Sunday, December 20, 2015

Penny's status is now officially listed as "in remission".

Penny's cystoscopy last Friday (her first since her surgery in July to remove part of a cancerous ureter on her left kidney) resulted in a CLEAN bill of health (no cancer was found and this was her first cystoscopy that didn't require any removal of tissue or a biopsy). So she is officially in "remission".  Hallelujah!!!!!!

Penny is now seeing her future as being bright again (and now believes that she is in the clear - cancer wise - given the removal of the diseased portion of the ureter 5 months ago and that she no longer hurts internally on the left side... for the first time in over 4 years). We are literally giddy with happiness. 

Regarding our home - we are on "Business Day 7" tomorrow regarding a decision from Wells Fargo (they re-opened our case on 12/09 when we received the partial VA dependent benefit letter and a letter from the Social Security Administration showing we will receive a benefit check on 12/31/15). They have up to 10 "Business days" where their underwriter can make a decision under Federal Law. We suspect we'll get that decision on day 10 (December 24th).... as why should Wells Fargo be any different than the government regarding dragging things out to the last day. If they issue a denial now, then we will be going to the Justice Department for help.

January 2016 should be a windfall of benefits (with our having waited almost 90 days for the Social Security Administration to "tag" my case in their system to release SSDI benefits). We will be paying a small chunk in taxes given the back dating also (it is ironic that the Federal Government will be rewarded for dragging their feet by our having enough back dated benefits to put us over their yearly limit of benefits before being taxed). Any backpay will be going to eliminate whatever medical debt and other debt that remains. Incredibly, we will have enough income after this to start saving for the future, paying our monthly bills, improving our home to accommodate our needs (such as a handicap ramp, wider doors to accommodate a scooter, a walk-in tub in the bathroom, etc), and starting funds to help our grandchildren with their future possible "needs". We will also be able to substantially tithe again at our Church. We can start paying it forward to others when the need is there (we are excited about soon being able to do so). I can start volunteering with the Marine Corps League and TLS veterans. The Travmobile will be getting much needed rust repair (and electrical repair) as will our Handicap Minivan.

We are VERY blessed at this point.... and this coming year should be the year our lives turn around for the better.

We wouldn't have gotten to this point if it wasn't for our church, family, and friends. There are so many we have to thank as if it wasn't for the prayers, fundraising help, and words of encouragement.... I haven't a clue where we'd be today. Yes, we are incredibly blessed... 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Mortgage Modification re-opened - underwriter will make decision within 7 to 10 days. Penny is up for her next Cystoscopy in 2 days.

We have so much to be thankful for.

A Mortgage Modification case has been re-opened today - the underwriter will make decision within 7 to 10 days (they should now have enough info to move forward). Penny is also going for her (16th? - we are losing count) cystoscopy on Friday to find out if the surgery on her left Ureter/Kidney and bladder continues to be successful (and without any cancer). Our prayers and those of the prayer team are going full steam in praying for her continued health.

At this point (after 3 years of disability), I now have a 50% service related disability benefit (with an increase possibly around the corner). Social Security Disability has been approved (and benefits will be deposited within the next 30 to 60 days). Social Security Disability Dependent claim has been filed (a decision within 90 to 180 days). These benefits were not given (as all of them were reviewed by either an Administrative Law Judge or by a Physician's review board looking at all of the medical records and listening to Medical / Vocational experts - and the service related disability was in black and white in my VA medical records on file). The fact the VA didn't follow-up with me regarding my medical conditions after I left the Marine Corps was something many veterans experienced. The last issue is Penny's SSDI hearing coming up soon (she already is SSI approved, this only ensures she is eligible for Medicare if approved).

We are in the middle of the Dave Ramsey "Financial University" course, so we will be have the best advice we can get to be financially independent for the foreseeable future. We will continue to throw everything at Penny's medical treatment to ensure she has the best chance one can have to keep the cancer in remission (there is no treatment that won't be tried if it is recommended). We are pretty certain our home will remain ours for a long time at this point. We'll be able to "Pay it forward" to others down the road (as we have received over the past 3 years) and that giving back will start once the benefit checks are in the bank and the taxes are paid.We are hoping we'll get to know our grandchildren better (we have three, with a fourth on the way). And we are going to be working on our long term nest egg to ensure our family will not be without down the road if something was to happen to us.

