My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Lawyer, New Hope

I want to recap my visit with the new attorney while it's fresh in my mind even though it's exhausting to think about it right now. Just to get you up to speed... when I initially filed my disability claim with Social (in)Security, I used a big national firm that advertises that if you don't win, you don't pay. I liked that bet. They also advertise a 97% success rate. I haven't ever used an attorney before other than my divorce (she was literally an attorney/travel agent but she got the job done). It never occurred to me that a company that boasted such high success rates and only got paid if they won could possibly ditch anything that wasn't a slam dunk. Until they ditched me.

Ultimately their reason for dropping my case was exactly what I needed to know - my medical records didn't adequately support my case. This spurred me to go through the expensive and painful process of getting a Functional Capacity Evaluation, also known as an FCE. Once I had the FCE results... that I couldn't sit for long or stand for long or climb stairs ever and that their investigation shows that my pain is legitimate, etc... but also said that I could do light duty for 8 hours a day... I was really discouraged. After reviewing the results with my doctor who explained that the report really gave us exactly what we needed, it showed that I was truly having trouble with certain activities which, along with the other things that factor in that they can't evaluate in a physical exam (things like migraines and fibromyalgia) make me basically unemployable.

My doctor gave me the number for an attorney that they have worked with quite a bit and I held onto that phone number from December through last week before calling. The truth is that I couldn't handle the possible rejection of another attorney declining to take my case and I couldn't handle the possibility of an attorney who would take my case but only for cash up front (which I don't have). I knew I had some time before the case went before a judge and I needed a time out from it all. It's really very overwhelming to not be able to work. It's not even like a fun extended vacation. I can't ever get away from the financial roadblocks, even though I have a place to live. It's always stressful figuring out how to pay for medications and doctor visits and car insurance and life insurance. And then you have things happen like the whole debacle of trying to wean off blood pressure meds and having my blood pressure shoot through the roof.

At any rate... three paragraphs in and I've only told you how I ended up going to see this attorney and haven't even started talking about the visit. SO... I go to see this attorney who is highly recommended from my doctor. I worried about him not taking my case. I worried that he would want money up front. More than anything I just wanted to come away from the meeting with hope. I just needed hope.

He took a long time with me. He was very, very thorough. He was kind and when I teared up he actually teared up with me. I can't swear that it was sincere but I felt like it was. After reading through everything that's been submitted so far and getting a lot of background from me he started outlining how he would handle my case. He told me what exhibits he would put together. He told me who he would want to talk to and what records he would get. He walked me through the rest of the process and he counseled me on how to answer certain questions. For instance... when I'm asked how long I can sit before I'm uncomfortable, the answer is "it depends on what I've done the day before or the week before" which is SO true! My level of pain is entirely based on a dozen other factors such as weather and activity... He also is digging so much deeper than the other attorney did. He's going all the way back to what happened in Jacksonville and showing that I'm dealing with way more than just pain and how insult added to injury over the course of many years before my back pain ever started. Let's face it... I've had a lot, a lot of stuff wrong with me for a long time. He's incorporating the depression factor along with the pain. The truth is that the two are Siamese twins. You can't have chronic pain without depression and a lot of times the depression immobilizes you even when the pain doesn't.

He says that it's very difficult to get disability for someone under 50 years old. He also said that he doesn't take cases that he doesn't believe he can win. However he's not one of the attorneys that you only pay if you win. I don't have to pay until the case is finished but I do have to pay either way. That's a scary proposition for me but the truth is that I don't have a lot of choices. I could maybe find another big disability group to take the case on but based on my experience thus far, I'm not sure I would be well represented. It's like being penny wise and pound foolish. I have to go with the best representation I can find. The other thing is... I can't go through this process of sitting and pouring my heart out to lawyer after lawyer until I find another one and I won't find another one who is as accustomed to dealing with my doctors. I feel like he's my best chance.

The reality is that it's probably going to be another nine months AT LEAST before my case gets heard. Over the past three months I've felt like I had the full burden of this case on my own shoulders and it was too much. I may have mortgaged my soul to hire this attorney but I can honestly say that when I walked out of that office for the first time in a long time I had hope.

And now my week of way too many things to deal with is over. Tomorrow is back to the same old non-grind. Saturday, Cody and Marquee are coming up to celebrate Austin's birthday. Spring is coming and it feels like life is back on track, as crooked and crazy as my track may be. I've got my medical care situated for awhile, I've got an attorney getting my case together and I can catch my breath for a minute.

Love and hugs, y'all.


monique said...

I feel like you have a much better chance with this lawyer.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Enjoy the weekend.