The problem with having slow thinking, trouble expressing yourself, and difficulty focusing is trying to describe your situation and limitations effectively in a disability hearing with an administrative law judge.
The hearing started with a medical expert who concluded I had no limittions. None. She referred to notes from my past therapist and more than once mentioned my last visit there. In her notes, the psychiatric PA described me as rude, angry, loud, disjointed, tangential, sarcastic, emotional and blaming. Today’s expert said without knowing the context of that episode, she really couldn’t consider it. “Anyone can get really emotional about something and become angry and this wasn’t typical for the complainant.” When my attorney referred the expert to my current psych provider’s notes, pointing out repeated references to being anxious, fearful, and irritable, the doctor stated that “anyone can get irritated. It doesn’t rise to the level of an impairment.” (For the sake of completion, the explosive exchange between the previous therapist and I was because I finally opened up and told her I couldn’t handle listening to her talk about the end of the world at every appointment when I’m trying to climb my way out of suicidal depression. Her response was, “Well! I thought you were a Christian!” I was just trying to stay with her to have her regulate my meds. So, yeah, I got emotional and sarcastic after she became offended at me, the patient, trying to set healthy boundaries! Did I mention this today, inserting it in when I had a chance? No. Was there an opportunity for that? I have no fucking idea at this point.)
My attorney asked me questions next. I’ve taken pages of notes, scattered pages addressing things I might say in response to questions about my circumstances. Last night, I distilled them all to a few pages. I don’t know what the hell I said today. I know I missed some info I definitely wanted to provide.
The vocational therapist spoke last. The judge presented him with a hypothetical claimant who had several limitations and then asked specific questions about availability of work. My attorney asked about the effect of chronically missing work and not being on task.
After the hearing, my attorney called. He said that medical expert was really bad, and he couldn’t believe how she refused to acknowledge current notes with discussion of symptoms. He was pleased that the judge did include a few limitations in the hypothetical. Eric said he definitely thinks we should appeal if I’m denied. The ruling will be issued in six to eight weeks.
I’m soooo tired. My body aches. The 45 minute hearing, for which I’ve prepared the last year or so in a process that’s gone on three years so far, is over. It’s over. I said whatever I said. I know my judge usually follows expert’s conclusion, so it doesn’t look good. Whatever. At least it’s over. Trying to let it go and relax. Sigh.