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Tableone
03-12-2014, 12:36 AM
I had my Social Security Disability hearing today. Here are the details in case anyone else is in a similar situation.

Had Harrington Rod surgery in 1987 by Dr. Vernon Tolo. Surgeon put rods on too tight; metal broke away from spine and my top vertebrae was fractured. Surgery had to be completely redone two weeks later. (We had to threaten to sue him in order to get him to re-do it) Left in chronic pain from that point on. I was twenty-one years old. In 1997 I had all the hardware removed in an attempt to relieve the pain. For all these years I worked because I wanted to, although I had to be on pain medicine in order to work. Three years ago my pain worsened, and I started developing nerve pain shooting down both legs as well as a relentless, grinding bone pain in my lower, unfused spine. I now know this was because the fusion was too long and my lower spine has broken and I have severe stenosis. It was at this point that I finally realized I could not struggle on anymore, that I was indeed disabled, and that I needed to be realistic about my future. So, in summer of 2012 I applied for Social Security Disability Insurance. This is the federal disability program and is part of the Social Security Administration. This is not workman's comp, temporary disability, work pension, or anything related to an employer. I was actually self-employed my whole life. This is permanent disability and is as though you are receiving your social security prior to age 65. The definition to qualify is a disabling condition which is expected to last a year or longer. You must be unable to do any type of work, even sedentary work.

It took me a year and a half to get in front of a judge. First, you have to be denied twice. Most people, unless you have something life-threatening, are denied twice by social security reviewers. Then, you appear in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ) with your lawyer. If you are under age 50, it is much harder to get approved as you are judged differently depending on your age. I am 48.

I went into my hearing with a mountain of medical evidence. I used my cane, which I do most days anyway. I had two recent MRI's, X-rays, two letters from doctors - one from my family practitioner, one from my pain specialist, both stating that I was completely disabled from pain due to scoliosis surgeries, and a report from a scoliosis surgeon stating that I had severe stenosis. I also had two recent ER visits for pain, documentation about the side effects the opiates have on me, and the documentation of my three prior scoliosis surgeries.

Present at the hearing were myself, my lawyer, the judge, the court reporter, and testifying by phone was an orthopedic surgeon I'd never met hired by Social Security (not a spine surgeon) and a vocational expert. I got the disability immediately. The hearing didn't even get to the vocational expert. After the judge asked me about my pain, the orthopedist did an oral review of my case. He said right away that the fact that my first surgery had to be redone was never good, and that the fact that I'd had the hardware removed must have meant that I'd been in severe pain. I have another medical condition, too - lyme disease - but that hardly factored into it. My three scoliosis surgeries were more than enough. It was sobering to hear him read off all the things that were wrong with my spine, and all the disability codes. He said there is no code for Scoliosis surgery, so I "equaled" a code, which is ever better as it means the doctor made a code for me. I almost burst into tears. I have spent my life trying to avoid going on disability. But, it was time.

I found very little on the web about people with Harrington Rod surgery going on disability and that is why I am sharing this information. And, most of the women on this site seem to be married and have people around to help them, both financially and physically. But, I am single and childless and live alone. Now, I will get $790 per month to live on and, after two years, medicare. Since I have been low-income, my payments are less; SS Disability Insurance pays you what you have paid into the system. But, it is better than nothing. If I have to be so disabled with pain, at least I now have something.

I hope this info has helped someone else, and I encourage others who might have to apply.

gardenia
03-12-2014, 10:49 AM
It is not a perfect world and it is a shame that there will always we professionals that know what they are doing and practitioners that think they do. Your doctor committed to help you while not 100% good at it and while that was chancing it he did not stand behind his work. Perhaps, he was not sure that going for the second time would help you as it was a disaster he was not comfortable in fixing and there were all those mal-practice insurance that could he could have faced. One bad case with admitting it could tarnish his practice and there is the ego to proctect.

However, you are only one case versus his practice. Just a quick opinion without really knowing the facts. It was your suffering versus his career. What a shame!

I wish you a life without pain and without anger. I know it is hard but sometimes one must move on and out of the dark places in order to survive the day. My best to you.

moonglow
03-12-2014, 02:54 PM
I am so happy for you that you received disability! I also appreciate you giving us so many facts because I know a lot of people on here talk about applying for disability. All this has been very helpful, thanks.

ScoJo
03-12-2014, 09:41 PM
I had my Social Security Disability hearing today. Here are the details in case anyone else is in a similar situation.

Had Harrington Rod surgery in 1987 by Dr. Vernon Tolo. Surgeon put rods on too tight; metal broke away from spine and my top vertebrae was fractured. Surgery had to be completely redone two weeks later. (We had to threaten to sue him in order to get him to re-do it) Left in chronic pain from that point on. I was twenty-one years old. In 1997 I had all the hardware removed in an attempt to relieve the pain. For all these years I worked because I wanted to, although I had to be on pain medicine in order to work. Three years ago my pain worsened, and I started developing nerve pain shooting down both legs as well as a relentless, grinding bone pain in my lower, unfused spine. I now know this was because the fusion was too long and my lower spine has broken and I have severe stenosis. It was at this point that I finally realized I could not struggle on anymore, that I was indeed disabled, and that I needed to be realistic about my future. So, in summer of 2012 I applied for Social Security Disability Insurance. This is the federal disability program and is part of the Social Security Administration. This is not workman's comp, temporary disability, work pension, or anything related to an employer. I was actually self-employed my whole life. This is permanent disability and is as though you are receiving your social security prior to age 65. The definition to qualify is a disabling condition which is expected to last a year or longer. You must be unable to do any type of work, even sedentary work.