My days of working are long over (and the doctors say it is permanent), so one must acknowledge and accept one's limitations. I worked 35 straight years (7 of those years in the Marine Corps), and I worked a tremendous amount of unpaid overtime for the last 13 of those years in Information technology support (so now - it is time to deal with the medical repercussions of that time). That experience will culminate in the effort to start helping other Vets and people with medical problems (I've also learned a lot these past 3 years regarding how to pursue benefits - with a lot of help from Robin Alford's "The Expert's Guide to Veterans benefits - and I am hoping what I've learned elsewhere will help her in the future regarding any revisions).

According to TLS Veterans, my blog is a story of persistence that they can tell other Vets about (who are dealing with much of the same issues and who are in much the same situation)..... and as I move from the fire.... over to helping others in need, this blog will evolve into a Veteran's one stop shop of info. There are quite a few "dark" blog posts when it looked like I had given up - and I am still here. I've been told it has been helpful to more than a couple of Vets (and if anyone gets any spark in the right direction, this writing will have been worth it). There might even be a book regarding these experiences down the road (we'll see), but it will need an editor (and I have a few friends who are willing to help me parse my tendency to be verbose).

We are also noticing that more and more Vets plus those with medical crisis' are turning to fund-raising sites given the chaos that is Obama-care and the present non-paying insurance company issues. Also - being transparent about such efforts is always the way to go (and working with one's Church is highly recommended in order to keep one's head on straight if one is religious). TLS veterans and my church helped saved my life (and I will never forget that). TLS veterans is also going the online fund-raising route (and I believe other Veteran organizations are discovering such solutions to deal with budget gaps also). If we hadn't fund raised, I haven't a clue where we'd be at this point. But now, we can start the process of giving back (and the goal is to give back much more than we ever received - that's where the Dave Ramsey course comes in).

To me, this has been a long journey of pain, but also one of discovery. We found out just how much people cared for us. Yes, there are also a few internet trolls who wish otherwise, but they are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things (and are not even worthy of any more mention - they get lost in the anonymous fog of time). Thank you google analytics for what you do.

We thank everyone who has helped us get this far and it is incredible just how bright our future is.

This is just the beginning..........  =)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Accelerated Loan day - dodging the foreclosure bullet (or the day the VA indicated it will not allow Wells Fargo to set a foreclosure date)

What an incredible day.

We received a call from Congressman Randy Hultgren's office this afternoon. They are going to contact Social Security this afternoon to see if they can push the SSDI approval process forward (I just forwarded a signed Privacy Authorization to them).
The Allsup and Associates "Veterans Rep" indicates that both Travis and Penny are now listed in the VA system as "dependents". However, it could still take weeks for an award letter and/or benefits to be generated.
Another wrinkle...... apparently - Travis (despite being on SSDI already) might be eligible for SSDI under my earnings record (even though he presently receives SSDI on his own at the moment)..... and I was never told this until today (and it was another person getting benefits who gave me the heads up). This means, the benefit will be half of what I will be getting from SSA (one literally needs a scorecard / Phd to keep track of all of this it seems.... and since I used to handle long term disability claims that reduce by any Social Security Benefit - so I really should have already known - but changes constantly happen to how Social Security works and the last large change was in 1998 - after I stopped handling LTD claims for Metlife and had started doing Information Technology full time). So that should increase the dependent amount by $230 per month. However, we can't "apply" for it until I receive my SSDI approval letter (why one is not allowed to apply for it prior to an award is truly baffling - so I have asked Congressman Hultgren's office to also check into that also).
So, the combination of benefits eventually should "qualify" us for that mortgage modification.... if we ever are able to get a written benefit decision in time from the SOcial Security Administration (SSA) and / or the Veterans Administration (VA).
So everyone, this is a cautionary tale. Even though we asked if we had anything else we should fill out when applying for benefits, we were not properly informed of what we should apply for additionally considering our situation - so if you have a disabled child, DEFINITELY apply when you are applying for yourself. You never know if one qualifies, but at least... get it in writing. I am hoping others in the same situation learn from our experiences, which is why I am posting all of this info when it happens to us.
In the interim, I put in a call in to Wells Fargo asking for one final extension that will take into account the upcoming benefits instead of making a decision today regarding a "loan acceleration" (so it is in their hands). I know that with God's grace, the right thing would happen. As everyone knows, tt has taken 3 years to get to this point. Our situation is now at a loggerhead, and it will take yet another miracle to come out of this unscathed. As already shown in this blog, God is full of miracles regarding us and I am sure this is no different. The following describes the miracle we received today (a few minutes ago):
I just got off the phone with Wells Fargo. The loan has not accelerated today, but apparently that doesn't mean it won't tomorrow or the next day. The "Customer Care rep" at the "Office of the President" at Wells Fargo indicated that according to the VA housing rep - the VA will not allow the loan to go into foreclosure based on the fact that I have proven to them I have been approved for SSDI and Veterans Disability Benefits (and have shown we are trying to do everything we can to stay in the home) . So, even if the loan does "accelerate" - that Wells Fargo will not be assigning a "sale date" if foreclosure is started - and he assured me that even if the foreclosure process does start soon, that once we do receive SSDI and VA Dependent Benefits - that Wells Fargo WILL reopen the loan modification process no matter the loan status at that time - and will follow through with paperwork to finish the modification process (this is the first time I have heard Wells Fargo acknowledge that the VA has stopped any possible loss of the home as long as my benefits start within the next 45 days).
Whew....... another of God's miracles.
So now, I'll be going to Social Security tomorrow to start the dependent claim process (we won't take "No" for an answer).... and we will be checking daily on both SSA.GOV and the VA ebenefits website to see if any benefit has been marked as "Approved" and that benefits will start also (so I can get that to Wells Fargo as soon as I see the info on either website).
You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. - Psalm 77:14
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” - Matthew 19:26

