Disability denied because gardening a hobby?

compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)November 14, 2003

How many like me have been denied for SSDI because we list gardening as a hobby and they assume we are lifting and turning soil and thereby not disabled?

That irritates me to think (know some it happened to) because we garden we aren't disabled!!!

I am in appeal process now. I found out they don't consider me disabled. Never mind there are multiple health issues which combined prevent holding a job or that "you can take medicine for that" means aggrivation of another condition! It is so hard to get them to see that some things are in themselves disabling to a small degree but much more affected when a different one is acting up. Then put all of them together and you have to resort to modifications in order to do the things you like. There is no way I can even do modificated garden styles and work. There is just nothing in the way of energy left after work (if enough for work) to garden or bird.

But those of us who garden WITH disabilities (weather recongnized or not) have to modify it to have strength to get through it. Sometimes only a few hours one day puts us in bed for a few days. It always took me three weeks to turn a 4' compost pile utilizing energy a few shovels or pitch forks at a time before changing activities to return the next day I can muster the energy.

How many out there understand this feeling?

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All I can say on this is fight them for your disability benefits.They have to pay you from the time you signed up,they do here and when you win,you will have a nice nest egg for a while.I know some people also who have had to fight for there disability.doctor upon doctor visit just to prove your are disable,but I thhink they have to pay for them to.It has taken some of them over a year.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2003 at 6:55AM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

Thanks Carlean for recognizing the issue. I have already been to their doctors before they denied the first time. I am waiting to be notified "20 days in advance" of a court hearing. Yes I do have a lawyer but it still is taking so long.

I'd rather not be on it (assistance). I'd rather not have an abusive partner either but the only one I can change at this point is to stop the abuse. Then I will have to make modifications in transistion from sandy soil to clay soil. Just a little afraid I won't be able to do much since the soil is heavy. Not supposed to lift anything over 5# on a regular basis. #10 occassionally. Then have to do something financially....hate the thought of assistance to get that done.

Ah but still I picture myself with help out there picking things to can for later consumption. Didn't get to plant this year and that killed me. Don't feel like summer ever came and am not prepared for winter planning for spring. Nothing I can do up there now....too cold already...the area had snow!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2003 at 11:56AM
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I didn't know that they denied people because they gardened.

While I'm sure there are exceptions to this, I have heard (at least here in Texas) that they deny everyone the first time and that you really have to fight tooth and nail to get SSDI.

My ex-father-in-law who has been dead for ten years now, applied for SSDI because he had pancreatic cancer and could no longer work. He had been a welder and worked more than 40 hours per week his entire life. When he applied for SSDI, his cancer had spread to his esophagus. He'd also lost 50 lbs (looked like a skeleton), and he was taking all kinds of treatments for the cancer. Anyway, they denied him. (It took a lot for him to apply as he was a proud man and liked to say that he'd never taken government assistance.)

He was told if he could move his fingers, then he could work. When I think about this, it makes me very sad.

Keep on fighting! I hope you get it.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2003 at 10:52PM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

I guess they hope you will give up and go away. Yes the do deny everyone the first time here, and sometimes the third and forth. I do have a 'pay if we win' Disability Specialist lawyer.

In my pain support groups I have talked to many that say don't tell them you garden or they will say you are not disabled (because most people think gardening means heavy lifting, shoveling etc).

What makes it worse my husband (process of becoming X after 28 years) claims I can work and is using the denial as a tool to say I don't need Alimony or any part of retirement pension and that I should pay him Spousal support!

Ah well, in the end I will do what gardening I can and God will take care of the rest of my needs somehow. Got to be in the garden somehow even if it goes to weed from lack of ability to care for it if for nothing else than to renew the spirit.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2003 at 12:37AM
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judi_va(z8 va)

Well, you want to hear this? I am a cancer patient who has been in chronic pain for 10 years and on narcotics to be functional,have not worked since I got sick and they turned me down.My quality of life has been sh_t because of the chronic pain from neurogenic bladder damaged in surgery and scar tissue that constantly 'pulls' on my g.i. tract making my life miserable with pain.To make things worse,since I divorced a abusive husband I now have no insurance so have to rely on a local clinic.And be a burden to my family.Yes depression goes with the territory I am sorry to say.They dont care at all about you or I,it is a cold cruel world.(my opinion)But you might as well fight hard for it otherwise you will end up with nothing like me!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2003 at 7:25PM
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Hi Judy,
Yes, the system is very cold and arbitrary. Anger and depression are very understandable in your situation. I hope you have people to turn to that will listen to your dispair and hold your hand. You must be a very strong lady because you had the courage to get rid of an abusive husband. Wow, what a step that is in the right direction. Sounds like you have some grieving to do. Your illness, the loss of financial support as well as having to give up the idea of a happy marraige we all have when we choose our partner are overwhelming.Beth Isreal Hospital in NYC has a website that addresses chronic pain and how to manage it. Check it out and then if you have to fight for the relief that you need. Pain can be controlled without making the person feel all doped up all the time. I suggest you check out your state's vocational rehabiltation services. They can help you with accomadations, training, money for school, counseling, and referrals for other services. You are not alone and there is always hope,

Many Blessings,

PS-Yes, the SS administration does usually deny claims on the first go round, except for the most serious. The more your disability is hidden and/or subject to claims that can be faked or are difficult to document the longer it takes. However, once you get it you are not usually reevaluated for 5-7 years, if then. So even though the system makes it hard to get approved and seems unfair it is a necessary evil to weed out slackers. As for getting an attorney, all they do is make sure the proper papers are filed for appealsin a timely fashion. You can probably do this yourself or contact your local university to see if they have a program for educating master's level rehab counselors. Sometime you be evaluated at their teaching facilities. Ask to see a copy of any reports filed by doctors the SS administration sends you to, many times they will say in their report that the person is disabled but you can still be denied. Expect to go before a judge to get approved, especially for back injuries, chronic pain, and psychiatric disabilities. Be careful about what you say your daily activities are. It is better to say that all you can do is sit around and watch TV. Be especially careful when describing any leisure or hobby activities. This is what they use to determine if you can work or not.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2003 at 11:15PM
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not only SSD, but comp - i'm in the midst of 2nd/3rd hearings for both. funny how LTD was approved, no problem. but as soon as i hit 6 mos. LTD, i was 'retired' - and the insurance company [who now wants to 'settle' comp after almost a year] has hired a company to take on SS to reduce their LTD payments. 'gardening' - not 12-14 hours at the computer at work for over 2 years - must have put me in this condition - haha. what am i supposed to do all day? lie in bed and watch the soaps?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2003 at 6:16PM
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Greetings! I don/t recall the gardening question per say, but I do remember them asking about hobbies. I was told that they denied 70% of all first time claims by the lady that did my interview. I was sent to one of their doctors for an evaluation, and to the hospital for tests and was approved on the first try. I guess I was sicker than I thought. I dream almost every night that I have gone back to work, but alas, that will not happen. I think one thing that really helped me was the reports the doctors sent in for me. I never asked my doctor about disability; she just told me I had to do it. Boy was I shocked. Try to get your doctors more involved if possible. Once you are approved you have evaluations to look forward to every three years. Once you are approved make sure that you see your doctor at least every 3 months and keep your receipts from your doctor visits as SS will want to know how often you went and what the primary diagnosis was. If you don't go to the doctor on a regular basis they will think that you do not need Social Security. God bless you all! Have a great day and a great garden! Jon

    Bookmark   December 17, 2003 at 5:32PM
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Kinseeker(z7 VA)

Here in Va. I got SSDI on the first try. I must say, though, that I wrote pages and pages in answer to how the pain affects my daily life and limits my activities. If I said there was something I *could* do, I pointed out all the accomodations and adjustments I had to make to do it. Go into every painful detail, even personal ones, if you must. Now every few years I get notification that my case is up for review and I'm instructed to watch the mail for further details. Those details never arrive.
Perhaps going to the doctor frequently does help one's case. I seem to spend half my life in waiting rooms!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 11:05AM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

I'm trying not to spend all my time in waiting rooms. I am trying to find ways to adjust how I do things to accomplish something.
I am finally seeing a Psychologist for the stress of dealing with the downs that are part of the frustrations of chronic illness and its role in family life, the divorce, friends, isolation etc. She said I have "moderate level" of depression.

