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Thread: SS reframed my degenerative nerve disorder as financial manipulation

  1. #1
    Senior Member Sarafino's Avatar
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    SS reframed my degenerative nerve disorder as financial manipulation

    I really don?t know what I am hoping for by posting this. I have been through a lot of loss in the last two years and feel totally despondent at this point. I don?t feel capable of coping with much of anything and think a lot about suicide as the better option. So that is my mental state. I was a sculptor for 30 some years, and finally my degenerative nerve disorder made my hands and arms so weak I lost the dexterity and strength to continue. I waited a year as I was still taking payments on orders and needed to wrap that up, then I applied for SSDI. Since it was my business and I wrote my own paychecks the case manager immediately started insinuating that I am a liar and manipulated my income. To me my tax returns show the steady decline of my ability to work, which is the actual truth. I have already passed the medical requirement as I have my state certification of disability.

    This all happened as my father was dying of cancer. I had to leave a career I loved because of continued paralysis of my hands and arms (my legs are paralyzed and I am a full time chair user), then my father died, then my SSDI was denied and I was basically called a liar. The way they explained it made me feel like I should never have had the audacity to figure out how to earn a living on my own, and now I will be punished for it. I have taken up painting as a hobby since when I completely loose the use of my hands I can do it with my mouth. It?s my sanity plan. Since I generally can do it 3-4 hours a day and I told them this, they decided that I could work at an ?art factory? for $25 an hour so according to them my pursuit of painting means I am earning over SGA even though I am not paying myself.

    I got a Disability attorney who doesn?t answer my questions or fill me in on anything. I have some money set aside and can live on it for quite awhile, I am incredibly thankful for that. I feel like I am not allowed to do anything. I was to,d my social media would be monitored. I regret even applying and never would have if I had known what would happen. I wish I could take it all back. From what I understand I can?t. If I drop my case then I am saying I agree with their assessment that I manipulated my income, right? Or can I drop my case? I want to sell my paintings even though it will never come close to SGA. I am on my states working adults with disabilities Medicaid program. I feel so trapped. I have tried every avenue for assistance I can think of and can?t find anyone to help me because of my unique circumstance of having had my own business. I tried the local ILC, the state advocacy group who never returns calls, this lawyer, etc etc. If anyone even reads this, thank you.
    chair user since 2009 from a neurological disorder

  2. #2
    Have you filed an appeal and lost? You should not drop your case but may want to fire your current lawyer if they will not communicate. I don't think the state disability recognition will have any bearing on the view of Disability Determination people. Is your doctor firmly in support of your claim? Do you feel comfortable naming your disability, I could perhaps find out what the criteria is for awarding SSDI for that particular disability, you could pm me if you choose.

    Keep up the fight, your success may facilitate the cases of others in need.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Sarafino's Avatar
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    It’s in appeal now. I have a severe case of Charcot Marie Tooth disorder, and it’s eligible under peripheral neuropathy in the SS book. My doctors entirely support me. I am functionally a quadriplegic and am 52, I worked my entire life and have plenty of work credits. The thing that screwed it all up is that I had my own business, so obviously that means I am an income manipulator. They didn’t even consider my medical because I failed the financial because I am a so called manipulator. This is all incredibly bizarre to me, because to me it seems like losing the use of your hands might be something to take into consideration before calling some a liar. The lawyer is the only one in my area who deals with SSDI cases.
    chair user since 2009 from a neurological disorder

  4. #4
    Keep your claim alive as when you are awarded SSDI it will be retroactive to original date of application. I am familiar with your diagnosis and will recheck the SSDI requirements for awarding benefits. Your lawyer does not seem to be representing you well, please search for other options, maybe nationwide. Of course your income would decline as your hand function made your art more difficult or impossible. Don't let the bastar-s win. Seeing this through will help others who will otherwise be unfairly treated.

    Take every appeal opportunity, you are fighting for every person with a disability.

  5. #5
    Is there any chance your doctor could approve an occupational therapist evaluation to assess your loss of manual dexterity/strength related to your sculpture vocation. This could explain the income decline currently referred to as "manipulation". Stay in the fight.

  6. #6
    One's disability may be more obvious to the person with the disability than to others. The good thing about SCI is that it is too obvious to deny. Otherwise, they may fight a claim as a matter of course.

    Wearing you down is their inept way of fighting fraud.

    For example, Medicare delayed approving my wheelchair authorization for months. Then they said, "If you could wait this long, then you don't really need one." All that person was doing is guessing I was bluffing and calling my bluff. That's egregious behaviour and it should be illegal.

    They should fight fraud in more dignified ways. Unfortunately, they often take the low road by wearing you down. They see two cases: 1) you have a legitimate claim and won't give up, or 2) you are being fraudulent and will give up.

    Unfortunately, it seems like they don't consider a third case: 3) you have legitimate claim but don't have the will or means to fight it.

    Stay strong. Don't give up.

  7. #7
    Not here to criticise you. I know that's not what you need. But I do want to share some lessons learned on my part. Don't let your case rely on good will of others. I tried that. It was a waste of time and resources.

    Prove your case to the extent that eliminates their ability to deny your claim. Know your case based on Medicare guidelines (or find someone who does) and provide test results that conclusively support your case, like an MRI report. They can deny your plea. But they can't deny science.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Sarafino View Post
    I have taken up painting as a hobby since when I completely [lose] the use of my hands I can do it with my mouth. It?s my sanity plan. Since I generally can do it 3-4 hours a day and I told them this, they decided that I could work at an ?art factory? for $25 an hour so according to them my pursuit of painting means I am earning over SGA even though I am not paying myself.
    Apparently, you did not know that SSDI only pays for total disability and not partial disability. I say this because if you did know, then you wouldn't be telling SS that you can work half days while in the process of applying for SSDI.

    https://www.debt.org/ssdi/


    I know you said that you have money to live on. But one way (perhaps the only way) to get Medicare below age 65 is to qualify for SSDI. Hence, even if
    you don't need SSDI financially, you may need it for healthcare.

    I'd fire that lawyer. Have you considered an advocacy company that will work with you remotely to help you qualify for SSDI? Whatever you do, you must be in the know or be able to trust someone who is.

    https://www.citizensdisability.com/

  9. #9
    Senior Member Sarafino's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the insights. As fast as proving I am disabled, they didn’t even consider that part. I am a full time chair user with very obviously atrophied legs, arms, and hands. Apparently the local SS office fired all the old employees and replaced them with young people just out of the military with no medical training, I am sure they think everything can be faked and don’t even know what atrophy is. According to the SSA their definition of total disability is when you can not earn more than $1200 a month, but I must be wrong about that. Having a hobby is not the same thing. I don’t see how a hobby can be assigned an hourly wage. It is such a load of BS.
    chair user since 2009 from a neurological disorder

  10. #10
    It may not help, but consider contacting a staffer in your Congressional representative's office and see if they cannot intervene on your behalf. I would also recommend getting a different attorney, even if out of your area.

    (KLD)
    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

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