And today is my mother's birthday (she would have been 75 years old today had she lived past 2009 and hadn't passed away from Pancreatic Cancer). I definitely feel like she is our familial "Guardian Angel" - she loved our home and I am positive is trying to help us stay in it. We miss her terribly. The first picture is her (taking a picture with me) right after we came from Norway to America. The 2nd picture is of her at our Hampshire home about 5 years before she passed away. She was about the most loyal and loving parent I know, we didn't deserve her but were honored God chose her to be our Mother, and there isn't a day I take for granted given her having provided every fiber of her being to her children's lives. She left us too soon, and I am looking forward to seeing her again when I eventually pass.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The battle for our home is nigh... and more thin ice regarding medical coverage for Penny.

So, today was a grind to force anyone's hand by being a VERY squeaky wheel. My contact at the housing division of the VA (Veterans Administration) was given a heads up of yesterday's response from Wells Fargo and she was floored. So she took matters into her own hands and called up the guy at the Customer Care team. Apparently, this person was unaware that his company had sent to me a Loan Acceleration letter on 11/02/15 indicated the mortgage loan would accelerate on 12/07/15. So now he understands my panic. Curious that, as I forwarded that letter to both his office and the VA two weeks ago. But I digress......

Given the vulture hanging over our heads, the VA rep went to her boss... who contacted the head person at the office handling the "Dependent Claim" portion of my service related disability. That person was told of the situation and that the mere fact that my spouse lives with me should have made the claim an "automatic" claim... not a manual. So that was rectified today and my wife is now attached to my service related disability claim and our benefit will increase by $83 per month. I checked the ebenefits site and it was indeed approved (of course, all of the documentation I had uploaded to their site on 10/22/15 the VA office cannot find... so they "continued" the claim with Travis - not approved yet - but the due date for my response to their 6 questions has already been uploaded along with the supporting documentation about an hour ago).

So now we should have a qualifying change in our status (according to their definition) and Wells Fargo will have me and the VA rep on the phone with them on Monday morning to drive home this fact.

Remember folks at home, ALWAYS be pro-active. ALWAYS be the squeaky wheel (while being respectful and never throwing a temper). The mortgage companies claim that as long as their customers are communicative, that they prefer that to not hearing at all.

They have never been communicated with such veracity as with our case... I can assure you. So Monday is the deadline, lets see if this last $83 (plus including the escrow reduction of $230) for a total positive impact of $313 towards total income. That will put a modified mortgage payment around 29% of total income... well below the federal requirements for a modification.

We shall see what Monday brings.We'll be praying a lot over the next 3 days.