I don't know what kind of effect that will have on the hearing etc. All I know is they said I would be notified 22 days prior to the hearing before the Judge but I haven't heard a thing. In the meantime the Divorce is in effect...but no money has come in yet. Trying to figure out what to do to make gardening possible for me.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2004 at 4:04PM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

Well I AM going to garden on some scale when I get there. May be only fast maturing or flowers only this year but will graduate to vegetables and fruits on to eventually excess to can/freeze.

Nothing better for the spirits than to see what your efforts have set in motion! I guess if I "fall and can't get up" what better place to fall than a garden? At least while I'm down I can reach over to pluck a tomatoe or some peas to eat fresh! Won't starve in the garden!!!

I think I will get some clover seed for a living mulch where next years garden will be.

I think there are still old pvc tubing I can use for seed planting. (drop seeds in one end to fall down where I want them) Maybe I will just consruct a few arbors of the pvc piping and see what I can train to grow upwards! Have old knee high nylons I could use for melon slings. I may even make myself a tunnell of plants with compost of each past years grass cuttings at the base!!!

Ok, I guess spring fever has struck even though spring is too far away. Wish I was already there so I could begin setting up where and planning how I will make the garden the most accessible. First thought is going to have to be accessability to the building itself..... and weather my roses have to go in the clay or if they would make it through the harsh winters in pots!

If I am to be denied Social Security Disability then I have to do a little more somehow to get enough food to last.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 6:51PM
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brainbadger(se tx)

not to put a damper on your spirits but it took me almost 6 years to get my disability. i had 4 heart attacks during that time but they kept saying i wasnt disabled. i am just saying that to tell you dont give up. keep your doctor on their toes and dont let SS deny you. i am limited by both space and energy to the amount of gardening i can do but i do what i can and then i rest for awhile and then go back out and do some more. Keep up the good fight.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2004 at 6:59PM
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julieyankfan(z9FL Pasco Cty.)

I usually post to the Florida page, but I was looking around and found this post. You guys have me near tears! I'm in the middle of the fight with SSDI, too. These people are heartless. It's been 3 years and now they finally admitted that I'm disabled, but they don't think it'll last 12 months!!! My doctor flipped when I told him that and he wrote me a letter to have my atty. send to them. He did, and they didn't respond. It now takes 12-15 months here in FL to get a hearing date, then 6 more to get the hearing!!!

I have had 4 surgeries on my wrists due to an accident at work and then I popped out the 3rd disc in the back and last year I had 3 discs removed, 8 screws, 2 rods and 6 pieces of cadaver bone inserted, and I'm a mess! I've lost my health insurance, so now my doctor says I need hip surgery, and MRI or mylegram to tell what went wrong with my surgery, and he can't help me since I don't have insurance, but he's the one that did the surgery that has made me worse.

I'm 44 and I can't stand for more than 10 mins. at a time. I can't bend anymore because of the hardware, so I have to kneel to do anything. The pain is constant. Those damn pills they give you make me sooooo sick. Some days I'm so depressed. My poor husband, whose health isn't too good either, is supporting me and my son is putting himself through school. We are in such debt, we're going to try to file bankruptcy.

Don't these judges look at your past work record? I've worked everyday since I was 16. I only stopped to have my 2 boys. I don't have 6 kids by 6 guys! I've had this back problem since I was 13, but it finally got the best of me. At my first hearing, the judge said I had scant medical documentation - 4 surgery reports on my hands and a discogram of my back that showed that 3 discs had no fluid left in them - what more did she want??? The vocational guy couldn't find a job for me to do, yet she said I wasn't disabled. The lawyer I have now said I shouldn't have said I could walk around the block, but I'm trying not to lose any more mobility.

Thanks for letting me vent! I'll definitely not say I garden. That'll be our secret! Hang in everyone. I'll keep you all in my prayers.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2004 at 1:01AM
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bekinell(z6 WV)

I just saw a segment on horticultural therapy. I think the man confined to a wheelchair who was trimming the bushes using his one moveable hand would probably encourage you to keep fighting. I know I can only take a few minute of physical labor at a time, but the gardening is very theraputic.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2004 at 2:42PM
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Maybe I should take a video clip of myself gardening and send it to you. Gardening can be effortless. Sitting in a wheelchair, I can use one finger or the handle side of a trowler, stick it to the ground and put a seed in that hole. Then, use my fingers or the trowler and cover up the hole. Hey, wasn't that gardening? ... with a disability and in a wheelchair?

If they actually stated that they denied you due to your hobby, gardening, you should ask the administrator what is her description of "gardening" ;~)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2004 at 5:38PM
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oh geez - i hate reading these horror stories....i have my SSD hearing this thursday....please wish me luck.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2004 at 1:12AM
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Truly wish you luck Cburg!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2004 at 10:17PM
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I am just now starting the process of getting on disability. I didn't realize they would do things like this!! I guess I'm going to have to be careful what I say during this process!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2004 at 1:29AM
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I have heart failure and am so worried that I won't be able to garden in the near future. I was feeling sort of sorry for myself. I have never been sick in my life, and I had NO idea that it was so difficult to get a disability, for crying out loud. Now I'll worry about that, too. Chances are very good I'll be on a heart transplant list before too long. I was going to ask for suggestions on how to keep my beautiful (to me) gardens going in the face of this illness, but I think I'll sign off, counting my blessings and wishing the best to all of you. God Bless. Jude

    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 4:49PM
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Jude, don't worry too much. I've heard different things with different people when getting disability. I guess, from all these we're discussing, one thing we've learned, just don't put gardening as your hobby. You can put "viewing your garden" as a hobby, I guess ;-)

As far as taking care of your current garden... Do you have a sprinkler system or a drip irrigation system? Any of these system would help you not to be bother so much with the watering. What kind of garden or plants do you have? Perhaps, we can give you some input on how to keep your garden still.

If you can't do too much due to your health, maybe you could have house plants in small pots? A small indoor garden can be less fatigue for you and yet, still gives you so much joy.

Keep your spirits high and stay input with us at this link! We're praying for you.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2004 at 4:55PM
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Thank you, NTT. I am a shade gardener, primarily. I have worked very hard to make my garden easy to care for by including mostly native perenials, and of course I have 100 hostas. I also have a woodland garden on a steep hill, a small sunny garden with annuals (mostly the kind that will self sow), and a "whatever" spot that I enjoy growing whatever in. If you ask me, gardening in pots is difficult due to hauling all the stuff. Of course my handsome hubby helps, but he is a busy man with 2 jobs and we have 2 youngsters. I am sure you are right about the irrigation system. I use soaker hoses which I leave in place throughout the season. I will watch this forum for additional ideas from you experianced folks. Sounds like you are good at hanging in there.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2004 at 4:33PM
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Yes, like everyone else, I'm trying to hang in there as best as I can. Being disabled all my life, I sure learned that it doesn't do any good to feel pity on yourself and dwell on your disability or on what you cannot do. It's just a waist of time which is serve better by using to find different ways of accomplishing tasks.

I've learned to be patience and appreciate what I still can do while I still have it. I take not one day at a time but one minute, one second at a time. I figure, I have plenty of time to feel pity once I lost all my abilities. But you know what? I have a feeling I probably won't because I'd know that I did all I could to live as fully as I possibly could at the time. So, I'm sure I wouldn't have much regrets.
Sorry Jude, I'm not an experience gardener and can't comment too much on how to maintain your garden. I'll let someone else advise you on this.

Btw, using a soaking hose is a great idea too! Hey, if you like to chat, e-mail me sometime. In the mean time, cheers!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2004 at 8:13PM
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Being denied disability because gardening as a hobby is so wrong.

I have done some reading on this after reading this post. I've found that if your disabled that gardening is one of the best things you can do. It is a stress reliever, it give you back some of the self confidence you lose when you no longer can do the things you use to, and it gives a sense of accomplishment and something you can be proud of.

