanks, but I don’t need SSDI anymore!”

L


Posted By: Jeff Rabin
Date: Saturday, 10 January 2004, at 11:54 p.m.

Hi L-

It sounds like you are seriously disabled. Just remember, what you are saying is NOT proof. The proof that will be relied upon by SSA must come from your treating specialists – the treating psychiatrist and/or psychologist for the depression, anxiety, concentration issues; the treating rheumatologist for the FMS fatigue and pain.

Their clinical notes must be documenting your ongoing symptoms and limitations – those notes are often more important than the reports they write.

If you don’t have an experienced representative helping you, NOW is the time to retain someone.

Jeff


Posted By: M
Date: Saturday, 10 January 2004, at 12:44 p.m.

Encouraging that you can do that with the real estate. If that works out you don’t have to go through all of the struggle, which, by the way, I think is so cruel for us to have to endure.

Isn’t it a shame the way we have to fight for something that many of us so deserve. I wish I could do what you’re doing and have something that may work out!
Good luck to you! Hugs!

M


POSTED ON CLOUDS

k
New to Clouds
Posts: 11
(10/27/04 6:41 pm)

Question about benefits for family

I requested my earnings statement and it reads that my payment would be $905.00 a month for disability. It also reads that my spouse and my children would get $712.00 each with a family cap of $1630.00 if I should die. I found information on the SSA homepage that states family benefits can be applied for if I am found disabled…..I do not have to die for them to get the payments. I am confused about this. If I am granted disability status will my spouse and children begin collecting also or is that only if I die? Will I only get $905.00 or will my family get the monthly capped amount of $1630.00? Lastly, are SSD payments affected by disability payments.


Jeff Rabin
SSD Attorney
Posts: 1344
(10/29/04 11:53 pm)

Re: Question about benefits for family

Hi K –

If you are found totally disabled and eligible for SSDI, you will receive your monthly check, and your children who are under 16, or who are 18 or younger and still in high school, would collect benefits on your account up to the family maximum.

Your VA benefits have no impact on your SSDI eligibility.

Jeff Rabin

A PainAid Question

Posted: Nov 17, 2002 06:15:08

Don’t know if you have the url for your members, but the bluebook Drs are supposed to use in determining disability is now online and folks can look up what it is that has to go into the report. They often don’t know, file incomplete reports, and it leads to sometimes years of trouble getting benefits.

http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/

Hope this helps some people.

H

PA_JeffR
Admin


Posted: Nov 18, 2002 21:41:52

Hi H –

In fact, SSA’s website at http://www.ssa.gov/ is an excellent site – one of the few things SSA does really well!!! I use it for much of my research.

One caution, however. Meeting the Listings (that’s the information contained in the “blue book”) is only one way of having a claim approved. We win many of our claims with analysis not related to the Listings, focusing more on symptoms and the ability to sustain work function. You can’t rely just upon the Listings to win your claim.

Jeff Rabin


POSTED ON CLOUDS
D
Welcome to Clouds
Posts: 1
(10/26/04 9:21 pm)

school and SSI

I am currently in the process of filing for SSI benefits.

After three years of various tests and treatments I was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in May of 04.

Last year at this time I was working three part time jobs, one of which was my own business, as well as going to college and participating in organizations on campus. I can no longer work at all, or participate in any organization, but I am still going to school. I have classes four days a week for a total of three hours, and to be honest I haven’t been to a weeks worth of classes since the first two weeks of the semester and I left for home early at the end of last semester. All I want to do is graduate so that if this ever goes away I can have a life and a job.

Do you feel that my still being in school will have a negative effect on my claim?

k


New to Clouds
Posts: 10
(10/27/04 6:33 pm)

reply

I am also filing for SSD….I have been out of work and disabled since 2000, but I haven’t filed for SS benefits until now. I am also a full time student (online classes) and I am concerned about the impact on my application. I would gather that although the effort is not the same as a full time job, the SSA would consider that the school work would require a level of functioning that would be grounds for denial. There are however, programs that disabled individuals use to collect benefits while they are attending school or other forms of training that may make them employable.

Good luck with your application and I will post with any information that I may encounter about this.


Jeff Rabin
SSD Attorney
Posts: 1343
(10/29/04 11:46 pm)

Re: school and SSI

Hi Dutchess and Kimberly –

Attending school may show some ability to function – attend classes, maintain concentration and attention, carry books, interact with others, maintain a schedule. If however, your schooling is very limited, or intermittent, then it should not preclude a successful claim as long as the treating specialists are still supportive.

Going to school is not going to be determinative one way or the other – it will be evidence of some ability to function, and may also help demonstrate some serious limitations in your ability to sustain activity over lengthy periods.

I hope this helps.

