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Pain, Limitations, and Disability Rejection

dharvellddharvell Posts: 98
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I've been really hesitant to post this. Perhaps out of pride; perhaps it was simply because the events that have happened in my life has somehow made me feel less of a person. One thing that being a member of this forum has taught me, though, is that we are in the same boat. Maybe we have different circumstances surrounding us, but we are all victims of our c-spine imperfections.

My pain started 4 years ago, rather suddenly. The pain never went away as I hoped it would. Instead, it got progressively worse. Through years of doctor visits and seeking a specialist that would actually help a person in his 30's with a problem that, as my doctors have repeated told me, should affect me until my 50's or 60's, I am where I am today. Still in daily pain with no relief in sight.

The part that has really hurt me, though, is the fact that I have become unable to hold a job. My doctor placed me on strict limitations that rules out almost every job that I am qualified for. Even my hobby of photography becomes too much for me on a more frequent basis.

I applied for Social Security Disability, not knowing what else to do. Not surprisingly, I was denied in September of this year. My appeal came within days, but it will take two years for the appeal to be heard. By then, it is quite likely that I, along with my family, will be homeless.

My home has fallen into foreclosure, the Sheriff's sale in August of '08. Michigan law gives us 6 months to redeem our mortgage, but without the health to carry employment, what am I to do? My wife looked for employment, but she has chronic health issues of her own (she applied, but did not qualify for SS Disability). The 6-month redemption period ends in February of 09.

I post this not for sympathy and not to give a sob story. My goal here is to lay out the results of a physical disability that I share with many people for ideas of what to do, who to talk to about my situation, and what hope, if any, I have to make sure my family has a roof over their heads.

Thanks for giving an ear (or in this case, an eye). Any ideas for what direction to turn would be greatly appreciated!



  • I'm sorry you're in that situation. Are you able to sell your house? Or get a mortgage with a longer amoratization? Don't they have welfare there? Would you be able to live with parents or a sibling? Would you be able to rent part of your house to pay the mortgage? I can't understand how you can't get disability. I hope things turn out for you. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Selling the house was actually a possibility under the foreclosure. However, if we did, we would have nowhere to go. My parents, unfortunately, do not have room as they run an Adult Foster Care home out of their home, so all rooms are full (my parents actually live in the basement of their house. I have 2 siblings, one who lives in a 2-bedroom apartment and 1 that is fighting for his home, as well (darned economy!). Rental of the house would be a violation of the mortgage and we would be found in default, immediately, if we did so. As for welfare, we talked to our Department of Human Services and are on cash assistance. However, the maximum assistance is barely enough to pay the electricity and have enough left over for life items (bathroom necessities, etc.).

    It's basically a screwed up system, the disability system is. My cousin was able to get disability because she has panic attacks in public. However, a physical disability that prevents me from performing work was not considered as a qualifying disability. I have a hard time understanding that.

    My strength continues to be in having faith that we are part of a greater plan. The book of Job describes our situation pretty well, I'd say! I'm just hoping that by keeping our faith, we will be rewarded as Job was. :)
  • keep you in my prayers and thoughts also,.I know how your feeling, I now am going through this whole disability crap. I as least have a husband to help out this time, but years ago my first husband and I went through exactly what you are going through.. We almost lost our house too, family of 5 with an income of $9000 a year not easy... Have you written to your bank and told them of your disability, I remember doing something like that and it bought us some time... Do you have children at home? I wish I could say something else, to help you out, I feel your pain and frustration. sometimes I wonder about the system too.
  • I have not written the bank, but I did tell them of the disability over the phone. It was shortly after that conversation that they started the foreclosure procedure. This was right around the time that my mortgage company was first investigated. Go figure.

    We do have children - 3 daughters. Our oldest is 10, our middle girl is 8, and our youngest will be 5 on the 22nd of this month.

    Our system is broken. Even the social security person I talked to said that... and that was before I was denied. That tells me that they give an automatic denial in most cases. My SS interviewer said that they flat out deny 95% of all cases, regardless of the issue at hand. Just the nature of the beast. I questioned the "nature of the beast" comment, reminding him that this was my family's lifeline we were talking about. Sadly, he was not the one to make the final decision... he was merely the messenger.
  • write the bank and tell them of the situation, put it all in writing and send it out, I think sometimes that shows the bank what your going through and your not just some one on the other end of the phone. Tell them about applying for stuff and rejection and just tell them like it is, It might go on someones desk that actually gives a shit... Just an idea but I remember us doing that...
  • That is a very good idea. An idea I hadn't actually even thought of. I've always been one to do everything over the phone - kind of the next best thing to face-to-face. But, if it's in writing (and I will be sure to retain a copy of the letter in my records), it's actually in a more permanent format. Great idea!
  • I know all about SSD. It took me 2 years to the date to get approved. Get a lawyer, they only get paid if you win so you will not be out any money. When you do get approved you will get back pay which is very nice and also medicare. Keep calling the bank, do it over and over. The squeaky wheel gets heard first. I think the mortgage company's are coming up with new plans as this economy falls under more. They do not want your house, they can't do anything with it. Stay on top of it. My prayers are with you.

