It was a good day yesterday.
Why? You ask.
Well, at 12:30 in the afternoon Thomas's phone rang and I listened as he said a lot of "Okay's" and "uh huh's" and then hung up. I was in the kitchen when he walked in and he said,
"That was Social Security. I don't have to go to that exam."
Ha! I thought so. I thought if they would just read through all of his medical records that they would realize that he actually is sick and doesn't need one of their stupid exams. So, it turns out that they had received the faxed records of Thomas's the day before yesterday but only yesterday actually read through them, making the determination about the mental status exam based on that. Thank God!
All of my worries disappeared after that. I just knew that if they could read his records that they would have all they needed to make a decision. Then yesterday evening a comment came in to my website and I thought I'd share it here with all of you because it was filled with good information about the process and I know some of you are going through this process too. Here is what it said:
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.
Hopefully this will help some of you too.
This morning, at what I consider an ungodly hour, Thomas and I travel up to see Dr. N. By the time this posts, we'll be on the road and Thomas will have had to gotten up at 7am. I feel horrible for him since that'll be a full 4 hours earlier than he usually gets up. I'm sure he'll be a ray of sunshine.
I can't blame him though. I will come in to this appointment with him today, though, because Dr. N. needs to know all of the things that have been happening lately. Thomas's dissociation is a concern and while I know it can't be treated with meds, and I'm happy about that--just what we need, more pills, I think that Dr. N. needs to know that is happening.
I'll post tomorrow about how that went.
One last order of business. For those of you who are wanting to participate in the advent calendar, when I post one, just click on the picture of the door and it'll take you to a website I created that has something fun, funny, inspirational or crafty. The whole thing really is just about fun (as opposed to the heavy schizophrenia stuff) so I hope you'll go to them just to brighten your day. I'd also like to hear about it in the comments section here when you come back to this page. I need feedback to know if this is something you guys even want.
I'll see you tomorrow!
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