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March, 2013: Avoiding a Two Year Appeals Process

This past month has seen a great many favorable decisions for our clients. The success stories for this month will focus on a couple of those cases where we were able to assist with obtaining fully favorable decisions on their initial claim. These cases suggest the importance of having a zealous, knowledgeable Social Security disability lawyer from the very beginning (as it may very well allow you to avoid what could be a 2 year appeals process should you get an initial denial).

Doug is a 61 year old gentleman who contacted our office unsure as to whether he had a claim worth pursuing. He had worked many years in construction, hanging drywall and undertaking general construction. When he initially contacted our office, his focus was mainly on his orthopedic problems and his need for a hip replacement which had cropped up in September, 2012. Doug had been laid off from his last position as a union carpenter in 2010. His back and hip problems were getting worse over the years since he stopped working. Looking at the grid rules for Doug, we were able to advise him that given his physical problems Social Security should agree that it would have been impossible for him to go back to his old work or any other work that would have involved being on his feet for most of the day (thus, requiring him to undertake sedentary work at the very least). Consequently, we advised him to claim disability benefits going back at least a year and a half prior to his filing date (versus simply arguing that he became disabled since September, 2012). We were able to obtain supportive documentation evidencing the fact that Doug had been disabled for years under Social Security's Grid rules. Instead of getting benefits after meeting a 5 month waiting period following his September, 2012 hip replacement (which would have meant a first check for March, 2013 in April, 2013), we were able to get Doug benefits on his initial application going back to 1 year prior to the date of his application (that is to say, back to December, 2011). If only Doug had come to us sooner, we would have been able to go backwards in time even further for him. As it is, we were able to obtain an additional $26,000.00 for Doug, avoid the need to appeal his case and ensure that he is receiving over $1700 per month in benefits on an ongoing basis. Likewise, because of the earlier onset date provided, Doug will be getting Medicare assistance as of this upcoming December. Needless to say, Doug is quite relieved that he has some significant financial assistance with which to pay the bills that had accrued; he's also quite relieved that he won't need to undergo an appeals process.

Timothy is a 55 year old gentleman who has a past work history as a network engineer and who began experiencing a series of medical ailments back in 2011. He came to our office after suffering a heart attack in September, 2012 (and requiring quadruple bypass). A closer look at Timothy's circumstances, however, showed that much like Doug's circumstances, he had actually been suffering from Diabetes and gout issues that went back a number of years (and required hospitalization in the summer of 2011 for kidney problems). Given the continuing nature of his problems from 2011 through 2012 (that is to say, leading up to his heart attack), we advised Timothy to claim disability from the summer of 2011 when he initially required hospitalization for kidney dysfunction. I am happy to report that Timothy indeed was provided with a fully favorable decision based on the onset date we agreed to use. In a very similar circumstance to Doug's, he was afforded significant additional retroactive benefits based on the earlier onset date. Rather than being provided benefits based on a finding of disability beginning September, 2012 (which would have meant a first check for the month of March being provided in April, 2013, with no retroactive benefits afforded). Timothy is being provided with benefits as of February, 2012 (and with an additional $36,000 for his family and him over this period of time). Needless to say, Timothy's entire family is feeling a great sense of relief over the additional funds that are being made available and this is leaving Timothy with one less thing to worry about. He is feeling much more capable of simply focusing on his recovery.