  • Thanks, Sharon. I have heard that, over and over, that foreclosures cost the mortgage company a ton of money, so that's the last thing they want. It struck me really odd that, during our last conversation with the mortgage company, the person I spoke to asked if I really wanted to keep the house. I told her, "Of course I do." I then told her about my condition. Soon after, they started the foreclosure process. Very odd, to me. I will certainly keep contacting them. The company I am with is one of the larger companies - one who was one of the first ones to be investigated. So, they really have a lot of reason to try to help - if anything, just to maintain their good image!

    I would love it if I could just get something done to my neck to where I could work again and not have to worry about any of this... :)
  • I wish I could offer some good news, I did have the surgery and I am fused from C4-C7. Still have quite a bit of pain and a lot of nerve pain. I think it took my surgery to actually get my SSD. It is not an easy process at all. I had a good attorney and if not for him I really don't think it would have happen. I am 50 so that helps a lot, never thought being 50 would be a plus. Again, I wish you the best and lets hope this economy turns around soon.

  • And that's where my argument for SSD would have some problems. I have went to several doctors looking for somebody to perform the surgery (or other means of relief). All doctors I have seen, thus far, says that I am "too young" to have these problems, so - regardless of what the MRI reads - I must be imagining it all. I finally found a doctor who is open to the idea of surgery. My follow-up appointment with him has yet to happen. But, right now, this doctor is my only hope! What a screwed up system... hmmm?
  • Can I ask on your results for your Osteoarthritis, Bulging discs, stenosis and bone spurs how big they are? Are they giving nerve root compression or spinal cord compression?
    You seems to have some of the same stuff I do, and was just wondering. My doctor says my stuff is to minimal for surgery and doesn't really know why I am in or have been in so much pain. He of course gives me meds, shots, and PT...But I don't know.
    My list of problems is in my signature to compare.

    I hope you find a way out of this hole.
  • You know... I have NEVER been able to get specifics out of my doctor as to exactly what is happening and where. I've asked countless times, but they dance around the question pretty effectively. My NS that I have just started seeing said that my nerves on the L side are being pinched, due to severe narrowing of the passageway. I do have intermittent periods of what I call nerve "misfires", where I make an effort to move my fingers (and sometimes even my legs) and they don't do what I expect them to do. An example would be clicking the mouse button, but instead of my finger moving, my arm twitches, or there was a period where my leg would not support me. If I attempted to stand, I would collapse to the floor.

    Looking at your signature, you do seem to have a lot of the same things that I have. Just typing this, my arms have twitched, rather than fingers typing letters several times. Very odd sensation.

    I know this isn't an exact answer to your question, but that's really all of the information they give me. I might start pressing my new NS for some more specific information as he seems to be more open to communicating with his patients. The doctors in my area are worthless to say the least...
  • You are entitled to copies of your results from MRI, Xrays or any other tests you've had. You may have to pay a fee but it's worth it. A lot of what's on the report is hard to understand because it's in doctor's terms but at least you have the report and can research it on your own and go for a second or third opinion. I am sorry to hear what you are going through. My husband's job has been slow. He's a carpenter and because of the economy, people don't have the money to build new houses, get roofs, siding, decks etc so he hasn't been working and my disability doesn't cover it. He doesn't get unemployment because he's self employed. We at least qualified for gov't medical insurance which helps out a great deal between all my issues and my son has allergies and bouts of asthmatic bronchitis constantly and his meds are very expensive.
  • I do think surgeons take in age as a factor. My first neck injury was at the age 22 and then my second injury I was 40 but I did not have surgery until I was 50. In those years before my surgery I would have episodes of pain but it would leave and stay gone for long periods of time. The last 2 years before my surgey my right arm hurt all the time, it never stopped. My surgery, not kidding, was a nightmare. There are days I wish I had never done it. There is a lot that can go wrong and they do not promise that you will be pain free. That could be the reason they do not want to do fusion on someone of a young age. I do know a few young people who have had fusion surgery and they are still in, if not, more pain.....I guess it is just a chance you take. Where I have my MRI done they will give you a print out of the findings....my MRI report before surgery showed 8mm indentions and some 7mm, my neck was a mess. I tell people, the surgeon broke my neck and put it back together.