This is just one article I found through a google search.

Therapeutic Horticulture - Part 1

People with disabilities who really enjoy gardening find it an exciting pastime that can take as much or as little time as you wish. The work can be tailored to the disability. Being disabled does not restrict a persons ability to be successful in attaining good results. When a person finds that they are restricted in many ways through their disability one has the chance to look at plants in a different light to appreciate the way they can help in a healing way not just medically, but therapeutically.

Learning to appreciate, scent, texture, color, size and shape are just a few of their qualities. We all know that life without plants would not exist for us as we know it. Their versatility enables them to exist in mountains, deserts and oceans and in many inhospitable parts of our world.

Whatever your disability, we feel that we can find some aspect of horticulture which you will find interesting, absorbing and enjoyable. But above all, therapeutic.

Looking at plants from a therapeutic point of view we can see we have a large variety to choose from.

Some people are content to devote all their time to one particular plant. Fuchsias are very popular. There are approximately 100 species with more than 8,000 hybrids/cultivars.

Being able to successfully propagate new plants whether from sowing seed or taking cuttings can be immensely rewarding.

Looking at plants from the point of view of people with disabilities their versatility enables them to adapt to the conditions we wish to place on them i.e. they can be grown for containers, baskets, pots and raised beds.

There are various tools available for the disabled (so this is no longer an excuse not to become involved).

The basic botany of plants can be completely absorbing - the shape, color, variety of the flowers and leaves. Plants that are grown for medicinal or culinary purposes. Many of our herbs, the scent and the texture, the variation in leaf colors some containing as many as three variations.

One can study the history of plants, learn their Latin names, the families that they belong to. But to most people, growing vegetables for eating and sharing with ones friends, growing and picking your own fruit, appreciating the scent and color of the flowers and the wildlife that they attract.

No one can put a price on these things. The enjoyment and satisfaction. This truly is therapeutic.

In later articles we shall be reviewing several projects where groups are actively persuing gardening as a means of pleasure and rewarding productivity. There may be things that we can learn from you enabling us to grow and learn together.

Maybe some of these articles should be seen by the people who sit behind a desk deciding what's best for us. Do they think that we are no longer valuable people because we lack the ability to work at a regular job.

Well we are valuable. We still get out to vote the very people who make these laws that affect our life into office! And they don't try to stop that!

BTW-- I never paid a lawyer or gave up 1/3 of my retroactive check to anyone. When I was denied the first time I got right on the phone with my state representative and demanded to hear a LOGICAL answer as to why I had to wait for MY money (SSDI) after working so many years to pay into it After quite a few calls he got sick of hearing from me and my denial was turned around.

Just because your denied by some clerk sitting behind a desk, whos's just doing their job, denying all first time claims doesn't mean you have to accept that as law.

You have to fight for yourself and your rights.

Here is a link that might be useful: Benifits Of Gardening When Disabled

    Bookmark   May 9, 2004 at 12:42AM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

So many good thoughts follow up my original venting. As of yet I still am in denial & appeal stage waiting for a hearing date.

I so agree with all the comments about rewards of gardening. That in itself has been my fascination with it. Those of us my age range are the minority who garden, can & preserve or freeze produce.

Gardening to the "experts" means "turning & digging, hoeing etc" which constitutes "back breaking work". Many just assume if you list gardening you are doing heavy lifting, carrying etc. Which we who modify things know is not the case.

Thanks everyone for the emotional support and understanding of MY feelings in this avenue. I am NOT going to give up gardening no matter what! In fact I have to garden as much as possible to eat. The more gardening I can do the less money that needs to go for taxes and utilities and medical bills. I need the disability to help pay the doctors bills and utilities that can keep me in decent shape to do the modified gardening.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2004 at 8:27AM
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i hope it goes as well for you as it did for me - i had my ssd hearing before a judge in mid-april [after initial denial] and i just got my 'fully favorable' letter yesterday!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2004 at 12:46AM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

so glad you got the favorable letter. Topping it all off I am moving and wondering if I have to start all over in the new location or if I can keep coming back down here for the process.

The area I'm moving into has so many already on disability or some kind of assistance. My lawyer is downstate. (lower half of lower Michigan) Wondering how long this will take. I am almost 50 now. I can't afford schooling and can't concentrate long enough to retain anything long enough to pass a test. All the certifications from training I had in the past is now invalid...since I didn't go back to school..again due to health and finances!

When will this cycle end? I get my hopes up and try to do some things and WHAM I am back down again! I hate the incompetent feeling these dog gone illness have on me. I try to keep going and do ok then reality hits me. Weather others recognize it or not my day has to be broken up into so many "mini-tasks of alternating positions" I think I might go crazy some days.

I was a good preschool teacher but can't squat down or bend over like that any more...let alone wait for a turn to the bathroom before I wet myself (so much for showing kids everyone does it once in a while). Sooooo embarasing!!

I guess my biggest problem is not one of the conditions but how each condition treatment interacts on another.

Ok back to positive things: trying hard to visualize the gardens in my 4.9 acreage and how I want to finish off the inside of the house. I have plants in the car on my way up there now and six totes full of my stuff. Can't afford a truck up so mini trips are making due.

Yes when I actually get out into the yard I have the best therapy. I actually find out I am feeling aggression when I find myself relieving it by yanking out weeds and tossing them into the wooded area. Gosh some of those plants actually have faces of people who have caused me stress that aggrivated the conditions in the past. I pull em up tearing into the soil for the last bit of root....choke em out! 'Dear old hubby', now X, has been rooted right up in my fantasy weeding. Oh yeah...can always "dead head" too!! LOL

    Bookmark   May 15, 2004 at 6:46PM
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ursulita(z5 IL)

I've heard that it's their policy to deny the first disability application. Could very easily be true.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2004 at 2:04PM
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Greetings! Wow this post has really generated a lot of responses. The definition of gardening is really important here. I have sold my Troy Built tiller and garden in containers mostly on the porch. Am I a gardener? You bet I am! I delight in what is possible for me, and am proud of what I accomplish and don't worry about what I used to do. I see my "territory" getting smaller, but I make the most of what I can master. When people come to my house they are welcomed at the front doorway with waves of color that I concentrate into a small area. I still grow some tomato and pepper plants in buckets and they do very well thank you very much! Best wishes to you all on getting your much needed disabillity started. We all have our good days, and then there are better days! Have a great week and a great garden!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 2:52AM
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Hi everyone! What a great post. I too have wondered about this as I am waiting to hear how my hearing went. I was not asked about gardening but daily life- one which I made sure to tell them I did this for 5 minutes then back in my chair, with a heating pad & feet up. I explained I tried to do a load of laundry every day (yes, lights & colors do wash well togather) and that my laundry area is set up so that I do not have to bend.

Julieyankfan, I had a fusion in November that looks like it failed. I've been sent for injections to 2 disks, and now they want me to have injections to my sacroilliac joint. Insurance refuses to pay for it, and told me to send in a medical necessity letter. Most of my Dr's are not in my plan, so a lot of this comes out of my pocket. I can't imagine what your going through.

Venting on boards like this with others that are in the same boat is great. Most friends don't understand or don't want to hear about it any more.

Altho gardening kills me, I try to get outside every other day or for a few hours every day if possible. It is the only place I can forget about my back pain. I've found that the earlier (spring) I work in the garden the easier it is on me since I can kneel where plants are not coming up. Neighbors have seen my lying on the ground crying in pain, but I am not ready to give it up.

Good luck to everyone with their SSI cases.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2004 at 12:46PM
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Dawny(5 MI)

Just keep fighting. They have to pay from time you signed up. They hope you won't appeal but those that do usually always get their money.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2004 at 8:28PM
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I have been sitting here reading this for the first time. I have been a member of GW for quite some time but I don't visit very much anymore. My loss, I know. I just feel that I must share some of my experiences and what I have learned about getting SS Disability so that maybe it will help some of you.

