Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Thank God For Advocates

First and foremost I want to thank all of you who responded to my post yesterday about the exam Thomas has to do for disability. You gave me such good advice and things to think about and even hope that if he's denied SSI this time around we can give it another shot and win.

I got ahold of my advocate yesterday and she got right on top of this and spoke with the woman handling Thomas's case down in Boise at Disability Determinations. The woman was ADAMANT about Thomas having that exam. It turns out that all of his medical records were faxed only yesterday so I think the exam was set up based on the lack of records. So, for the moment, Thomas has to have the exam.

I have two thoughts in mind though. The first is that if he's denied then I'm just going to appeal. It's already set in my mind that's going to happen just because they got his medical records so late. The second thing is, though, is that since they just got all of his records (which was YEARS of treatment) I think they'll read through them and possibly cancel the exam altogether. Since the determination that he needs the exam was based on so few records initially then they will be swimming in them starting today going through everything.

My advocate told me that based on everything that she read and has obtained over time, that Thomas's case is one of the strongest she has ever seen. That's good news. She also said that this is the fastest turnaround time she has ever seen where Boise gets the paperwork and goes ahead and schedules the exam so fast. My advocate told me that most of her people won't even see doctors until January or February so Thomas's December 9th appointment shows that they are really trying to push his case through. She say she's certain we'll have an approval by January. I still think it remains to be seen.

She also told me that she's certain I'll get to sit in on the appointment. This may be tricky for me because one of you suggested that I can't saying anything leading Thomas to answer. The problem is, that's the way things go. Often in his therapy I'll say,

"Thomas, you need to tell Dr. K. about what happened last week."

"Thomas tell him what you told me about that demon thing."

The thing is, if I don't do that he won't talk at all or will just sit and answer questions with a yes, or no, or I don't know. Either that or he'll leave out pertinent information about his symptoms. Dr. K., Thomas and I have an understanding that I act as his memory and often as his advocate in that I make sure the important things get talked about. So, sitting in a meeting, like this exam, and keeping my mouth shut will be a real test for me since I'm not usually a quiet person when it comes to letting doctors know what Thomas deals with in his day to day life.

I guess ultimately it's in the hands of the big, bad government so little ol' me will have to sit back and shut up unless I'm asked to speak. Not my strongest suit but one I will acquiesce to if I must. One thing that will happen for sure though is that I am going to bring CURRENT records from Dr. K. about Thomas's new demon delusion and the dissociation because Social Security doesn't have records that current. They only have up until the end of September and A LOT has transpired since then.

The wheels are in motion and that is so good so I hope nothing but the best comes from all of it.

1 comment:

  1. Melanie.... I have been through exactly what you are experiencing now with your son. I feel compelled to give you a couple words of advice about how to proceed with Social Security at this point.
    Try your very best to get the exam for Thomas postponed until after the holidays. The only reason the exam was scheduled was because the medical records had not been received by Social Security and they wanted to move the case along. By postponing the exam, there will be time for them to review Thomas' records and an exam should not be needed at a future date.

    My son's doctor was late with sending the medical records and my son had to see a psychologist, hired by Social Security, Although I was in the room with my son, and did interject a number of comments, the whole process was limited by a standard set of questions, none of which really related to my son's struggle with schizophrenia. A lot of the questions were about past jobs and what work my son thought he could do at the present time. (Remember, your son will receive disability payments based on the fact he is unable to work), When we left the office, I truly felt that the examiner had no idea what struggles my son had faced and was currently facing.

    Social security disability was denied based primarily on the psychologist's report. My husband and I finally ended up hiring an attorney to appeal the ruling and this was the best thing we could have done. The attorney's expertise in doing this type of administrative appeal, along with a full report from my son's psychiatrist, helped my son's case. After getting an additional opinion of my son's case by another psychiatrist, the judge awarded benefits to my son. (By the way, the Social Security Administration outlines the fees an attorney can be awarded. There is a percentage amount, but the cap is set at $6,000. The fees are usually taken from retroactive payments from the time of filing. You should really check this out!)

    My son's paranoid schizophrenia made it impossible for him to work at any job. Since my son was under 21 when he became disabled and my husband was 65 and receiving Social Security himself, my son was able to receive a higher disability amount under SSDI. I think you mentioned in your blog that Thomas' dad was retired. If he is receiving Social Security payments now, Thomas may qualify for the higher amount.

    I think it is wonderful that Thomas is currently working part- time and I hope that he is able to continue the job. Working definitely will give him structure in his life and help his self-esteem. From what you have said in the blog, you seem a little uncertain about his long term ability to work. This may also have a bearing on how you proceed with the Social Security Administration. Again, it would be wise for you to talk to an attorney about the different scenarios. Thomas does suffer from a severe mental illness and it would be good to see him receive benefits that will help him in life.

    Good Luck! Hope some of this information will help.

    Thanks so much for your blog! You are providing a wonderful service for those of us who have loved ones with schizophrenia.


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