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August, 2017: Claire’s Manchester, NH Social Security disability Favorable Decision

Claire’s Social Security disability claim out of Manchester, NH is, from a Social Security Lawyer perspective, a very sweet example as to how an individual’s perseverance in the face of adversity can make all the difference in their case. Claire had contacted our office from the beginning, at which time she had already been receiving long term disability (LTD) benefits through insurance she carried with her employer. We assisted her with the initial claim filing process out of the Manchester, NH Social Security District Office.

While most individuals don’t have the benefit of (LTD insurance, Claire was fortunate insofar as she was receiving an ongoing percentage of her salary given her inability to perform the usual and customary duties of her ordinary occupation. The terms of that policy did contain what is called a coordination of benefits provision that allows the insurance carrier to take a reduction each month they pay her a disability check, dollar for dollar, to the extent she receives Social Security disability benefits. One important point to keep in mind is that the vast majority of these policies interpret their policies to allow for a reduction in terms of what money they will ask back should one prevail in their Social Security disability claim to the extent there are approved attorney’s fees. The Social Security Administration takes no such offset for long term disability benefits. Thus, assuming one is receiving $2000.00 per month in LTD benefits and each month SSA ultimately pays retroactively $1600.00 per month (with 25% of that money being paid directly to your lawyer for their attorney’s fees), the LTD carrier is going to ask for only 75% of $1600.00 (i.e., $1200.00) back each month (as this is the money you actually receive, and given the understanding as well that you did need to incur these fees to ensure recovery for the insurance carrier).

That being said, Claire’s history included the fact that she had been suffering from multi-level degenerative disk disease of her neck for many years prior to going out of work in 2015. As far back as the late 2000’s, Claire had to stop working retail given the standing and lifting involved. She had received LTD at that time, and had to apply for Social Security disability. Instead of continuing with these claims, however, she opted to look into other manners of employment such as sit down, administrative work. To her credit, Claire made a career change and was able to push through her medical condition for what was an even more lucrative position as an account manager. In 2013, however, her condition regressed to the point where both her long-term neurosurgeon and a second opinion surgeon were recommending multi-level fusion surgery.

Once again, to Claire’s credit, she opted for more conservative efforts as she wanted to keep working. Unfortunately for Claire, this meant working through the side effects of narcotics and neurolytics that were making it more and more difficult to concentrate and maintain her schedule. She attempted additional physical therapy and treatment with steroids, only to end up in the emergency room, at which point she had no choice but to undergo surgery.

Notwithstanding the surgery, Claire continued to suffer from severe low back and leg symptoms which the neurosurgeon deemed related to “failed back syndrome.” She likewise developed a body-wide pain that was being diagnosed by her providers as Fibromyalgia. She was referred to a rheumatologist who undertook a trigger point examination and confirmed this diagnosis.

Unfortunately, at the time of the initial agency determination, complete answers were not available as to why Claire was continuing to experience the level of back pain and ongoing problems with her legs. Additional follow-up treatment with a physiatrist, including MRI studies and attempts at injection therapy, caused additional light to be shed on the extent to which her lumbar disk pathology was severe and impacting her. This in turn convinced the neurosurgeon of the need to support his patient with a helpful medical questionnaire that made evident just how severe and disabling her condition had become.

Ultimately, Claire and her family were approved for benefits following hearing at the Manchester Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, with the Administrative Law Judge evidencing his clear understanding that this woman had continued her fight to work until the bitter end: literally. Indeed, she is the definition of what SSA wants to see: that someone is coming “kicking and screaming” for disability benefits only after exhausting all other avenues.

And so, if you find that you have simply gotten to a point where work is simply not in the cards given the progression of your medical conditions, contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at (800) 773-8622 to see how we might assist you moving forward