June, 2016: Lisa’s Claim: An Example of an Initial Claim Gone Smoothly out of NH
Lisa’s case is a perfect example of a Social Security disability claim that was handled from the very beginning through our office and which resulted in a favorable decision just 3 months later. Having the benefit of an experienced Social Security lawyer can mean the difference between winning your case at the initial level or, as is the case in New Hampshire, having to proceed to hearing at the Manchester, NH Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.
Lisa is a well-educated professional in her mid-fifties (50’s) who contacted the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at the end of March, 2016 to look into applying for Social Security disability benefits given her need to discontinue working the prior summer as a counselor, which job required her to be on her feet for most of the day. She had been working in this position for ten (10) years at the time she had to stop working: she left work given the need to undergo surgery for a torn left knee meniscus. Following this surgery, she was left with residual osteoarthritis issues which caused her a great deal of left knee discomfort. As if this problem wasn’t bad enough, Lisa had sustained a fall years earlier which had caused a severe right ankle fracture which caused her to undergo right ankle reconstruction.
We assisted Lisa with her initial application on line, which we were able to get in to the system within a week of our involvement: thus, the Littleton, NH Social Security Administration (SSA) office was able to begin working on her claim rather immediately. Notwithstanding the fact that her orthopedic surgeon had left the state, we were able to work with Lisa to ensure she obtained a very supportive Physical Residual Functional Capacity Questionnaire that spelled out the fact that she was quite limited in her ability to walk and stand: her ability to walk comfortably was about ½ city block before she had to rest, standing was limited to 10 to 15 minutes and standing/walking out of an 8 hour/day was limited to less than 2 hours out of an 8 hour day. We were able to show SSA (and, specifically, Disability Determination Services (DDS) out of Concord, NH) that she remained limited to the point where she could not perform even sit down positions as sedentary occupations would likewise require her to be able to stand for what would be at least 6 hours out of an 8 hour workday. Moreover, the doctor addressed on the medical questionnaire Lisa’s need to elevate her legs for what would be more than 50% of the day day along with the need to lie down at unpredictable intervals during the day given the severe arthritis of her knee (despite the surgical procedure she had undergone).
With these limitations, SSA rightfully determined within three (3) months that Lisa remained totally disabled from all forms of gainful employment, and for what was likely to be a year or longer despite prescribed treatment: she was consequently approved for benefits. Given the application was not provided too early, Lisa avoided an initial denial. By having our ducks in a row in terms of the evidence, we were able to assist Lisa with obtaining her benefits within a very reasonable 3 month time period. Moreover, given the amount of the Social security attorney's awarded is 25% of the past due benefits obtained, and given the fact we were able to obtain the benefits for Lisa without the 12+ month wait for a hearing, the attorney’s fees amounted to only $1200.00 out of Lisa’s benefits (whereas, if she had to wait for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge and go through the stress and strain of that process, the likelihood would have been attorney’s fees in the maximum amount of $6,000.00).
This is a prime example of how an experienced attorney handling your claim can assist you in obtaining a fully favorable decision, without the need to go through an appeals process (and with a minimum of attorney’s fees being paid to your lawyer). If you are interested in seeing how the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith might be able to assist you with your disability claim, please feel free to call us at 1-800-773-8622.