Social Security Disability Success Stories
L-O, formerly employed in the housekeeping and bakery department of a supermarket, suffered from a panic and anxiety disorder after working for many years despite a lifelong hearing loss. Represented by Insler & Hermann on appeal of the denial of benefits, the initial hearing had to be adjourned because she could not understand the Judge or the Vocational Expert over the video link. The second hearing was in person and when we made it clear to the judge that the primary disabling impairment was the anxiety and not the hearing loss, the administrative law judge (ALJ) ruled in favor of our client without the necessity of testimony from the vocational expert. She was awarded 26 months of retroactive benefits plus the ongoing entitlement to benefits.
A-M was a 60-year-old skilled jewelry maker who was no longer able to work at his trade as a result of shoulder, hand, and elbow injuries, compounded by severe depression. At the administrative hearing, Insler & Hermann guided his testimony through an interpreter. A vocational expert also testified that the claimant’s disability prevented him from working at his skilled trade. The ALJ concluded that the jewelry maker was no longer physically able to perform the work for which he was trained, and no other comparable work was possible for him. The claimant was awarded retroactive benefits from the onset of his disability in excess of $30,000, as well as $2000 a month in future benefits.
K-E was a former Senior Administrative Assistant for a Fortune 100 Company who sustained injuries during childbirth that resulted in severe fecal incontinence. At the initial hearing, the ALJ denied her claim finding that the testimony of her medical expert was not sufficient because there was a lack of evidence supporting her complaints. Insler & Hermann felt strongly that the medical expert’s testimony had been sufficient to support her disability claim and continued to pursue the matter. Although the Appeals Council granted another hearing, the claim was denied again by a different judge. On appeal to the Federal Court the US Attorney voluntarily sent the case back for a third hearing, where the claim was again denied by the same judge.
After the Appeals Council again upheld the ALJ, Insler & Hermann took the matter to federal court a second time; where a federal judge ruled that the claimant was entitled to another hearing and, at that fourth hearing, the vocational expert supported the claimant’s position, leading to a favorable decision.
The claimant was awarded ten years of retroactive benefits in excess of $220,000 for herself and her minor children. She will also receive monthly payments in excess of $2000 per month for herself and her children until they reach 18 years of age.
A, a successful business professional, has been suffering from an unusual disability affecting her autonomic functioning since the early 2000s, which finally forced her to stop working in mid-2006. At that point, she asked an attorney who was handling other matters for her to assist with her claim for Social Security Disability benefits.
Although an application was filed in September 2006, it was denied in February 2007. Although the other attorney filed an appeal, he did not use the correct form, it was filed with the wrong Social Security office and, though it was filed timely, it was never pursued by the law firm. In 2009, a clerk at that law office filed a new application which, for reasons that remain unclear to us, never progressed through the SSA process. When A came to our office the status of both cases that had been filed was unclear. We contacted SSA and were able to get the claim filed in 2009 elevated to the hearing level.
At the hearing, held in late 2011, we requested that the claim filed in September 2006 be reopened, arguing that medical evidence that we supplied at the hearing would have been available by request to the decision makers in 2006/2007 yet was never obtained and thus had never been considered. The ALJ agreed with us, and not only did she find A disabled since October 2006, she also reopened the application that had been denied in February 2007. As a result of this reopening, A will receive an additional 2 years of benefits as well as earlier Medicare eligibility.
N came to us at the end of 2010 reporting difficulties working due to back pain. Medically, the greatest challenge to his case was that instead of taking medication or seeing an acceptable medical source, N was coping with the pain with the help of a therapist who provided biofeedback and offered relaxation training. In addition to that, N had potential benefits due to him from his Union and from Workers Compensation. We were able to craft N’s Disability application in such a way as to best describe his medical condition and we provided records obtained many years before he stopped working to document his present impairment. By making a connection between his old injuries and his present need for the therapeutic care and by having his primary care physician review his old records as well as his therapist’s notes, we were able to obtain a credible statement that SSA relied upon in finding N disabled. He was approved Disability benefits within 75 days of our filing his claim online. After winning his claim, we assisted N in coordinating his Union pension and his Workers’ Compensation benefits.
