Tuesday, July 31, 2007

60 More Days of Waiting

Every day is a new lesson - our lesson today:
What's a Disability Quality Branch?
The DQB, or disability quality branch, is the Social Security Administration's version of quality control when it comes to the handling of social security disability and ssi-disability claims.
Why should WE care?
[chord of ominous music]
A random number of disability claims (for which decisions have already been rendered) are selected each month for "review" at each region's DQB.

Cases pulled by DQB for review can remain there for an inordinate number of weeks or even months. The obvious effect of this is that some cases are significantly delayed by DQB (decision letters cannot be mailed until DQB has finished reviewing a case.)

You know what's coming, right?

We were supposed to have the decision on Gerry's Disability claim by the end of July. Today is the end of July (coincidentally, it also would have been my dad's 85th birthday)

When we didn't hear anything from SSI today Gerry called and we discovered his application has been chosen at random to make sure that all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. How odd that they didn't arrive in a van at our front steps with a bunch of balloons and a TV crew to announce that to us...

We were told to expect at least a 60-day wait before we hear anything. So we're looking at October before we get the word. Now THAT'S how we put someone's mind at rest when they're about to undergo a serious medical procedure.

Needless to say, THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who's been so kind to us in the past few weeks! I'm not sure what we'd do without the love, kindness and help we've been receiving. Your good thoughts and wishes are the best gift we could ever get - thank you!

We're not feeling killer worried - well, we're trying not to - because the Social Worker at the Mayo told us that a Bone Marrow Transplant is pretty much an automatic approval from SSI.

Note: SSI is not impressed by the phrase, "But the social worker at the Mayo said we'd be approved!" Especially not when you say it in a really whiny voice. Live & learn.

So until we hear positive news, we'll just keep on keeping on.

In that vein, we're getting a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) with Gerry's bank, it's a good rate with no fees, and we can use it as we need it for the bathroom/kitchen redo. We'd always planned on it, now it makes even more sense. We need to continue to think of this as an investment in Gerry's recovery.

Max played on the Dodgers this summer - the LA Dodgers (but we kept pretending they were la Brooklyn Dodgers, en Fran¨ais, s'il vous plait!)

And, lo and behold, the Dodgers won the Linwood Rec Center Championship! WOO!

We had a TOTAL Red Barber moment up in the cheap seats at the rec center last evening.

It was so exciting to see how Max improved over this Summer, how he went from striking out pretty consistently to finding the spot on the bat that needed to be hit.

Last evening he made a great play from second base & Gerry said he had more RBI's than anyone else. I'm not quite sure what that means, but Max was happy!

We took him to Snuffy's for dinner - he told the waitress, "If it wasn't for me, my team would have had to finish the 9th inning!" Who knew?

His coach is an amazing guy - just the nicest, sweetest, most confidence-building coach a kid could ask for, and it's been a pure gift that Max got him this summer.

We've been so lucky. And next year Max can be on the same team, with the same great group of kids, as he was this year. YAY!

I want to sign the kids up for Soccer this Fall, but they'll be away for most of August, when a lot of the practicing happens, so I'm a little fearful of that. I don't want them to start out feeling behind everyone else - but I want them to have a sport this Fall (and the rec center makes it so easy and economical for local families!)

Hannah's at camp - I haven't heard from her so I'm thinking this is a good thing (we sent her an email, I want to wait another day before sending another one - apparently if they get too many emails from home it can make them homesick!) This camp is one where almost all the girls are new at the overnight camping thing, so we're hoping that she's fitting in well!

She's such a great kid - we all miss her SO much! Max is not as enchanted with being an only child as he thought he'd be. Live and learn, Max! He's going to be SO happy when she gets back - but I'll be away...

Back to the stomping ground of my youth (okay, a little NORTH of my youthful stomp) to Sarnia, Ontario (Check out my lecture on Wednesday at Feather your Nest) and Lansing, Michigan (finally, FINALLY, THREADBEAR!!) this weekend for some lectures and classes.

On de road again! I am a Happy Wanderer!

I haven't taught in over a month - I'm feeling rusty. I know once I get going I'll be fine, but whenever you take a break fro
m something there's a little fear about jumping back in.

So I'll jump - right out of bed and over to the airport (stopping on the way to drop off the car to have the brakes checked) and off to Detroit for a drive up to Sarnia. I wonder if Northwestern will cancel my flight...

