Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Hearing

7-3-08 hearing update: I think I may have saved it. The ALJ was very good to us, made some favorable comments, was very solicitous with the client, and gave me several cues to aid my argument. Keep praying, friends!

Time to say "screw South Beach!" again and head for the wine rack...

Tomorrow morning is the hearing where I invoke the legal gods, break out the tap shoes, and hopefully find out if I have saved a disabled person's claim from the former attorney's clerical/staff mistake. I have no personal stake in it other than my bleeding heart and blistered fingertips, but it's one that's really been bothering me for the past few months. Because a client could be hurt and a highly-respected attorney hit for someone else's stupid error, I am agonizing over it.

It would be so nice if good things would happen to good people for a change...

Please keep "J." in your prayers!

St. Dymphna, please pray for J.! Ss. Thomas More, Turibius, John of Avila...all you lawyery saints...pray for me, that the Good Lord will give me strength of heart, a steady hand, and a clear voice!

If there were a Patron Saint for Insomnia, I'd invoke him/her too - no way will I be sleeping tonight. Maybe the Incorruptibles would do? (Hee!)

Oh well...I'll settle for St. Vitus for not OVERsleeping and missing the hearing, I guess.


gemoftheocean said...

St. Thomas and I are tight. I'll have a word with him before I drop off to beddie bye.

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Prayers going up. St Bridget had 8 kids so I guess she had some sleepless nights and so I'll mention things to her. Seeing as you are friends with her daughter she should get on to it right away.

God bless.

gemoftheocean said...

Thanks for the update.

The Digital Hairshirt said...


I am looking for the next installation . . . The Ruling! How did it go in the end?

Kit Brookside said...

Still waiting for the written decision.....nails bitten off....

And welcome the hell back - finally!


The Digital Hairshirt said...

As we say "Back East" - tanks!

eulogos said...

Where are your earlier posts about this situation?
I have been scrolling back trying to find them.
This was an ALJ hearing in a disability case? Social Security disabilty, SSA/SSI? I am a disability analyst myself, so hearing about this subject from the other end is always interesting.
Susan Peterson

ps Doing continuing disability reviews I have read the transcripts of lots of ALJ hearings, including some in which the judges were far from solicitous of the claimant. In one older case the judge made fun of a Spanish speaking woman who was confused over the dates she worked in a factory. It does seem that the more recent ones are better.

Kit Brookside said...

Hi Susan -

I try to keep some semblance of anonymity in general and especially when I talk about client stuff (hearings are public record, but still...) but you are on the right track.

My biggest issue with WC and SSA cases is that claimants must prove their case with MD-signed medical evidence, yet this can be discounted and is routinely ignored by insurance adjusters and (no offense to you personally) state disability analysts without medical or legal background, but an active interest in disallowing claims (financially for insco's, caseload-wise for governmental agencies). This case should have never gotten to the hearing stage at all. Even the ALJ said that the state was dead-wrong in its initial determination. The thought of the atty/his office screwing up on a deadline was killing me. The ALJ was very kind and could justifiably disallowed the claim - but didn't, thank the good Lord.

eulogos said...

There is indeed caseload pressure and the pressures from supervisors and their supervisors, who are all evaluated on numbers. It is true that it is BAD to get a case back from DQB (disability quality branch) but only a small number are reviewed, so on the whole they benefit from quantity more than from quality.

Some of us have some nursing background. I find though, that general intelligence and some morals about the work are the most important. Even those with no medical training will teach themselves enough to do the job right if they care to.

I guess you know the rules. The doc fills out the RFC part of the questionnaire. (If the claimant is lucky enough to have a doc who will do this.) Then the analyst sends a letter, sometimes just the meaningless generic "Steiberger letter" and sometimes, as I do, an "additional information" letter saying, "please give the medical basis for your opinion that the claimant cannot sit 2 of 8 hours etc." Usually the doctor ignores this second letter, figuring he has already given quite enough reason, and then the agency considers itself off the hook on having to give controlling weight to the treating medical source opinion. Now, sometimes doctors just put on those forms what the claimants tell them, or fill them out to make the claimant disabled just to oblige the claimant, whether they really think so or not, and there are times when such opinions really are not well supported and are even contradicted by other evidence in the file, and ought to be given much less weight. But often, I believe, we do use this procedure to ignore opinions to which by law we ought to give controlling weight. And even to opinions which are, in fact, true and perfectly justified by the medical evidence !

If you would like to talk more about how the disability process works, maybe you could email me with you real email address and we could go back and forth.

I am glad there are people who stand up for the claimants, because I don't always get to do what I think is right with the case, and I am always glad to think that at least there is some recourse available.

Susan Peterson