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Massachussets Bar Association
Maine state Bar

August, 2011: Working Together as a Team

Reggie's case is a perfect example of how working together from the very beginning can make all the difference: between getting benefits within 4 months of our involvement (and that would be $35,000.00 in retroactive benefits) or going through what can be a 2 year appeals process and ending up in front of an administrative law judge. Reggie is a 58 year old gentleman with a lengthy work history in auto parts sales (requiring him to lift up to 50 lbs.). Reggie was very concerned when he called that he was receiving unemployment at the time (and had been receiving it for more than a year since he left his employment). Ordinarily, receiving unemployment can be very harmful to a Social Security disability income because one is saying that they are available for gainful employment and asserting every week that this is the case (and that they have applied for at least 3 jobs that week). I explained to Reggie that in his circumstances it would not cause a problem given the application of what is called the Grid Rules under the Social Security regulations. Because of Reggie's age, education and past work experience, the Social Security Grid Rules would call for a finding that Reggie is disabled and entitled to Social Security disability income benefits if he is limited to sedentary work activity. This means that while he might be able to perform sit down work, he is found disabled under the rules given the fact that as a result his age, education, past work experience and functional limitations it would not be expected that he would be able to land a sit down job. Thus, in asserting to the Department of Labor that he is capable of performing a sit down job if only he can get hired for one, he is entitled to get unemployment while at the same time saying to the Social Security Administration that he is disabled under their rules given how limited he is, his age, past education, past work history and functional limitations. In working together with his doctors, we were able to obtain significant evidence form his primary care physician that he remained limited to sit down work at best. In turn, the Social Security Administration agreed that in the entire time that he has been out of work (and collecting unemployment), Reggie has remained totally disabled under Social Security's rules and entitled to disability income benefits. They awarded him benefits going back to June, 2010 in the amount of Thirty Five Thousand Dollars ($35,000.00) and just in time as Reggie's ongoing unemployment benefits are about to run out.