Sunday, May 13, 2007

Obtaining Disability

I was let go with a group of people that were laid off at my place of employment. I know it was because of my illness, but I was in denial and did not want to stop working. I was also the only good source of income because my husband is disabled. I wish I had filed for short and long term disability when I was working. I was filled with too much pride and wanted to continue working.

I finally applied for disability online and I was denied. I gave up and prayed daily. Soon after a lawyer's assistant called me and said I had called their office about disability. I did not remember doing that..Fibro fog! Anyway, I told him I was denied, he said they could help me. So I let them take the case and I finally won. It was not easy because you have to still fill out paperwork, answer questions, etc. Fortunately, I had taken medical leave and my doctor referred me to a Pain Management Specialist who in turn enrolled me at St. David's Rehabilitation Program for people with FMS/CFIDS. That experience was hard but helped me. I felt so good I returned to work too early. I lied to my PCP and had him sign a release form so I could go back to work, we needed the money. Bad choice because I transferred to another area of the company and that manager did not know me or my background. So I ultimately got laid off. I was in denial and did not want to file against the company. Anyway, I did hire that lawyer (no upfront fees) and now receive disability.

These are some of the things I did and the paperwork I added to my claim:

1). Hire a lawyer
2). I saw my PCP on a regular basis.
3). I continued to see the Pain Management Doctor.
4). I told my lawyer about the different doctor's I had seen and the Rehabilitation Program I had used.
5). I had my sister write a letter describing me, how I had changed socially, physically and mentally. It hurt her to write it and it hurt me to read it, but it helped.
6). I had a friend that worked for me and helped me when I first started having symptoms write a letter. I was an IT Project Manager. She wrote down what she saw and how she helped me along the way. I thank God for her help and for her letter. She described how I used to work and how I went down. It hurt to read it and it hurt her to write it, but I needed it to help me get my disability.
7). I had my sister write a letter that I tried to dictate to her about how I felt, my pain, fatigue and how I tried to keep working.
8). I wrote a letter to my congressman and explained my situation, illness, financial problems, etc. because it was taking so long to get an answer from Social Security. It is a long wait, so it helps to write your congressman. If he is a good man, he will write a letter on your behalf asking about the progress of your claim. He cannot write about you, but he can ask about the progress and time it takes to get disability.
9). I attached my resume, educational background and comments on how I was not able to function in that capacity or any for that matter. Why? Because of the amount of time I required sleep in order to even feel human. I was sleeping 22 hours a day! No exaggeration. My Mother was afraid I was going to die in my sleep. My husband and I tried to explain to her that I was weak, required sleep and was in a lot of pain. Sometimes I could not sleep at all. I could not function, sleep or no sleep. I could not even remember words, what a cup was, I had to point to things I wanted. It was terrible. I described my grief, my inability to function as I used to, the person I was and how I missed work. I still have some days like that.
10). I also informed my lawyer of the different Fibromyalgia studies I had enrolled in for help.
11). I also had other health problems, I listed them all.
12). Keep records of your work habits and how they have changed overtime due to your illness and have another work colleague document it.

The key is not to leave anything out, even if it hurts. The first time I was turned down, they felt I could work part-time. I wish I could, I would not make a good employee right now or then. They look at the whole picture and your education to see if you can do some type of stationary work. If you cannot function mentally and concentrate, stationary work does not make a difference.

I hope and pray this information helps someone today.

Fibro Viv

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