November, 2017 Jennifer’s Social Security Disability claim out of Manchester, NH and the Manchester, NH Hearing Office
Jennifer’s Social Security disability claim is a good example of how obtaining a knowledgeable and skilled New Hampshire Social Security lawyer can end up turning years of denials to the favorable result you deserve. Jennifer, who resides out of the greater Manchester, NH area, had brought her case on 2 separate occasions by way of filing a disability claim out of the Manchester, NH district office. After being denied in 2014 on her initial application, she reapplied for benefits in 2016. Upon getting denied once again at the initial filing stage of the proceedings, she chose to contact our office for representation.
Jennifer is a young woman who became disabled from working in her 20’s with issues initially involving her low back which was radiating into both legs. Following a lengthy history of more conservative treatment that involved both injection therapy and medication management, she ultimately required lumbar fusion surgery for her back. Following recovery from surgery, she was then seen suffering from significant headaches, which did go back to the time of her military service (which began in her late teens). She is seen at that time by a neurologist for this condition and, shortly thereafter, she is requiring hospitalization. Historical treatment records from the military reflect the fact that she had sustained serious injuries while enlisted, and at the hands of other officers. Over the course of his evaluation, the neurologist did conclude that the military trauma did in fact cause her to be experiencing “post-traumatic migraine disorder.” It was likewise determined that Jennifer was experiencing significant anxiety and depression stemming from trauma she sustained while in the military stemming from what was then newly diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which was causing her to experience severe mental health difficulties that were likewise impacting her sleep and her ability to function during the day.
What Jennifer failed to recognize as she proceeded with her disability claims is that the Social Security Administration was failing to obtain complete treatment records from many of her providers. Separate and apart from a less than complete record, SSA was failing to properly acknowledge the rating examination findings that was part and parcel of her disability claim through the Department of Veterans Affairs. These findings were quite significant, and while they served as a basis for finding Jennifer totally disabled from all manner of gainful employment for purpose of her Veterans Administration (VA) disability claim, they were utterly ignored by the state agency responsible for deciding her claim (Disability Determination Services).
Moreover, because of Jennifer’s vigilant treatment with medical specialists, there were a number of providers that were happy to go to bat for her and provide very telling medical questionnaires which addressed their findings on examination, along with the resulting symptoms and functional limitations which would impact her ability to function in a competitive work situation. Her orthopedic specialist, physiatrist, pain management provider along with her treating psychologist were all willing to provide helpful documentation in support of Jennifer’s claim.
The additional treatment records, along with the three Physical RFC Questionnaires and Mental Impairment Questionnaire, provided the presiding Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) with some compelling additional evidence that was not available previously. However, just as important, was pointing out to the ALJ the overlooked examination findings that were already within the file but which were not even commented on by the DDS. An argument brief provided ahead of hearing convinced the ALJ that a hearing would no longer be necessary given the very strong case that now appeared before her, thereby saving Jennifer from the stress and emotions that would be associated with attending a hearing..
What Jennifer did learn through this process is that it’s very difficult to know how to review the evidence in a Social Security case file, and even more difficult to determine what is missing from it that might the difference in one’s case. She likewise didn’t understand the rules pertaining to reopening prior claims, which would allow her to reopen her prior 2014 application so as to provide her with 3 years of retroactive money given the new and material evidence that was now presented (versus what would otherwise be 2 years of retroactive money).
Thus, if you or someone you know is faced with the need to file for Social Security disability benefits, ensure they have the benefit of knowledgeable legal representation in the field of Social Security disability law from an attorney who has many years of experience handling disability claims. Suggest they contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at (800) 773-8622.