I became disabled in 1990 and fought with SS for 10 years!!!! I finally won! I was instantly denied on my first try. After that I hired a lawyer. He was going through a divorce by the time my second hearing was due. When the appropriate amount of time had passed and I didn't get a notice that I would be having a hearing, I inquired with SS and discovered that he hadn't filed the papers on time and SS said that I was no longer eligible! I called my Congressman who discovered that my file had been misplaced and I called the atty again. He apologized and said that it wasn't his error and that he would make everything right. I had to wait another 18 months for another hearing date, and when I arrived at the hearing the atty didn't show up. (There were many calls to him during all that time and towards the end he stopped returning my calls.) I ended up reporting him to the board, but it's a good ole boys club and no action was ever taken against him. Anyway, I decided that I didn't need him and had the hearing without a lawyer. I don't remember who it was that recommended that you don't need to pay an atty for their services because all they do is file the appropriate papers, don't believe them. I have learned that attys that specialize in SS know how to have your doctor word their letter to SS so that it is VERY clear just how severe your disability is. They also know the appropriate answers and questions that you can be asked and they don't allow the judge or the occupational therapist that asks you questions run all over you.

I was denied again and had to get another atty. Three weeks before my third hearing that atty stepped down and refused to represent me. In a panic I arranged to have the hearing postponed and started calling around. I called friends and got the names of their attys. Then I asked the attys, "Who would YOU hire to represent YOUR mother?" After getting the same name 4 times in a row, that's who I hired. He specialized in SS cases and that is all he does. He got the judges decision remanded because inappropriate questions had been asked and I didn't know because I didn't have an atty with me. I had yet another hearing after another 18 month wait. The new atty also had my doctor write another letter with the appropriate terminology this time. I had to pay the doctor $250 cash to write the letter! I still had to get my Congressman involved again, as my money never arrived within the time limit. It took a total of 10 years, but I finally won.

Yes you can garden. It's all in the definition of HOW you garden. If you have an atty, he/she will ask the appropriate questions in the hearing about HOW you garden, how long can you stand, what can you lift, how long each day do you pull weeds, what happens to you that night, the next day, etc. Are there some days you just sit and look at the garden? Can you walk through the garden?

Some other interesting facts. By law the atty does not get one third of your money in SS cases. They get 25% of your award, but NO MORE THAN $5200. So, if they owe you $50,000, the maximum that the atty gets is $5200. That's a tad over 10%. Well worth it if the rest of your life is involved. Oh, and you will also get a statement for that lump sum of money from SS and the Fed. Gov't will want a share, even though they wouldn't have gotten any if it had been paid to you over the time it was owed you!

So, don't give up, get an atty who specializes in Social Security Disability, see your doctor regularly, don't say anything to the doctor that will be written down that can be misconstrued. You don't need to tell the doctor that your back is worse because you attempted to pick up a 40# bag of compost. You have the right to see your SS file and copy everything and anything that is in it. Your atty should send you copies of every correspondence. Keep a journal, either weekly or daily for you to refer to about your pain and inability to do things, get mad but keep going!

Oh, the only person I know that got their SS Disability on their first try is an acquaintance that is morbidly obese.

My heart goes out to all who struggle to get the protection they have paid into! It's not charity, it's YOUR money that you worked for to protect yourself!


    Bookmark   June 16, 2004 at 1:36AM
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It's too bad the system is that way. When something happens that deprives you of your ability to earn a living, that robs you of most of the ordinary pleasures of life and substitutes pain and sickness instead, that's not the best time to have to battle for what is set aside by law to help people who cannot help themselves. I feel for you all. My husband must have been lucky, because he was approved for disability the first time around. Good thing, too, because we had been without income for most of a year by then. There's no form of public assistance for households with an adult who is disabled (with no children in the household), at least not in my state. At best, you might get a little bit of food stamps, nothing else. We're so grateful that we weren't denied. My husband has been through more in the last two years than most people have to endure in a lifetime. Some days he'll watch through the window as the hummingbirds and butterflies fly around the garden. I think it at least takes his mind off his pain for a little while. It's little things like that that help so much. We have so little, but the garden...now THAT is a gift from God. And any form of garden activity should be recognized as therapy. It does a lot more good than PT or OT!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 12:45AM
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After 2 months of waiting my letter finally came the other day- I was denied (again). This was my 1st hearing, which I thought went pretty well. The 1st thing mine says is a date saying I wasn't disabled by the last insured date- whatever that means. Have to call my attorney to see what is next.

I've got a neighbor that is on disability- this person can ride a bicycle, walk & play basketball. Has to go to dialysis 3 times a week on set days and can do more than I can- why do they get it & I have to fight?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2004 at 7:18AM
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End stage renal disease is a special case. They automatically get SSD by federal law. Part of it is because the dialysis treatment is so expensive and Medicare is needed to pay for it. You get Medicare a year or two after being accepted for disability.

Dialysis is no picnic. Most people on dialysis come home from the treatment and go to bed. It is very draining (literally and figuratively!). The next day is their best day. The third day they feel sick from the build-up of poisons in the blood. Then they have their dialysis day again.

I was a dialysis social worker and a handful of our people did better than this. I saw a half-dozen folks "crash" - rapid loss of blood pressure causing nausea/unconciousness/heart stoppage. One man died and could not be revived.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2004 at 7:31PM
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julieyankfan(z9FL Pasco Cty.)

Cburg, I'm so happy for you! Just one word of caution, they are now reevaluating every 1-2 yrs. on some people.

Roselvr, I had the shots and the 2nd set helped. The dr said that having 3 discs fused makes too much pressure on the sacrililiac joint and this causes a whole new pain to develop. He did the shots for free since ins. doesn't pay for it and he did make $30grand from them. Then he told me that some people need the shots for the rest of their life and I'll have to go to a special clinic for them at about $1,500 a pop! I'll run right out and do that!
Thankfully, the shots are lasting. We did give up and file bankruptcy. We had no choice. We found a lawyer who does work for people who make too much for legal aid, but not enough to afford an attorney. He couldn't believe we lasted this long, but we were trying to pay our bills. We get to the hearing and you can sit and listen to our people while you wait for your case and there was a lady who made $43 an hr and had a brand new minivan and this was her 2nd time filing! Here we are just barely making ends meet and only because we gave up my Blue Cross at $400 a month! People like her need to give a course to people like us to tell us how to work the system, too!

Newt, I agree 100% with you about finding the right attorney. The one I have now only handles SS. Unfortunately South Fl is so inundated with new claims that they sent their case load up to central FL to clear it out. That put all of us that live here on a 12-15 mo. waiting list for a hearing date.

I think this week I'll sit and write my congressman. What the hell, it can't hurt. Especially with it being an election year. I love when some moron politician writes how the health care crisis isn't that bad! At least I found that my county has a women's health care clinic and I go tomorrow for a check-up for only $45.

I signed up this week to be a poll worker at the election. We also have a primary in Aug. Between the 2 and the classes you attend, I can make about $250 free & clear of taxes. The lawyer said to go for it. They pay you around Thanksgiving, so I'll have Christmas money this year! Yea!It'll be nice to buy my sons and my husband a gift. The best part was reading the requirement to be a poll worker and realizing that the 12 hr day will kill me, but I'm going to take a big Motrin and make it through.

As far as gardening, it took me a whole week to weed the garden, but then on Sat. I had me a bottle of wine and I was feeling fine! Works better than painkillers!

God bless you all and hang in there!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2004 at 12:47PM
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First of all, I am able-bodied so I'm not sure my post is even welcome in this forum. I work in real estate and have a special interest in universal design. I have had many exposures to disabled gardeners.

My father was an amputee (right leg, just below the knee). He didn't let it stop him from much and he never was officially disabled. Wouldn't even get a license plate to allow him to park close to the store, even in Alaska winters. Worked on the pipeline for years. However, I think if he would have been less stubborn he may have lived longer. Died in '94 at only 72 in a family that most cross 95. His alpine rock garden was so beautiful the tourist buses would stop in front of his house.

