Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Disability Hearing Tips - Part II

I am not an attorney, nor do I have any experience in the legal field at all.  This post does NOT constitute legal advice.  If you have any questions at all please consult an attorney.  Before using any tips contained within this blog post series, I advise you to seek the opinion of an attorney.  This post is from an email that a follower of The Fibro Frog sent me.  She received it from an attorney's assistant.  However, I do not have the name of the attorney, assistant, or the law firm.  Therefore I can not give proper credit to them.  I have to hand type this all out, or else it isn't large enough for people to read.  I can't do that all in one shot, it's impossible with the pain and fatigue I have.  Therefore there will be a series of posts made, until I get it all done.

The Order In Which Things Happen At The Hearing

Many judges begin disability hearings by reciting the "case history" of your disability claim and stating the issues to be decided.  Judges often state what you have to prove in your case - but they seldom give a clear and simple explaination.  They usually say that in order to be found disabled you must be "unable to perform substantial gainful activity which exists in significant numbers in the economy, considering your age, education and work experience".  When they say this, it almost sounds like you've got to be bedridden to get disability benefits - but, as will be explained in more detail later, this isn't true.  The judge may question you first.  Then the judge will give your lawyer a chance to ask you some questions.  Occassionaly, if a claimant is well prepared to testify, the lawyer doesn't have to ask any questions at all.  Some judges, however, expect lawyers to handle most of the questioning.  If so, answer questions asked by your lawyer as if a stranger were the one asking them.  Sometimes a claimant may give less than complete answers when his or her lawye asks questions, because the lawyer knows a lot about the case already.  So, it is important to keep in mind that the judge, who will decide your case, doesn't know the answers until you say them.  Although the judge will probably read your file before the hearing, when you're testifying, it is best to assume the judge knows nothing about your case.  Plan on explaining everything.  At the end of the hearing, some judges will ask you if you have anything more to say.  It's best if you don't try to argue your case at this point - let your lawyer do that.  Most judges will give a lawyer the opportunity to make a closing argument either at the end of the hearing or to be submitted in writing.  Most judges won't tell you if you've won, although a few will.  A few judges issue what is called a "bench decision", that is, a decision stated right at the hearing.  Even if the judge issues a bench decision, the judge still must issue a short written decision, which will be mailed to you with a copy to your lawyer.  The wonderful thing about the written part of the bench decision is that it comes only a few days after the hearing.  When the judge issues a regular decision, sometimes it takes quite a while for the decision to come out.  

What To Wear

A lot of people ask what to wear, whether they should dress up.  You do not need to dress up, and you do not need to wear the same clothes that you would wear to a wedding. This is an informal hearing.  You may wear whatever makes you comfortable (within reason).  

Testify Truthfully

The most important thing of a Social Security hearing is not what you wear.  It is what you say.  It is whether or not you are telling the truth.  Tell the truth.  When a judge asks a question, don't try to figure out why the judge is asking that particular question or whether your answer will help or hurt your case.  Be candid about your strengths as well as about your limitations.  The best way to lose a good case is for the judge to think that you're not telling the truth.  So, testify truthfully.  And, don't do any play-acting for the judge.  That is, don't pretend to cry or be in more pain than you are.  On the other hand, you need not suffer silently or minimize your problems when you tell the judge how you feel.  If you need to take a break from the hearing, ask the judge for permission.  If you are uncomfortable sitting and it would help to stand up for a while, you may do so, and you should not be embarrassed about it.   

My FREE PRIZES for April!

So I've said before how I play games on a site, to take my mind off my pain and to help with the bordum I face daily due to my health issues keeping me hostage in the house most of the time.  My income is extremely limited, where I can't work due to my health, and I've earned some awesome prizes for myself, and to use as gifts for my family members.  I can not begin to tell you how much earning these prizes has helped me out.  There isn't any way I could afford to buy the stuff that I've won!

I've been keeping you all up to date on my winnings, and since April is about over, it was time for another post.  This is the items that I've already won this month:

Next, is a list of the tournaments I'm currently in, and the corresponding prizes that each has.  Of course these tournaments do not end until Wednesday April 30th at 11:59pm, so I could still be bumped out of the spots that I'm currently holding!  -Keeping my fingers crossed though!

Remember, this is just my April winnings!  You too, can earn great prizes for free!  You can do so by clicking HERE.  Yes, I receive referral points if you sign up, but then you can also earn referral points!  :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

HP Computer Giveaway!!