It took me a year and a half to get in front of a judge. First, you have to be denied twice. Most people, unless you have something life-threatening, are denied twice by social security reviewers. Then, you appear in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ) with your lawyer. If you are under age 50, it is much harder to get approved as you are judged differently depending on your age. I am 48.

I went into my hearing with a mountain of medical evidence. I used my cane, which I do most days anyway. I had two recent MRI's, X-rays, two letters from doctors - one from my family practitioner, one from my pain specialist, both stating that I was completely disabled from pain due to scoliosis surgeries, and a report from a scoliosis surgeon stating that I had severe stenosis. I also had two recent ER visits for pain, documentation about the side effects the opiates have on me, and the documentation of my three prior scoliosis surgeries.

Present at the hearing were myself, my lawyer, the judge, the court reporter, and testifying by phone was an orthopedic surgeon I'd never met hired by Social Security (not a spine surgeon) and a vocational expert. I got the disability immediately. The hearing didn't even get to the vocational expert. After the judge asked me about my pain, the orthopedist did an oral review of my case. He said right away that the fact that my first surgery had to be redone was never good, and that the fact that I'd had the hardware removed must have meant that I'd been in severe pain. I have another medical condition, too - lyme disease - but that hardly factored into it. My three scoliosis surgeries were more than enough. It was sobering to hear him read off all the things that were wrong with my spine, and all the disability codes. He said there is no code for Scoliosis surgery, so I "equaled" a code, which is ever better as it means the doctor made a code for me. I almost burst into tears. I have spent my life trying to avoid going on disability. But, it was time.

I found very little on the web about people with Harrington Rod surgery going on disability and that is why I am sharing this information. And, most of the women on this site seem to be married and have people around to help them, both financially and physically. But, I am single and childless and live alone. Now, I will get $790 per month to live on and, after two years, medicare. Since I have been low-income, my payments are less; SS Disability Insurance pays you what you have paid into the system. But, it is better than nothing. If I have to be so disabled with pain, at least I now have something.

I hope this info has helped someone else, and I encourage others who might have to apply.
Thank you for sharing this information. I wish you the best and as Gardenia said, peace.

dailystrength
03-13-2014, 07:34 PM
Thanks for sharing all that. You gave work your best shot. I am 48 also, single, no children. I may be in the same boat someday though you had an easy to win case it seems. Congrats - and I wish you pain-free and peaceful days.

jrnyc
03-13-2014, 09:24 PM
hi Tableone
i do not know why...maybe because i got a lawyer first...but i got disability without incident...i do not know if, when they see a lawyer file the papers, they do not try to fight with the person applying...no idea why i had no trouble...
i went from working a full plus a part time job to not working at all...
i did send lots of medical reports to my lawyers, for them to be ready for a fight...
low and behold...no fight at all...i was not denied...not even once!

i am so sorry you were put thru such paces to get what you deserve...

i recommend other people START OUT with a lawyer when they first file...i swear it makes an impression....and it did not cost me anything close to what i was worried it might cost.
(suggest lawyers who say if they don't win for you, they will not charge
you)

jess...and Sparky

Tableone
04-12-2014, 10:24 PM
I appreciate everyone's comments, but one of the posters may have confused some folks. Since it's important that people have the correct info about Social Security Disability, I want to clarify. In the area that I live in, the Disability lawyers will not accept cases until you have already applied and been denied. After that, the lawyers in my area will take your case for the "reconsideration" phase (phase 2) of the process. Then, they will go to trial with you. I had a lawyer for the reconsideration phase and the trial phase.

Social Security Disability depends on MANY things. Your age, your medical conditions, your medical records, the treatments you've tried, your previous occupation, how much you've worked - it all factors in. And each age bracket is judged by its own set of listings. So, someone who is 52 will be judged totally differently from someone who is 32 with the same condition. It is all quite complex.

My main point I was making is that the judge and Orthopedist I had at trial absolutely accepted that pain from Scoliosis surgery was a disability.

mabeckoff
04-12-2014, 10:43 PM
Glad to hear that you are getting disability.I do not have enough recent credits in order to get SS disability.

Tableone
04-12-2014, 11:14 PM
There are two types of Social Security Disability. One is called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the other is called Social Security Supplemental Insurance. (SSI). It is confusing because people tend to just say "Disability" as a broad term but there are two programs. SSDI is for people who have worked and have gotten enough credits. These people, who are now disabled, will receive the same pay as they would when they turn 65. However, there is also SSI for people who do not have enough work credits. For instance, if you become disabled before you had a work history, or if you were a homemaker or student and became disabled. So, even if you don't have points, you can still get disability under the SSI program. Your multiple spinal surgeries would almost certainly qualify you. However, I'm not a lawyer, and only a Disability lawyer would know for sure. Best of luck to you.

Irina
04-13-2014, 12:10 AM
I might be wrong, but aren't there income limitations for SSI? If you have a working spose and have some savings, you are not eligible for SSI in California. But I am not a lower either...

susancook
04-13-2014, 12:02 PM
Tableone(were you a waitperson? Is that really your name?), Hi. I reread your medical history and I am glad that you received your disability and I hope that there is some future for pain relief for you. I cannot remember what you are planning surgically or medically. Could you remind me? So sorry that you had such a problem with your rods. I just wish that there could be a surgical or other medical treatment that could mediate your pain. I too, wish you peace and a productive life. Susan