Jeff Rabin


POSTED ON CLOUDS
h
New to Clouds
Posts: 43
(10/27/04 11:36 am)

Help Please…Have Been Denied

Good Morning All…Sorry I haven’t been around for a long time. Life has been very hectic! Hope everyone is fine.

I was turned down on my application for disability and need to file for a hearing. Where to I go from here. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Have a wonderful day,

A


Jeff Rabin
SSD Attorney
Posts: 1341
(10/29/04 11:16 pm)

Re: Help Please…Have Been Denied

Hi A –

1. Get the appeal on file as soon as possible – in most states the first level of appeal is called “Reconsideration.” Some jurisdictions are part of a pilot project testing the elimination of the Reconsideration step – in these areas you go from initial application to hearing before an administrative law judge;

2. Get an experienced representative – I strongly believe that Claimants should hire a representative as soon as their application is filed and should NOT wait until they are denied;

3. Make sure your treating specialists are supportive – SSA puts a great deal of weight on the specialists – in FMS cases that means the rheumatologist and/or pain specialists. If depression is also an issue, that means the treating MD psychiatrist or Ph.D psychologist.

I hope this helps!

Jeff Rabin


POSTED ON CLOUDS
k
Welcome to Clouds
Posts: 1
(10/25/04 7:54 am)

ezSupporter

Need rep in NC

I have received my first denial, and now feel the need to find someone to help me along. Can anyone recommend a representative in the triad area of NC? I am willing to travel to someone that can help professionally. Thanks in advance.


Jeff Rabin
SSD Attorney
Posts: 1340
(10/29/04 11:07 pm)

Re: Need rep in NC

Hi –

There are a number of ways to find an experienced representative. First, ask your friends and doctors for referrals – they may have dealt with people in this area of the law. Second, check with your local support groups – others in the group may have also filed for benefits. Third, you can either check with your local bar association for a referral, or our national organization – the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives at www.nosscr.org. Finally, there are attorneys like myself who do sometimes represent people nationwide. Feel free to contact me at our toll free number, 1-888-529-0600, and I would be happy to talk with you about your claim – no fees or obligation for just chatting. If you do call, make sure you tell the person that answers the telephone that you are a Clouds friend.

Jeff Rabin


POSTED ON CLOUDS
J
New to Clouds
Posts: 33
(3/19/02 10:54 am)

Should you have a lawyer from the start?? For Jeff Rabin

Jeff,

I spoke with you about 6-9 months ago and because of my pain specialists lack of records I didn’t feel I could win so I gave up and never filed.

Now I have a new therapist who is treating me for an escalating problem with anxiety with agoraphobia, which is wrapped into what she believes is colitis and or IBS. I haven’t seen a gastro doc yet to confirm any of the colitis or IBS, so I don’t have a diagnosis of those. BUT>>> She asked me If I wasn’t already on SSD and I explained about my doctor’s lack of records and not saying I couldn’t work, combined with his initial report that states I seemed to “over-react to his exam and sometimes reacted when he was barely pushing just the upper layer of skin/fat”. I read his words to you in a phone conversation and you agreed with me that it pretty much stated he didn’t believe I was in real pain. He doesn’t realize that even brushing against some areas is painful. But I do see him regularly and he gives me a lot of meds to help.

ANYWAY>>> when I told my new therapist about the SSD she immediately said, “you get the forms and I will help you fill them out. There’s No way you can begin to handle working” She knows it’s hard for me to even leave the house with this horrible anxiety. She said that most of her clients have gotten disability and from her knowledge it’s sometimes easier to get SSD on a mental claim than it is on FM or a similar physical claim.

Is that true?? She is willing to write her report for me and make sure it says what I need for it to say.

That being said, I picked up the forms yesterday and wanted to know if I should have a lawyer before I file? They made an appointment for 3 weeks, but I read that you should go in person. I can cancel the appt, and/or reschedule. How can you get them to do it over the phone? Is that better? Should I wait until I can see a gastroenterologist and maybe have the colonoscopy done to prove colitis or IBS?

I am sorry for all the questions. Maybe some could be better answered over the phone, if you don’t mind giving me the number again. I don’t want to ruin my good chance to have someone help me know that I have a doctor who believes what I am really going through by messing up the forms and no having all my stuff ready to go.

Thanks! So much! Pardon the typos. It’s too hard to type as it is. I can’t spend the extra time reviewing everything. Sorry.

J


Jeff Rabin
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 566
(3/19/02 5:50 pm)

When do you hire a lawyer

Hi J –

My telephone number is toll free 1-888-529-0600 – feel free to call – no problem.

I have a different view from many other SS attorneys on when to hire a representative – I believe in hiring someone as soon as your application is on file – many others wait until you have been denied. Will take a moment now and explain.

