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August, 2012: The Benefits of Obtaining a Lawyer Early

August's success stories are a reminder to me as to how important it is that a claimant obtains the services of a social security disability lawyer as early on in the process to guide them and advocate for them. Throughout the course of the day, I find myself speaking with individuals who are looking to determine whether pursuing a disability claim makes sense for them. The advice frequently focuses on the fact that one needs to show that they will continue to remain disabled from all forms of gainful employment for a year or longer despite prescribed treatment. Many individuals who call me don't understand that Social Security disability takes a hard look at whether their condition will keep them from working for a year or longer, and that Social Security is looking to see that they are doing everything possible to get better so that it's not necessary to file for disability in the first place. Frequently, I'm providing information as to how important it is that one seek treatment (in the event they aren't in any treatment for their conditions) or seek treatment with a specialist for any conditions that remain severe (which may mean providing information as to free treatment or government funded insurance options that will allow for this treatment). If the Social Security Administration determines that, with additional treatment, one could work an easier job, or will not remain disabled from working even an easier job for a year or longer, they may very well deny a claim.

In Robert's circumstances, unfortunately, he really had no choice but to file for disability benefits when he did given the fact that he was in need of Supplemental Security Income benefits in addition to Social Security disability benefits. That is to say, SSI (Supplemental Security Income) will pay back to just after the filing of the claim if one is ultimately found to be disabled for a year or longer (and so a delay in filing for benefits can cause one to lose these benefits). Thus, it's important to contact a Social Security disability lawyer who can provide legal advice as to the timing for filling a claim.

Robert is a 54 year old gentleman who had worked previously as a shipping and receiving clerk, as a manager of a gas station and, most recently as a dishwasher, when he suffered a colon infection and a related leg infection that ultimately required a series of invasive surgeries (one of the last of which involved placement of a colostomy bag). The infections and surgeries resulted in nerve damage to his leg that was both painful and served to limit his ability to sit, stand and walk comfortably. As many times occurs with the loss of a job (and in this case, Robert was not fortunate to have insurance in the first place), Robert did not have health insurance that covered his initial treatment or his ongoing treatment. I am happy to say that we were able to help Robert navigate through the free treatment options that were available so that he could get the ongoing treatment he required. This was essential to his case as he ultimately needed to show that his condition remained severe and disabling for longer than a year (and this would not have been possible if he could not be seen by a doctor). Because of the consistent treatment he was able to undertake, his treatment providers were keenly aware of the ongoing problems he was continuing to experience (and were able to address his functional limitations resulting from these conditions in a residual functional capacity assessment we provided). Robert did not need to proceed to a hearing at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Manchester, New Hampshire. We were able to provide an argument brief that resulted in a fully favorable decision. I am happy to say as well that Robert will be able to proceed with the reversal of his colostomy bag in the near future given the free treatment we were able to find for him.

Scott is a forty-eight (48) year old gentleman who worked as a self-employed construction contractor for many years until such time as he fell out of a tree and sustained a severe fracture to his ankle. When Scott came to us, he had already been out of work for longer than a year, and had been denied his initial claim out of Maine. However, Scott had been out of treatment for quite some time given circumstances similar to those described for Robert. One of the first orders of business upon his contacting our office was to see about assisting Robert with getting back into treatment with an orthopedic surgeon. Additional x-rays were then able to be taken which evidenced the fact that his ankle fusion had not taken, that a screw had broken and that degeneration was taking place. Unfortunately for Scott, the free treatment at his area hospital did not allow for the surgical procedure he required. However, because he had gotten back into treatment with an orthopedic specialist and additional tests had been performed showing the severity of his condition, he was recently approved for Mainecare (which will cover the additional surgical procedure he needs). Moreover, given the additional treatment he was able to obtain and the opinions we were able to obtain from the treating orthopedic specialist, Scott has recently been approved for Social Security disability benefits as well (and prior to the need to appear before an administrative law judge at the Portland, Maine Office of Disability Adjudication and Review).