January, 2017: Douglas’s Massachusetts Social Security disability claim out of Springfield, MA
As a Massachusetts Social Security Lawyer handling disability claims throughout ME, MA and NH for the past 27 years, I can tell you that I am always concerned for my clients suffering from a primary disabling condition that involves headaches. Douglas’s Social Security disability claim out of the Springfield, MA Social Security office poses one of the more difficult cases for the Social Security disability lawyer: that involving ongoing headaches. It is quite difficult to prove through objective medical evidence or clinical findings that one’s headaches remain severe and disabling insofar as there is no testing that will quantify how often one experiences headaches or how severely disabling such a condition may be for the individual.
Douglas, who is in his mid thirties and who has a consistent work history as a stocker in a retail environment, and as both a service technician and sales/service manager at a tire sales and service center, initially contacted our office prior to the filing of his claim. Douglas had otherwise remained in very good health until such time as he was injured in an automobile accident that resulted in cervical disk issues and the need for multi-level disk fusion surgery that required the placement of hardware in his neck to keep it stable. Following recovery from surgery, Douglas attempted a return to work only to start experience problems with headaches and dizziness. Further imaging evidenced the fact that while he had recovered nicely from his neck surgery, he was now suffering from a syrinx (or fluid filled cavity) that was placing pressure on his upper thoracic spinal cord. This syrinx was in fact placing pressure in such a s manner as to cause him the symptoms he was experiencing, and surgery was necessary to address the pressure the syrinx was placing on his spinal cord. Fortunately, for more than a year, Douglas was able to return to work before the symptoms recurred, and he found himself going out of work once again for a chiari malformation decompression. The second surgery did not prove helpful, and within six (6) months time he was required to undergo yet a third surgery because he was continuing to experience problems with headaches and dizziness. While the additional treatment records reflected a good result from the third surgery at Baystate Medical Center, unfortunately, the symptoms did not abate and the only thing his surgeon could recommend at that point was pain management.
Fortunately for Douglas, he remained in consistent treatment with his neurosurgeon, who continued to document the nature of his ongoing symptoms and the extent to which it was impacting his ability to function. In the meantime, while we had undertaken an initial application with the Springfield, MA Social Security office, he was not unexpectedly denied his claim (notwithstanding the fact that we had a very telling Headaches Residual Functional Capacity Questionnaire addressed by his treating neurosurgeon and a Physical RFC Questionnaire from his primary care physician: both of these were utterly ignored by Disability Determination Services on both his initial application on his Request for Reconsideration). To Douglas’s credit, he continued to seek out very aggressive pain management treatment that involved not only medication management, but also injection therapy. By continuing with aggressive pain management through Baystate Medicine and Rehabilitation, it became clear through the care provider’s treatment records that the attempts at nerve block injections provided only short-term relief and the medication management was nothing more than a bandaid.
I was happy to see that the presiding Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) out of the Springfield, MA Office of Disability Adjudication and Review was able to take a hard look at the additional evidence we were able to provide on Douglas’s behalf and saw, by way of our arguments, that a very unfair assessment by the state agency had taken place previously. Notwithstanding the fact that Douglas was dealing with complaints that were very subjective in nature, the fact that he had undergone three (3) brain surgeries, multiple injections and significant pain management efforts through medication drove home to the judge the fact that this hardworking gentleman would have been working if he could.
If you are finding yourself frustrated as a result of a denial from your local Social Security office, or simply see that you are in need of considering an initial disability application, there is no reason to go it alone. Contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at 1-800-773-8622 now to see how we can help you with your concerns. There is no fee unless and until we recover for you.