  • I am deeply saddened by your situation and understand your despair. I wish there was a simple solution so that you can stay in your house. What I can't figure out is why your doctor won't do more for you. I had two back surgeries in my thirties and age was never an issue. This was after I went through conservative treatments of course. I still struggle with a lot of pain despite all that. I hope you and your family figure a way out of this crisis and that you and your wife get to feeling better. Take care
  • MING - I probably worded that pretty poorly... I do have copies of all of my MRI's, but as for an actual explanation of everything that is going wrong, they are anything but forthcoming. In fact, it wasn't until my meeting with this new NS that I found out that my nerve passageway was severely compressed, which did a lot to explain the funny symptoms I have been experiencing, outside of pain, of course.

    SHAR51 - The NS hopes to do disc replacement, rather than fusion. That is IF they decide to do anything, at all. Fusion is the option of last resort, in this. But, the NS said that even fusion would be a step above what is going on with me, now. Of course, that is with the exception of the possibility that the pain will still exist. I hope they can do SOMETHING, though. I am currently taking Norco (10/325) for the pain and it is getting to the point to where even THAT isn't touching it. The morphine I take at night is hardly doing anything, either, and I am on the 30mg dose. When pain meds start losing effectiveness, the doctors need to figure something out... I would hope, anyway!

    MEYDEY321 - Thanks for that. I somewhat understand why age would be an issue for surgery... just for the fact that it's not a guaranteed fix. BUT... to say that I am just too young to have these problems is ignorant on the doctor's part. I was just blown away when he said that! I'm hopeful that there's going to be a happy ending to all of this. Just at this point, I'm having a hard time seeing how it could happen, if you know what I mean. Thanks for the well wishes!
  • You might also contact your congressman, or any state senators or legislatures about your disability denial. They are sometimes able to help in these cases.I would write letters to anyone you can think of who might be able to help you, and also if possible, any letters from doctors, neuro, etc. who might help. My prayers are with you. Life just doesn't seem fair sometimes, dos it?

  • Contacting local and regional political seats is an avenue I had not even thought of! Brilliant! =D>

    Looks like I'm going to be a very busy man, writing letters! Thanks for the inspiration!
  • Hi there...sort of new around here. Sorry for all the problems. I would be in your same boat if I wasn't married to a great guy. I had to stop working last December due to my neck pain and haven't been back to work since. I can totally understand how you can't work. I did work from home on the computer too and had to stop that as well...just no way to bend over so many hours a week.

    Your neck diagnoses sound exactly what I've gotten too...every bit of it...even up to the "I don't know why you hurt so much". I have DDD, bulging 4-6 and OA and and also in my 30's with pinched nerves and have strange symptoms like you. Just got a new MRI for new L5-S1 disc herniation. I know the docs/surgeons I've seen want to wait longer b/c of my age too...which I'm fine with (some severe days I want whatever it takes).

    About the SSD...I've always heard that everyone gets denied and to ALWAYS appeal and you usually get it then. I know its a long wait. I would certainly look into an attorney though b/c I don't think they charge you unless they win your case, and then they take some of your pay (the back pay that you would be getting now that you aren't getting anyway). Just a thought...wouldn't hurt to make a call and check.

    I agree about your house...the banks have way too many on their hands...maybe you can hold them off?

    God bless you and your family.
  • It's crazy. It seems that when I hit the age of 30, my health started to deteriorate. My wife made good fun of that, but when she turned 30, her health took a downward turn, as well. All we can do is just laugh at the coincidence. Luckily, we both have good humour.

    Scary how similar our symptoms and physical anomalies are. The only difference is, my PCP understands that I am in a lot of pain. He is the only doctor that I've seen that has made a motion to do something about it. All he has done, though, is give me pain meds. Meds that are losing their effectiveness. It's kind of scary to think that if they wish to continue medicating my problem, I might have to go on stronger pain meds. Just what I want to avoid!

    About SSD, my SSD interviewer even warned me that I would be denied, initially. That just ticked me off. My cousin eventually was awarded SSD for having anxiety when out in public. I am in too much pain to move, most days... how can I be denied for SSD? I will never understand how that works. But I do know that it is a broken system that is in immediate need of repair.

    Thanks for the comments! :)
  • You will have a better chance at winning if you get a lawyer and they only get paid once you win. However it may take around 3 years. You will get backpay from the disability date in question. It' a long road, but it will help you in case your condition doesn't improve.
    Do you have nerve pain going on? Medicines like Neurontin, Lyrica, or Cymbalta are helpful in conjunction with what you already take. I'm sorry you're having a lot of pain and I hope it gets better.
  • My PM doc who treated me the past couple years did treat for the pain and was compassionate I have to say, but just said a couple times that I shouldn't be hurting so bad for what I had...like it was puzzling. I think pain is often an issue that is puzzling b/c it can be so disabling and it does not show up on any test. I know the MRI's and diagnostics that we all have do not always show the source of pain. My family doc is now taking care of me and he is very wonderful...I believe he has had disc issues before so that helps.

