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SSDI ALJ Hearing, DENIED


AimSmall

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Hey guys. So, Im 100% P&T, combat vet. PTSD, TBI plus other various issues. 36 years old going on 106. Major memory, anger, anxiety and concentration issues, ect ect. Most of you guys know the rest.

Anyway, Denied once, appealed, denied twice then waited months for my hearing. A year long pile of crap, and just saw on my online SS website that I have been denied.

The Hearing:
So the guy was respectful enough during the hearing, thanked me for my service and all that. I had my issues written down on a piece of paper so I wouldn't forget them. I was holding it together pretty well, shaking like a leaf (anxiety sucks) but felt I was articulate enough to get my points across. My "lawyer" said I did well and was credible. The vocational expert was on the phone, said i could have been a marksmanship instructor, rural postal delivery or document prepairer. Lawyer got her to admit that there were no jobs for me for someone who would would be "off task" so much ect.

Judge finished with "for better or for worse, for what its worth, thank you for your service". Ha. 

Why they even had to go the "off task" route is beyond me because even my medical records fit the Blue Book PTSD descriptions to a "T". This is ludicrous. Im pretty pissed right now. I just got wind of this. I wish i could sustain gainful employment. I was in the reserves for several years, but that barely qualifies as "part time"... hell, I mostly did that to keep fooling myself into feeling kinda "normal". So here I am. Financial hardship. Looking at doing an appeal. Meanwhile, some 20-something year old gets approved who has hurt-feelings and "fybromyalgia" or some damn thing. This judge is known for being a prick though, from a local lawyer in my area and has a 35 or so % approval rating. They sent me 8 hours away, even though Spokane is less than 2 from me. 

The Lawyer:
I used "American Disability Alliance". They were kind of hamfisted the whole time about various things. They didnt follow up with me about records (supposedly they got them all to the SSA but Im not sure) and towards the hearing date I called..... they had missed the previous 6 months of treatment records! They farmed my case out to some local lawyer, who seemed pretty decent. I felt he could have been more aggressive for me, but who knows. 

Lessons Learned:
Not sure yet. I can tell you this sucks. All of it. 

Pretty pissed about the whole thing. I have a family of 5. Im in financial hardship. Guess Ill try an appeal. Trying not to lose hope.

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Its unusual to be denied when you are 100 percent.  Yes, go to an appeal.  Ask your lawyer.  

A lot of times they expect a young person (age 33) to retrain, not necessarily in their old line of work.  Its the "broken leg" mentaility, which does not apply to PTSD.  

With a broken leg, then you can retrain to a sedentary job.  However, how many people want to hire someone with PTSD that is weapons trained and could go on a shooting spree in their office?  

This is what those "national" firms do..they farm it out to someone local.  Better off to stay with a local law firm.  

However, if you have financial difficulties on 100 percent P and T with dependents, around 3300 tax free, that is probably because you live in an area with a high cost of living OR, maybe you are not used to living on that little so you are not frugal with your money.  Dave Ramsey, on a radio show, has great advice for people wanting to get out of debt.  You could listen to his show.  

   I get by ok on 100 percent and now get Social Security.  However, my house payment is under 600 per month, so a low percent goes to housing.  In my area, homes can be purchased (3 bedroom, brick, 2 car garage) for 60 or 70 k, so if that home is 300 k in your area, its no wonder you have financial problems, paying out 1500 or more for rent or house payments.  Your housing should be no more than a fourth (better is 20 percent, or less) of your income.  So, if you make 3200 from VA, your housing should no more than 800 .  If your housing is over 700 or 800 per month, you are gonna be stressed financially.  As a disabled person, you cant expect your income to rise to your standard of living, you have to adjust your standard of living to your income.  

     When you get a loan, the bank wants you to go up to 33 percent of your income, so you can work to support the banker.  

     My "guess" is that even if you get an extra 1000 from social security, you would soon be financially strapped again, unless you make some changes.  Please dont take this as an insult, it was not intended to be.  You asked for advice, and I gave it.  

When people ask for advice, I asume they want it, and I dont just give advice "they want to hear".  (My ex used to tell everyone "what they wanted to hear" regardless of truth.   So, they felt good..for maybe 5 minutes.)  

