SSDI Prep – Finding a Witness

Continuing with the ongoing story of what is going on week to week leading up to my Social Security Disability hearing in a month or so, I received a letter in the mail from my attorney that says I have a telephone meeting scheduled with the attorney the day before my hearing to go over everything, and oh, yes… by the way… we need you to find a witness who can come to your trial. Thanks!

First, I find myself flabbergasted that this hasn’t come up before now. I mean, the hearing is in a month! And, you know, generally everyone I know works, which means having to take time off to come to my hearing.

Then there is the obvious question, who should be my SSDI hearing witness?

While I’ve already done a little research on this topic (when my friend was applying for SSDI and asked me to be his witness) I know that someone who has seen my disability in action is the best candidate. That said, I have also read several articles that suggest that this witness have something more to say than what I have to say about myself.

I know I am not the first (or last) person to find myself in this conundrum.

If we were going solely off of someone who could tell you something new about me, I expect being able to show the judge my disability through the eyes of my boyfriend might suffice. At the same time, wouldn’t it be more fitting or be more helpful to have my witness be someone I’ve worked with, who has seen my bipolar symptoms in the workplace?

I thought about that for a while, but I think in all reality the answer is no. While in the workplace I worked hard to veil my bipolar symptoms and anxiety wherever I could, generally limiting my panic attacks and outbursts to a stall in the women’s bathroom.

At my last job, I couldn’t even recognize myself that I was exceptionally paranoid and delusional until much later, and when I spoke to representatives in HR and had meetings with them and my department head, they all took me very seriously and believed everything I told them (for the most part).

For these reasons, I don’t think my ex co-workers or boss could even pick out the elements I was presenting that were off, (short of shouting absurd comments that didn’t make sense at meetings). Most of them don’t know that I have a mental health diagnosis, and thought I left the company because of physical illness.

Though Corey (my boyfriend) hasn’t worked with me in a while (we’ve done a few small projects together) he has been privy to everything that has gone down in the last year (and more). I have not hidden my symptoms from him, and he is someone I consider to be a particularly intelligent person, someone able to draw their own conclusions rather easily.

Having considered these things, I am about 95% certain I am going to rely on Corey to be my witness, after all, he is (as requested in my letter)

“a friend or family member who is familiar with your medical condition and daily activities available to speak on your behalf.”

My only fear in this situation is that he might hold back on the truth, but he really isn’t the sort of person who fears many things… I expect it will be fine.

And, just as a final note, my psychiatrist has agreed to speak to my attorney and give him his files. I had to pay about $85 for this service, but I have been seeing this psychiatrist for a few years now and he has a ton of information on me that will really be helpful at the hearing. I’m excited that these things that have caused me so much anxiety are slowly falling into place!

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4 responses to “SSDI Prep – Finding a Witness

  1. Wow, I thought it was difficult to get on disability payments here in Australia!

  2. I was my husband’s witness for this less than a year ago, and I primarily concentrated on the difference between his idea of what was going on vs. what was going on in reality (as seen from my viewpoint, as I’m the ‘well’ person in the family, or so it is assumed). He did end up getting disability and as he’s gone up and down through the last year it’s become increasingly clear that working was truly not an option for him. Good luck to you and I think relying on your boyfriend is a really smart choice.

  3. I take my husband to all of my appointments with me, and they love it because they can double-check with him if I’ve the right of it (or if I’ve missed something). So I would agree that your boyfriend is probably going to be a wonderful witness, especially if he understands the stakes.

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