My wife and I bought our home a little over seven years ago, while we were expecting the birth of our daughter. It's a modest rowhome, kind of oddly decorated and everything inside is dated, but we knew the first time we walked in that it felt like home. We never thought we'd be able to own a home, but we both were working long term full time jobs, and there were all sorts of incentives at the time to buy a home, so we were able to get approved. It was a dream come true. Our daughter was born a few months later and the three of us have lived there ever since.
About four years ago, my wife fell and seriously injured her back. She went through different kinds of physical therapy, medicines, multiple spinal injections, and had spinal surgery on her neck. Unfortunately, she has found little to no relief to the pain and has been unable to work since her injury. She applied for Social Security Disability a little over 3 years ago. Our lawyer told us that it was a long process, that it would take a year to a year and a half to get a hearing. But once it was approved we would receive the back pay she was owed retroactively (minus the lawyer's 25% fee) and would then begin receiving monthly disability checks, which isn't a lot but it is a whole lot more than nothing.
So we did everything we could to get by while we waited. My income alone is not enough to support our family, so we went through the savings we had and kept bills up to date. Once the savings was gone, we were forced to use credit for basically everything, and went into a massive amount of debt trying to make ends meet. We knew once her disability was approved, we could pay most of our debt back and make our monthly ends meet again. The process took longer than expected. It was more than a two year wait for her hearing. But she finally got it and it went well. We were told to wait two to four months for the decision. That was last August.
In March we got a call saying she needed to go to an appointment set up by the judge, and in April the appointment finally came around. I drove her to the appointment. It was an hour away and she was in a ton of pain when we got there. She's also pregnant with our first son, so she cannot take any of her normal medication for the pain, so she was in bad shape when we got there. After about a 20 minute wait, and some brief questions from a nurse, a doctor came into the room. She asked some basic questions and started doing some simple tests. My wife was asked to raise and lower her arms, rotate her wrists, stand and lift her legs, and bend her knees. She did each of these once each, in obvious pain. The doctor, seeing her in pain, asked, "Are you sure you're ready for this? We have a lot of tests to do." My wife said yes. She was then asked to walk on her toes. She took 2 steps wincing on pain and stopped. She was then asked to walk on her heals. On the 2nd step she lost her balance and fell sideways and caught herself on a wall. She was tearing up in pain. The doctor said she could sit down. She was then asked to use her hands to push against the doctor's hands, one time up, and one time down. The doctor then abruptly said, "Ok I think we've done enough you can go." And she left the room. The whole visit only lasted five to seven minutes. My wife was confused as to why it ended so quickly, especially after the doctor said there were a lot of tests yet to do. I told her the doctor could see how much pain she was in, that she could barely do even the simple tests, and probably didn't want to put her through anymore. Plus it was probably obvious to the doctor that she wasn't able to work, so maybe there was no need to do the harder tests. So we went home and waited. We were told the decision would be another month or two. We were already way behind on our mortgage and other bills, but there was finally light at the end of the tunnel. I was in contact with our mortgage company, the utility companies, banks, and everybody else we owed money to explaining the situation, and assuring them that they would get their payments as soon as we received our decision. There was no doubt in my mind, or even any reason to have doubt that it would be approved.
Well, I was completely wrong. We received the decision towards the end of June, in just enough time to finally get current on things and start to be able to make ends meet again. Unfortunately, we got the wrong decision. Her Social Security Disability was denied. We called our lawyer, who had received the news as well, and he was already in the process of appealing, but that the appeal would be another long wait. He told us that what really hurt our case was the doctor appointment. Yes, the five minute doctor appointment that the doctor stopped early because my wife was in so much pain. The report the doctor wrote made it seem as if my wife was a world class athlete. It said she could frequently lift and carry 100 pounds for an entire eight hour work day, and continuously lift 50 pounds for eight hours. My wife got hurt when my daughter was two, and weighed twenty-six pounds and she has not been able to lift her since. The idea that she could lift anything continuously is a joke. Even pre-injury, she barely weighs 100 pounds and could not lift that weight once, let a lone frequently over an eight hour day. The doctor also reported that she could walk continuously for eight hours, and run frequently for eight hours during a work day. This was based on nothing, since the only walking she did during that appointment was down the hall to the office and back out, with the assistance of her cane. It said she had "no trouble" walking on her toes and heels, which is just an outright lie based on what I described earlier. There were two pages of diagrams of tests. None of the diagrams were filled out individually. There were brackets across both pages where the doctor wrote, "WNL" (within normal limits). I have no idea how the doctor assessed this because the majority of the tests on the sheet looked nothing like anything she was asked to do. The only diagnosis that was given by that doctor was that my wife had cervical surgery. That was it, as if she just woke up one day feeling great and just decided to have her neck cut open and her spine operated on. No one with any sense who witnessed her exam could have possibly written that report in good conscience. It also contradicted the years of medical history we had and everything all of her doctors had said. None the less, she was denied.
So now we are just trying to get by the best we can. We are trying to keep the water and electricity on month to month, and paying what we can pay. I'm trying hard to find a better job, or a second job, or both if I can. Every time we've needed to make one mortgage payment to stay out of foreclusure, we've been blessed to be able to do it through the help of family and friends. But without the money we expected, there's no realistic way we can catch up on the past due balance by ourselves.
I know that no matter what, if we lose everything, we will still have our family and we will still have God. So I know we'll be ok somehow, no matter what. I'd really love to be able to keep our home. I don't have any desire to ever buy a bigger one, or a nicer one, or anything else. I would be so happy to just be able to stay in our home with our family. We love it there. It's the only house my daughter has ever called home. The day we brought her home from the hospital was probably the happiest day of my life. We were all home as a family. She knows the situation we're in as well as a six year old can, and she wants to be able to keep living at her house. She loves it here, she loves her school. She's excited to share her room with her little brother when he arrives. And when our son is born, I would love to be able to bring him home to our house and know that our family will be able to stay and have a home to live in.
Any help that you guys can give would be a blessing. I know everybody has problems, especially financially, so please know that if you decide to help us out I will be forever thankful and will not take one dollar for granted. Any and everything donated to this will go directly towards our past due mortgage balance, and will hopefully allow us to keep our home.
Thank you guys so much, sorry for the long story. I really appreciate the support.
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- Anonymous Knob
- Dhario DeSousa
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