I believe in hiring someone early on for three basic reasons: 1. as you already know ,the education we share – you of your history, mine of the law – makes a huge difference in your medical treatment and care – your claim is now far stronger because we spent the time talking and educating you on what you need in terms of proof – if you hadn’t consulted early on w/ someone with experience, your case would be much weaker by the time you got to the hearing level.

2. The group of forms after the Disability Report are very detailed and are often used to indict your credibility and deny your claim. While I won’t fill out forms for clients, I do review them and check the answers. The general rule we follow is that the forms will never win a claim (only medical proof can do that) but they can be the basis for a denial and we help limit that risk.

3. We can talk the adjudicator’s language and that sometimes helps cases get paid early on.

The reasons lawyers say wait to hire me is:

1. Giving them the benefit of the doubt: many claims are so obvious they do get paid early on and why should that person pay an attorney’s fee. There are some cases that strong and sometimes I do tell folks, wow, you are so clearly disabled, just go do it. For the other 99.5% though I feel the education and support you get from a lawyer is worth a small fee, even if the claim is paid early.

2. Not giving them the benefit of the doubt, many lawyers don’t want cases early on because the fees are smaller – we get paid a contingent fee of 25% of back benefits – if the case is paid quickly the fee is small. My philosophy has been : “so what” – if I make a very small fee because I win early, the client is happy and will just refer more work to me. That’s worked pretty well for me so far.

As for the issues of the depression – claims are stronger when you combine severe impairments, and combining FMS and depression makes your claim even stronger.

I hope this helps – look forward to talk to you.

Jeff


j
New to Clouds
Posts: 34
(3/20/02 10:13 am)

Thanks Jeff…another ??

Do you think that it’s better to file in a phone interview…or in person? I have seen articles where they say going in person is a BAD mistake because they look at everything.

Jeff Rabin


Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 570
(3/20/02 9:29 pm)

Filing

It makes zero, zip, nada difference whether you file on the phone or in person – there are usually fewer mistakes if you file in person, but the not enough to make a big deal – it’s the only time I let clients use SSA’s 1-800 number…whichever is easier -just get it done.

Jeff


POSTED ON CLOUDS
j
Welcome to Clouds
Posts: 1
(10/19/04 9:18 am)

how do I find a good lawyer to represent me?

Hi,

I am trying to find a good lawyer ( one that will really go to bat for
you ) in the west central florida area. Somebody recommended a
lawyer, whom I have contacted via e-mail, but I haven’t heard back
from him as of yet.

Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks.

– J


Jeff Rabin
SSD Attorney
Posts: 1339
(10/20/04 9:49 pm)

Re: how do I find a good lawyer to represent me?

Hi J-

There are several ways to find an experienced representative for your Social Security claim. First, talk to your friends, relatives and other lawyers you may know. You can get a good referral that way. Second, ask your doctors who they may have dealt with in the past. Third, check with local support groups, or national organizations in your area such as the Arthritis Foundation. Fourth, you can check with your local bar association for a referral, or our national organization – the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives – at www.nosscr.org. Finally, there are lawyers like myself who do represent people nationwide – you can call me if you’d like – no obligation for just chatting – on my toll free number, 1-888-529-0600. If you call, please tell whoever answers the telephone that you are a Clouds friend.

Jeff Rabin


POSTED ON CLOUDS
Author

Comment
s e
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 130
(3/12/02 1:15 am)

list of health problems– SSD — need help

Hi, I do hope some one reads this and can make sense out of it. May1999 back surgery disc L4- L5 May 1999 hemorrhoidal surgery Aug. 1999 knee surgery. Oct 1999 back to work, doing great. Dec1999 on the job injure left leg foot hip. Hip is still jammed ham string awful. Foot surgery 3 times now , carpel tunnel surgery 2001 , thyroid tumors removed 2001 foot surgery again. All this time I have had to fight workers comp for any help and fight my insurance just to keep it. I have FMS- CFS now TMJ due to thyroid goof up . I finally got insurance to allow me to have physical therapy on foot and hip , one week before that I bent over to pick up a pair of sock and now have L4-L5- S1 and nerve damage. I can’t have PT now. Of course now I have BP , depression, anxiety ,IBS , all this has left me somatization syndrome. I have not worn a shoe in two years and have to have a cane to walk . My results just came back from knee doctor , due to no help I have tore out my knee and the only thing to do is knee replacement. Workers Comp paid for 3 months and dropped me on controversial of back. Do I have any grounds to get SSD , I have 2 ortho 1 foot surgeon and Family doctor that say no work. There words are just be careful you could really do some damage at this point. DUD What have I had so for. Any help would be appreciated . Thank you G


Jeff Rabin
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 556
(3/13/02 1:47 am)

List of health problems

Hi G-

Of course from that description it sounds like you suffer from severe symptoms that would impact on your ability to work and may be totally disabled.

