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March, 2017: Jason’s Case out of Holyoke, MA: the Difference a MA Social Security Lawyer can Make in One’s Claim

Jason contacted our office long after he had begun what had already been a number of attempts at filing for Social Security disability benefits. Unfortunately, Jason did not have any legal advice at the time he was trying to pursue his prior claims and, while he had orthopedic concerns with his dominant arm that was causing him difficulties pursuing the types of work he had been used to working, he did not have the benefit of a Social Security lawyer to advise him regarding Social Security’s rules. He was not aware that the Social Security Administration would be looking to see whether he could perform any job for which he is reasonably suited by age, education and experience: whether that be a machine operator (which would require very little arm use and lifting) or a parking garage attendant.

When Jason had initially contacted our office had had been applying for benefits for 4 years at that point in time through the Holyoke, Massachusetts Social Security office without the benefit of a Massachusetts Social Security Lawyer. Treatment had been sporadic for the physical problems he was experiencing, and to a large extent this was contributed to by the problems Jason had been experiencing from a mental health standpoint. Certainly, the physical problems and the mental health problems were intertwined, each one making the other worse and making it more and more difficult for Jason to follow through with treatment as he was not receiving any answers that were making him better. To make matters worse, he was not receiving any answers from the Social Security Administration that were acknowledging the fact that his conditions were severe and disabling.

Sometimes one of the biggest differences we can make with an individual, such as Jason, is explain the importance of remaining in consistent treatment with their providers so that there is objective medical evidence of their problems, and so we can make evident to the Social Security Administration that indeed they remain disabled despite prescribed treatment. Jason’s frustration and anxiety levels, unfortunately, only continued to grow throughout the process. Yet, to Jason’s credit, he remained in continuing treatment with his pain management specialist and his counseling service (where he likewise received psychiatric examination and treatment). As a result, both of these treatment providers were willing to work with us in providing what were very detailed and telling questionnaires that set forth the nature and severity of Jason’s medical conditions and how they were impacting his ability to function.

While it may have taken a year and a half of involvement on our part (after Jason had attempted on his own to pursue his Social Security claim for what had been a period of 4 years), Jason’s claim took a turn for the better once we got involved. By the time Jason had contacted our office, he had applied for the third time and had been denied already on his initial application for his third claim. We were able move his claim through the Reconsideration process (where we told him to expect yet another denial of his claim), and then filed a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (transferring his case to the hearing office), where we knew he stood his best chance at winning. At this stage of the proceedings, we provided substantial additional medical evidence that was not available to the state agency at Disability Determination Services, including the medical questionnaires from his specialists, along with a brief in support of his claim.

Likewise, we explained to Jason that there were concerns with attempting to get benefits for his orthopedic problems alone, prior to treatment for his mental health conditions. While it was clear that he was not able to perform any of the more strenuous jobs Jason had performed in the past, it was evident that that Jason did not understand that the Social Security disability process require a determination as to whether he could perform easier jobs for which he might be reasonably suited by age, education and experience. With this further understanding, Jason was willing to change his onset date to the date when he had initiated treatment for his mental health. Shortly after spelling out the new evidence that had been provided since the prior denials, we were informed by the staff for the presiding Administrative Law Judge at the Springfield Office of Disability Adjudication that a fully favorable on the record decision would issue. Thus, Jason had won his case finally and he would it would not be necessary for Jason to attend a hearing (which, obviously, was causing him quite a bit of anxiety).

Needless to say, the moral of Jason’s story is not to try a claim on your own: it’s important to have the advice of a Social Security disability professional, an experienced lawyer who has handled these cases for year. Therefore, if you or someone you care about is considering having to apply for Social Security disability benefits suggest they give a call to the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith. There is no fee unless and until we prevail in your case.