I have another dear friend who has been on full time oxygen for years due to an industrial accident. The doctors said he would only live for six months. His wife said well... what do you want to do? What haven't you had in life that you really want... Well, he wanted the greenhouse... then a second one. Hobby went wild and he started selling some plants. That was over 10 years ago! I believe that gardening gave him those 10 years and his family and even our extesion agent agree. Keep in mind, this man cannot move anything over 10 pounds, is constantly connected to an oxygen bottle. I recently purchased his greenhouse but I'm afraid that once it's gone, he will be too.

Keep up the fight, and know that we are cheering for you.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2004 at 3:43PM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

But your life WAS affected through a disabled person gardening and that was the subject. Anyway someone doesn't need to be disabled to talk about enabling a garden for assesibility for those who are!

Those who know of something that may make it easier for us is very welcome.

This past week while I WAS home I used a cart like a walker and my cane to push a small bale of pasture grass off to let it drop into it. Then I stumbled along behind it to a chair I had set near where I want a garden around the old bus and just peeled off a 5-6" layer and dropped it to the ground. So I will do that until I have a lasagna layered type mulch and next year be ready with my hollow pvc pipe to plant into! I'll tie the plants to something on the bus so they climb and I should be able to pick beans, peas, and other vines right out of their suspended spot against the side of the bus!

This past weekend I put garden chairs at different intervals around the yard and with each pass of the mower I sat down and watched birds with my feet up. Then bathroom and drink break and another pass. I took six naps and didn't finish the job until the next day. Neighbors noticed the mower moved only a little at a time and checked in on me!! Especially the time I just plopped right there on the grass with my cane next to me and they thought I had fallen or passed out!!!

I am finally begining to think about what I want to do with the yard. Need to really scale it to self capable and finacially feasable though.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2004 at 3:17PM
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wecareagain(Z5 MO)

Wow I'm so sorry everyone is having such a hard time with SSDI. I was beginning to think I was in a boat by myself. I am currently waiting for my appeal also. They can't believe someone my age has a disability (36). I haven't worked for three years I had to quit a job I loved, due to constant pain and lack of mobility. The only joints i don't have problems with so far are my ankles (I think that's because I wear high top shoes). I hate the excuses they give for denial. I have over 30 problems listed, my doctor and the disability doctor both agree I have the problems. I can't drive because i loose my vision at times and have passed out 3 times from the pain ( the first time while driving home from work) I have also been getting tunnel vision. My pain is daily. I started lifting weights when I was preteen and excersised 4-6 hours everyday, I was proud too, I could lift 140 and onlt weighed 105, I could walk 10 miles and not be tired. Now I can't lift a gallon of milk without tears forming. But I understand about the gardening, I couldn't put in a traditional garden either. We moved to a small piece of land with nothing but trees,clay and rock. We lost everything when I couldn't work. My girls dug small trenches and we filled it with anything we could and threw in seeds and covered with straw they are growing. We (the girls) also have plants in buckets and any container we can find. Gardening is new life and I think it gives you hope to go on. Bless all of you who garden it's wonderful for the soul. Even if it's just a sweet potato stuck in a glass of water or a lonely tomatoe plant. Don't ever give up, keep your heads up and plant those seeds. And for anyone not disabled, get your stuff together now, keep your bills down, get ahold of your finances... because anyone can become disabiled at any age and any shape.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2004 at 1:22PM
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triestogarden(7b Northeast GA)

It took me three years to get my social security. After much evaluation by their doctors and a two week accessment through the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (part of the Department of Labor), the social security specialists were convinced I was disabled and said so in court right in front of the judge. I was approved a few weeks after the court date and received a big check a few weeks after that. That was enough to put down on a house and have payments I could afford on my social security income.
Don't despair, social security will come through, unfortunately it takes a long time.
Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 6:41PM
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Blind_Aquilegia(ZN 5b IL)

Hello, Everybody-

Just read this entire thread, and none of it is a surprise. Just so ya' know, if you already have SSDI and you move, you may be subject to an automatic review. It happened to me! I ended up with the best SS lawyer anywhere. She merely coached me a little from the sidelines, I did my own research, made use of the Dick durbin's assistant (my state senator) who specializes in "shaking the bushes" at the SS office, and knew my rights.

I went on SSDI in 1986 due to losing my eyesight over a 2 year period. I've always wanted to work, but have only had full-time employment for 18 months in 1996-97. When I moved to Illinois, SS reviewed my case and claimed that I had made too much money in that period of time. They actually tried to claim that I'd made too much going back to 1995, when I was working part-time ... and was the sole income for the household due to a period of severe illness for my husband. He was the one who was supposed to be strong as Arnold Swarzeneggar, but then came the tumor on the pituitary and 2 neurosurgeries.

Sooo ... I ended up with a letter that claimed that I owed over $80,000 ...

That's when I began to study the SS system. There has been an incredible shift in how SSDI is portrayed. It began late in Carter's admin. Under him the 5 year review process was instituted. It took Reagan's administration to make the review almost punitive. Also in the early 80s more and more articles began appearing re: abuse of SSDI. In the NY Times, for instance, an article in the early 80s told of a fireman who had applied and received SSDI while still on the force. The picture showed him climbing a ladder with a body over his shoulder.

I was glad that several posters pointed out that SSDI is NOT welfare!! If you've worked, you've paid for it. It's disability insurance, and you are entitled to it, if you are unable to work or, after education / voc rehab, you are unable to find employment due to your disabling condition.

Please, please, please, keep in mind that the SS person who manages your case may know less than you do. It is a regular occurrence that they will "lose" your papers, but heaven help you if you don't file your's in the proper time. The lawyer, who has become a friend, never received a dime from all her assistance. She would like me to write up what happened to me for her SS lawyer's association. They are convinced that there is an intentional effort to disuade the disabled from accessing their benefits. If that is the case, that would be fraudulent.

As for gardening, I'm not particularly strong and I can't see where I'm going, but maybe I should hook up with sith some gardeners who can't bend or lift, etc.

Yes, I'm still working, and I live in fear that my limited income will somehow get me in trouble again.

Wishing I could say, "Good-bye" to SSDI-

In the garden ... BA

    Bookmark   July 26, 2004 at 11:03AM
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Newt, Thanks for your respomce but I stand by my statement that you can get disability without an attorney. I have a master's in rehabilitation and vocational counseling. Most of the work we do is evaluating the extent of someone's disability and how it affects their ability to work. More times than not we determine that the person has greater impairment than the SS evalution. We also testify at SSDI and SSI hearings. Not all people applying for SS benefits are on SSDI some are applying for SSI which means they have never worked enough to have any benefits on the books.Many universities have rehabilitation counselor training programs and connected with them are centers that do evaluations. But yes if you mean that your doctor needs to back you up or you need to avoid putting down that you can still garden that is true but a lawyer is not necessary for that and they take 1/3 of all the back benefits you recieve which can be a substantial amount. There are other avenues and other places to get help. Even though our system is cumbersome, frustarting, sometimes cold and arbitrary it is better than what 80% of the people in the world have.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2004 at 7:22PM
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nanahanna(a8 AR)

I had to quit my job on Oct 22, 2003 due to severe arthritis that had been diagnosed 3 years before but had been coming on for about 10 years; and diabetes and asthma. I had worked for more than 30 years and was trying to make it to retirement age, but I was only 59 when I had to quit my job. I went to a local attorney who only handles SSI cases and injury cases. He told me he expected me to be denied at least 2 times, but he thought I would eventually get on. I put it in God's hands, asked HIM to help me and in April 2004 rec'd my approval letter. My attorney was flabbergasted...said he had only seen it happen twice before in his many years of handling SSI cases. I gave the credit to God. My attorney told me I did not owe him a penny since I did not get any back benefits...I had only been off work six months! Got my first check in May. I am so thankful I was approved. Good luck to everyone who is fighting a battle trying to get approved. Don't give up.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 9:50PM
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downsouth(Zone 7 - GA)