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I wish I had a mortgage payment of 600.00 month.

but so for our mortgage does not put us in dire straits

Based on housing cost in the DF/W Area its about 250.000.00 my house was 268.000  payments with Insurance was around 1900 monthly  but we got the property tax exemption and the payments are 1300.but 174.00 month for low cost home owners insurance puts the payment at 1.474.00

It is a fairly high payment but so for we have not had any problems making the payment  and we eat fairly good too. we don't have a lot of credit card debt or other payments to make no car payments,  we use one credit card its USSA Credit card and we use it to get grocery's and Pharmacy medications  all our utilitys are paid electronically through our Bank each month

but look what we could save if our mortgage payments were 600.00 month.

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3 hours ago, broncovet said:

I get by ok on 100 percent and now get Social Security.  However, my house payment is under 600 per month, so a low percent goes to housing.  In my area, homes can be purchased (3 bedroom, brick, 2 car garage) for 60 or 70 k, so if that home is 300 k in your area, its no wonder you have financial problems, paying out 1500 or more for rent or house payments.  Your housing should be no more than a fourth (better is 20 percent, or less) of your income.  So, if you make 3200 from VA, your housing should no more than 800 .  If your housing is over 700 or 800 per month, you are gonna be stressed financially.  As a disabled person, you cant expect your income to rise to your standard of living, you have to adjust your standard of living to your income.  

     When you get a loan, the bank wants you to go up to 33 percent of your income, so you can work to support the banker.  

     My "guess" is that even if you get an extra 1000 from social security, you would soon be financially strapped again, unless you make some changes.  Please dont take this as an insult, it was not intended to be.  You asked for advice, and I gave it.

Broncovet, I do appreciate your reply and advice. We are not frivolous by any means. Our biggest expense is of course, our mortgage. Its about 1550 a month right now with the escrow. That really cant be helped, heck, most 2 bedroom apartments go for that much where we live. For 20 percent of our income, I couldn't even rent a studio apartment. I have a wife and 4 kids. I think we are at least average on our housing expense. I did file for our tax exemptions which should knock this down to about 1300'ish a month starting in november... but for right now, it is putting the screws to us. 

My other bills Ive tried to keep minimal as well. Our car payment for our SUV is pretty high, but not absurd (250.00). We had to get an SUV because A: transport the whole family and B: we live in a rural area a couple miles down an unpaved road that gets pretty rough in snow and rain season. Having a reliable vehicle is a major concern here in north idaho.

Our internet/phone bill is pretty high. I need to find a way to reduce this. Its 200 bucks a month combined, and our internet is terrible (running it off a verizon jetpack and the data sucks too). It was our only real option for internet where we are.

The other big expense is of course, FOOD diapers and gas. We try to keep things low for all of this... but things seem to just keep going up.

Seems this last year we've gotten hit left and right with expenses. Repairs, well pump, water-heater, and a bunch of other stuff. I had a saving set aside as a cushion... that got eaten alive over this past year from just everything. I dont buy much for myself. Theres 1000 things we need. Id love to buy a new pair of jeans. I cut corners every chance I get to save money.

So thats about where were at. Part of my VA is recouped right now because I was drilling a lot a few years ago. It was sporadic and added up quickly. I am on a payment plan with the VA. In trying to remain productive, I really hosed myself there. I am moving into the IRR currently, my packet is being processed. From there I will likely just leave the service as I have a really hard time performing to standard these days. It was fun to pretend for a while in the USAR, but I have to leave.

A 1000 bucks a month extra would be more than adequate for us. We are not big spenders and believe in being frugal when possible. 

2 hours ago, Buck52 said:

I wish I had a mortgage payment of 600.00 month.

but so for our mortgage does not put us in dire straits

Based on housing cost in the DF/W Area its about 250.000.00 my house was 268.000  payments with Insurance was around 1900 monthly  but we got the property tax exemption and the payments are 1300.but 174.00 month for low cost home owners insurance puts the payment at 1.474.00

It is a fairly high payment but so for we have not had any problems making the payment  and we eat fairly good too. we don't have a lot of credit card debt or other payments to make no car payments,  we use one credit card its USSA Credit card and we use it to get grocery's and Pharmacy medications  all our utilitys are paid electronically through our Bank each month

but look what we could save if our mortgage payments were 600.00 month.