So I went to Illinois DHS today. They have no clue why Penny was bounced out of the Aetna Better Health plan in October. However, they confirmed she will have "Basic Illinois Medicaid" for the rest of the month. So Penny's trip to CTCA (Cancer Treatment Center of America in Zion, IL) next Thursday/Friday is a go for the Cystoscopy. Praise the Lord.

So now, once that is done... we have to go to Illinois DHS before 12/27/15 with evidence she is disabled (and even though SSI has reduced to $0.00, she is still on the books as disabled regarding SSI so all we have to do is present that to their "representative" in Woodstock... and they will try to create a new Medicaid case number that doesn't require going to the MarketPlace (and the Medicaid HMO's being provided in the Illinois Marketplace). So, a lot of praying will be happning on that front also.

What a week........

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Wells Fargo throws us under the bus. Aetna Better Health / Illinois HFS throw us under the bus.

After a member of the "Care Team" (from the Office of the President) indicated by phone last Tuesday that they accepted my 2015 Grafton Township Assessment and had done an Escrow Account review and had reduced our Monthly payment by $229 which when combined with our income, should affect the Re-entry team in re-opening the case given the substantial reduction in the monthly deduction when compared to our income presented.... and he stated that some activity regarding review should commence by either close of business yesterday or sometime today, I patiently waited and called for my "Home Preservation Specialist" this afternoon at 3:30 pm before they close. She was unavailable and I was transferred to the “Re-entry Team”. I waited for that person on hold while they reviewed the documentation and after 12 minutes, I was told that the $230 per month escrow reduction was not a "change in our circumstances", so Wells Fargo cannot re-open my case and unless I have any other info that shows a change in our circumstances… the case will remain closed. I was then asked if I wanted to move forward with the alternatives left (short sale/etc.). I indicated….. nope (we will have to pay the taxes on any loss which would be being taxed on over $140,000 in losses as our home is only worth $81,000 according to our latest assessment). PLUS, we still owe over $30,000 regarding Illinois Hardest Hit (and will have to pay taxes on that also). That means even if we file bankruptcy, we are still on the hook for the taxes. Short sale? Deed in lieu of payment (and walking away)? Seriously???????

<My jaw hit the floor>

I’ve emailed Randy Hultgren (my congressman) 2 days ago with no response thus far. Social Security is estimating a minimum of 68 days to change my status to approved (that means around the beginning of the year next year….. 3 weeks after loan acceleration is supposed to happen). They only have to make a change to a code in their system, and it will go live with the benefits. I've also been told on the ebenefit government website that the VA won’t make a decision on the Dependent claim for at least another 390 days (despite the fact all they have to do is "click" approve in their systems).

It looks like no matter what we do now, our home will go into the foreclosure process. I know the VA housing department will try to hold that off, but even they can only do so much.  I have been as pro-active as I can be without going to the government offices (and demonstrating in front of them).

Folks - I am about ready to say Uncle……. I don’t want to, but everyone other than the VA housing dept. seems to be too invested in following “process” to work with us. We HAVE the income. We've run the numbers with McHenry County Credit Counseling and we are below the 31% limit of our earnings.

Our present income brings us to less than the 31% of income level we need to get approved for any modification. Apparently, the escrow reduction by $230 per mo. is not a trigger they use in that determination (even though it IS used when being reviewed). They just won't start a new one because it doesn't meet their "definition" of a "life circumstance change". A technicality that any higher up VP should be able to be empowered.... to make a decision to disregard if we truly are less than 31% of income regarding the mortgage payment (and would be able to make our adjusted monthly payment).

Another technicality (they HAVE my SSDI benefit amount in writing on SSA letterhead that should be starting in January (and is back dated 2 years), they just don't have a SSA "approval letter" that they "accept"). Another "technicality". It clearly appears they don't want us in this home (that is worth $140k less than it's principle). Maybe they need some "loss" tax ride-offs that their CFO has identified to enhance shareholder value when announcing their quarterly earnings (we are not the only ones in this boat). We are sooooooooooo close (but we might as well be a mile away)....... we just can't get the government to find it within themselves to move the case to the top of their pile/backlog and for Wells Fargo to re-open the case when they KNOW we'd qualify if it went to their underwriting department based on our present income.

Our frustration/stress level is not helping my wife’s nor my medical health and one eventually has to recognize that and say… is this worth the battle anymore?