This is so very sad and disheartening to read most of these replies, esp. those who have worked for 30 and 35 years like me, and can't get what they paid into and is due them. I will be applying for disability soon. I was of the opinion that my condition (degenerative disc disease / arthritis of the spine and neck) was on the list of "approved" medical conditions. I guess I was wrong and that there is no such list. I don't know how we can make it six more months. My neurologist told me I was at "the end of my rope" and he told me to apply and call the local SS office. Even if your doctor is on your side, are you still turned down the first time? I was just so positive in getting ready to apply because I was sure my condition was going to be automatically approved. I can't even drive a car when I take all these meds, so how I am supposed to be able to drive to work? This is so very depressing. I am 54 and have been working since age 17 and had to quit in May of this year.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2004 at 6:14PM
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Hi all, I just wanted to tell all of you to not give up. It took me almost 2 years to be approved, but it did happen. I got a lawyer finally & I think that is what helped the most. They take a % only of the benefits if you are approved & that % has a cap. I don't remember how much right now ( 1 of the reasons I needed disability ) but it was less than $5,000.00. I had a hearing with a judge & was treated with respect from all involved. My husband & lawyer were there with me. We talked about everything I can do in a day starting at getting out of bed ( with help ) & getting dressed. How the clothes I wear now are different than before. pull on "sleep bras" compared to wearing underwire fasten in the back 1s. no buttons or zippers very loose fitting. no more pantyhose ( not a bad thing actually) everything about what I do in a day & how I do it. I thought I'd written all of that down but when I went back & looked I realized I'd left alot of stuff out. As you are writing think carefully about how you used to do things & now how you have to do differently. My sons also wrote letters to put in my packets about the changes they've seen in me. So did my Dr's ( it is illegal for them to charge you anything for this) & husband. What other changes are necessary, can you brush your hair ? your teeth. I had to get my waist length hair cut off short, change my toothbrush to 1 with a fat handle, change the toothpaste to something I didn't have to squeeze. I hadn't written any of that down. What kind of side effects from the numerous meds you take. Tell them how many pills, injections, or infusions you take, how often are your meds changed around cause they haven't found the right combo for you. Be sure to put in copies of your lab work or other tests that are out of normal limits. How long does it take you to do something & what are the problems you encounter. The more specific you are the better. I also garden & I told the judge this but I also told him how I have to garden differently. The neighbors have seen me out laying in the dirt trying to weed or plant something or just resting. Do you have to have something close by to help you get up ? What do you do when you fall, do you keep a cordless phone with you in case you can't get up. There are so many other things to mention but my hands are going to sleep. Please don't get discouraged, it will happen. Bev

    Bookmark   August 12, 2004 at 12:33PM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

Wow, I've been home a long time and unable to check in here. Am downstate visiting my friend and seeing my Granddaughter just born last Tuesday!

My friend is online so here I am to check in and see what's been happening. This thread is still going??? Wow! I guess it is a sore spot with many of us who use the "modified" gardening as a source of therapy!

At least we get hope from WHAT we can do even if it takes us several weeks and many enabling/creative crutches/methods to get it done.

Still praying and hoping it goes through for me. My now X is already shorting the support payments and has yet to follow through with all the Arbitrators Awards to me.

If he continues I don't know how I will make it until the Disability is confirmed. But little by little I will garden in any way I can and accept what success/failures it produces. Each failure is just another challenge for the resourceful to look for a way to do it better next time.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2004 at 7:55PM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

Got a letter my friend forwarded on about a hearing date of Dec 6th. But it said to reply in five days!!! It is past that!
I wasn't home due to coming down to be with my dad (has anurism and only has a 30% chance of survival if they do the surgery). I was going to stay here for the winter until my new home is ready but I will have to go back to Michigan for the hearing.

Wish me luck.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2004 at 9:15PM
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Nancy, how are you making out? I can't believe they only gave you 5 days to respond! Your hearing date is coming up, you'll be in my thoughts.

After my unfavorable verdict back in April, we had another court date Nov. 3rd. My disability attorney could not represnt me due to going on maternity leave. My divorce attorney just happened to take on her cases with last names starting A to M. He did an excellent job, and I'm really hopeful this time. They had a vocational expert there, who in the end said there were no jobs for me :) My attorney left it open for 30 days, hoping to get info from pain management, but I doubt it will happen.

I spoke to my divorce attorney about disability & divorce. He said he had a case where they got divorced. The wife was disabled, the husband had to fully support her. He said he never felt so sorry for anyone, said the guy after he was done paying wasn't even left with enough to survive. Anyone going through a divorce needs a good attorney.

Nancy (putting this in bold so you see it), I don't doubt dialysis is rough & has different effects on everyone. This neighbor rarely has a bad day after dialysis, heck I've even seen him walk up the street smoking a joint afterwards. Pot for medical purposes is not legal here. He also smokes cigarettes. I find this rediculous that he hasn't been tested & busted yet.

Julie, yeah, I know the injections are expensive. Hopefully yours will last for a while. I'm told that they can carterize (sp) the nerves also. I see your in FL, not sure if you can make it to GA if you settle your financial problems & get disability, but there are some great SIJ Drs there.

Wecare, I'm 39, I've been disabled for over 3 years. Hang in there, it sounds like they should give it to you. Be sure to have letters from Dr's backing everything up, so that when the vocational expert is at the hearing, there is no question of what you can & can't do.

Triestogarden WOOHOO!

Blind Aquilegia I've heard where in some states a review will come up & they will say you owe them money back. What an outrage.

Nana, glad you have a happy ending.

Patty, you'll be in my thoughts.

Bev great advice! I've got some great photos I found on the web that I put into a word file detailing my treatment, medications (current & tried) as well as a description of my pain along with the photographs which I edited to show exactly where my pain is. Each pic has different color pain lines- they each mean something different like stabbing, shooting pain, numbness, etc. The Word file is so much easier than having to fill out the Dr's questionare. I usually print one out & take it with me, giving the copy to the Dr.

Nancy Congrats on the granddaughter! How is your Dad doing?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2004 at 5:55AM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

Dad is a bit shakey and not sleeping real well so he could be doing better. Foot Dr cleared him so I don't feel as bad going back to MI until Jan. I have my own Dr appointments to take care of before I come down to be with him during his surgery/recovery.

I'm finding myself 'head planning' on what kind of gardening I will do in spring. I will plant a section of roses in honor of my dad. I'll send him pictures each year he survives. Then it will be a memory garden of what he taught me.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2004 at 5:42PM
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Goodgrief_7aAL(7a Alabama)

All I can say is keep fighting for it. They seem to ok and deny with no reasoning. I have severe arthritis and have had my left wrist fused to stop the pain (I lost the 10% mobility I had in it.)The right is to be done, but I'm putting it off because I have more mobility in it. I applied for disability and 5 months later, after visiting one of their doctors, was approved. My wife also has severe arthritis in her hands, knees, and feet. She applied and was turned down, but was aproved after getting an attorney. It took well over a year and a half to get it and she'll have to go before the judge again in 24 months.
She has a harder time than I do with her health and is more obviously unable to work. Go figure. The fact that she is 52 may have made a difference is all I can figure. I am 63 and closer to drawing SS.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2005 at 1:37PM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

Thanks for the moral support. At my hearing since the medical tests when I had left work did not document an organic cause the lawyer said I needed to ammend the date to WHEN I was diagnosed with the Fibromyalgia. The Judge accepted the date change, asked me some questions, heard from the "work rehabilitation therapist" Social Security called in. The "rehab" specialist said I could not return to my previous work but may be able to do some "light industrial". I informed them I moved. He then told me I would hear in about three or four months his decision.

So now I wait.

I came south (Sister in law drove my car)with my Brother to be here for my dad (if he can have the surgery). I can drive the short distance to his house from my brothers if I am having a good day. So I talk to him everyday I can get through. If he can have the surgery I will stay here until March before we go home.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2005 at 7:25PM
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knoto55(Z7 MD)

Hi Nance,

Good luck with your decision. Those of us with Fibromyalgia have to continually educate others so they understand what we go through day by day. I have FMS plus a multitude of other problems and I'm on a Duragesic patch to help with the pain. And like you I have my bad days and good days. And if I over extend myself, I'll end up in bed for the next day or two. It's just the way my life is now.