Hosted by:

Co-hosted by:

One lucky winner will win 


HP 2000-2d62NR 15.6" Laptop Computer - Black Licorice $529 + 1 year insurance (total prize value $588)

April 28 12:01am EST. To May 12 11:59pm  EST.

Valid only in the Continental United States. 
Void where prohibited

18 years or older to enter/only 1 entrant per household

 Winner is chosen through random.org Good luck to everyone! I'd love to see a fan of The Fibro Frog win this!

All entries are optional.

All winning entries will be verified

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: NYSavingSpecials is responsible for the awarding of the prize.  If you have any questions about this giveaway, please email the host at nysavingspecials@gmail.com.  This blog, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media network is not associated with this giveaway.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tips For A Social Security Disability Hearing - Part I

I am not an attorney, nor do I have any experience in the legal field at all.  This post does NOT constitute legal advice.  If you have any questions at all please consult an attorney.  Before using any tips contained within this blog post series, I advise you to seek the opinion of an attorney.  This post is from an email that a follower of The Fibro Frog sent me.  She received it from an attorney's assistant.  However, I do not have the name of the attorney, assistant, or the law firm.  Therefore I can not give proper credit to them.  I have to hand type this all out, or else it isn't large enough for people to read.  I can't do that all in one shot, it's impossible with the pain and fatigue I have.  Therefore there will be a series of posts made, until I get it all done.

Memorandum: Testifying At Your Disability Hearing

Arrive Early

Unless your attorney asks you to be at the hearing office at a specific time, arrive for your hearing about a half an hour early.  Any earlier is not necessary no matter what your Notice of Hearing may say about coming early to review your file.  Your lawyer has already reviewed your hearing exhibit file.  It isn't necessary for you to review it (although you may if you want to).  Disibility hearings usually start on time - so whatever you do, don't be late.

Don't Talk About Your Case

When you come for your hearing, remember, Social Security hearings are serious business.  Don't make jokes.  Indeed, don't even talk about your case before or after your hearing in the waiting room, in the hallway, in the elevator or anywhere else where a stranger can overhear.  A social security employee may misinterpret what you say and get the wrong impression about you.  There may be a lot of social security employees in the building.  

The Hearing Room

A social security hearing room is nothing more than a small conference room.  It may have a few official trappings such as the seal of the Social Security Administration or an American flag.  Hearing rooms are always equiped with a conference table.  There also may be a small table for the judge's assistant.  Usually there is a desk for the judge that sits on a small riser that is slightly above the level of the conference table where you will sit.  

The Recording Equipment

Each hearing room will have it's own recording equipment, which will be used to record your hearing.  Because your hearing will be recorded, it is important for you to speak clearly when you answer questions.  The microphones are very sensitive to sound so they will pick up your testimony from anywhere in the room if you speak loud enough for the judge to hear you.  However, shaking your head won't do; neither will pointing at a part of your body without stating out loud what part of your body you are pointing at.  Also, "uh-huh" and "huh-uh" answers do not transcribe as well as "yes" and "no" answers.  So try to say "yes" and "no" if you can.

Persons Present In The Hearing Room

You will be seated at the conference table along with your attorney.  Under some circumstances the judge may call a vocational witness or doctor to testify.  If so, they will be seated at the conference table, too.  Also seated at the conference table (or perhaps at a small table next to the conference table) will be the judge's assistant who operates a computer, which is used to make a CD-ROM that will contain the recording of the hearing.  

Social Security Hearing Are Informal

Social Security hearings are much less formal than court hearings.  They were designed so that they would not be a threatening experience.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that if you can relax as much as possible, you will be the best witness for yourself.  It's ok to let yourself be yourself.  Although this is an informal hearing, you will testify under oath.

