June, 2012: Success at the Portland, Maine Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

I promised Michael that I would list his story on line (another very happy client who has read through these stories and felt his story should be included, as do I). Michael is a forty (40) year old gentleman who came to me following a very significant motor vehicle accident back in August, 2010 that cause him closed head injuries. These injuries served to aggravate some underlying mental health concerns that Michael had previously been able to work through. The effects of the head injury only served to cause Michael more significant, subtle changes in his personality that caused him great difficulty with maintaining focus. He likewise became quite distrustful of others, and his ability to interact with even friends and family became compromised. The extent to which Michael's abilities were compromised, however, needed to be further clarified by way of a neuropsychologist (and a neuropsychological evaluation). Working together, we were able to ensure that a detailed neuropsychological evaluation took place with further clarification following the evaluation, which served to address the extent to which Michael had become impaired in terms of mental health aptitudes necessary for even unskilled work. We were likewise able to show how Social Security's consultative examiner, who evaluated Michael, had provided significant evidence that supported the notion that Michael's condition was a significant impediment to any form of work.

Michael's claim was denied on his initial application, and once again on reconsideration. Consequently, it became necessary to appeal Michael's claim to the Portland, Maine Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. I am happy to say that Michael did not need to go through the typical 12 month wait to get to hearing and we were able to get a fully favorable decision for his family and him in a much more timely manner by way of an argument brief. It is gratifying to see what a big difference we were able to make in their lives: and for Michael, who has had great difficulty with a significant distrust of others, I was happy that he could see that his trust in our office was well placed.

Laurie's case involves that of a forty-seven (47) year old woman who had a consistent work history since the age of 16. She had worked for many years as a medical assistant before becoming disabled in May, 2010 as a result of recurring pneumonia infections and bowel difficulties which had worn on her both physically and mentally. Laurie is yet another example of how consistent treatment can make a significant difference in how one's case is viewed by the Social Security Administration. When she was denied on her initial application and on reconsideration, it became necessary to file a request for hearing with the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Portland, Maine. We were able to show on appeal that a great many of the early treatment records evidencing the history of Laurie's condition had not been available for review at the time Social Security Administration's doctors had reviewed the claim. We were able to show how Laurie had repeatedly battled her way back to work over the years, until such time as the infections simply could not be sufficiently controlled. Laurie's pulmonologist and her primary care physician were willing to address the extent to which her pulmonary problems had become severe by way of medical questionnaires that addressed the severity of her multiple medical conditions and how they were impacting her ability to function.

Given the new and material evidence that was provided (and was not available at the time of the prior agency determinations), the hearing judge was convinced of the appropriateness of providing a fully favorable decision such that Laurie did not have to go to her scheduled hearing. I am happy to see that someone such as Laurie, who had helped so many others over the years in her capacity as a medical assistant, was finally on the receiving end of some assistance she was sorely in need of for a long time.

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