Realize that a list of health problems is not the issue. Everyone that applies for SS disability benefits has a list of health problems. The focus is on what does the medical record evidence establish in terms of ongoing symptoms and the impact of those symptoms on your ability to perform work related activities. Also, age, education and work history are factors – often negative ones.

The issue would be on what objective findings are in the records of those orthopedic doctors and their opinions on your ability to sustain either sedentary or sit/stand option work. It certainly sounds from your post as if you have a claim that should be aggressively pursued. This also, of course, assumes you have sufficient quarters of coverage for SSDI.

Finally, depending on the onset date your workers comp claim may impact on the SS claim.

Jeff Rabin


s e
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 135
(3/16/02 5:27 am)

Re new replay to inform all – SSD — need help

I do have and Attorney for Workers comp and SSD. Its just that there is so much, I wonder if they can make ends to it. I thoughts of writing it up, for them like DR XZ 1999 why I saw him and if it was – SSD or WC and also do for my attorney the same with wittiness , also all the money and meds and travel , ETC needs to be keep up with some where , I think ? Do you think that this might help my people or drive them nuts. I just feel that this was me ,and I was there at all points and I know more then they will ever learn about things. I feel sorry for them, there is just so much to go over. Thanks G


Jeff Rabin
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 560
(3/16/02 11:09 am)

need help

Hi G –

Don’t worry about the attorneys – if they need your help they will ask for it. Remember, at least for the SSDI claim, the history is not that important since the focus is on your current ability to function and how you’ve been doing since the onset date of your becoming totally disabled. For the attorney it’s usually just a matter of ordering and reading the medical records on those key impairments which really are the cause of your being unable to work. They will manage to get it organized.

Jeff


Jeff Rabin
SSD Attorney
Posts: 1339
(10/20/04 9:49 pm)

Re: how do I find a good lawyer to represent me?

Hi Jamie –

There are several ways to find an experienced representative for your Social Security claim. First, talk to your friends, relatives and other lawyers you may know. You can get a good referral that way. Second, ask your doctors who they may have dealt with in the past. Third, check with local support groups, or national organizations in your area such as the Arthritis Foundation. Fourth, you can check with your local bar association for a referral, or our national organization – the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives – at www.nosscr.org. Finally, there are lawyers like myself who do represent people nationwide – you can call me if you’d like – no obligation for just chatting – on my toll free number, 1-888-529-0600. If you call, please tell whoever answers the telephone that you are a Clouds friend.

Jeff Rabin


POSTED ON CLOUDS
c
Welcome to Clouds
Posts: 1
(3/25/02 8:04 pm)

question

I’m a newly diagnosed PT with FMS and a plethora of other problems that began when I was 22. I’m now 26, I had a brain tumor and a lot of side affects after the surgery and that when the pain came and wont leave….are we really eligible for ssd benefits? I am working for american express and have exhausted my family for this year and my std benefits after taking 10/01-03/02 off as medical leave and my job is now in jeopardy, the only reason I came back to work is because of fear. All the lay offs and my medical benefits. c


Jeff Rabin
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 584
(3/25/02 9:24 pm)

Question

Hi C –

Certainly if your doctors agree that your symptoms are so severe that you can’t sustain any type of full time work activity then you could be eligible for SSDI. We’ve represented many people with FMS, with brain tumors, with chronic pain and all types of other ailments and been able to get this assistance for them. It depends on the cooperation of your treating specialists and some persistence on your part!

Jeff


G
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 412
(2/28/02 2:48 pm)

Just called Soc.Sec.office 1st time today, I’m Afraid…..

Hi.

This is Ginny, I’m sure you’ve seen me on the site, mostly FM discussion site, since last Sept. My son found me the site.

Well, I don’t know why I did this, guess I’ve had enough, I have FM and I believe other problems, my son Brian, 19, had surgery 1 day after his 19th b-day last sept 27th, and my husband 63 has hep.c, still working hard to support my son and I. Brian is trying to remain a full-time student at a local comm. college, he has all he can do to do that, let alone work, we are both on meds. and we just keep blood levels so far on my husband, but we don’t know how long or if he will have to go on disability and get treatment. so today, I called our local ssi office and they made app. for both Brian and I on the phone on March 15th at 1;30pm.

I’m so afraid because my rheumatologist told me not to waste his time or mine trying to get disability on FM alone, but I do believe there are other concerns, anxiety, depression, woman problems, chronic pain and fatigue, to name a few. I also called a local psychologist this morning and she is going to call me back with an app. both my drs. have told me to see somebody but both have left me on my own.

so far I have all the names of the drs. addresses, phone numbers, etc. and the ssi said that they would get the records needed.

well, as I sit here I shake because I know what a hard time people have, and the guy at the office sounded like it would be so easy, I know I’m in for the fight of my life and I don’t know if I’m up to it, I know I’m not, can you give me any tips please, I believe I’ll have a nervous breakdown just for calling.

