August, 2016: Nina’s Social Security Disability Claim out of Lowell, MA
Nina is a college-educated woman in her early forties who has a past work history that has included work as an administrative assistant, dental hygienist and teacher, who became disabled as a result of low back problems that have been variously diagnosed as lumbar facet arthropathy, lumbar radiculopathy, ankylosing spondylitis, sacroiliitis and spinal stenosis, and who has undergone a spinal fusion of her lower back. Nina contacted our office after she had already undertaken an initial claim, on her own, out of the Lowell, MA Social Security District office and had been denied on her initial application. Nina chose to appeal her claim on her own, and did file a request for reconsideration that was summarily denied. It was upon losing her claim at reconsideration that Nina did contact our office for involvement.
Upon getting involved in Nina’s case, we did file a request for hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on her behalf. Likewise, we objected to proceeding by way of Video teleconference (VTC), and thus her case was transferred to the Lawrence, MA Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. Upon reviewing her claim file, it became clear that many of the older treatment records were not available for review at the time of the prior hearing decision. Likewise, it was noted that while Disability Determination Services had actually recommended a favorable decision, finding that she met one of Social Security’s Listings of Impairments (under Listing 1.04 Disorders of the Spine) for no good reason. Moreover, nobody had asked any of Nina’s treatment providers to address an opinion as to the extent to which her condition met a medical listing of impairment or whether her condition did impact her ability to function (that is to say, nobody had been asked to address her residual functional capacity).
The past treatment record (which would not have been obtained by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as part of its ordinary practice) reflected the fact that Nancy had been suffering from back problems for 20 years prior to filing (and had struggled to work through her back difficulties). By obtaining the prior records, we were able to show a history of degeneration of her back and a history of Nina’s willingness to work through the pain to the extent she could bear it. The additional records reflected past surgeries which were necessary given years of disk issues that were impacting and damaging the nerves that ran through her spine. Likewise, when surgery was no longer an option, she undertook whatever injection therapy was available to her in an attempt to treat her condition and return to work. Having these issues presented to the presiding ALJ, along with the additional efforts she had obtained leading up to the hearing before the ALJ (including attempts at additional injection therapy, physical therapy and ultimately implantation of a spinal cord stimulator (SCS)) created quite an impression prior to hearing as they were brought to his attention by way of an argument brief on Nina’s behalf. In addition to the additional treatment records, were able to provide a Residual Functional Capacity Questionnaire from Nina’s long-term primary care physician that made very clear the fact that there was no way that Nina could go to a job for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, nonetheless be able to sit, stand or walk long enough to be able to accomplish tasks that would be expected by an employer.
Having matters set forth in a detailed 12 page argument brief, providing a longitudinal history of her treatment and the struggle Nina continued to endure to get better and return to work is something only an experienced and aggressive Social Security disability attorney can do for you. In Nina’s case, it served to allow for a Fully Favorable On the Record Decision (that is, without the need for a hearing) so that Nina could at least find some financial relief if not relief for her medical conditions.
If you are someone you know has been struggling for some time with both their medical conditions and with the SSA and find that they are not seeming to get anywhere with their Social Security disability claim, have them contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at (800) 773-8622 to ensure they get the answers they need to move on productively.