NHBA
Massachussets Bar Association
Maine state Bar
NOSSCR

February, 2018: Jonathan's Fully Favorable Decision out of the Portland, Maine Office of Hearing Operations following Hearing

Jonathan’s story is that of a young, hardworking man who moved from the Midwest with his young family to the Portland, Maine area with the hope of continuing his work in the medical field: the last thing he was thinking about was pursuing Social Security disability benefits. Jonathan struggled for many years to continue working positions that primarily required that he be on his feet despite a very painful condition called tarsal tunnel syndrome. He continued to treat with a variety of doctors over the years, attempting injection therapy and medication management that was only providing him with temporary relief. Ultimately, he required surgical intervention for his condition, and, as was his nature, he returned to work in as timely a manner as one could imagine. Over time, he required additional narcotic management, and when this no longer proved sufficient to manage his pain, he had to return to a series of injections in order to continue working. Likewise, Jonathan sought other employment which no longer paid as well and was no longer in his chosen profession so he could support his family. Upon moving to Maine, he chose to return to school with the hopes of returning to a position in the medical field that would keep him off his feet in a more consistent manner. That being said, his attempts to schooling which required practical training on his feet, only served to aggravate his condition and he was dismissed from the educational program given his inability to maintain attendance in the program as a result of his condition. He had to obtain a disability placard from his doctor given his inability to walk far. He found himself now at home, attempting to manage the pain with pain management providers, having exhausted efforts to resolve his condition, all the while attempting to help raise his young family while his wife was attempting to juggle both work and home life. 

At this point in time, given his extraordinary past efforts at treatment and work, Jonathan thought that his application for Social Security disability would be successful without the need to enlist a Maine Social Security lawyer. That being said, he was summarily shot down upon initiating a filing on his own. The Social Security Administration, having seen his past efforts at working through pain, drew the conclusion that he could continue working the type of sedentary position he had worked while living in the Midwest: despite the evidence in the file through treatment that his condition had worsened while attempting to attend school for purposes of establishing a new career. Jonathan hired our office to assist him with the request for reconsideration process and, as is so common at the reconsideration level (and we warned him would likely take place), he received a rubber stamp denial of his initial denial and it became necessary to move forward with a request for hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

As is standard practicefor our office, we filed a detailed and extensive brief outlining for the ALJ outlining the Jonathan’s extraordinary treatment efforts in addition to his attempts to return to work, not to mention attend school in an effort to return to work and support his family. However, in might seem counterintuitive manner, SSA looked at Jonathan’s past work and ability to adjust and persevere as evidence that he could simply do so once again. Despite the support of his physiatrist who provided a very telling residual functional capacity questionnaire setting forth a rather significant set of restrictions suggesting an inability to perform any manner of gainful employment, the presiding ALJ felt the need to seek the advice of a medical expert at hearing. It was only through the helpful testimony at hearing of the doctor, who confirmed his opinion that indeed he met the criteria for Social Security Medical Listing 11.14 Peripheral Neuropathies that the judge became convinced to give great weight to Jonathan’s treating physiatrist and award benefits for his family and him. 

Given the medical expert’s testimony at hearing, I was able to provide Jonathan and his wife with the heartwarming news that the long-awaited help they so desperately needed would finally be coming. Should you find that you or someone you care about is at their wit’s end trying to deal with the Social Security Administration and need a legal expert to guide them how to proceed next, suggest they give a call to the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at (800) 773-8622 for the advice they need.