Thanks,

G


Jeff Rabin
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 542
(3/1/02 1:30 am)

Afraid

Hi G –

Best tip I can give you is to hire a lawyer now – then you don’t have to go through the process alone. All the lawyers who really focus in this area of the law work on a contingency fee – that means that you do not pay any money unless the claim is approved by SSA. If it is approved, our fees are the LESSER of 25% of the back benefits, or $5,300, the statutory cap. The fees are whichever is smaller. Since it is contingency, you don’t have to pay any money as a retainer or hourly.

You can get a lawyer by talking to friends, your local support groups, asking your doc, calling your local bar association, or checking our national organizations web site at www.nosscr.org. I also represent people nationally and you can feel free to call me at 1-888-529-0600 — no fees for talking to Clouds friends!

Jeff


G
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 428
(3/1/02 4:21 pm)

Re: Afraid

Jeff,

We’ve decided to hold off on Brian’s because he’s just been diagnosed with the Crohn’s after his surgery last Sept. 1 day after his 19th b-day, he wants to see how it goes, he seems to have a lot of FM symptoms, he had mono before, just like I have before I knew I had FM

Should I postpone my phone interview until I get a lawyer, I just feel like quitting, I get extremely anxious just thinking about it, my own family doesn’t believe me, except for Brian, why should anyone else. I think I’ll cancel for awhile.
I don’t know what to do.

Thanks,

G


Jeff Rabin
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 544
(3/2/02 9:51 pm)

Afraid

Hi G –

When people call me at this point in the process I tell them to go ahead with the telephone interview and with completing the Disability Report. Generally, you can’t hurt yourself with those two steps. However, I do recommend that you start finding an attorney to review the facts of your claim with you, and set up a plan for proceeding through the process. Don’t wait, and don’t let fear of the process stop you from applying – that just lets the bureaucracy win at your expense.

Since those of us who concentrate in this area of the law all work on contingency fees, you don’t need any money up front and we only get paid if we win, you should be able to find an attorney to help you. Be advised, however, that not all attorneys agree with my position regarding getting involved at the initial level. I feel strongly about this, however, others prefer to get involved later in the process. I do not agree and like to get involved as soon as someone has had their interview.

Jeff


G
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 432
(3/3/02 8:28 pm)

Re: Afraid

Hi Jeff,

I thank you for your help, but I really feel at this point I don’t stand a chance, my rheumatologist, who has been the only dr. I could find to believe in FM in Massachusetts, told me not to waste his time or mine, SO DO YOU REALLY THINK I STAND A CHANCE?
I’m going to see a lady psychologist, I need too, plus shes helped a lot of people get disability, at least she should be able to steer me a little better.
We are expecting our 1st grandchild in April, I want to get all THE JOY FROM THAT LITTLE BABY AS I CAN, without worrying about anything else.

I’ll keep in touch as I go along.

God Bless you and thanks,

G


Jeff Rabin
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 546
(3/3/02 11:48 pm)

Afraid

Hi G –

Well, it sounds like you and the rheumatologist are not on the same page and that you two need to communicate a little better. If he truly feels you can work 40 hours a week that will make any claim based upon FMS very difficult to prove. If depression is a true problem then treating with the psychologist is wise and you can see what she says.

In the meantime, enjoy the grandbaby…

Jeff


G
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 434
(3/4/02 1:49 pm)

Re: Afraid

Thanks Jeff for your support, you see, I’ve only been seeing this rheumy since last Sept. even though I’ve been through Hell with pain clinics, etc. NIGHTMARE I’D LIKE TO FORGET-DO YOU BELIEVE A CURE IS POSSIBLE? Oh how I pray for that for all of us who want to wake up and live a normal life…Jeff, am I nosy, but do you have FM or somebody you love? You can tell me none of my business, but I’m a curious person and you seem so caring and I figure there has to be a reason. Also, I don’t know if my rheumy feels I can work 40hrs a wk., I never asked him and he never said, all I know is HE CAME IN LOUD AND CLEAR WHEN HE SAID NOT TO WASTE HIS TIME OR MINE TRYING TO GET DISB. ON JUST FM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, Jeff, in awhile I’m going to call and cancel our phone app. I’m crying as I write this because the system shouldn’t be this way, with all my heart and soul, I’m praying for a miracle, I want to wake up everyday and go to work. I’d love to work at our local elementary school, I’d love to be a teachers aide to preschool, just know I’d miss too much school now, and then I’d just get fired.

