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December, 2013: Whether You’re in your 20’s or in your 50’s

Sharon and William’s cases have made their way onto December’s success stories: as you will see, they are a study in contrasts; one is a 27 year old woman and the other is a 55 year old gentleman . I am happy to report that both individuals were able to avoid the need to proceed to hearing as argument briefs were brought to the attention of the judges (with each judge determining that a fully favorable decision was warranted without the need to proceed to hearing).

Sharon’s case came to us quite late in the process. Sharon’s case involved a 27 year old woman who had already appealed her case twice by the time she contacted our office. She was suffering from the effects of a rare disorder known as Mastocytosis which involved symptoms that include pain, fatigue, depression along with anxiety. Upon our involvement, knowing that Sharon’s case was about to be scheduled for hearing, we rushed to obtain medical questionnaires from her primary care physician, immune disorder specialist and psychiatrist so as to address the severity of her condition and the extent of her functional limitations. Within two (2) months’ time we were able to present an argument brief that included the additional treatment records which were missing along with very telling questionnaires. In short order, the presiding Administrative Law Judge at the Boston Office of Disability Adjudication and Review was provided with the information which had previously been missing such that he was now in a position to provide a fully favorable decision without the need to proceed to the hearing (which had been scheduled for Sharon in the interim). We are happy to report that Sharon was able to avoid the need to stress over the holidays as 1) she did not need to attend the scheduled hearing and 2) she knew that financial assistance both in the form of retroactive and ongoing Social Security disability benefits was on its way.

William’s case involves that of a 55 year old gentleman with a strong work history, having worked very physically demanding positions for many years. Notwithstanding his 5th grade education and the fact that he is functionally illiterate (unable to read, write and speak English), he maintained a consistent work history for many years until such time as his back problems and mental health problems made it impossible for him to continue. Given William’s lack of education, past work history and age, Social Security’s Grid rules (which I’ve referred to many times in my prior success stories), a finding that William was limited to sedentary (that is, sit down) work should prompt a finding that he is disabled under Social Security’s rules. Unfortunately, at the time of the prior agency determinations, there was insufficient medical documentation concerning William’s back problems to support a finding that he’s limited to sit down work. Upon our involvement, we were able to prevail upon William’s primary care physician to provide us with the early treatment records that were missing along with a functional capacity questionnaire that addressed how limited William remained as a result of his condition. Unfortunately, even with a very clear brief making clear that William should be found to have met a grid rule, the reviewing attorney did not see fit to provide a favorable decision. Given how apparent it was that William should qualify for benefits, we provided an additional argument brief to the presiding Administrative Law Judge at the Lawrence Office of Disability Adjudication and Review and, fortunately, they found it appropriate to provide a fully favorable decision prior to the need to proceed to the scheduled hearing.