June, 2013: Quick Assistance for Clients in Need
I am happy to see that help is on the way for a number of our clients for whom retroactive and ongoing Social Security disability benefits could not be quick enough. The theme of this month's cases is how quickly, at times, an experienced lawyer can make the difference for one's claim. As these cases suggest, hiring an experienced lawyer from the very beginning may help avoid the need to appeal an unfavorable decision. As these cases also suggest, the sooner the attorney is on the case, the sooner they can begin to make a difference in your case.
Tim's claim involves that of a 43 year old gentleman who had a long and successful career in IT until such time as his back condition became severe to the point of requiring spinal fusion surgery at the young age of 38. Tim's employer provided him with accommodations at his work site, both in terms of a work station and in terms of allowing him the flexibility to walk around during the day as need be. Most employers would not have been as understanding. They allowed Tim to work at home when need be and provided him with flexible hours. Unfortunately, his job came to an end as there was a layoff at his place of employment. Thus, it did not appear to the Social Security Administration that his job had ended as a result of his disabling condition. Separate and apart from his back problems, Tim has been suffering from intestinal issues (and corresponding bowel issues) which cause him to go to the bathroom multiple times a day (and without much notice). Unfortunately, no attorney had been assisting Tim at the time of his initial claim and he ultimately received a denial. Tim contacted our office to represent him on his appeal to the Manchester, New Hampshire Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. Working with Tim, we were able to get helpful questionnaires from his primary care physician and his gastroenterologist that addressed the extent to which he would have functional limitations throughout a potential workday, and how these limitations would cause interruptions in his workday such that he could not be counted on for any manner of gainful employment. Within two (2) months of our involvement, Tom's case was being reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge for a fully favorable decision and resulting in significant retroactive benefits for this gentleman.
Alison's claim involves that of a 44 year old woman with a long work history as an administrative assistant. Alison's situation is similar to Tim's insofar as her medical condition was not the reason she had to leave her last place of employment (she was laid off from her employment as the corporation she was working for closed her office location). She collected unemployment while looking for other employment and during that time found that her Rheumatoid Arthritis and Colitis conditions became disabling to the point where she could no longer consider a return to work. Unfortunately, Alison's rheumatologist had retired from practice just prior to our involvement and given the nature of her condition, an opinion from a rheumatologist as to the severity of her condition was critical to her case. As in Tim's case, Alison contacted us upon her initial denial (likewise because no one had addressed the severity of her condition and how it impacted her ability to work) and, given she lives in Massachusetts, we undertook a request for reconsideration on her behalf (which carries with it an approximate 80% denial rate). We were able to work with Alison to get back into treatment with a new rheumatologist who, in a very short period of time, was able to get up to speed with the history of Alison's condition. Ultimately, both her long term primary care physician and her new rheumatologist proved willing to assist Alison with questionnaires that addressed the severity of her medical conditions and how they were impacting her ability to function. What this case evidences is the fact that even at the reconsideration level, where there is a very high denial rate, having an attorney who can provide compelling additional evidence in support of one's disability claim can prove to make all the difference in terms of outcome. In Alison's case, I'm happy to be able to say it did. Within six (6) months of our involvement, we were able to secure a fully favorable decision for Alison that will make all the difference for her and her family.