Wells Fargo, Social Security, and the VA (not housing benefit side) are stuck in an antiquated world of process and political posturing while not resolving issues for those same Veterans, and are basically sticking up for themselves (their jobs and process). Their customers (us) lost the battle of their caring/concern long ago.

We are resigned to our fate, it looks like we'll ultimately have to move due to no reason other than a "technicality". I've never have felt more helpless/hopeless in my life. Yes, God has our backs and I know we'll land safely somewhere (and my faith preservers).... but jeez..... why is it ALWAYS the worst case scenario with us? :(

Speaking of which, Penny was "bounced out" of Aetna Better Health (the Medicaid provider we were forced to pick last open enrollment) sometime in October. We received no notice in writing. And when we call, her Customer Number doesn't come up, so they won't even talk to us. Now Penny is back with "Standard Illinois Medicaid". The thing is, that is good news as CTCA accepts "Standard Illinois Medicaid" as it is not an HMO  (which we didn't find out until July that Aetna Better Health was an HMO... there was nothing in the original documentation indicating that... and I have print outs of the documentation when Penny applied November 2014). So what happens (when she has to go into CTCA next week for a follow up Cystoscopy - her first since her bladder/kidney saving surgery last July???)...... we get a letter from Illinois HFS that Penny has to choose from 5 "Medicaid Providers" with Aetna back amongst them and they are ALL HMO. Which means CTCA will not accept any of those providers. So we are back at square one.

So, does Illinois HFS or the Illinois GetCovered website have any answers? Nope.

We are stuck not knowing what direction to go. In the interim, nobody is accepting new patients regarding Urology or Oncology. What good is Insurance if there is no place to get treatment.

Incredibly frustrating.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Obamacare (the ACA) and the coverage chaos we are presently dealing with.

So, we just got a call from CTCA. They verified Penny is back on "Traditional Medicaid" (WOOHOO...
as that means CTCA will accept that as it is NOT a "HMO/ManagedCare" insurance). However, that means Penny is no longer with Aetna Better health. HUH????? I don't recall that being part of the ACA Open Enrollment decision last year (for Aetna to "opt out" of covering Penny before the end of the year). What this means, is that CTCA will now again accept Penny for future care (including the Cystoscopy that is due this month). But wait, now we find Penny's account is on a "Financial Hold".
So, I went over the latest statements from CTCA and we've noticed that we still have over $52,000 in billing that Aetna has not acted on yet (from June, care that they authorized).

So we are now completely befuddled as Aetna won't answer our questions.... nor will Medicaid (as Aetna was still the provider at that time). Also, just how the heck do we handle Penny's Open Enrollment this year (as she is given zero options in the Federal Marketplace after being punted there from the Illinois GetCovered website). Its a good thing I have a 3 ringed binder from last years enrollment (where I printed everything off) so I have proof nobody on our end screwed up.... and I also have this years printed out.
Listen folks, I am on top of this (I used to work for MetLife and have a general understanding of insurance in and outs) and even I am having trouble traversing this anarchy/chaos.... can you imagine what other people are going through trying to figure all of this out?
How does what is called an Insurance Plan through a legitimate Insurance Company (Aetna, one of FIVE plans handling Medicaid this year via the MarketPlace) all of a sudden stop paying bills, no longer cover a person and punt that person back to the original state plan.... and not put ANYTHING in writing to notify us of this.
I am wondering if this is happening to more people in Illinois than just us (and I wonder if former Representative Joe Walsh should inquire with those people "in the know" that he knows if this is indeed happening). If it is, why isn't the news media all over this issue? I am punting an email to him as we speak to see if he knows anything about this and if not, if he can find out if this is an issue many in Illinois are dealing with.
Uff and Da. =(

Thursday, October 29, 2015

SSDI Approval - Wells Fargo generic loan modification denial - and the future.

 I was approved for SSDI benefits 2 days ago (during my hearing). Almost 3 years after my initial request for benefits.