S filed a claim on his own, was rejected, and filed a Request for Reconsideration on his own as well. Unable to obtain any information from SSA after 6 months, S finally retained our office. Our investigations revealed that his Reconsideration Request had never been processed by the Administration. We were able to get the ignored Reconsideration Request reopened and within two months of contacting us, S received his lump sum check for $50,000 for himself plus an additional $25,000 that was due to his minor children.
B is a law enforcement officer who did not want to file for Disability even though he suffered great pain and had problems functioning due to liver cancer. B would go to work every day where his co-workers helped him, literally physically propping him up. Even with that assistance, B was forced to miss time from work, often over 30 days at a time. When he finally came to us, he had been in and out of work for close to a year but told us that he had stopped working only the week before he met us. We filed B’s claim and alleged a disability 12 months previously, arguing that all his earnings subsequent to that date were from unsuccessful work attempts that lasted less than three months, with breaks exceeding 30 days in between. Within 40 days of filing the claim, we received notice that B had been approved, with a Disability Onset date of 12 months previously.
As a result of our efforts, instead of waiting 5 months before he became entitled to monthly benefits, B received a lump sum retroactive check for $10,000.
P is a 50-year-old attorney who suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, his conditioning worsening in early 2009. Unfortunately, he was unwilling or unable to understand that his cognitive capacities had eroded significantly and thus, he did not initiate a claim for benefits until mid-2011. We filed P’s claim and provided a copy of a neuropsychologist’s report together with the application. P’s claim was approved 13 days after the claim was filed and P received $24,000 in past due benefits for himself and an additional $12,000 for his minor child.
S contacted our office in October 2010, with a hearing scheduled in seven weeks. His case had been pending for three years, having gone up and down through the appeals process before obtaining a remand from the Appeals Council. An initial review and assessment of his file indicated that a great deal of medical development was required in order to adequately support his claim. In the ensuing seven weeks, our office successfully contacted all treating sources, obtained all the necessary medical records and forms, submitted evidence to the Hearing Office, prepared S for testimony, and successfully argued his case before the ALJ in New Haven, CT. He was granted a fully favorable decision awarding three and a half years of retroactive benefits for him and his children.
THREE CASES RESOLVED QUICKLY IN 2010: It took only 27 days for Social Security to approve P, a 39-year-old electrician with hereditary spastic paraparesis, which affected both of his arms and legs. As soon as the case got to the State Agency we submitted the medicals showing this was an obvious win.
We had similar success with G, a 60-year-old records clerk who had both knees replaced and problems with her neck and lower back. After we obtained and submitted records supporting her limitations, the claim was approved in 47 days.
It took just 58 days to win the case of M, a 56-year-old surveyor whose peripheral artery disease made it impossible for him to stay on his feet. Originally his doctors claimed they had never received Social Security’s request for records; we obtained the records and submitted them, leading to the quick and favorable result.
A is a dental hygienist with back, neck and shoulder problems that lead to constant pain, weakness and numbness. She also has central nervous system and cognitive problems due to long-term exposure to nitrous oxide leaking from a faulty tank in her office. If limited to sedentary work, A should have been found disabled from age 50, just a few months after the date she originally claimed. The claim was denied both originally and at Reconsideration, even after the Social Security medical consultant stated that A could only do sedentary work (albeit as of a later date than we claimed). We obtained and submitted a Functional Capacity Assessment from A’s current doctors as well as earlier medical records, especially regarding the results of the gas exposure. We proposed amending the disability onset date to A’s 50th birthday, and the Judge accepted. In 2010, A was awarded over $58,000 in back due benefits plus ongoing payments.
