February 27, 2020

Winning Strategies at the Social Security Disability Appeals Council

About Jonathan Ginsberg

Jonathan Ginsberg represents clients in disability claims filed with the Social Security Administration.

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  1. Rhonda D Teris says

    I am a 55-year-old female with neck/spine issues and fibromyalgia. I started seeing chiropractors when I was 19. I have been seeing doctors for over 20 years for my back pain. I’ve had 2 neck surgeries – 2001 and 2017. Neck is better, but I haven’t worked for 3 years, and I don’t sit at a desk. My back is always hurting, and when I have to sit at a desk it gets much worse. I also suffer from depression and anxiety.
    My attorney didn’t appear in person because of snow in Reno. On speakerphone, she didn’t ask me questions like ‘Why don’t you do this, or that’. I had a 20-minute conversation 2 weeks prior to my hearing, and the morning of the hearing – she didn’t prep me or tell me the best way to answer questions. For example, I haven’t been to the movies in 9 years because it is uncomfortable to sit that long. I rarely go out to eat because it hurts to sit up straight. I get asked out but I don’t date because I can’t keep up with normal people. And I don’t feel well most of the time. After the hearing, she called me and all she said was that appeals take a LONG, long time. The judge also wrote that I take care of my 81-year-old mother – I change her ostomy bag weekly, make sure her oxygen machine has water in it, and take to occasional doctor appts. She has COPD but is still pretty active. She cooks and does light cleaning. I do very light cleaning, have only been able to vacuum my house 2 times since December. I was in a flare up from early Jan until the end of April, and I am still in the flare-up, but it is not constant. My mom does the grocery shopping and cooking. I have lost over 50 pounds in the last couple of years because I have no appetite when I’m in pain.
    I feel that my attorney did not do a good job of representing me.
    I had typed a 2-page summary to explain my pain, in the judge’s ruling he said my fibro can’t be that bad because I had never seen a rheumatologist. I stated in my summary that I did not know why my MD never sent me to one. The same MD treated my mothers’ bladder infections with antibiotics in 2015-16, and it turned out my mom had bladder cancer. I lost my job 3 years ago and am on Medicaid so I can’t see an MD (just a PA) or specialist, The doctors in my area are not so great. My pain doctor thought fibro only involves the ‘head’ of a person. He does epidurals for me and prescribes my pain meds.
    The judge also wrote that I am currently working 2 part-time jobs, which is not an accurate description. I do bead embroidery (jewelry making) and am trying to get noticed in my Etsy shop. I do this at home while reclining against pillows. I became a Notary Signing Agent last October and I had completed 2 jobs at the time of my hearing. This ‘job’ is basically printing out documents and spending about 45 minutes with the borrower(s) for their signatures. I have done about 10 jobs so far but made a couple of mistakes on 2 of the signings, and one Signing company has dropped me. I had stated that even if I was awarded disability benefits, I would not be able to live on $1,800/month and I look for other ways to earn money. I thought the notary thing would be fairly easy since I wouldn’t have to sit for long. Also, I would have the choice to accept or decline jobs if I am in too much pain. Right now we are living off my mom’s SS and pension. If she passes before me, I will lose my home most likely.
    Now that I know the 2 ways to handle this – appeal or start over, plus the wait time – I’m petrified of making a mistake. I don’t know what I should do!

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