Gerry's brother is coming out to be here while I'm gone - just the guys & Atticus. Gigi the cat will be the only girl around. She looks frightened and she misses Hannah terribly!

When I get home on Sunday night I'll have about 12 hours to turn it around before we leave for Rochester. Still so much to do. But we're in good shape with the packing - I'm just worried about getting the kids all ready to go off on their NJ adventure on Wed.

Perhaps after I get Gerry settled down in Rochester I'll come back up to St. Paul on Tuesday to make sure the kids are packed (a good friend is staying here with them until they fly to NJ with another friend on Wed)

This is all happening so fast.

The vanity top is pretty much finished! I removed the aluminum foil dam, drilled holes and cut out the center - it's sitting pretty and the contractor is psyched about it, too! So our vanity cost us a grand total of $40 for the grout & poly-resin. If it works...

I've always wanted to, that's all.

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Debbie said...

My daughter is at YMCA Camp this week and next and she's celebrating her 9th year of going there. I used to be the office manager of the camp and believe me, when it comes to homesick kids, no news is good news. I honestly think kids going to camp is harder on the parents. I've seen it time and time again when parents pick their kids up, expecting to hear that they have been SO homesick only to learn the truth, they have been too busy to be homesick and they want to come back again and again.

Wishing your family well...

August 01, 2007 6:11 AM  
Michele with one "L" said...

Fly Fishing. I always whanted to try it too.

August 01, 2007 7:26 AM  
Kim in KCK said...

Take heart. The Social Security thing is just so many hoops. I have a friend whose brother has leukemia. He has been in remission for some time due to good meds, but he tires easily and is unable to work. He got a letter last fall that told him that he has to go back to work. He appealed. After many phone calls, meetings scheduled being rescheduled, etc. he finally got to his hearing. With doctors' statements in hand, renewal of his disabled status was a slam dunk. The SS agent (Ominous WWII overtones there) didn't understand half of the medical terminology applicable to his case, and was so overwhelmed that she had no choice but to approve his continued status. Godspeed. Praying for you.

August 01, 2007 7:50 AM  
Deb said...

Oh disability pensions! I wrote my own policy, years ago-when I was 23, healthy, athletic, non smoker, light drinker-and never thought I would ever use it. I have had 14 knee surgeries and a total knee replacement (looking at another knee and a hip, apparently)And I have yet to see 50. Soo- I know about these damn diability pensions. Soooo- my advice- I was once dropped, for very little reason, by the policy. I had a sense something wasn't right-so I researched a good lawyer- he was a a doctor, who went back to school,became a lasyer for just such sorts of cases. I went for a consult, gave him the heads up, and then everything was in place when the axe fell. Now, in your case, the health issues are much more serious-but it pays to be prepared. All the best-I know how stressful these dumb things can be!!!

August 01, 2007 8:09 AM  
Mary Kay said...

Hang in there..those SSI people have to prove their income (job) is important too. Hopefully they find the people defrauding the system. My dad had to continually prove his disability.
Take a DEEP breath.
Have fun teaching...your students will. Travel safely.

August 01, 2007 8:14 AM  
Knitting Linguist said...

I'm so sorry about the SS people! What awful timing (I realize there's really no good timing for something like this, but it's hard to feel like the universe keeps pointing the finger at you). Meanwhile, though, enjoy teaching your classes -- I know what you mean about that trepidation going back after a while; I always feel that way in the fall when I have been out of the classroom all summer. I can't wait to hear how Hannah's camp is!

August 01, 2007 10:18 AM  
Pat said...

So sorry the SSI picked Gerry at random. At least when it is approved (and it will be) it will be retroactive. Hang in there!

August 01, 2007 11:58 AM  
jinny said...

RBI - Runs Batted In - meaning Max's turns at-bat advanced teammates ahead of him on base into home (home runs he helped get there). :) Quite an accomplishment, & it means he's very consistent.

August 01, 2007 12:42 PM  
Anne said...

When I was in college I worked at the Rec Center and every summer there was a Fly Fishing Course that used the baseball diamond to practice. It was quite a site to go out at dusk and see 20 people in their hip waders practicing their casts.

August 01, 2007 12:43 PM  
Marin said...