Well, God Bless you Jeff for being you and for having an extremely warm heart.

G , I hope a new friend….

PS I haven’t filed my profile on ezboard yet, need my son to help me, bye for now….

Jeff Rabin


Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 547
(3/4/02 10:33 pm)

Afraid

Hi G –

It’s up to you to pursue your claim and don’t recommend that you stop now – you can abandon a claim at any point, and there is no cost to filing. Just talk to the rheumy and assure him that if he’ll support that the fatigue and pain preclude full time work, lawyers like myself will advocate and fight for no money up front.

As for my background, no family members with FMS. Just a lot of clients who suffer – not only with FMS, but with CFS and MS and chronic migraines and Crohn’s and Rheumatoid Arthritis and back injuries and depression and PTSD and RSD and all types of medical problems that make you feel so lucky when you can get up and enjoy a day without pain. I’ve been blessed, so if I can help a little, it’s my honor. Paula and Rich do a great job here and created a nice place on the Internet, I’m glad that I can contribute.

Jeff


G
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 446
(3/6/02 10:43 pm)

Re: Afraid

DEAR JEFF,

I’M SO GLAD YOU DON’T HAVE THIS BECAUSE THEN YOU WOULDNT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO HELP EVERYONE YOU HAVE. I KNOW SOMEDAY I’LL HAVE TO CONFRONT THIS AGAIN, BUT I’M SORRY TO SAY, ITS ALL TO DISCOURAGING FOR ME. I WON’T EVEN GO TO THE PSHYCHOLOGIST TOMORROW, I GUESS I’VE BEEN KICKED IN THE HEAD TOO MANY TIMES AND I JUST DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT ANY OF THIS TO ANYONE WHO DOESNT CARE ANYMORE. TO ME, ALL THESE DRS. WANT IS OUR MONEY, FOR NOW, I’M GOING IT ALONE, I REALLY WANT TO WORK WITH PRESCHOOL SOMEDAY, I PRAY THE LORD HELPS ME TO DO THAT, I DON’T WANT TO BE LOCKED UP IN THIS PAIN ANYMORE, AND I WONT FILE AGAIN UNTIL I KNOW I’LL WIN.

THANK YOU FOR BEING SUCH A CARING MAN AND LAWYER, THAT TO ME RIGHT NOW, IS A MIRACLE.

MAY GOD BLESS YOU FOR ALL YOU ARE DOING, I KNOW HE WILL.
G


b
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 107
(3/10/02 12:31 am)

Re: Afraid

don’t be afraid you can always start over if after your interview is over, the way it went for me was I had to go down to the social office and it was a bad day I was in the middle of a flare up and they helped me as much as they could be the paper work you get sent or they send you must be back to them in 10 days if not you would just have to start over, and least you would know what you have to do soft hugs and handshakes

B


Jeff Rabin
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 551
(3/10/02 11:32 pm)

Knowing you’ll win

Hi G –

I’ll make you a deal – since I’ve been helping people in this area of the law for more than 20 years – and since when I do get hired I don’t get paid unless I win – let’s agree to talk. No fees for just talking. You seem convinced you’ll lose – if I agree after we talk, then I won’t take your case and you lose nothing but a few minutes on the telephone with me. If I think we can win and can come up with a plan that also helps your health and future, then we’ll go for it together. Please give me a call toll free at 1-888-529-0600. I’ll be in the office all day on Monday.

Jeff


W
New to Clouds
Posts: 18
(3/11/02 1:20 am)

Don’t give up hope!

Hi Ginny,

I wanted to drop you a note and let you know that you are not alone.When I started filing for my disability I tried doing it alone.It was a major pain and I was ready to give up.That’s when I found this site and decided to call Jeff.Well I have to say that is when my whole outlook changed.Before that I was convinced that I didn’t have a chance of winning but now I know I will get my disability.After I talked to Jeff and got him to help me it was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.Him and his staff are there anytime I need them.They are always so helpful and nice and make sure everything is in order for you.There have been times when I was so depressed that I was in tears.Jeff would talk to me on the phone more like a best friend than an attorney and by the time the conversation ended I had hope again.I suffer from terrible pain daily caused from deg. disc disease, spondylosis, ruptured discs, and arthritus.On top of this I suffer from seizures.Jeff and his staff takes care of all the work for me and all I have to do is let them know when something changes with my health.A few weeks ago I had multiple things changing with my health and my meds.I didn’t know what I should do as far as notifying Social Security.I emailed Jeff and explained the situation and he answered my email the same night telling me not to worry.He took care of everything including contacting my doctors for the medical reports and everything.All I had to do was drop him an email and it was taken care of.Anyway I am sorry this is so long.I just wanted to let you know how much they have helped me and made this whole nightmare so much easier.When you decide that you are ready to take that step it is so much easier having someone by your side to help you.I had always dreamed of becoming an accountant someday and I still hold onto that dream but for now I have to get through this stage in my life and concentrate on getting my health back.I wish you the best in whatever you decide to do and remember whatever your decision we are here for you if you need to talk.