The Administrative Law Judge

The person who presides in a Social Security hearing is an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  Although many judges do not wear judicial robes and you will not be expected to stand up when the judge comes into the room, the Social Security judge is entitled to the same respect that you would pay to a court judge.  The judge's job is to issue an independent decision, which is not influenced by the fact that your case was denied at the time of your initial application and on reconsideration.  In fact, more than half of judges' decisions nationwide are in favor of the claimant.  These are the best odds at winning at any step in the entire Social Security appeals system.  The informal Social Security hearing is not what we call an "adversarial" hearing.  That is, there is no lawyer on the other side who is going to cross-examine you.  Judges usually do not "cross-examine" a claimant.  The judge is neither your adversary nor your opponent: the judge's job is to find out the facts.  Many people, by the time they get to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, are angry at the Social Security system.  Their application for benefits have been denied twice, often without any logical reason given for the denial.  This system is cumbersome.  It is time-consuming with all of it's appeals and delays, and it is frustrating.  But, it's important not to take your anger out on the judge.  The judge did not create this system.  The judge is not responsible for the problems you have had with the system.  Since the judge probably already knows all of the problems with the Social Securtiy appeals system, you do not need to explain all of these problems.  It also isn't helpful to ask the judge any questions about your case.  For example, don't ask, "Why have I been denied?" "Why has it taken so long for me to have a hearing?" and so forth.  The only time you should ask a judge a question is when you do not understand what is being asked of you.  Judges and lawyers sometimes ask simple questions in complicated ways.  This is a shortcoming of the legal profession.  Don't be intimidated by it.  If you're not sure you understand a question, don't be embarrassed to ask politely for an explanation.  The best way to treat the judge is with the courtesy and candor that you would show an old friend  whom you haven't seen for several years - someone that you want to bring up-to-date about all of your problems.  In other words, it's ok for you to talk to the judge "regular".  You do not have to use highfalutin words, lawyer words, or doctor words.  In fact, it's much better if you do not use such terminology; instead, talk to the judge the same way you would talk to an old friend.

This is it for Part I.  My hands, wrist, and arms and done in for now!  Look for Part II sometime tomorrow.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Beat Down, Defeated, Flu Feelin' Fibro Blues

That moment when every. single. muscle. in your body hurts.  When you're sitting perfectly still, yet you get sharp stabbing pain in random places.  It leaves as quickly as it comes, yet when it comes it makes you wince.  The time when it feels as if there are weights attached to your hands ...you can actually feel the heaviness and pain in your shoulders, as if your arms are being tugged downward.  

A time when you're hungry, so hungry, that you actually feel nauseous, yet there is no way you have the energy to go fix something to eat and you know that even if you could muster the energy to spread some peanut butter on bread, or throw something into the microwave, that the pain that would come with it isn't even worth satisfying the hunger. A time when your joints ache, and your skin burns, and you feel like you have a fever ....you're sure you probably have a fever until you grab the thermometer and see that you don't. 

Your joints hurt to move them.  You have a headache.  Your skin is sore to the touch.  You're achy.  You feel like you have the flu, but you know that you don't.  

You're entire body from head to toe, feels like you met a monster in a dark alley, that took a huge club and beat you with it.  Slamming it down over and over while you curl up in fetal position, praying you'll live.  Then you realize that a monster is beating you down in a dark alley.  The monster has a name, which is Fibromyalgia.  It even has a couple of nicknames.  One being Fibro.  Another, even shorter yet, is FMS. 

After searching high and low to find something to defeat this monster with, you realize that there isn't anything.  Nothing known to man can beat this monster.  You realize that there isn't anything you can do, to defend yourself.  It's going to follow you for the rest of your life, and when you least expect it, it's going to start beating you again and again.  Over and over until you wonder if you'll survive.  At times, you'll even wish you wouldn't survive, so that you could finally escape the wrath of pain and fatigue.  So that you wouldn't have countless endless days ahead of you, feeling like this.  

A lot of people don't believe in monsters.  They tell you that it's all in your head.  The Fibromyalgia monster is no different.  Some people don't think it exists.  They tell you that it's all in your head.  That makes it even scarier.  It gives the monster power over those that it's attacking.   

All of this combined wears a person down.  Slowly but surely, you start to feel sad and depressed.  You feel defeated.  You feel like a failure in life, due to the many limitations that this monster imposes on you.  It steals your friends.  In some cases, it steals your family.  It takes away jobs which takes away self-worth and self-esteem.  This my friends, is what I call "the beat down, defeated, flu feelin' Fibro blues".  This is where I'm at tonight.  Cowering from the monster.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April's Off To A Great Start With Play2Shop

I've been in flares with pain, insomnia, and depression for weeks now, so I've been spending a lot of time on the game site to help me take my mind off of things.  Here it is only April 1st, and I've already accumulated 4 first place tournament wins, and 2 auction wins.  I had several 2nd and 3rd place tournament wins for points too that doesn't show in the "rewards" section of my dashboard.  Take a look at the screen shot below, to see what my wins are so far, when the month has just begun!

If you'd like to play FREE games without any downloads, shop for cash back, use free points you earn from playing games to bid on auctions, trade in points for rewards, or have something to do to take your mind off pain or pass the endless hours of insomnia, then click HERE to sign up FREE!  Make sure you verify your email address after you sign up!  If you don't see the email verification in your email, make sure to check your spam folder!  I honestly can't tell you what a blessing, for many reasons, P2S has been for me!!