I wanted to say thank you to all of you for the kind words of support and encouragement through this struggle. It means a lot to me.
We're working hard at trying to get through it. I want nothing more than to be done with the DOL once and for all. I have never been filled with such disgust and hatred in my life and I don't like it. Those feelings are poison, but then, the people at the DOL are experts at dishing out poison and breaking people.
Since it's the Federal Government, there really isn't much I can do about it. I can roll over and not cooperate, but then that could come back on me in a bad way. I could lose any of my workers' compensation benefits as I would be labeled "uncooperative" and "unwilling to work." I don't know what future repercussions this could have, but it is not the best way to escape from the claws of the DOL.
I could hire a lawyer, but very few lawyers handle federal workers' compensation cases. The government has made it illegal for lawyers to handle these claims on contingency and they have also set up laws about fees charged and limits to what the lawyers can do and how they can work the claim. It would cost us over $3,000 to hire a lawyer to help with this situation and possibly another $3,000 to hire a lawyer to handle any other issue regarding this claim. For instance, this vocational rehabilitation issue would be one issue and the schedule award would be another. Any appeals and such may also be considered separate issues. This could cost us dearly and for nothing.
There is also no guarantee that I'll get a schedule award. The fact of the matter is that I AM permanently injured. I have been given a 96% right-arm disability rating. This does qualify me to apply for a schedule award but from there it will also be a big fight. They'll do whatever they can to dispute that disability rating and dispute that I'm permanently injured. The fact that I have permanent work restrictions are evidence enough that I have some level of permanent disability and deserve a schedule award. I don't know how much that may end up being, but there is the principle of the issue at hand, too, and it would be wrong to let the DOL get away with screwing over, yet, another claimant.
If the schedule award is granted for the 96% disability rating, which I doubt it will, then it might be worth some of all of this frustration and pain. We just need to figure out just how much we'll go through and when to call it quits. Unfortunately, I have tried to call it quits several times but the DOL just won't let me. They always seem to find a way to step on me and make me do their bidding. It is my wish to be done with them once and for all. For years they have been dictating to me what kinds of jobs I can and cannot apply for and what jobs I can and cannot accept. In this economic climate, nobody really has that luxury, and they have truly stunted my career path.
Now they offer me this position, okay, not so much offer as insist I take it or be "uncooperative and unwilling to work." One of the worst things to be with the DOL is uncooperative and unwilling to work." It's like your "permanent record" but seriously permanent and seriously affective to one's future. Right now I don't fully know how, but I know that if that happens then it can get much worse, and I have seen the DOL get bad, so I am terrified of their worst.
There is the huge issue of psychological distress. They have put me under tremendous pressure over the last 5 years. If it weren't for Dave, I would have dropped this years ago before I got in so deep. Sometimes I am bitter about it and other times I love him for it. The whole situation has caused me a great deal of agony and grief, not to mention the physical pain from the injury and subsequent RSD. Dave has been so strong and has been a trooper through all of it.
I'm trying to "let go and let God" because I know that given time things will, well, they will happen one way or the other. Things don't always get better, at least not quickly. I do have a feeling things will improve, though. Neither Dave nor I relish the idea of putting the boys in daycare. I'm sure that the daycare centers in our neighborhood are very nice, but it's really not our ideal situation. I want nothing more than to be with my boys as much as they need me, and they really need me right now. They aren't ready to be weaned, and it breaks my heart to think of them being cared for with many other children en-masse by strangers. Besides, we can't afford it when the job being offered pays so little. If the situation were different, for instance if I had another job, one that I loved as much as being a stay-at-home-mom, or if being a stay-at-home-mother wasn't for me (I understand it isn't for some people, but for me it's really wonderful), and/or if the boys were a bit older, than I wouldn't feel so heartbroken about it.
I guess that's about it for today's brain dump. Thanks for reading.