May, 2011: Additional Story Shared at Clients’ Request
May and June have been so busy with interesting success stories I've decided to include additional stories on the site. Likewise, I have received requests from some individuals that their stories be heard (and I am happy to share their stories with you).
Alan's story is a reminder of how the Social Security Administration is capable of making egregious errors in their initial decisions even when the record makes clear (and one's treatment providers make clear) that the condition is severely disabling. In Alan's case, he had a consistent and successful work history in customer service before becoming disabled in his late 30's from Diabetic neuropathy issues that were causing him great pain in his upper and lower extremities. The treatment records prior to his leaving work made clear that he was resorting to wearing gloves at work when typing as touching the keyboard was causing him severe pain. The claimant's primary care physician and treating neurologist were willing to address questionnaires on Alan's behalf detailing the severity of his impairments despite the significant treatment he was undertaking, but unfortunately the Social Security Administration's own doctor was taking a blind eye to these records and failing to support the claim. This served to cause not only an initial denial, but likewise a denial on reconsideration. It was quite fortunate that at hearing the Administrative Law Judge requested a medical expert to testify who made it quite clear from the outset of the hearing that Alan met a medical listing of impairment (that is, that his diabetic neuropathy met the criteria under the Social Security listing of impairments for neuropathies) which would thus qualify him for Social Security without the need to go further in the analysis to determine whether he was capable of working either any of his past relevant work (work performed within the 15 years prior to becoming disabled) or any other jobs within the national economy for which he was reasonably suited. The Administrative Law Judge was able to undertake what is called a bench decision where he/she recites the basis for the decision on the record so that a short decision can be drafted and filed within days of the hearing (thereby allowing for the quick processing of the claim, and the benefits owing). Alan was a pleasure to work with over the two (2) years we were fighting for his benefits (always confident in the work I was performing for him, and that he would prevail in the end). I'm also happy to say that we were able to prevail upon his short term disability carrier to reconsider and change their denial of his claim as part of our representation of Alan. It's good to know that Alan is now able to focus on trying to manage what is a very serious medical condition and his family's needs rather than worry about fighting a government agency for the benefits his family and he need. It is a shame that it took such a lengthy appeals process to convince the Social Security Administration of a claim that in my eyes was very clear on its face from the very beginning.