Yesterday afternoon, I had another hearing with the Social Security people about the status of my claim for disability benefits. Some good things resulted – my lawyer reviewed my records again (several times, actually) and has realized that one of the potential weaknesses of my case can be completely explained BY SOMETHING IN THE RECORDS in a way that negates the weakness entirely.
I suppose that is rather vague, and it doesn’t need to be, so I’ll elaborate. I’ve made no secret on here of the fact that I used to be a staff member of a Church of Scientology – I was an ordained minister and conducted Sunday Services for several years. Yes, I’ve left the church – but because I had problems with the church, not the collective “scriptures.” I still have my entire collection of materials that I built up while I was on staff. I believe that the tech works well, when it is used correctly, and I believe that the church has been deliberately misusing it for years.
My VA medical records reflect that I had my religious preference listed as Scientology, and that is where things start getting interesting for the Social Security case.
One potential weakness to my claim has been that the judge reviewing my medical records has been seeing notes in those records that I’ve been “non cooperative” with medical professionals when they tried to give me certain drugs to treat my migraine headaches. If the doctor tells me he wants me to try something (let’s say, for example, PROZAC) that I know is usually prescribed for psychiatric cases or has potential hallucinogenic effects, I’ll tell the doctor straight up that I won’t take it. That is documented in my medical records.
The reason WHY I won’t take it is because I still believe in the Scientology principles, even if I don’t support the church. Remember a few years ago when Brooke Shields went public with taking psych drugs to treat postpartum depression? Tom Cruise made a big splash in the media for attacking her over the admission. I agree with Tom that taking the drugs is a mistake; I disagree with placing public judgement on another for the choices they make regarding them, especially when they don’t share my beliefs.
Anyway, my lawyer feels that whether or not I succeed in my claim for disability looks like it’s coming down to that one issue – the non-compliance with medical advice. She’s going to raise the issue of religious belief at the next hearing if the questioning goes that direction.
I say “at the next hearing” because yesterday’s hearing was almost literally a non-starter. It lasted 5 minutes. The major reason for the hearing was to get the testimony of a medical professional who is being paid to review my treatment records and determine if I am functionally unable to hold a job. After we convened the hearing and officially went “on the record” – meaning that everything said from that point forward would actually become part of the case records – the judge asked the court secretary to call the doctor (who was scheduled to give his testimony live over the phone). When she got him on the line, the first thing he said was that he called the judge’s office yesterday and told someone that he never received the disc with my records. The judge immediately realized that the doctor couldn’t testify about records he hadn’t reviewed, adjourned the hearing, and made a note that we’d (my lawyer and I) get a notice when the hearing is rescheduled.