It took me almost 3 years to get approval for VA and SSDI benefits (and I had to get a non-attorney representative familiar with both the VA and with SSA to represent me using the governmental inside info they had accumulated over the years they worked at the VA and at SSA in order to have my case presented in such a way that was "pleased" those who were the decider's). heaven forbid one should say "Yes Ma'am, Yes Sir, or Yes Your Honor more than once (apparently, it is rude to use ma'am,sir.your honor more than once when answering their questions). The information was there the entire 3 years, and yet it wasn't the medical information that won the day, it was how it was categorized and put together in a format that is only understood by insiders (criteria only known by those who are IN the system). VSO's sincerely expect us to understand just how the VA works and genuinely seem perplexed when you have the homer look on you after they try explaining what is essentially, unexplainable to the average lay person.
My VA rep will receive 20% of my benefits (around $4,500) and he did a great job earning it (he knew exactly how to adjust my claim to "fit" VA criteria). My SSDI rep will receive $6,000 of my SSDI benefits (well earned also, as he knew the people in the hearing office, he knew their tendencies, and he knew what would be accepted or not accepted (rightly or wrongly, it depends on the judge and what they expect). And I had to negotiate with the ALJ regarding the 5 month time period prior to my 50th birthday by agreeing to amend my claim to a new onset date (as recommended to me by my representative after he spoke with the judge prior to my going into the hearing room). So in a moment's time, I had to decide whether it was worth fighting for the $10,500 in benefits I would lose if amending my claim by 5 months to fit the judge's decision made easier by my turning 50 on basically a technicality of disability definition (in order to help my family by getting approved now instead of denied and having to prove the 5 months also as the judge was not willing to go back all 5 months).  That is the fastest I have lost $10,500 in my entire life. And here is the thing......  if I didn't have this particular judge, I might not even have been awarded a benefit (many judges have their own criteria, despite the fact that they shouldn't).
So.... that is $21,000 in benefits lost to my family and I. The reason why I had representatives is due to a lesson learned in our family.
I felt I had no choice but to get a representative from the beginning, because my wife went in front of a ALJ in 2008 without representation and did what all people do...... explained what she thought was needed to be presented to the ALJ (who then took her attempt at trying to do things as evidence of ability and who called her a malingerer in the Denial letter... yes, we have that in black and white). Despite the evidence of serious limitations including dysfunction of her left arm after she was shot (and she went back to work trying to do a job, but ultimately could not due to her limitations). She tried very hard to keep working. And she was called a malingerer? I knew right away I had to fight for the benefits and use a representative to make that happen.
As far as I am concerned, one should not be allowed to go for any government benefit without a representative because the process is stacked against us..... all of us claimants. Its no different than going to criminal court as far as I am concerned. My wife's claim was closed in 2008 due to the lack of pro-activeness on her Long Term Carrier's part and because my wife thought she was getting a representative who were instead of representing her.... were "keeping an eye on her claim" for her LTD carrier (so her appeal was not filed in time). I had to get it re-opened by providing medical information not present for the ALJ hearing in order to get her case re-opened (it is called, Res Judicata) and she started at the back of the line in 2013. Officially, she has been fighting for SSDI benefits for TEN YEARS now!!!!!!!!!
Now.... I am very grateful for the benefits I am now eligible for (we are very blessed) as it will help us eventually stabilize our lives. However, it took far too long to get them (and it has financially destroyed our family in the process... to the point we are barely hanging onto our home and also having had a vehicle repossessed... the first time in our lives). We STILL have a lot of bills to pay, but we are still limited to what we can pay off because we are still under the microscope regarding our mortgage (and we are advised to not spend anything that is considered "unnecessary" - otherwise, we will harm our effort at a loan modification to save our ability to remain in the home). Speaking of which, even the VA can't understand why Wells Fargo didn't take into account the VA benefits I was just awarded (they didn't even wait the 30 days for them to get proof of my benefit in a bank statement, they just denied us AGAIN and with no options to appeal. We now have all of the information they need plus the income for them to make a re-modification, and they don't care because a government VA benefit award letter isn't "enough proof" of income (one just can't make this stuff up). So after 3 years of fighting this (and using Illinois Hardest Hit to stay in our home), Wells Fargo's underwriter can't read governmental documentation showing a direct deposit to my bank showing the deposit of my VA benefits (theyn need to see TWO monthly bank statements showing the deposit). Auuuuugggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!
So, Penny is scheduled for yet another SSDI hearing (in 10 years) coming next April/May (because the ALJ dropped the ball in 2008 and didn't take into account information from 2001-2004 that permanently limited her ability to use her arm/ and both hands as a result of her neurological damage from being shot). I finally had it entered into their record, they just aren't looking at it when deciding on eligibility (before it ended in 2007). Her file is so thick, no attorney wants to touch it now (even Allsup dropped her file as they thought it was unwinnable), so we are trying to find someone willing to take on this burden with no success thus far. Penny is the only person I know who still has Long Term Disability benefits past 2 years of disability that doesn't have Social Security Disability (mainly due to the lack of a representative at her hearing). We learned our lesson and took a $21,000 hit on my benefits to ensure that didn't happen again. A very expensive lesson.
And stunningly, I am one of the lucky/blessed ones. There are many who lack the resources and support we've had for the past 3 years (most disabled veterans or disabled civilians lose everything in their effort to be awarded a benefit when it is due under Federal law... even though the evidence IS there right in front of the decision makers).
Here is the rub. It can get worse.
Hillary Clinton indicates there isn't a systemic problem at the VA nor with Social Security. As far as I am concerned, anybody who votes for Hillary Clinton who hasn't reviewed the facts on her time in power truly has a screw loose and doesn't see all of the mistakes she has made (that harm people), or how elitist she truly is, how harmful/hateful she is to her own people (including security staff AND Military staff there supporting her regarding the doing of her job). People have DIED as a result of her actions while in power. I cannot imagine a more unfit individual for the top job in the United States. And I pity both veterans AND those seeking Social Security should she come into power again (her blinders and excuses know no bounds). I truly would rather see Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump get the job first before that horrible human being presently smirking her way through hearings at the moment. In order to get qualified for benefits, I first had to give others $21,000 of those benefits (that I EARNED both in service to my country and as a very hard working individual for over 35 years).