I agree, Buck. Thats about what our area looks like too. A guy can about rent a 2 bedroom apartment for what our mortgage is. I think we've done fairly well on that, all things considered. Once our exemptions kick in, we'll be about where you're at right now. 

If our mortgage was 600 a month, I would not be having this conversation... but short of living in a tent, I dont see that being a realistic option. 

 

 

 

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As for SS do you have another lane of appeal? 

I love the guys who say thank-you for your service when getting ready to twist the knife, been there.  Broncovet and Buck give you some good advice.  My mortgage is paid off but I have to keep two grandkids in daycare right now.  I know what it is like to watch the savings drain, at least this year we have custody and will get the childcare credit.  It costs a lot for diapers, I can empathize.  

The biggest concern I had about children was "why doesn't daddy work?"  I talked to my kids when they were old enough about that.  Even my daughter works, the rest of her life is a mess but she still works.  

Keep us posted on how the appeal is going.  Do you qualify for SMC?

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On 4/20/2019 at 2:08 PM, vetquest said:

As for SS do you have another lane of appeal? 

I love the guys who say thank-you for your service when getting ready to twist the knife, been there.  Broncovet and Buck give you some good advice.  My mortgage is paid off but I have to keep two grandkids in daycare right now.  I know what it is like to watch the savings drain, at least this year we have custody and will get the childcare credit.  It costs a lot for diapers, I can empathize.  

The biggest concern I had about children was "why doesn't daddy work?"  I talked to my kids when they were old enough about that.  Even my daughter works, the rest of her life is a mess but she still works.  

Keep us posted on how the appeal is going.  Do you qualify for SMC?

Ive since switched lawyers to someone I can work with face-to-face and he has a lot of experience working with vets both on the SSA side and the VA side. He also actually seems to care, which surprisingly, helps immensely. So often I feel like Im fighting these battles all alone. Trying to shield my wife and kids from the stress and struggle. 

We filed the appeal yesterday. The judge broke so many rules it seems. He completely ignored my PTSD, that if you read my VA description of it, almost perfectly mirrors word-for-word what the SSA's Blue Book description is. Its like he just decided to completely pretend it did not exist. Tried to bring up a bunch of stuff I used to do from a few years back, out of context and also out of the time frame of my claim. Tried to say I was basically "exaggerating" my symptoms during the hearing. I was very amped up and on the verge of a damn panic attack, so I was shaking pretty bad, but I held it together. Serious business, you know? All sorts of things he put in his decision. I felt like he was questioning my integrity and character and that pissed me off the most.

Hoping at least for a remand of the decision, plus, no matter what we are switching the case over to the city where I should ACTUALLY be going so hopefully I wont have to see this jackass ever again. They sent me 8 hours away for the first one, fully knowing that I moved. They sent me mail at my new address for crying out loud!

So, we'll see how it all goes. The weight of this and other life issues are crushing my soul. I feel like I just walked 1000 miles with a 125lb ruck... and I still have to take the objective.

I totally hear you on "why doesnt daddy work". Its a sore spot for me. Bad enough that Im always bumbling around and dragging my rear-end trying to keep up with things around here.

SMC? I dont think so. I dont have 100% in any single catagory.

 

 

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So how I won my appeal i had a vocational analysis done by Mr. Clifford services. Not promising or promoting but at my hearing the judge called their vocational expert he asked him over the phone if he agreed with the reports final assessment he said yes absolutely and then looks at me said he reviewed over 1000 pages of medical evidence from the Va issued a bench decision I looked at my attorney he said that’s good it’s immediately granted and retroactive to the date you filed. So you are already 100 P and T. So file appeal and get a vocational expert assessment and submit it in for evidence see theirs isn’t looking into your VA records when you get an IMO vocational assessment you submit in all your records to them not just an over the phone call from SSA hired expertise. 

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