Justia Lawyer Rating
Massachussets Bar Association
Maine state Bar

June, 2011: Coming Kicking and Screaming to Social Security: a Recipe for Success

Jim's claim is an example of how a gentleman with an excellent work ethic could end up having to go to hearing due, in part, because of his continued wish to remain employed to the extent humanly possible. Jim was 32 years old when he sustained a significant back injury as a result of slipping and falling on the ice. At that time, the back surgeon diagnosed him as suffering from a huge disk herniation that required surgery. Jim suffered nerve damage at that time that did not go away and which has continued to hinder him ever since. However, because Jim had always worked in construction and because he had a family to support, he continued to do what he could to continue working (rather than apply for Social Security). As the years went by, his self-employed wages continued to diminish. Ultimately, 5 years later, Jim suffered a significant aggravation of his condition that left him with even more debilitating pain and limitation than before. However, this was not the end of the story for Jim. He was able to find a job through a relative that allowed him to work a very light job, a few hours a day: he was allowed to come in late, leave early and not come in at all (and in this way was able to obtain some continued income). Unfortunately, Jim was denied on his initial application and on reconsideration, and it became necessary to go to hearing (due, in large part, to the wages he continued to earn: albeit in a very accommodating type of position). Significant additional evidence was available at the time of hearing (in the form of tests undertaken, including both a functional capacity evaluation which evidenced how disabled Jim remained and a functional capacity questionnaire we were able to obtain from his primary care physician) which showed that Jim has continued to suffer from a severe condition that has kept him from maintaining competitive employment (that is, any job on a regular and continuing basis, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week). Based on this documentation, the medical expert at hearing fully supported the notion that Jim has remained significantly limited such that he could not even perform sedentary (a sit down) position on a regular and continuing basis. While I find it disconcerting that that the system required Jim to proceed all the way to a hearing, I am happy to see that a just result took place (and that Jim will no longer need to struggle financially and rely on his family for support).