    I really think you should pursue the SSD issue...I'm not sure your wife's problems...but hopefully at least one of you, if not both will meet the appeal. I had no idea it took 2 years to appeal. Did your cousin get SSD first time around?? My husband mentioned to me the other day about disability b/c my surgeon has very limited duties for me and there is no way for me to be a nurse...and I don't know how long it will last, but with DDD and OA, well...oh well.

  • MEYDEY321 - That's the cool thing... I was recommended counsel from the state of Michigan. Somebody from the Department of Human Services called and recommended an attorney who specializes in SSD. So, I have that covered, already. Great guys, too! A lot better than the likes of Binder and Binder... :))( I do have a lot of nerve pain going on. That could very well be why the Norco and Morphine seems to help very little. I understand that medications like that don't touch nerve pain. I may talk to my NS about nerve pain medications.

    TARHEELGIRL - My cousin actually had to go through the process for SIX YEARS before she was approved. Terrible! But, there's some good news, possibly. I contacted my State Rep, just after noon, today. At around 3:00, this afternoon, I received a call from his office. They are going to send Social Security an "Urgent Need" notice, saying that we can't wait for 2 years to be heard, due to our foreclosure. Seeing that we need a place to live, we are going to try to get in almost immediately. This only works for those who have received foreclosure or eviction notices. Since we have been foreclosed on, we should qualify. I am SO pleased with my Representative. This guy gets things done! I heard rumours that he may run for Governor in 2010 (he's yet to officially announce it, but I sure hope he does). If he does... he's got my vote!!! =D>

    My wife used to do nursing, but with her issues (IBS), she could no longer do so. She doesn't have enough credits for SSD, or SSI, so it's entirely up to me. Her IBS is a more-on-than-off thing, for her... it's almost as if she has the stomach flu all of the time. Very unpleasant, for her. So, nursing IS a very demanding job, physically. If that's your passion, I really hope they are able to fix your neck to where you are able to pursue it!
  • It seems my body went to heck when I hit 30 too. As of yesterday I am now 31 <:P I feel like I am 80 though.
  • Dharvell, how could your wife not have enough credits for Social Security? I was approved in my late twenties and I did not have a long work history. Is there something else she can be eligible for, maybe long term disability from her nursing? I'm sorry to hear about her IBS.
  • MING - Well, happy birthday to you!!! <:P <:P <:P Funny how it seems that we just start to fall apart at age 30, isn't it? Here's hoping that your medical team will help you get back to something as close to pain-free as you can get!

    MEYDEY321 - That is a good question. My wife applied for disability when I did. As I received a rejection (they said I could work as a fast food worker... I can tell them that I can't, as I am always dropping things and there are days that my legs refuse to hold me... how can I flip burgers when my body is that out of whack???), my wife was rejected for, "Reason: not enough work credits". She has worked a lot of part-time jobs in her days, but apparently she didn't get enough credits. I don't know how they figure that, though. Another frustration in the system...
  • I too suffer from IBS in addition to the back issues so tell your wife, I understand how she feels. Mines the opposite though and I've done all kinds of tests and meds for that too. I even started one of those clinical trial things but wasn't able to do it because you have to be off your meds for 2 weeks before starting their trial and I had a lot of stomach issues. Thanks for the bday wishes. Yes, at 28, I was slam dancing with the best of them and singing in my husband's band. I've been saying that same thing as you though, my body has gone downhill since I hit 30. This has been the longest and most painful year of my life. I am sure that it can only get better from here though.

    I have to apply for SSD as well because my 12 months of disability will be in Feb 09. I keep putting it off because I am hoping I will be back to work by then.
  • Awesome that your husband is in a band and that you would sing along with them! I do music, as well (Industrial music under the name [null factor]). The sad part is, I can't play live... I just do studio work and that's just as I can. Part of the neurological symptoms include this headache that settles behind my L eye. When that happens, the slightest noise just irritates me.

    I really can't say that I know what people who go through IBS are going through, being a non-sufferer, myself. I do know that when I get the stomach bug, I am miserable... I turn into a baby! Having that everyday is beyond my worst nightmare! Wow... hang in there. It's GOT to get better!
  • Wow! that is awesome news! what an answer to prayer for you and your family on that State Rep calling SS for you! I hope they get it done quickly and it goes thru.

    Sorry about your wife...right about now, I wish I had that issue come back (had it a little after gallbladder surgery a few years ago)...these meds are killing me, causing the opposite issue. ick!

    Great to hear your news...
  • I hear you on the "opposite problem" thing. That is still not as bad as the neck issues, but it's bad in its own "special" way... ~X(

    Yeah, hearing back from my Congressman in a 3-hour period was amazing news. To make the whole experience even more amazing is the face that I received the forms he promised... just a day after I spoke with him. This guy is a man of his word and he gets things done! I'm glad I voted for him, this time around! :)
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