Gentle Hugs,

W


Jeff Rabin
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 554
(3/11/02 4:40 pm)

Re: Don’t give up hope!

Hi W –

I just wanted to thank you for writing such a nice note – I hope you don’t mind but I cut and pasted it and sent a copy to my staff – sometimes just a nice word like that makes everyone perk up a little bit and get that little extra satisfaction from their day – and in this case, your note helped a lot!

Jeff


W
New to Clouds
Posts: 19
(3/13/02 1:29 am)

Jeff

You are so welcome! I am happy that you showed it to the staff and that it brought their spirits up.When people like myself seek help we run into mostly rude and uncaring people.It is nice for a change to find someone that treats us like human beings.I am just thankful that I found this forum and all the understanding people here.

Gentle Hugs,

W


POSTED ON CLOUDS
w
New to Clouds
Posts: 7
(2/17/02 1:18 pm)

Winning case

Cloudies, I sent a message about 2 weeks ago to announce that after almost 3 years I was approved for ssi and ssd. I have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic back pain and severe depression. I had a bad representative that passed himself off as a lawyer which he was not. He told me that lie for almost l year. Of course I was turned down by the judge. I had no where to turn and I saw Jeff Rabin’s name on Clouds and I took a chance and called him for advice and to help me find an attorney in my area. I explained all the problems that I had and he said to send my denial and he would look it over. He called me a couple days later and said he would take my case. He got every medical report that I needed, answered all my questions, helped me fill out all the paperwork that ss sent me and even flew to my State and went to court with me. He is remarkable and now I am going to pay my bills and keep my house. I would recommend him to anyone who wants to win their case. wildcat48. If anyone wants to know anything else about him, send me a reply and I will get back to you. Sorry so long, but I can not praise Jeff enough for what he has done for me.

V


New to Clouds
Posts: 7
(3/14/02 4:17 pm)

Re: Winning case

Hi, where is the lawyer from what state? How much did it cost?

w


New to Clouds
Posts: 9
(3/15/02 12:12 am)

great attorney

Jeff is from Illinois around Chicago. He charges 25% of your backpay if you win and nothing if you don’t. He is a really great attorney and really keeps up to date on all your medical bills and he is really a nice man. He came here with me to go to my hearing with me. If you need to know anything else, let me know.


POSTED ON CLOUDS

di
Welcome to Clouds
Posts: 1
(2/23/02 10:09 am)

Help

I am a 33 year old recently DX with fibromyalgia. What next?? I have 3 kids 2, 6, 9. I have the best job of my life. But now it is hard to do anything I seem to be in constant pain. My co-workers (including my supervisor) think I should work on getting disability. I am confused and don’t know where to turn from here. I finally got a appointment with a specialist March 11. Any advice/ guidance is appreciated.


Jeff Rabin
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 537
(2/24/02 9:21 pm)

Re: Help

Hi –

Generally we suggest to people to work as long as possible – perhaps your employer can make work possible for you with some reasonable, inexpensive accommodations. Most people seem to want to work as long as possible.

If you get under the care of a rheumatologist or pain specialist who agrees after seeing you several times that you are totally disabled by the fatigue and pain (don’t forget to discuss the fatigue at every visit) then it’s time to file for SSDI. You can get some basics from SSA’s web site at www.ssa.gov (it’s one of the things SSA does well). You should also talk to an experienced representative at that time.

Good luck – let us know what happens.

Jeff


di
New to Clouds
Posts: 2
(2/25/02 8:47 am)

Re: Help

Thank you so much Jeff.


POSTED ON CLOUDS
S H
New to Clouds
Posts: 9
(2/23/02 2:22 am)

Six Months Since Informed of 2 year Review

Hi, it is now over 4months since I received notice I was up for 2 year review. I filled out the short form and added a paper detailing I see 3 doctors at least once a month and receive several injections each month in an attempt at pain control. I have not heard a single thing from them, and my checks keep coming. Other people are saying they are contacted, sent for exams and/or have records requested etc. I have not heard one thing; in fact, on the forms I returned they didn’t even ask what doctors I see. The reasons for my recent visits were extreme pain, suicidal ideation and depression. Could SSD have lost my file? I don’t want to call as it may open a can of worms, so to speak. Should I just assume they have decided I am still ill (I have gotten much worse since my original approval)? If so, am I not supposed to get a letter? They are driving me insane…..without SSD and Medicare I might as well hang myself, like I tried to do last month…..thanks for reading this….S

Jeff Rabin


Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 535
(2/24/02 9:15 pm)

Re: Six Months Since Informed of 2 year Review

Hi S –

I can’t tell you what to do — in some ways no news is good news – most of my clients who end up having full blown Continuing Disability Reviews hear something back much earlier than 6 months. Generally we assume that if they have heard nothing then the adjudicator has agreed that there has not been sufficient medical improvement and benefits will continue.

