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December, 2010: Reopening a Past Claim for New and Material Evidence in Portland, Maine

We are excited to be able to discuss our most recent favorable decision out of the Portland, Maine Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.  We couldn’t be any happier for Donna, who is a kind woman in her early 50’s with a prior work history as a medical technician, who had filed her initial claim prior to seeking the assistance of a Social Security disability lawyer and did receive a denial of her claim a few months later.  She likewise filed a request for reconsideration on her own, prior to contacting our office for representation in her case.  Upon getting involved in her case, we did file a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge on her behalf.

Donna's case was quite a challenging one given she came to me after being out of work for many years and after being denied previously by the Social Security Administration on a prior application (that was years prior). Donna was suffering from severe mental health distress (anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder) as a result of a very troubled childhood and back problems (what was diagnosed as a low back spondylolisthesis), which likewise had continued to some extent since she was a teenager. Given the extent of these combined limitations, at times Donna had felt the need to self-medicate with narcotics and, in more recent times, with Marijuana. Given Donna had been out of work for many years, she was likewise facing in issue with her date last insured status: that is, her Social Security quarters of coverage were running out for her, and we were required to show that she had become disabled prior to her date last insured in 2007. An additional concern was raised by the use of unprescribed narcotics and Marijuana as the Social Security regulations provide that one may not be awarded Social Security benefits if alcohol and/or drugs are deemed to be substantially contributing to her disabling impairments. Fortunately, Donna's primary care physician was quite sympathetic and involved with Donna's care and was willing to speak with me regarding these issues. Given his opinion (which he was willing to reduce to writing) that Donna's use of Marijuana would be appropriate treatment for her conditions (even though he was not providing a prescription for it), the Administrative Law Judge hearing the case stated her opinion at hearing that the marijuana use should not be deemed to contribute to Donna's disabling conditions. Given the new and material evidence we were able to provide (including missing records from the Veteran's Administration which went back to 1973, records from her prior rheumatologist along with a neurological evaluation, to note just a few), we were able to show that there was new and material evidence warranting reopening of the prior 2006 claim.  Likewise, we were able to provide Donna with the guidance she required with reference to the ongoing treatment she received to ensure she was receiving medical treatment from specialists given the need to show she has remained disabled from her severe impairments despite prescribed treatment.   Ultimately, Donna’s long-term pain management provider was willing to address in detail the nature and severity her ongoing conditions and how they have continued to impact her: moreover, he was willing to review the medical history for us and confirm his opinion that her medical conditions had remained severe for many years prior to our involvement.

I am happy to say that the hard work has paid off for Donna and her family.  Following a hearing at the Portland, Maine Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, Donna has indeed received a fully favorable decision that has provided her with 7 years of retroactive money, as well as an ongoing check.  Needless to say, our work has served to change her life radically such that she no longer needs to rely on the assistance of family and friends.

 If you feel the Social Security Administration has given you, or someone you care about, the run around, contact our office to get some legal advice from a Social Security lawyer that has been caring for his client’s needs for his entire career: contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at (800) 773-8622.