W is a 47 year old paralegal who suffers from Lyme Disease. She filed a claim for Social Security Disability benefits in June 2005, alleging that she had become disabled in October 2004. W returned to work in October 2005 and worked until October 2006. W came to us one month before her scheduled hearing. At the hearing we asked the Judge to only consider the 12 months period that W was initially out of work. After the Judge issued a fully favorable decision in that case, we filed a new application addressing the period after October 2006. W was awarded on her second case without a hearing. Despite working for a full year in the interim, we succeeded in getting W over $40,000 in past due benefits plus ongoing monthly payments.
M applied for benefits in September 2003, claiming a disability beginning May 2003. Her claim was denied at all levels, leading us to appeal to Federal Court. While the matter was pending there, we filed a new administrative claim in March 2006, submitting additional medical evidence that could not be admitted in the Federal Court action. When the Federal Court remanded the case for a new hearing, the two claims were combined. From that hearing a fully favorable decision was issued in December 2007. As a result M was entitled to over $54,000 in retroactive benefits plus ongoing monthly payments.
R is a 55-year-old tool fabricator who suffered from arthritis, high blood pressure and stomach problems. He received care from many physicians at a medical clinic who were consistently unable to identify the cause of his stomach problems. R filed a claim for Disability benefits on his own in 2004, but because he did not have a single medical specialist who could provide an opinion about the cause of his medical condition, R was denied benefits at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Following denials at the Initial and Reconsideration levels, he came to us for our help.
On appeal, we argued that the Judge had erred in concluding that R could work. At a second hearing, before the same Administrative Law Judge, we convinced the Judge that the absence of a clear diagnosis to explain the cause of the stomach ailment was not as important as the findings that every physician at the medical clinic noted. The Judge reversed her prior ruling and awarded R four years of retroactive Disability benefits. R received over $35,000 in past due benefits and used his Medicare card to find a stomach specialist who did eventually diagnose his condition and helped relieve some of his symptoms.
Y is a 59-year-old artist and entrepreneur with an autoimmune disorder that affected her nervous system. She had already lost her health insurance when she came to us in 2004, and could afford to receive only occasional medical care from her longtime internist. We filed a request for hearing on her behalf and did what we could to develop the medical claim; however, due to the unique nature of her condition and the fact that she could only obtain symptomatic care when she could pay for it, there was very little medical evidence available to submit. Following a hearing, Y was denied Social Security disability benefits by an Administrative Law Judge. His denial was based on his conclusion that she could perform one of her past jobs, as a manager of a fitness center—-a job that she held for only 2 months and had to leave due specifically to her inability to lift, carry and stand on her feet all day. We appealed the Judge’s decision and requested that the claim be assigned to a different Judge. The appeal was processed within 4 months and we won another opportunity to present the case, to a new Judge.
The second Judge refused to schedule Y’s hearing until he could arrange for a medical expert to appear at the hearing. We assisted the Judge’s assistant in identifying a specialist that would be available, and we got the hearing scheduled. At the hearing, the medical expert’s testimony helped convince the Judge that Y had been disabled since well before she filed her claim for benefits in 2003. Y received over $30,000 in past due benefits and, more important for her, was able to use her Medicare card to obtain medical treatment from neurological specialists who since that time has been able to dramatically improve her quality of life.
S is a 20-year-old with emotional problems and borderline intelligence who could only work part-time with the help of a job coach. We were retained just three weeks before the scheduled hearing at which the claim was denied. On appeal, S was granted a new hearing at which we took testimony from a medical expert and S was found disabled. His retroactive benefits carried back to 2002, and amounted to over $26,000 plus ongoing benefits—all of which has been paid to his Representative Payee.
C came to us in June 2007 after first filing for benefits in 1998. Her claim had been denied twice at the hearing level and by the Appeals Council. The national advocates who had handled the matter up to that point told her they would not appeal to Federal Court.
After meeting with C, we decided that instead of filing a new claim we would file a Federal Court action. Rather than filing motions and briefs for the Federal Court Judge to consider, we were able to convince the United States Attorney to remand the matter for a third hearing. At the third hearing in July 2008, a new Judge issued a fully favorable decision with disability going back to January 1, 1998—in other words, over 10 years of retroactive benefits in addition to her ongoing payments.