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After waiting more than 2 years I finally had my SSDI hearing but I am confused

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    After waiting more than 2 years I finally had my SSDI hearing but I am confused

    My hearing was held by phone because I fell down my stairs and broke my ankle a few weeks ago and could not get myself to the hearing location as a result.

    My attorney never prepped me for the hearing, although he did call the day before the hearing. I had asked him if he had developed any kind of case at all. He hadn't really. He said my case was that I meet the listing and my MS was secondary progressive. I expressed my concern at having to speak and answer questions because my disability includes impaired verbal communication due to memory issues, moderately to severely impaired working memory. He didn't really address my concerns either.

    I got the call from the ALJ to join the hearing the next morning at 8am. My attorney presented no real case at all. He just stated that I meet the listing for MS. He didn't explain how or why I meet it, which is severe fatigue not controlled by medications and moderate to severe impairment in processing speed and verbal learning and memory. He did make reference to an exhibit document in my file but I wasn't familiar with the exhibit number.

    I struggled to answer questions and even forgot to answer several questions the ALJ asked me, because the topic changed to rapidly for me to keep up. The ALJ seemed to focus on my physical impairments, such as my broken ankle, the fingers of my dominant hand that never regained feeling after my cervical disc replacement and the knee I injured further in the same fall that broke my ankle. My residual Functional Capacity document which listed my limitations was never mentioned.

    A few minutes before the call ended, the Vocational "expert" came on the line and said she wanted to classify a job. What does that mean?

    She mentioned "Systems Analyst", "Sedentary" and I believe the corresponding Code was given. That was all she ever said. My attorney said he had no objections and the ALJ instructed me that the hearing had concluded and I should hang up the phone.

    The entire hearing was completely confusing. I was not a Systems Analyst in my former work. I could not figure out why that job classification was mentioned. I called the attorney immediately after the hearing concluded and he has not returned my call. I have a horrible feeling about how that hearing went.

    Don't attorneys typically present some kind of cohesive case for the ALJ?

    I'm sorry that your hearing was confusing!

    The primary job of the attorney is to present a cohesive case to the judge. In some circumstances, due to the desires of the judge and the time constraints of the hearing, this may result in a limited presentation by the attorney. I've had cases where I say very little during the hearing, but this is not common and is always in response to the judge clearly signaling that they want to approve the claim. (I also submit a pre-hearing brief, so the judge knows our strategy before we walk in the door). Hopefully, this is the circumstance in your claim.

    The testimony of the vocational expert can be difficult to follow, and you should confer with your attorney about its meaning. Less can be more in this aspect of the hearing.

    My office always debriefs claimants after the hearing to let them know what happened, and what to expect next. Such a debrief would greatly help you understand what occurred, and I hope your attorney calls you back soon.

    Best of luck as you await a decision!
    Attorney Jamie R. Hall's practice is focused on assisting individuals with claims and appeals for Social Security Disability and Long Term Disability benefits. He has assisted claimants nationwide, approximately half of whom are MS patients, from his Pennsylvania and Ohio locations. **No attorney/client relationship is created by this communication, and information provided herein is not a substitute for formal advisement.**


      Thanks. I will continue to try to reach my attorney.


        Got tired of waiting to speak to attorney and called my local office -FULLY FAVORABLE

        I went onto the SSA website and they had posted the following update "A medical decision has been made and we are working to process your decision." The update could have either meant I was denied or approved. So I called my local Social Security office and they were able to look for the disposition and let me know it was a fully favorable decision and a letter was going out.

        I am relieved this is over but regret it took took so many years and caused so much stress.


          Congrats on your approval! It is frustrating to wait so long. Glad that in the end, it worked out.
          DX 01/06, currently on Tysabri


            Congrats! My take on your story is to look to the future and not look back, although I'm sorry it took so long.

            Good luck to you as you go forward!
            1st sx '89 Dx '99 w/RRMS - SP since 2010
            Administrator Message Boards/Moderator


              A belated congratulations from me. It's a relief for you.
              ~ Faith
              MSWorld Volunteer -- Moderator since JUN2012
              (now a Mimibug)

              Symptoms began in JAN02
              - Dx with RRMS in OCT03, following 21 months of limbo, ruling out lots of other dx, and some "probable stroke" and "probable CNS" dx for awhile.
              - In 2008, I was back in limbo briefly, then re-dx w/ MS: JUL08

              - Betaseron NOV03-AUG08; Copaxone20 SEPT08-APR15; Copaxone40 APR15-present
              - Began receiving SSDI / LTD NOV08. Not employed. I volunteer in my church and community.