Fly Fishing? Much like knitting: very zen at times, tear your hair out at times, lots of knots if things don't go well, lots of toys and tools and general accoutrement and the (mostly) good-natured jealousies they inspire in fellow enthusiasts, processprocessprocess... product!, adjunct hobbies (like fly-tying).

You don't get to tromp around in the woods and water as much with knitting.

You can't fly-fish in your own living room. With any hope of that product part, I mean.

I'm going to be teaching my dad to knit shortly... I think I'll pass this on to him so he feels more at home.

August 01, 2007 1:25 PM  
Having a Knit Fitt said...

My mother's father used to tie his own flies. That is what I would like to try as far as fly fishing goes. All the bits of fluff, feathers, colored thread, etc.

August 01, 2007 6:07 PM  
Anonymous said...

I had my first fly-fishing lesson only a week ago - that's why I noticed it in the "Labels" on your post - and did a double-take! But when I didn't see anything in the post about it, I thought maybe I'd missed something.

Good luck on the SSi delay. I've been chosen "at random" for an audit by the iRS - twice! how do they define "random"? Govamint!

August 01, 2007 8:02 PM  
Carina said...

I can't wait to finally meet you in person this Saturday at Threadbear! I'm so psyched! I'm bringing a few goodies for your weekend survival, too. I know the boys will take awesome care of you, but I feel like I've known you (even with a long blog-reading break) for a long time and just feel like you need pampering, Michigan-style.

I was so scared for my kidney tumor surgery last fall. Surgery and procedures are scary, especially in a hospital you don't know that well around people you've never met. I think the fear is normal and healthy. Just keep breathing, and it'll all be okay somehow. I'll be praying for you all--for your travels and teaching, for all the prep, and for Rochester.

August 01, 2007 8:09 PM  
Northside Knitter said...

I am watching MSNBC's coverage of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis and am keeping the residents of the Twin Cities in my thoughts and prayers. The pictures I am seeing on TV reminds me of the Bay Bridge and Oakland Freeway collapse in 1989 during the Loma Prieta Earthquake. There were miracle survivors during that tragedy and I am hopeful that there will be similar miracles following this disaster.

San Jose, CA

August 01, 2007 8:40 PM  
indigo warrior said...

Annie, contact your nearest elected Congressman or Senator. They work for you and are actually concerned if you think they aren't doing a good job. They even have minions to do this kind of thing on your behalf on thier behalf. I only say this because *my experience* of dealing with folks at SSI has been less than impressive. I think they were under the impression that thier customers were there for thier convenience ... sigh. Your elected officials to do more than run legislation through and then take jobs as lobbyists! I say put 'em to work!

And of course any similarity between real and fictional politicians is completely coincidental and not in any way shape or form intended.

August 01, 2007 9:09 PM  
Julie A. said...

Annie -

For my 21st birthday my father asked me what I wanted, and I told him "My own waders for fly fishing!"

I'll take you fishing anytime you want to go...I'll take all of you! I took my boyfriend fishing for the first time and he caught a fish. a nice 7 inch rainbow trout...

Ahh, being in a spring stream is so zen!

wishing you well and hope everyone is safe with the bridge collapse.

August 01, 2007 9:18 PM  
janna said...

Hope you and your family are safe -- the bridge collapse is just too scary...

And hang in there - we're all sending good thoughts to you and Gerry, and now to the Social Security folks, who will be so overwhelmed that they will approve without a second thought!

Oh - and the vanity top is so cool!

August 01, 2007 10:11 PM  
HeadKnitwit said...

My handicapped son is a SSI beneficiary and there are attorneys that take cases pro bono or very sliding fee. It may take away some worry to meet with someone and let them share the burden in a timely manner. Love the vanity. Wish I could be in MI to take your class. Hope you are in a pretty part of the state. peace and prayers-M

August 02, 2007 12:29 AM  
Anonymous said...

RE social security disability: I recommend that you contact your U.S. Senator and request assistance in this matter. You are their constituent, their duty is to assist you. I would also request the name and phone number of one of their staff members in a local office near you whom you can contact about this matter. All the Best, Peg (blechman@access-board.gov) I knew someone who lives in MD who got great assistance from Sen. Milkuski's office when her social security disability approval was delayed and delayed.

August 03, 2007 11:58 AM  

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