I was working and I asked for a reasonable accommodation to work at home when I couldn't drive into work because I was woozy from meds, or just too tired. My employer fought me tooth and nail to deny my accommodation. They violated their own time frame policy, told me lies, tried to discourage me from filing the request, you name it. Then after they denied me because they claimed they had insufficient documentation - I filed an EEO Complaint of Discrimination against them.

While that was going on I filed a reassessment request and got additional documentation. These requests are supposed to be processed in FIVE business days. Yeah, right. I turned mine in on Dec. 30, 2003. I didn't get my denial until April 15th!!! Then I found out the Medical Doctor who was going to review it went on a six week vacation during that time without giving it to a different doc to review. Talk about retaliation for filing a complaint against her. Yeesh!

But finally, I had no choice but to file for Disability Retirement from where I work. I made sure the Doctors wrote their statements correctly. I made sure I included the denial statements and what the Agency Doctor said because they said they thought I couldn't perform the essential functions of my job anymore. That was the key for me - That was the language that gave me instant approval.

Still I had to take a 65% pay cut, and now my upkeep of my home is in jeapardy. After taxes are taken out of my pension, I pay my house bills, then Doctor and prescription med bills and I'm in negative territory. Not good. So I'm hoping my EEO Case gets settled soon. I have enough documentation to show they really screwed me and violated policy.

So - I'm wishing you luck in getting your entitlement approved. Just be sure your Doctors fill out those forms properly - and you do too.

I really didn't know that they could give you a negative mark for doing gardening. I do gardening, but my gardening now is more or less doing it standing up. I can't bend or kneel down. I can't dig anything up. But I can plant in pots on the kitchen counter. Lots of little container gardening. And when I move to my new house in March, I'm going to do the landscape design, and hopefully be able to afford to hire someone to help me plant shrubs and trees and all.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 2:12AM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

Well looks like you have more guts than I do and until the diagnosis the medical records did not back up my complaints. Drs could not find anything that would cause what I was complaining about. And then I was telling them it was better since there seemed to be nothing they could do anyway. Like now with my thumb which has been screwed up for almost 5 months now. My new Dr said with my drug reactions & sensitivities I can't take the drugs they'd normally give for it (because of other health issues) so I just have to wait it out.

When I get back to my home state I'll ask my Doctor to check it again.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 8:15PM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

Well, finally can update on me....
1. I have completed my move (which I already told Judge)

2. I GOT IT!! Approval for Disability! after the date ammendment to date of diagnosis instead of my quiting work.

3. Just turned over the 3 of the 4th back benefits to a Surgeon. My Doctor said a breast reduction is a medical neccessity to help lessen the strain on the spine and pain in shoulders, arms, neck and back. Hopefully this will help as well with the pain in elbow and wrists and perhaps even help the thumb I screwed up the tendons before Thanksgiving when I pushed up off the couch to relieve pressure on the coccx.

4. I don't think Disability review (when it comes up) can say I AM NOT AGGRESSIVELY TREATING THINGS. That was one of the issues that made it Partially Favorable.

Hands and back killing me now so I will stop.
To others the lawyer made all the difference in my case.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 6:35PM
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ljrmiller(z7 NV)

I doubt the VA would have (or ever would) deny my disability compensation because I garden. If the VA docs observed my gardening habits, they would probably conclude that I'm worse off than they thought--the disability comp is for mental illness. My illness is mostly controlled, although hardly absent, thanks to medication. I tried, with the doctor's approval, to go off the meds, and the madness came roaring right back. End of experiment.

I won't be applying for SSDI for the problem, because I have found gainful employment in a field where my mental illness also doesn't pose a huge impediment to doing my job.

Anyways...I'm crazy, or at least half-crazy, and if any observers saw me involved with my garden, the only conclusion they could draw would be "she's NUTS!!!!". It's also one of the few things that keeps the mental illness demons at bay for a couple hours even when the meds don't work as well as they should.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 11:57PM
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Crafty_Canuck(W Canada)

Hello Friends:

I am from Canada so up here we apply for CPP Disability Benefits (C- Canada P-Pension P-Plan), the process of which I began in the spring of 2002 and did not approval and first payment until July of 2003!

Before that, I had worked 22 years for a major grocery chain and during that time both as an employee that had to be off on the company 'sick' benefit plan from time to time and as a shop steward, I learned you do not tell any type of disability payment plan anything about your hobbies! It is almost to the point that if you tell them you watch t.v. you explain that someone else uses the remote control for you because they are looking for anything...and I mean anything to disallow your benefits!

In my case, it was my doctor not realizing what type of impact the information he was giving them made on their decision to allow or deny me benefits. I fought with them for over that year primarily by myself with only minimal assistance from an employee of my former union but you have to know what you are doing when it comes to the forms, you have to be willing to spend hours on the telephone, writing letters, photocopying and gathering information, I am thankful that I had several of years of experience in dealing with these types of issues and have sympathy for those that do not know where to begin! It is not something that is entered into 'lightly' around these parts!

Della :)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 11:20AM
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gimpytwice(5b ohio)

All I can add is to get an attorney,that's the only way I finally got it,along with hundreds of x-rays,Dr.s reports MRI's after 6 years of fighting.I worked in factory work and was a sheet metal worker for 35 years.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 12:22PM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

I hope all trying do get a lawyer to help...it's a good chunk but if not for the lawyer I doing the appeal process I wouldn't have gone before the Judge and won!

Just seeing me and asking me questions made it apparant that I qualified. I just was myself and candidly answered the questions.

Good luck to all who still are trying...just hold in there and don't try to cheat the system. I did tell the Judge I garden but as suggested by others I told him HOW I GARDEN and expressed the frustration of not being able to do it like I did before.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 7:26PM
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wecareagain(Z5 MO)

I really wish the system would get changed. It really makes me angry to see people who aren't disabled get approved the first time and it happens a lot (guess we don't know the right people). Well as for mine I'm still waiting for a court date. My attorney filed my appeal (got my denial on a saturday, e-mailed attorney on sunday and he called me on monday) sure glad he acts fast. I was told by my attorney that the court date should be 11-12 months after the appeal, the appeal was last May, guess they are running behind. I wonder if working for the state when I became disabled is causing my delay? I started working when I was 13 paying in social security and all. I thought I did good, my problems was bad enough at 20 I was down for over a week at a time and often and still worked until I was 33.

I am very happy for those of you who got approved. To everyone else hang in there. It's been a long time since I have been on here. Between my problems and now my husband having a lot of problems (at 37 had a pacemaker after dying in life flight). It will get better though I know it will.

Now if I could figure out how to keep my chickens from eating the few plants I get to grow I'll be doing ok.

Bless you all, stay strong, and keep gardening!!!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 10:31PM
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I worked as a registered nurse for 40 years, with the exception of a short period when my children were small, and 1 year after my cancer diagnosis and treatment. It took me 2 years to get my disability. But it is not so great; can one really live in or near a major city in this country on $250 a week? They need to be a bit more realistic,in my opinion. I was "old" (nearing retirement age)so it was not feasible to retrain me in something else.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 2:10PM
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I can appreciate what you are going through. I became disabled a couple years back with diabetes and high blood pressure after having my son at 40. I developed gestational diabetes and then it moved in and decided to stay permanently. I too use gardening as a tool to relax by. I love planting all types of trees and bushes. This gets my mind off of it. I realize my disease will progress with time.

I plant cactus in the front and do xeroscaping due to high water prices. I finished an internship with the State Vocational Rehab. I got two good evals, but after three interviews I still did not get hired, and I know for a fact they are hiring less qualified people than me because they saw how sick I was, due to improper medication management. I am stable now, but it seems all people with disabilities are discriminated against, even with a federally funded agency that is not suppose to discriminate against you. If I chanllenge it, I am damned, and if I do nothing, I am. I would move but can't at this time, so we will see if I get hired or I will have to become a client, and then the irony will be, they will have to find me a job as a Voc Rehab Counselor. Keep gardening and don't let the system bully you. You have rights, but remember, rights are only there as long as good people keep fightning against injustice and keep on gardening.

