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Old 08-24-2011, 05:51 PM   #1
joanne23 joanne23 is offline
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Had my ALJ Hearing Today

I'm not quite sure what to think of it. My case is based on the following

Anxiety with agoraphobia and Panic Attacks
PTSD
Depression
Eating Disorder
OCD
Constant neck and back problems from car accidents
Migraine headaches at least once a week
IBS

I first filed in 9/09 with an onset date of 3/08. Their psychiatrist confirmed the above (about the mental disorders), said I had a GAF of 45-50 and actually said in his report that I am not fit to work but I still got the standard 2 denials. When I arrived, I met with my lawyer who told me that I would have a slam dunk case if not for the fact that I have been taking some online courses with the local university. I explained to him that this was a course of treatment recommended by my therapist to help with my depression, feelings of worthlessness, and to get my mind off the constant anxiety and worry. I explained that I have never once stepped foot on campus and I only spend about 1- 1 1/2 hours per day spread out into 30 min increments on schoolwork. I am also registered with the schools disability resource center and for this I get extra time to do assignments and extra time on any tests. He said that regardless, they are going to say that if I can do this that I can work. I asked him how they can expect me to work if I cannot even leave the house on a regular basis and he said that the vocational expert would counter that there are jobs that I could do at home just like I do my schoolwork at home. Really? Cuz before I lost my home, ruined my credit rating, and practically killed myself for being so poor I looked for any such job and there are none. He then told me that the judge might then say that I was disabled from 3/08 to 09/10 which is when I started back at school but then I would just get the back pay and no monthly payments.

Well as if I wasn't nervous and riled up already, after hearing this from the attorney, by the time that I got into the courtroom I spent the first 20 minutes crying and making a fool of myself. There were no tissues in there and no one offered one. I had snot dripping down my face and those awful throat sounds that happen when you are crying. I felt like an idiot! When they finally started questioning me at first I couldn't really talk, but I somehow managed to pull it together. I tried to explain to the judge the difference between what schoolwork is right now and having the pressures of a job. He kept questioning me about my dogs to which I explained that my roommate helps me with daily care such as feeding and she is the one that takes them to the vet when needed. One of my problems is germ phobia and he asked how come I wasn't afraid of their (the dogs) germs. I explained that in my mind it is just different. The dogs don't trigger the OCD for some reason. For example if one of my dogs sneezes in my face I don't worry that I am going to catch the flu from them whereas if a person sneezed anywhere near me I would freak out. Then the vocational expert chimed in and said "that doesn't make sense". REALLY? Are they supposed to chime in like that? Nothing about anxiety or OCD makes sense, that's the nature of the disorder.

Anyway then my lawyer was discussing with the judge about how he could give me just the back pay from 3/08-09/10 OR he could grant me full benefits, OR he could grant me full benefits and then require a re-check in 12 months. The judge was really acting like he wanted to make his decision right then and there but couldn't make up his mind. He then ZEROED in on something that I told my therapist one day about going to the park with my dog. This was over a year ago. The park is directly across the street from my house and it was ONE time. It's not like I go there everyday. I was just TRYING it out. I am TRYING to get better and in order to do that I need to take small steps like that. He then asked the vocational expert if he had anything more to say and he stated something to the effect of " I think she is starting to get better and if you grant her full benefits she might stop trying to get better and just collect payments." That really upset me so when the judge asked if I had anything more to say I told him that I hoped that he would see the fact that I am trying to go to school as evidence that I do not want to be like this forever and that I am actively making an effort at getting better so that I can one day be a productive member of society. I may have said some other things but I don't remember. The judge looked like he was still trying to decide right then and there and then finally said that he wanted to review my file more thoroughly and that he would send the decision in the mail.

I'm so glad it's over but now I am worried that I will get screwed out of benefits from 9/10 on and that I will not get the monthly payments that I desperately need. I am in no condition to work even if I can attend some classes online. If I don't get the monthly payments I will be in bad shape. Now I get to stress for the next 30-60 days which is how long they told me it might take to get my decision.

 
The following 2 users give hugs of support to: joanne23
sickandtired99 (08-25-2011), sunni123 (08-24-2011)