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May, 2011: Additional Story Shared at Clients’ Request - Part 2

Norma's case was a rather challenging claim given the nature of her problems were primarily that of severe headaches (which can be very difficult to prove, as the severity, length and frequency of such headaches are not able to be shown through objective means or testing). Norma was 45 years old at the time she became disabled from neck and headache pain that resulted from not only cervical disk disease (that was evident on MRI) but also from a condition called Chiari Malformation (which likewise is evident on MRI). While Norma's case did need to go to the hearing level and required an argument brief, the Administrative Law Judge reviewing her claim determined that a hearing would not be necessary given her treating neurologist (who is the head of the Neurology Department at a major medical hospital in New England) was willing to provide a detailed assessment of her functional capacity (which we were able to submit on her behalf). Likewise, we were fortunate that Norma was scheduled for a Functional Capacity Evaluation that was covered by insurance which determined that her work capabilities fell below that which would support her working even a sit down (sedentary) job. The submission of this evaluation served her well. Finally, it was helpful that Norma had applied for APTD (Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled) through the State of New Hampshire, and that they had independently determined that her condition remained totally disabling for her (and would remain so disabling for likely 4 years or longer). While this decision is not binding on the Social Security Administration, they are indeed allowed to consider such determinations as evidence in her case that she is totally disabled from gainful employment. As part of assisting her with this claim, we were able to obtain a copy of her APTD file material and submit this documentation on her behalf so that the Administrative Law Judge could consider it ahead of the hearing.

I am happy to say that we were able to avoid the need for a hearing by the submission of these very telling records (along with an argument brief) that served to convince the Administrative Law Judge at the Manchester Office of Disability Adjudication and Review of Norma's need for, and entitlement to, these benefits.