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August, 2014: The Benefit of a Consistent Work History

Carl and Ron’s stories are representative of two hardworking individuals who had consistent work histories and who were granted benefits on their initial applications.

Carl is a fifty-one (51) year old gentleman who had a lengthy work history as both a full time bus drive and, formerly as a police officer. Unfortunately, Carl was suffering from a fractured broken heel and ankle damage that was complicated by medical difficulties associated with kidney disease. Unfortunately, the continued difficulties with his leg made it impossible for him to continue as a bus driver both from the standpoint of his ability to get up and down from a seated position (and up and down from the stairs tot the bus). His walking was quite limited such that he could only walk and stand for very short periods of time (and this was only with the aid of a cane). Carl chose to obtain an attorney prior to starting an application, a decision that ended up serving him well. Fortunately, Carl’s doctors were willing to address the severity of Carl’s condition by addressing medical questionnaires addressing the fact that he met one of Social Security’s medical listing of impairments along with the extent to which his condition limited his ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, etc. (that is to say, his residual functional capacity). As a result, I am happy to say that Carl was able to avoid a denial (and what likely would have been the need to go through a 2 year appeals process).

Ron’s story is that of a sixty-two (62) year old gentleman with an extensive work history in construction. Ron had to discontinue working as a self-employed carpenter given issues of fatigue along with corresponding issues of mental confusion/concentration issues associated with liver disease. Ron had been placed on a liver transplant list given the extent of his difficulties. In order to provide Ron with his best chance of winning his claim on his initial application (and to avoid the need to go through the reconsideration and potentially hearing processes), we rushed to obtain medical questionnaires from his liver specialist and his primary care. These documents made it quite clear to the Social Security Administration the extent to which Ron’s condition was affecting both his daily energy level and his cognitive functioning resulting in a very early approval for Ron.

In Ron’s circumstance, while a good many attorneys might have avoided involvement in Ron’s case as he had only been out of work six (6) months at the time he contacted our office, it was rather obvious that Ron was going to remain disabled for a year or longer. As attorney’s fees are only payable if one succeeds for their client (and are limited to 25% of the past due benefits owing), I know a good many lawyers who would have told Ron to file on his own and, if denied, to contact their office about appealing (as the retroactive benefits would not have been sufficient to pay a large enough attorney fee). At our firm, it is our philosophy to assist the client and, if appropriate, help them at an early point in the process regardless of the attorney fee amount involved. We do not look at denying involvement at an early stage and, in essence, promoting a denial (which, in many circumstances will promote another 2 years of appeals) as providing ethical assistance to the client. Certainly, in some cases we might advise a client to wait some months to apply (and then assist them with their initial application process), we do not believe withholding assistance on an initial application to a client in the name of getting a high fee as the right thing to do.

Certainly, if you are short term disabled from working (6 months or less), and should you wish to get advice from an attorney whether Social Security may be advisable in your circumstance, you should feel free to give us a call.