June, 2017: Leandra’s Favorable Decision out of the Concord, NH and Manchester, NH ODAR
Leandra contacted our New England-wide practice (with offices throughout Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire) very late in the game. Leandra called looking for a Manchester, NH Social Security lawyer (having filed her claim out of the Concord, NH Social Security district office) just as her case was about to go to hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the Manchester, NH Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. As Leandra would explain to you today, it’s never too late to get the help of an experienced Social Security lawyer.
Leandra is a kind, hard-working woman in her late 30’s who had worked for many years as an administrative assistant until such time as a combination of physical and mental health issues made it impossible for her to continue. She was experiencing problems that included rheumatoid arthritis, raynaud’s, chronic fatigue and pain, headaches along with depression and anxiety issues, among others.
Upon getting involved in her case so late in the game, the first thing we had to do was seek a continuance of her case: that is, a rescheduling of the hearing that was scheduled just a few weeks away so as to allow us to undertake a complete review of her Social Security file. In doing so, we look to determine what medical records may have been unavailable for review at the time of the initial Disability Determination Services decision: both in the past (that is, leading up to when she had to go out of work) and those additional records for treatment that may have transpired since the time of the initial determination. In order to tell the story of Leandra’s struggle to continue working for a number of years, it would be necessary to ensure that the Social Security Administration (SSA) had obtained a copy of her treatment history. We soon determined that old treatment records showing her prior efforts at physical therapy, not to mention neurology records that went back going back the year prior to Leandra’s becoming disabled had not been obtained. This is not to mention the fact that treatment records since the time of her initial denial (which was now a year ago ) were likewise missing.
The prior treatment records made clear the extraordinary efforts Leandra had made to try and continue working: this was during a time when she was being prescribed significant pain medication, not to mention muscle relaxants, that would have made it difficult for anybody to go to work on a regular basis. This is separate and apart from the issues she was having with ongoing pain and lack of sleep during the year prior to going out of work. The physical therapy records, while evidencing her attempts to get better, likewise made clear that her condition was only continuing to decline. Additional testing (such as MRI) was necessary and, likewise, switches from one medication to another (such as from Gabapentin to Cymbalta) was shown to be necessary, in addition to trigger point injections. The physical therapy records spoke to her difficulties at work, making it clear that she was having difficulty getting comfortable sitting, and was frequently missing time from work as a result of her conditions.
Many times, the treatment records themselves will make evident the struggle to continue working. Likewise, the multiple surgical procedures she had undergone previously, not to mention injection therapy she was continuing to require, made it quite evident the extent to which she was now experiencing chronic pain issues on top of what was determined to be a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (and the need for treatment of this condition as well).
Fortunately, Leandra had taken the right steps to remain in treatment with specialists who had come to know here well so that they were indeed anxious to help her with the medical forms we presented with the hopes of establishing the physical limitations she was experiencing in light of her conditions. Providing the additional stack of medical records, along with medical questionnaires from her long term primary care physician and rheumatologist provided a much different picture to the presiding Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who was assigned to hear her case.
We were able to make evident through the additional evidence and brief presented that not only did Leandra remain incapable of performing any of the past jobs she had performed in the 15 years prior to her alleged onset date (that is, her past relevant work), she remained incapable of performing any other manner of employment for which she was reasonably suited by age, education and experience which would exist in significant numbers either in her region or any other regions of the national economy. Thus, before Leandra even had to go to a hearing, she was provided with a fully favorable decision.
Thus, if you or someone you know has made the decision to try and go it alone with their claim, even if they are coming up to a hearing, welcome them to contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at (800) 773-8622. There is no charge to discuss how we might be able to jump in and make a huge difference in the case.