March, 2017: Thomas’s Social Security Disability Claim out of Rockland, Maine DO and Portland, Maine ODAR
Thomas’s Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and Supplement Security Income (SSI) claims serve as a good example as to how the Social Security regulations are quite difficult to follow and understand without the assistance from an experienced Maine Social Security Attorney who can guide you through the process. Even for an experienced lawyer such as this one, it’s clear that a good many lawyers may have in fact missed some of the prior claim activity and the significance of it (and in turn may have lost significant retroactive money that should be paid to Thomas and his family).
Thomas has been experiencing difficulties with Seizures that go back to the time he was a child. By the time he had contacted our office in 2015, he had already filed a 2014 claim with the Rockland, Maine Social Security District Office and, upon being denied, had filed a request for reconsideration of his claim. Because Thomas had never been able to work and was in his 20’s, his mother had brought a claim for SSI as well as a claim for SSDI Adult Disabled Child Benefits for him under her Social Security record (as she had been receiving Social Security disability benefits under her own disabling conditions, which in turn did allow for a family benefit for any children that had become disabled prior to the age of 22 and were dependents). See 20 C.F.R. §404.350(a)(5). She had previously brought a request to file a disability claim on Thomas’s behalf back in the late 1990’s (for a Child SSI claim) and this was denied, however Thomas did collect a benefit under his father’s record up until the time he had graduated high school. Following that time, Thomas’s mother did reach back out to the local Social Security office in Rockland in 2012 to process another disability claim as his benefits under his father’s record had been discontinued given he had graduated high school (such benefits run out either at age 18, or if one continues to remain enrolled in secondary school, then one may receive such benefits up until age 19 and 2 months or until such time as one graduates high school: whichever comes first). However, in 2012 the Rockland, Maine did not process the prior claim properly as involving an adult disabled child claim. Rather, they only brought the claim as an SSI claim. Given Thomas was alleging once again that he was disabled prior to the age of 22, and both of his parents were receiving SSDI benefits, it would have been appropriate for them to take claims under both earnings records. Again, Thomas was promptly denied his 2012 claim for not being found “disabled” under Social Security’s rules, and did not file once again until his present application in 2014.
Fortunately for Thomas, he had remained in consistent, zealous treatment for his seizure disorder throughout the period of 2008 to the present. Not only was he seeing individuals locally, but had likewise sought out treatment following hospitalization in Boston, MA with neurologists at one of Boston’s most renowned hospitals. Thus, by the time we were able to get to hearing, we were able to provide medical opinions from his long-term treating primary care physician, his local neurologist that has been treating him since he was a teenager and his specialists out of Boston. Likewise, we were able to obtain additional documentation from the Rockland, Maine Social Security office confirming the fact that there had been an error in not taking an Adult Disabled child claim under both his mother and his father’s Social Security records (as they were both receiving SSDI benefits for their own disabling conditions). In turn, we were able to convince the Administrative Law Judge out of Portland, Maine that the prior claims were amenable to being reopened (which means that benefits would be payable going backwards in time to 2012) given the new and material evidence we were able to provide going back to the 1990’s through the 2012-2015 time period. This has resulted in benefits being payable for an additional 2 years of retroactive money, not to mention the fact that it did not remain clear that benefits would even be payable under his parents’ records given the manner in which the claim had been documented. Clearly, without the benefit of a conscientious lawyer, tens of thousands of dollars would have gone by the wayside.
One additional issue that did arise following the favorable decision, however was the fact that the claimant’s entitlement to a benefit under his mother’s claim was being erroneously denied based on the ALJ’s finding that the claimant’s mother no longer remained insured for SSDI benefits (and therefore the child was not entitled to a benefit). Through additional evidence obtained from the local SS office, we were able to explain to the ALJ that the claimant’s mother was entitled to what is called a disability freeze that was not being properly reflected to the judge (given she had been receiving disability benefits throughout the 2005 to present time period) and thus she did still remain insured for benefits (and in fact was continuing to collect such a check).
The above complexities make it ever the more obvious that if you or someone you love is having to go through the complex web called the Social Security disability regulations, don’t choose to go it alone. Having a knowledgeable attorney can help ensure you receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled. Call for your no cost consultation with the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at (800) 773-8622. Attorney’s fees are wholly contingent on obtaining for you the benefits you deserve.