February, 2017: Denise’s Social Security Disability Claim out of Boston, MA ODAR
Denise’s favorable decision before the Boston, MA Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) is yet another example as to how the struggle to continue working is not lost on the Social Security Administration when they are making a decision. Likewise, it is instructive as to the ways in which your Social Security disability lawyer can make a big difference in your case, and how, in some cases, even keep you from having to attend a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Denise is a hardworking woman out of Lynn, MA in her 50’s who has an extensive work history that consists of work as an assembler and a bagger for the same company for more than 20 years. Denise did not have the benefit of a Massachusetts Social Security lawyer when she initially applied for benefits 2 years ago. Thinking that she had been struggling through her work with significant neck and back pain for a number of years and, given she had gotten to the point where she had been in and out of work over the course of a number of months, she felt she could undertake the Social Security disability application on her own and she would simply be approved. What Denise was not aware of at the time she filed her claim is that there are a set of rules called Unsuccessful Work Attempt rules that dictate what onset date should be used when one has been in and out of work. Denise was actually selling her case short by indicating that her onset date for disability should be the date she last worked. Denise was not aware that if one remains out of work longer than thirty (30) days that this can start a period of disability. Under Social Security’s rules, one needs to prove that they have been or are likely to remain totally disabled from all forms of gainful employment for a year or longer.
Denise had been taken out of work by both her treating rheumatologist and her primary care physician for initially one (1) month, and upon being seen once again, she was kept out of work for yet another month while she continued with physical therapy treatment. MRI studies were undertaken of Denise’s neck which evidenced severe degenerative disk disease, and Denise was subsequently provided with a return to work note that provided for a list of physical accommodations, which Denise’s employer was happy to address for her. Unfortunately, Denise’s condition rather quickly deteriorated upon her return to work, and she had to go back out of work just one (1) month later. Unfortunately, Denise did not understand that her return to work constituted an unsuccessful return to work and that, consequently, she should have used the date she initially went out of work as her onset date.
The fact that Denise was making such efforts to return to work, despite her condition, and a position she had held for more than 20 years certainly spoke to her work ethic. Upon our getting involved in her case, we assisted Denise with the filing of her request for reconsideration (which we advise all of our clients is likely to result in a rubber stamp denial of one’s claim). We advised Denise that it was highly likely we would need to file a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
As we approached hearing, Denise continued to remain in zealous treatment. She underwent multiple attempts at cervical injections, physical therapy, changes in medication management along with a neurosurgical evaluation (which did show that her condition was not amenable to surgical intervention). Denise not only underwent a second opinion for injection therapy, but also a second neurosurgical evaluation in an attempt to find an answer to severe condition. She attempted yet another course of physical therapy as recommended by her providers, but with little to no improvement. Likewise, Denise’s physical problems were only serving to exacerbate longstanding mental health problems which had otherwise been very treatable and had remained under control. As we approached hearing, Denise’s providers were more than willing to assist with providing helpful medical questionnaires which made evident the seriousness to of her medical conditions and the extent to which it was impacting her ability to function in a work environment.
Whether your claim is out of Maine, Massachusetts or New Hampshire, your Social Security lawyer should be addressing a detailed brief on your behalf citing the reasons why a fully favorable decision can and should be rendered. As in Denise’s circumstance, it may very well avoid one’s need to attend a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Not only were we able to assist Denise with getting her both the retroactive and ongoing Social security disability benefits she deserved, we were able to go backwards in time and recover additional retroactive money by amending her alleged onset date to point in time she initially left work (versus the date she last attempted to work, months later).
Thus, if you or a loved one is faced with a long-term disabling condition that is keeping you from working and is requiring you to consider an application for Social Security, contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at 1-800-773-8622 for the advice you need to ensure you provide yourself with the best chance of prevailing at the earliest possible point in time.