Luck and Love,

Your friend in arms!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 6:37AM
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ljrmiller(z7 NV)

It's almost November and it's bulb-planting time. If it weren't for bulbs, my yard would look like the Sea of Holes from the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine". November is my anniversary month for All Bad Things Happening, and the only way I can feel safe is to run (not a great idea, given how much I need to run to feel safe--I don't need another round of stress fractures), or to dig holes, lots of them. A shovel is what stands between me and a stay in the inpatient psych ward.

I truly hate November.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 8:43PM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

Well this really did take off!

I came south for Christmas with my Grandkids (sons family) Actually they came and got me because I rolled over myh car into the ditch on the icy curve.

Since I have no car anymore and surgery (reduction to help with neck pain) on the 11th I'm just staying down here until the doctor releases me to go home.

I'm hoping for recovery with less pain and maybe ability to do a little work once spring comes around. Hopefully waiting.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2005 at 12:42AM
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mikeandbarb(z8 D/FW)

I read your thread way back.... I guess about a year or so ago and just today decided to come back to this forum to check and see what's going on. Lot's have gone on in the time past. I am glad to hear you got your SSDI. I am at the hearing point on mine, I have a lawyer but not sure he's any good.... he has not called and talked to me once and when I've called the office I never get to talk to him it's always his assistance. she tell me it takes about three months once the appeal has been turned in. It's been over three months...I called the SS office to check and make sure it was at the hearing office and it checked out.
The wait is awful. I'm so thankful for this forum it is so helpful, One of the members stated to write everything down how life was before and how life is now and that is something I must do for the impending hearing.
There is no medication I can take other then pain medication and my doctor will not proscribe anything for more then a month at a time. I don't agree with the doctor that I was being seen for my back so I did not go back to him. The 4th and 5 th lower lumbar is fused together and I have scoilosis curving of the spine. I've had problems with my back off and on but in my younger years it never was that bad. It wasn't until it seem all of a sudden it hit me, Well I guess not really all of a sudden but the worst part is. I now cannot sit for long drives after an hour of sitting in the car I may or I may not be able to get up out of the car seat and at times when I do get up and put my foot down to get up my back may not be able to support me, I have a pain that will run through me as I put my foot down on the ground. Now that the scoilosis has started giving me problems it is hindering the use of arms and moving my neck, when it acts up I can't turn my head to look around when driving I have to use the mirrors.
I've also started having problems with my hands and arms. So off I went to the doctor and after some test found corporal tunnel to be the problem but the nerve is don't damaged to the point of being able to do surgery weather that is good or not I don't know but it has changed my life 100% where I use to be very active do what I wanted when I wanted.
It's only been 5 years ago that I was working and come home to clean house, cook dinner, do a load of laundry all in a days time now I'm lucky to get through doing a couple of loads of laundry in a day, I can't lift the clothes basket I have to push it with my foot from the bedroom to the laundry room, if I had to go out and do laundry I guess I'd be in a world of hurt. I clean house one room at a time one day at a time just when ever I'm able to. I started to oil the cabinets down but hands and arms can't take it so I stopped. I have started carrying the cell phone with me outside just in case I fall and can't get up.
I can't do the thing's I use to do with the grandkids any longer if it's not something simple then forget it. I can no longer walk around the mall. I haven't gotten to the point of asking for a wheel chair ... not wanting to go there. Although I have told my family that I cannot walk around much. I know long find my bed a comfort anymore, for me it is hard cause of pain or discomfort laying down. At times I give up trying to get comfortable and get back up.
It is not visible to ones eye of my problems. Just to look at me you would not know I had anything wrong.
Wishing you well with your surgery and happy gardening come spring time.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 4:15AM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

I never heard from my Lawyer either until the appeals hearing was set. Just send paperwork copies and any trips to the Dr. Don't tell the Dr you feel fine...be truthful and keep a diary list of daily hurts to give to the Dr each time they see you and that will help with documenting.

That is why I almost lost mine. The partially favorable was noted with I was not treated or I made no mention of the aches of everyday at the time I went in for something else. So one needs to make mention of everything at each appointment.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2006 at 8:45AM
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mikeandbarb(z8 D/FW)

That is one of my fears. I don't see a doctor on reg. basis there is nothing they can do for my problem, so I am told. The only thing I can do is not do anything that aggravates the problem. I have gone in for yearly shots that help out for a short time for pain, and for my hands the CT nothing can be done for them at this point guess the damage to the nerves are not to the point of surgery? I have started writing down my pains and problems so I'll have it to take with me.

Wish me luck for we really need it.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2006 at 10:00AM
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compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

Well, I conceeded to breast surgery to alliviate neck pain levels. I guess SSDI can't say anymore that I didn't aggressively treat things. I am anxiously awaiting to find out if it gives me any ease for gardening. I see the surgeon for first followup on Thursday!! I'm hoping for just an hour or so pain free to get something done.

Still plan to use disabled coping methods to ease gardening side effects as there will still be arthritis and Fibromyalgia pains.

Boy would I love to have things clear up so I could work....everything extra then would go into gardening...forget putting in laminate flooring!!

Maybe organize plant exchanges in my area!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 2:30PM
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julieyankfan(z9FL Pasco Cty.)


I got the letter from SS dated 10/28. This has been some battle even now. My lawyer brought in a Federal civil atty to take SS to Fed. court to give me another hearing on the first claim and he had me file another claim after the back surgery. Well, to make a long story short, they combined the 2 hearings and sent it back to the original judge and told her to give me a hearing. She read it over and suddenly I have enough medical documentation to qualify!!! She actually approved it back to the original date of the wrists injuries, so I should be eligible for Medicare.

Even though I was approved, they are still making my life hell! I have been trying for 3 months to find out what is going on with the case. I finally found a lady at the local SS office and she called Baltimore and the guy there said the computer found a glitch and he had to do it manually!! What a load of crap that is.

So here are my tips to anyone going through this mess:

1. Get a good atty. One that only does this and make sure he is a lawyer. There are some jerks out there that are non-attys and will represent themselves as lawyers.

2. Get the pain meds presribed. I didn't say take them, just fill the prescription. SS doesn't care if they make you feel worse, they just think that we should all be on pain meds.

3. You read and watch tv - that's it! You leave the same channel on so you don't have to press the remote.

4. No, you can't drive to the SS office for anything. Get someone to drive you there and make sure they know it.

5. No, you can't fill out the forms by yourself. My friend filled out her own forms and they said she showed mental clearness. They are sneaky!

6. Somehow, you have to try to get to the drs as much as possible. I know this is hard when you lose your ins., but I got "lucky", someone hit my car in the Wally world parking lot, so my dr started new shots under my auto ins. The downside was that I did get the heck jarred out of my back and my neck and now my damn neck hurts! Never a dull moment!

Well, the shots did work for a while then stopped. He wants me to go for prolotherapy shots as soon as I get Medicare. Has anyone ever heard of them?

God bless you all and hang in there. I know we all just want to get back to normal and back to work. People act like we have it good! Ha! It would be great to be home if I had money and wasn't in pain all the time. I've just come to accept the fact that this is how it is and I can't go around being so down. I have 2 great sons and a great husband and they are worth their weight in gold. Be good to yourself and enjoy your gardening!


    Bookmark   January 30, 2006 at 9:49PM
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I don't know how single people make it on disability, though. I am applying for partial disability thru my employer's plan. It pays a bit more. Hopefully, I can go back in a year or so. Seems like everytime I just about get everything straightened out and going smoothly something else comes up to throw me back in the fish bucket again.

Now it's cardio issues. Tests, tests, and more tests. I just want to be left alone, no doctors, and just work. My employer is fed up with my absences due to illness, doctors, tests, etc. They WANT me to go on disability.

I am working on the paperwork - got mine sent off yesterday. But, the doctors, OMG, the doctors. Who, what, when, where? I suffer from major depression, too. I have heard it's much easier to get disability on that than physical problems. What a crock.

You see, I have always been the strong, responsible older child in the family, and suddenly, I am weak, disabled, and unable to do things for myself. The pendulum swings.

They didn't ask me on my form what my hobbies were. Just about my medical history and job history.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2006 at 8:15PM
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