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Hang In There! Hang In There! Hang In There!



I will have to tell you that I am SO happy with my son's SSA hearing that - regardless of what decision they make - it was just SOOOO nice to be treated with respect and courtesy for a change (from SSA, that is) instead of being snapped at, talked down to, and treated like I was semi-retarded.

But wow! Do you have to hang in there!

I honestly believe that someone INTENTIONALLY tried to deny us benefits, regardless of whether we were eligible.

What has convinced me of this - is that they tried to dismiss my appeal as "untimely" by saying since I didn't appeal the FIRST decision (the lump sum death notice letter they send right after you report someone's death) that NONE of my appeals could be considered timely - even the appeal I submitted after actually being allowed to file for survivor benefits.

Aside from the fact that I DID file an appeal to the first decision (but the local office didn't file it as they said I had no right to appeal)- I had the right to appeal the INITIAL decision that was made AFTER they let me apply.

Actually - they wouldn't let me apply (kept telling me I wasn't eligible) UNTIL I submitted the first appeal - asking to be allowed to actually APPLY for benefits BEFORE making a decision that I was not entitled to them.

So they let me apply - and denied me NINE DAYS later. Seems like they were in such a rush to deny me they couldn't even WAIT the 10 days you have to correct any errors on your application.

So I appealed that too!

But the next person refused to give me a reconsideration - saying the second denial (after I was allowed to apply for benefits) was merely a "supplemental notice expounding on the original determination, and thus irrelevant."


So they were trying to say that if a widow does not appeal the notice that is an AWARD for lump sum death payment (but also says you aren't entitled to any other benefits on that application) she can NEVER appeal.

ACK!!! They FINALLY decide whether you are entitled to monthly payment FIVE DAYS after reporting your spouse's death to them????

Anyway - when I read up on my options - I was SICK!!!

Though I knew the decision wasn't fair - I found out that a decision to dismiss your appeal as untimely is NOT an a decision which you can appeal!

OMG! I thought they had me and there was not a dang thing I could do about it!!

What an effective way to take away someone's due process and block them from getting adminstrative review of their claim!

Doesn't it seem like if you ARE entitled to benefits - they should let you go through the process to get them - and if you are NOT entitled - they could at least let you go through the process of getting a FAIR HEARING to decide that?

Not these folks!

Anyway - I finally found something that said you can't appeal the dismissal of your appeal - but you CAN ask that the ALJ or Appeals Council to REOPEN a claim if there is an "error on the face of the evidence"

So when I was denied a hearing - I wrote to both the judge and Appeals Council and asked them to reinstate my right to due process (which had been unfairly taken away) as it was an error on the face of the evidence to say that someone had to appeal a decision prior to the time it was made. (Yep. They said I had to appeal within 60 days of Feb. 19 to be timely, though I wasn't allowed to file the application for mother's benefits until mid- May and the decision wasn't made until the end of May.

And the Judge and the Appeals Council are my HEROS!! - because they sent my claim back and made them give me a reconsidered decision - which put me back in the due process loop!

But wow - for a while there - I thought they had me - and that all I would be able to do is keep submitting evidence to the same people who had taken away my right to due process - and asking them to reopen - which of course, they wouldn't - and refusing to reopen is ALSO not an appealable decision.

And believe it or not - I believe they tried to take away my son's right to due process too!!

When he was denied - we got a letter to ask for a hearing. And we did. And by this time I was smart enough to take it to a DIFFERENT office and get it DATE STAMPED.

And oh was that guy MEAN!!! Whew!!! It was actually our former office that had always been so nice -- but I didn't know that remark was on the query screen telling everyone in Social Security that I tried to play the offices against each other (though this was the ONLY time I went to another office -- 5 months AFTER that remark was entered). Anyway- he told me it was MY fault that our claim was all messed up and I actually had to BEG him to submit our appeals (he was refusing to take them at first!!)

I left that office SOBBING and SOBBING and SOBBING- just absolutely sobbing!!! I was so tired of being treated so awful and not knowing why... I had to wait until I could recover some before I could even drive.

I almost gave up then -- I just felt like it wasn't worth it.. but I could keep hearing my husband say "NO! Don't you back down!!!!!" (What made him madder than anything is if I started backing down in an argument when I knew I was right).

So I just kept letting that "No! Don't you back down!!" guide me. (And also thinking from time to time when they were being mean -- "Hey! If my husband was alive - he'd be in here kicking your &#&@ right about now if he saw you being mean to me like that!!!..Well, he wouldn't really kick them.. but he would talk to them in a way that they would probably prefer to be kicked..)

And I am SO glad I did not back down and made him date stamp my copy - because guess what? The Hearing Request never made it to the Hearing Office... or anywhere -- I guess it disappered!

My son got a letter in May telling him they could not accept the evidence we submitted (and we were submitting PACKETS AND PACKETS) BECAUSE -- he was TOLD to ask for a HEARING - and a reconsideration was NOT in order.

ACK!!!!!!!!!! They were acting AS IF he had NOT asked for a Hearing!!

But guess what!! WE had a DATE STAMPED COPY of the Hearing Request!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I sent THAT DIRECTLY to the Hearing Office and asked that they accept it - and asked that they accept the date stamp as evidence it was timely filed!!

THEY DID!! Whoo Hoo!

I am SO glad I got that date stamped copy even if I had to go through hell to get it!

So anyway - Cover yourself - Protect yourself from those whom have a duty to assist you (but work against you instead) and HANG IN THERE! HANG IN THERE! HANG IN THERE!!!

I am convinced that someone tried to take away my right, and my son's right, to due process. And I can think of no other reason than that they tried to prevent us from getting benefits to which they knew a FAIR HEARING would SHOW we were entitled to.

It is sad there are people like that working in the system.



Edited by free_spirit_etc
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