Vonnie, Get Your Guns

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I bet you want to hear about all the shenanigans I got into while traveling across the country, and we will get to that fun stuff soon, but I must open my return to Bloggyland by explaining why I had to end my vacay early.

The They are at it again.

Smartly, I had forwarded my mail to my friend’s house in the off chance I get a notification or a summons or a request for information from the They while I was trying to enjoy being alive.

And they sure did. Those fuckers sent a notice to appear for a hearing, and I had to respond immediately and be present in less than five days. 

When dealing with the They, you’re not treated as a beneficiary. You’re treated like an offender. You’re not assigned a case manager; you’re assigned a probation officer. Be where you’re supposed to be, else suffer the consequences.

So ZOOM I go across the Plains, through the Heart of Dixie, and back into the Deep South. My body, not quite ready to pull this trip, managed to anyways. With another bout of sleeplessness, irritability, and mood instability, I journeyed from my home to the hearing, a full cross of my county, a bridge, and then into a city I try to actively avoid to make the 10am appointment. To add lemon juice to the paper cut, the office I arrived at was in a building down the street from the site of my worst motorcycle accident. Nothing like fresh traumatic flashbacks to start the day!

I did allow myself two drops of Visty, my psychiatrist saying I can do that “if you feel a situation oncoming that may trigger your aggression.” I did state once we were on the record, that I was attending under duress, so no one could say, “Oh I didn’t know she was symptomatic,” and hold it against me. 

The night prior to the hearing, I prepped as any good lawyer should. The paperwork from the They that showed I met their guidelines. Check. The order of events since December 2013 notifying me of an audit, and the copies of the paperwork I submitted per their requirements. Check. The hand written notes I took during my request for appeal, including request for reinstatement of benefits while the appeal is processed. Check. The hand written notes the case manager at the They provided to me, indicating my cessation of benefits was erroneously entered into the system, and they had opened a ticket for their main whatever office to fix it. Check.

Considering the evidence before me, I couldn’t see how They could justify denying my continuance. So, as a good defense attorney does, I considered what evidence They had that can negate my disability status. Reviewed all that I submitted, and I patted myself on the back for being such a good, detail-oriented writer, describing down to the night terrors what a typical day in Von’s life is like. Then, I go back to the original psychiatrist who reviewed me for benefits: an expert in post traumatic stress disorder, an expert with working with disabled veterans, this guy’s word is bond. So it has to come down to….

SHE.

She. She who sent me in a tailspin. She who manipulated the mental exam. She who was far from ethical and objective. I flip through the They’s rules for the hearing, and in Courier size 12 it read, “you have the right to review your case file at the time of the hearing.” This is the meat of the debacle. I *need* to see what she said about me.

So, back in the hearing room, a thick plastic wall separating me from the hearing officer, an armed security guard behind the door closed behind me, I utter after my swearing in, “I would like to review my case file.”

The largesse of the caught-off-guard hearing officer moved towards the plastic partition, “You’re supposed to do that a half hour before the hearing.”

I know this to not be true, so I restate, calmly, “I would like to review my case file.”

Visibly annoyed, he got up, asked the security officer to escort me out while he set up the computer on my side to upload the necessary files. The security officer escorts me back in, the hearing officer explains how to navigate Windows 3.1, and the two officers leave my side of the hearing room.

Even though the partition exists, Lunchy hovers as I begin to read. “We can print this out for you to take and review at home if that’s what you prefer to do.”

“Will I be granted another hearing?”

“No.”

“Then I’m fine.”

Lunchy sulks. He leaves the room for a bit, then returns, noticing I’m furiously writing into my notebook, for what I was reading was indeed, infuriating.

“This hearing isn’t about the person who prepared that evidence,” he snarks.

“Yes, but those who are making a decision on my case are basing my condition on what this person said about me, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Then it’s important I continue reviewing.”

That’s when I wrote down on my rebuttal as a reminder, high cognitive ability is an attribute of several mental disorders.

You can tell he’s flustered now. “We have some time before my noon appointment. How much more time do you need?”

My wide eyes blink up at him. “There are six pages. I am on page two. I can take 20 minutes to complete all pages.” Yeah, I may have delivered that a bit robotically too, seeing that I was already annoying him. Anytime I can bust balls, I shall!

Lunchy leaves his side of the partition, and I digest essentially my suspicion: she was not objective in her review. In one paragraph, I found complete fabrications of the event. Also, she left off way more than what I recall. For you see, I have an acute memory, even in the midst of trauma.

So on front to back wide ruled paper, I prepared a rebuttal to the evidence. Lunchy’s back in exactly 20 minutes, and I’m prepared to continue with the hearing. The testimony I provided took Lunchy an hour and a half to process. I provided him the written rebuttal to copy, and a copy of the notes I made the night prior, because I’m determined to present the facts. Along with the typed notes, I had already entered a statement contesting the reviewer’s reliability as a source for determining my case. SO happy I stuck to my rights and reviewed her copy, because my suspicions were correct. She lied. She straight up LIED and the They believed her.

During the closing of the hearing, I asked for the formal measures to report a licensed mental health practitioner and a funded mental health facility to the Florida Department of Health. Lunchy provided me the person’s name and where to mail the written report to. The look on his face was almost of pride. I must’ve turned his world around. I get this a lot during my appeal process; the They are practically shocked I can elocute effectively what my condition is, as well as deftly expose the flaws on their end. In other words, my argument is impenetrable.

I’m once again battling with finding the strength to persevere through the muck as well as finding the will to live. I think I put it so well in my journal I’ll just type it out here: “I think what it comes down to is I’m being discriminated against because I’m so articulate. I can clearly describe my conditions. I’m not stupid. Whereas VA can take in every soldier and out process them as PTSD, SSA starts first with NO, and then see if you’ll challenge their decision. And once you’re in, you’re scrutinized. If you’re not seeing a GP, you’re not sick. That’s discrimination against us who practice non-Western medicine. Then, the lack of objectivity on Dr. —– part is too outstanding to be left alone. That exam should be dismissed as evidence, and I invite DOH to present another psychiatrist with credentials as well as ethics, not just the first loser on an alphabetical list. Dr. A— = A; you’re not even trying. So all we can do is keep fighting. The center where I’m receiving treatment is on my team. My new GP is on my team. Both will submit medical evidence that I am still disabled. How irresponsible of the SSA to not enter the data in a timely fashion. How sloppy that they restored my record piecemeal; in the meantime, I still pay out of pocket for treatment expenses when my benefits kicked in June 30 of this year. I’m still under the impression they want me to see a suicide through, so that no one has to be accountable and they can get back to mass murdering the disabled. -imes

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