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April, 2016: Gary’s Case: How Quickly an Experienced Attorney Can Turn Around a Claim

Gary came to our office already scheduled for hearing out of the Lawrence, MA Office of Disability Adjudication and Review thinking that his claim should not have required that he obtain a Social Security disability lawyer. Wisely, Gary made a call to our office to see what we might be able to do for him at this late date: literally, calling us three (3) weeks prior to his scheduled hearing.

Gary is a gentleman in his early 50’s who had spent his life working very labor intensive positions, including jobs such as a laborer who assisted pipe fitters and as a mason until such time as he began experiencing the significant effects of his rheumatological conditions (which included systemic scleroderma, osteoarthritis and Raynaud’s phenomenon). Gary had initiated his Social Security disability claim out of the Lawrence, MA Social Security disability office without first consulting a lawyer. Not understanding what would be an appropriate onset date (and that the Social Security disability regulations require one to prove that they will remain totally disabled from all forms of gainful employment for a year or longer, despite prescribed treatment), he provided an onset date that went back to 2010. What became clear upon speaking with Gary, however, is that his condition had remained under good control for a number of years (through treatment) after that point in time and that he did not become truly disabled from working until the end of 2014. Likewise, it was clear that the hearing office was missing approximately 15 months of treatment records from both of his treating rheumatologists (who were supportive of his claim). Moreover, these doctors had not been asked to address the signs, symptoms and limitations Gary was experiencing as a result of these condition that impacted his ability to work. Both of these doctors were willing to provide a detailed assessment by way of a Physical Residual Functional Capacity Questionnaire that was provided through our office, and which made clear that Gary was suffering such severe effects from his conditions that he was incapable of using his hands meaningfully throughout an 8 hour day in light of the Raynauds, Scleroderma and osteoarthritis conditions. Imaging results from x-rays undertaken were able to provide objective evidence of the severity of his condition and supported, as the doctors’ noted, the extent of his functional limitations such that he should be found disabled according to Social Security Rulings 96-8P and 9P.

While it became necessary to request a continuance on Gary’s behalf so that the hearing was indeed put off several months, we were able to use the next couple of months to obtain the missing treatment records, obtain the necessary medical questionnaires and offer a written brief to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ’s) that had been assigned to hear Gary’s case at the Lawrence, MA ODAR office. As a result of these quick efforts, it never became necessary for Gary to wait for his next hearing date. We received word from the ALJ’s assistant that the case was now deemed sufficiently strong for what is called an On the Record decision (that is, a fully favorable decision without the need to go to hearing).

If you or someone you care for is having to pursue a Social Security disability claim and they appear to be coming up against obstacles, or should they simply wish to consult with an expert to find out whether they have a case, a simple call to the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith may serve to provide you with many of the answers you’ve been seeking. Feel free to call us now at (800) 773-8622.