Disability, Lawyers, and COPD - Comments Please !!
I have had COPD (emphysema) for about 3 years now and its steadily been getting worse. I am on 5 different types of Medicine for my Emphysema, prescribed by my Pulmonary Doctor (all of which have undesireable side effects). Along with the COPD I started getting daily severe Panic Attacks and am taking Xanax for that. My regular Doctor filled aout a long form indicating the severity of my conditions for the SSA.
Currently I can hardly function day to day. I can no longer mow a lawn, clean a car, vacccum a rug, climb more than 10 stairs without having to rest, carry luggage, cant sleep well at all and require frequent rests. For the last year I've only been able to manage about $400 of work a month.
I am self employed (have been for 20 years) and was making $100,000 a year for a while as a computer designer/manufacturer/ and programmer. As my medical conditions worsened I could no longer travel alone, or concentrate on my work or assemble and test my computer boards. My job had involved a good deal of travel, driving around the country with a lot of luggage and tools and electronic test equipment.
I went to a Disability Lawyer and they wanted to take my case. I have been waiting for my initial decision from SSA for over 10 months. I have had xrays and many spirometry tests indicating severe COPD. And I have seen more than one Doctor and a Psychiatrist about the Anxietey.
In December (2003) my Pulmonary Doctor sent me to a local hospital for another spirometery test. They took the test and the results showed a disabling level of COPD.
But the Hospital Failed to give me the breathing test after administering a broncodilator (as is required by the SSA).
My pulmonary doctor told me I have "No reserve in my lungs".
My Lawyers told me that the SSA "had everything they needed" for evidence in my doctors report, the xrays, and in the test results from the hospitals spirometry test.
But the SSA sent me a letter asking me to take another breathing test at one of thier approved Medical Clinics. The letter said that the medical evidence was incomplete and I had to take this test so they could determine if I was disabled. My lawyers told me "NOT TO GO TAKE THIS TEST"
I finally called the SSA and told them that I had already taken a spirometery test at the local hospital but they told me the test wasnt done the way they require (no broncodilator was administered)
So I disobeyed my Lawyers and went to take the test at the SSA approved Clinic where they did administer the broncodilator. I dont think the Lawyers were happy about me doing this.
Like the test at the hospital, the results of the test at the SSA Clinic also showed me with a very disabling level of COPD (FEV1 reading of .97 after the broncodilator - it's supposed to be 1.55 for my height)
After making thier decision, but before sending the decision to me the SSA put my case "under review".
I called SSA again last week, the "review" had been completed and I am supposed to recieve my first decision letter any day now.
I think the Lawyers did this to "extend" the length of my case so they could make more money.
Does anybody want to Hazard a guess about the decision or comment about the lawyers advice ?????? Sorry this was such a long one.
Last edited by TheHappyMan; 04-27-2004 at 04:09 PM.
Well I would hate to think they would do that, but lets face it, the longer it takes, the more back pay SS owes you. Thus, more money for them. I know the max is 25% or 4or 5K. I have heard anything from 4,000 to 5,300. I'm not sure which one it really is. As far as hazarding a guess on the decision, I don't have a clue. I also am awaiting a decision. I also posted a question asking for guesses as to what my decision would be according to the fact they have not requested me to go to their doctors, or have that residual functioning test. My ortho said I have had every test they would need over the last 3 years. He also stated that he didn't see how they could deny me. However, as I read more and more on the internet about people being denied, it really makes me wonder. I just don't know what to think anymore. I am just putting it in Gods hands now. God knows how dire my financial situation is and he will take care of me. Good luck and I pray you will receive a fully favorable decision any day now. (And I will too). I have heard some people say they actually received a check before they received their determination letter. That would be nice. I pray you and I both have some good mail in our boxes by the weekend. Take care.
Most good attorneys would advise against seeing an SSA doctor for any evaluation. To be blunt many of them are hacks. Seeing an SSA doc only gives SSA the opportunity to create evidence that may be unfavorable to your case and used later at hearing to support an unfavorable decision even though all of your treating physicians say otherwise. And a smart judge who does not like your case can use one unfavorable evaluation to sustain an unfavorable decision despite your treating physicians opinions. Besides, it is your right to have your own treating physicians to perform any necessary evaluations deemed necessary by DDS, SSA or even OHA.
But I am curious about your comment "I think the Lawyers did this to "extend" the length of my case so they could make more money." Are you referring to their advice not to see the SSA doc, or do you believe that they somehow delayed the process by putting your case "under review"?
In general I would agree with you not to go to an SSA Doctor if possible except in this case I knew that my test at the hospital did not adhere to SSA regulations for a Pulmonary Function Test.
I meant that the Lawyers told me not to go to the SSA test because THEY KNEW VERY WELL that the test I had done at the hospital DID NOT ADHERE TO REQUIRED SSA PROCEDURES (in this case because no brincodilator was adminitered). And I told them so. The SSA regulations for Pulmonary Function Tests are clearly detailed on the SSA website and in other documentation. If the Lawyers had been concerned about SSA regulations regarding pulmonary function tests then they would have advised me to go to another Pulmonary Doctor so I could get the test done right. All the Lawyers had said was that the SSA "has everything they need to make a decision"
If I had not gone for the test at the SSA Clinic the SSA could and most likley would say -
#1 that I did not cooperate with thier request for the test and
#2 The Hospitals test was not performed according to SSA regulations (no broncodilator was administered)
So I surley would have been denied for one of the reasons above. I saw the results of the test at the SSA Clinic and they showed me to be severly disabled with COPD according to SSA standards so I think I did good for my case, not harm, although in general I would agree with your comment.
My concern was simply to prove to the SSA that I have Severe COPD, which is on thier list of "severe impairments" and to do it according to thier "requirements"
And the Lawyers never put the Case under "Review" - It was the SSA that did that. Some kind of "Quality Control".
I feel like I was caught between a rock and a hard place.
I hope, in my case, I did the right thing.
I also requested that the SSA send the test results to my Pulmonary Doctor and then I will get a copy for my Lawyers.
I am trying to stay on everybodies good side but I have to look out for myself too.
Do you think I did the right thing ?????? Please comment.
Have a nice day ???
Last edited by TheHappyMan; 04-28-2004 at 08:10 AM.
I can think of many good reasons why your attorneys may have advised you as they did, but that is unimportant. The fact is you do not trust your own attorney to act in your best legal interests. You should fire them immediately and find someone you can trust or represent yourself. You could have asked them why they were advising you as they did but you apparently chose not to and assumed the worst. Since you clearly do not believe that they are representing you honestly, you should terminate the relationship. Good luck with your case.
Well, I did ask them why they were advising me not to go and thier reply was "Well you dont want to go do you ?"
And, to be honest about it I do trust them and have no intention of terminating our relationship.
I have done everything they requested, save this one thing. And after I went to the SSA exam I called them and explained to them why I went. They replied they understood and "Well, we are glad you went to the exam"