Miss Understood: How I Won My Disability Case

By Arlene Grau, Columnist

Early March of this year my second hearing was set with Social Security regarding my disability claim. I had previously been denied and we appealed.

The judge wanted one of their rheumatologists to come in and read my blood tests, doctors’ notes and other medical records, because he said he couldn't decipher them.

Two weeks before our hearing date we got word that the specialist they selected was actually a kidney doctor.

My lawyer wrote the judge informing him that we wanted someone else because we felt that the doctor wasn't qualified for my case. We never heard back from the judge, but the doctor excused herself.

The day of the hearing the judge was as harsh as ever and upset because no one in his office told him about the doctor. He wanted to reschedule my hearing until they got another specialist.

But my lawyer wasn't ready to give up and I was so frustrated at that point that I begged him to let us say our peace. Reluctantly he did.

I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other autoimmune diseases. We were able to prove that I had missed numerous days from work due to hospitalization, surgeries or illness based on time sheets and hospital records. I also have numerous doctors’ appointments every month and had the medical records to prove it. Basically everything the judge had a question for, we had supporting documentation.

I had walked in thinking the judge was going to deny me again, because he had stated that rheumatoid arthritis and lupus aren't disabling diseases. I had plenty to tell him about that, but he just brushed off everything we had to say.

The second time around, he was very different.

I honestly believe that prayer works. That and being prepared. Having all your bases covered and making sure you have all your paperwork squared away. I got a print up of all my doctors’ visits and built a graph of them by month and year. Then I did the same thing for my hospitalizations. I also got a print up of my work time sheets and graphed the days I missed by month and year. For some reason the judge liked the graphs more than the print ups themselves.

In the end, the judge awarded me close to three years of disability that I was owed in retro pay. I’m also now receiving Medicare. Although it took 3 years, I'm glad I didn't give up and that I had so much positive support from friends and family. My family and I are finally able to put this behind us.

Arlene Grau lives in southern California. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, migraine, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s disease.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.