August, 2017: Stanley’s Favorable Social Security Claim out of Waterville, Maine and Augusta, Maine
Stanley came to our office looking for a Maine Social Security lawyer after having been denied on his initial application, which he had filed on his own with the Waterville, Maine Social Security office. Stanley is in his 40’s and had worked a number of physically demanding jobs over the years, including work in manufacturing, as a laborer and undertaking grounds and building maintenance. He had been suffering neck and back injuries in a motor vehicle accident more than ten (10) years prior to going out of work: unfortunately the types of work he was continuing to perform were only causing his physical problems to worsen.
Finally, Stanley’s neck problems got to the point where the pain was radiating into his arm, with numbness into his fingers. When attempts at medication management did not provide him with relief, an MRI study of his neck was ordered which evidenced disk pathology that required him to undergo surgery. Unfortunately, Stanley returned to very arm intensive work that caused these medical problems to flare right back up just a few months after his recovery. He began dropping items at work, but continued with his employment in an attempt to move beyond his injury. Unfortunately, the constant looking down and pushing and pulling required at his place of employment (which called for him to work 12 to 14 hour day) was just too much for Stanley and he had to leave work altogether. Attempts at medication management proved fruitless and physical therapy only aggravated his neck pain. Less than six months later, Stanley was experiencing significant low back problems as well that MRI films related to lumbar disk pathology as well. Multiple attempts at injection therapy and medication management were made, but unfortunately Stanley’s medical problems remain persistent and disabling.
The Social Security regulations provide two different mechanisms by which one can show entitlement to Social Security disability in a circumstance such as Stanley’s. At step 3 of the sequential evaluation process (following a showing at step one, that Stanley was not earning gainful wages and, step two, that Stanley was suffering from a medically determinable severe impairment) one must show that they are qualified for Social Security disability by meeting one of Social Security’s medical listings of impairments. Listing 1.04 Disorders of the Spine is the provision that would apply to Stanley’s neck and back condition, however, there must be medical evidence that he meets each of the criteria set forth in that listed impairment (which was not the case).
Thus, Stanley need to show at step 4 of the sequential evaluation process that he remained incapable of performing both his past relevant work (that is, the types of work her performed in the 15 years prior to his alleged onset date), and then, at step 5, that he remained incapable of performing any job gainfully that exists in either the regional or national economy in significant numbers. Fortunately, Stanley’s long-term primary care physician was willing to address his functional capacity by way of medical questionnaires which made clear that his ability to sit, stand and walk for periods of time was greatly interfered with as a result of his back and neck conditions, requiring him to take excessive breaks (which is not to mention days of absences): this is among a panoply of other functional limitations that were imposed by the doctor. These findings caused the presiding Administrative Law Judge at hearing (who was traveling from the Lawrence, MA hearing office) to find that not only was he incapable of performing any of his past relevant work, but any work whatsoever: finding, in accordance with Social Security Ruling 96-8P, that he would be incapable of performing an 8 hour/day, 5 day/week job and that, in accordance with Social Security Ruling 96-9P, even the sedentary occupational base would be significantly eroded.
Thus, I am happy to report that Stanley was approved at the time of his hearing in the Augusta, Maine hearing site (where the Portland, Maine Office of Disability Adjudication and Review holds its hearings for those in the Waterville, Maine area) and has been granted both retroactive and ongoing benefits for both his family and him.
Thus, if you find that longstanding injuries from working many years of very physical work has caused you to remain unemployed, contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at (800) 773-8622 to see if an application for Social Security disability benefits would make sense.