Just imagine how much that would have helped my family. No problems with the VA and SSA system? Hillary - you are FIRED.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

It has been a LONG time since I last posted..... I have much to share (mostly joyful news also). Penny's cancer is in remission.... and I now have VA benefits. =)

Well, as one can tell..... I haven't spoken on this blog for a while. The reasons are many, but the major reason was because I had received feedback that I might want to ease up posting for a while since it seemed I had nothing to report but bad news (plus my depression / anxiety was to the point I was being hospitalized for it and other things). Sometimes, when things are all bad, it is best not to dwell on them. They were all bad, until Penny's last surgery. Things got even better this past week. So, now is as good a time as any to ratchet back up the ol' blog.

The below 2 paragraphs will tell the news:

  • Penny's cancer was eradicated last June by the removal of part of her left ureter (that ties her left kidney to her bladder). It was found that the cancer was deep in that ureter, and the Urologist was able to remove enough of the ureter to removal all signs of the cancer, but left enough ureter to reattach her left kidney back to her bladder (the worst case scenario was that her bladder, left ureter, and left kidney would be removed... so Penny essentially won the cancer lottery by being able to keep all of her organs). She is technically "in remission" right now and will be getting a Cystoscopy this November or December to see if the surgery's results remain "cancer free". Already, her hair is getting fuller again (now that she is no longer on chemo) and she is looking healthier. God has blessed us incredibly regarding Penny's cancer battle.
  • 3 days ago, I was finally approved for a "Service Related Disability Rating" of 50% by the Veterans Administration. They acknowledge that my service medical records and my present medical condition show that I have very serious issues that were caused during my service in the United States Marine Corps. The fact that they acknowledge this 27 years after my release from service is a miracle in of itself (not many people win such battles this far after their service) and I'm not done with that battle either as they are still investigating my other medical issues also and I could be looking at an increase when they are done with their investigation. The fact I had a copy made of my Medical, Dental, and Service records the day before I was released played a huge role in the decision (since they could not find a lot of said records despite our efforts to get a copy of them through the normal channels). Incredibly, 2 months ago - they found the records of my operation in 1983 that had been deemed lost, so we are hopeful more records will be found. So now, I will earn enough to be able to ensure my family stays in our home. A 3 year battle is almost over, Wells Fargo was waiting for this decision and they can now make a decision regarding our loan modification. And I will be having a Social Security (SSDI ALJ hearing on 10/27 which will decide whether I am considered disabled enough for SSDI benefits. So the battle isn't over, but we have won the first round.
So later this week, I will find the time to go over what has transpired over the past year, and I will hopefully be able to articulate what it was like going through this very dark time this past year and what our future holds for us (and a couple of grand babies might be in our future as well).

In the interim, the future is so bright, we've gotta wear shades. =)

James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
Psalm 138:7 "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me."