If you are still uncertain then you’ll have to either go to the local office, or call the adjudicator processing the CDR.

Jeff Rabin


S H
New to Clouds
Posts: 11
(2/24/02 9:32 pm)

Re: Six Months Since Informed of 2 year Review

Thanks, Jeff. I know I’ve been a pest before about this but it really means our very financial existence. Maybe the monthly consistency of my doctor visits as I reported on the form indicated the extent of my illnesses. Not everyone has to get a bunch of marcaine injections just to make it through the week! At any rate, there is no doubt I’ve gotten much worse than I was two years ago; we all wish and believe we are going to improve, but it doesn’t always happen, unfortunately. BTW, you are a great help on this board and we all appreciate your interest. Well, like my husband said, as long as they are paying, then don’t worry! Best wishes, S

Jeff Rabin


Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 539
(2/25/02 12:05 am)

Re: Six Months Since Informed of 2 year Review

Hi S –

never a pest….and, glad if I can help here…

Jeff


L B
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 103
(1/30/02 5:23 pm)

JEFF-NEED ADVICE

Hi Jeff. I left a message at your office, but you were in Virginia. I talked to you last year, but I was still working. I had to reduce my hours in August, quit Oct. 4, 2001, and filed for SSDI January 4, 2002. I just received the activity list, and I’m scared to death I’m going to fill it out wrong. I’ve heard to keep it simple. Do I go into detail of my pain, or just answer short and to the point? Any other hints would be greatly appreciated. I hope you read this soon. I have that “10 day” limit to return it. It sure is scary. How do you try and convince a stranger how much pain and fatigue you’re in??!! Thanks for your help.

L B


Jeff Rabin
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 509
(1/30/02 10:17 pm)
Reply

Advice

Hi L –

It was good to talk to you on phone again and look forward to meeting you and husband…we’ll try and help you out.

As for the form, as we discussed, those answers will almost never win your claim – SSA will always focus on the medical evidence – but those answers can damage your claim by innocently contradicting medical reports, not being really accurate, etc. We always suggest having a representative by the time you complete those forms so that she/he can review your answers with the other information you have provided and help lessen the chance that they will harm your claim later on.

See you soon.

Jeff


G
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 268
(1/26/02 12:00 am)

My Rheumatologist told me not to waste his time or Mine?

He said you can never get SSI for just FM, well tons of other baggage goes with FM, where do I go from here, how do you even know if you could qualify. The registry gave me a handicap card, I feel like that the biggest BLESSING IN THE WORLD, SSI WOULD BE A MIRACLE!!!

God Bless and gentle hugs,

Ginny from Massachusetts


c 1
New to Clouds
Posts: 12
(1/26/02 12:29 am)

Re: My Rheumatologist told me not to waste his time or Mine?

G,

Go ahead and apply for ssi. You don’t need your rhumi’s permission. I applied 2 years ago and have a hearing coming up soon. Get a different rhumi also, mine is behind me 100%. You are right that FM comes with a lot of baggage. I suffer from depression, arthritis, anxiety disorders and chronic fatigue because of my FM, and that just to name a few things. Start off with your General Dr. and have him find a rhumi to work with. My Dr. and rhumi are in contact with each other about my case and are both behind my SSI application .

GOOD LUCK AND KEEP IN TOUCH

C 1


Jeff Rabin
Wind in the Clouds
Posts: 507
(1/26/02 5:09 pm)
Reply

Rheumatologist and the law

Hi G –

If I could not get my clients with Fibromyalgia SSDI benefits my practice would be much smaller. The doctor is right, these are often difficult claims, but the law allows for payment based on any medically determinable impairment which precludes the ability to perform any substantial gainful activity.

Obviously many FMS claims are approved – you’ve read the posts here on Clouds of the visitors here who have been successful. The doctor may just not be aware, or may not have had many of his patients approved. You should retain an experienced representative to help prepare your claim and if need be, talk to the doctor. His office notes, his clinical findings and his written opinions will be key to your claim.

I rarely advise people to switch doctors – to me, that is not a lawyer’s role – unless they feel the doctor just isn’t helpful in their medical treatment. You should print out some of the older posts in this section of Clouds written by people whose claims were approved.

Good luck – let us know what happens!

Jeff