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October, 2016: Cathy’s Social Security Disability Claim out of the Boston, MA Hearing Office

Cathy is yet another example of the tremendous efforts one of our clients has made with attempting to continue working despite their ongoing disabling medical conditions. As a Social Security disability lawyer out of Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire for 27 years, I am very proud of the fact that we are very careful about the cases we take and ultimately bring before the Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) for hearing. As a result, I believe the judges in turn have a lot of respect for my clients that appear before them. . Cathy is another example of a very hardworking, prideful woman who worked many years, very difficult positions (over 34 years in the childcare industry: nobody was more patient than Cathy, which obviously comes with the territory of caring for young children) for her entire working career. What became clear over time, however, is that her difficulties with interstitial cystitis, colitis and chronic pain syndrome (resulting from a series of surgical procedures she required over the years) began to take a toll on Cathy both physically and mentally. She was missing quite a bit of work as a result, and ultimately, her employer had to come to the decision to provide Cathy with a layoff. Notwithstanding this fact, to Cathy’s credit she began a search for other work that would hopefully be able to accommodate her condition (and she undertook additional schooling in an attempt to return to a different type of employment). Ultimately, the schooling had to come to an end (despite accommodations made by the administration) given her ongoing struggles with her medical conditions.

By the time Cathy came to our office, she had applied for Social Security disability insurance benefits on her own out of the Malden, MA Social Security district office and had been denied on her initial application. Upon getting involved in her case, we did file a request for reconsideration on her behalf which resulted in, not surprisingly, yet another denial on reconsideration following review by the Boston, MA office of Disability Determination Services (unfortunately, we find that the reconsideration process out of Massachusetts is typically simply a rubber stamp denial of the initial denial). We consequently undertook a request for hearing on Cathy’s behalf and her file was subsequently transferred to the Boston Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.

What became apparent upon reviewing the history of the file is that substantial medical documentation had not been relayed appropriately to the Social Security Administration upon her initial filing. In fact, we ended up retrieving over 2500 pages of additional treatment records from exactly 30 different facilities as part of a package submitted to the presiding ALJ. Likewise, we were able to obtain very telling medical reports from her long-term treating urologist (an Interstitial Cystitis RFC Questionnaire), her gastroenterologist (an Inflammatory Bowel Disease RFC Questionnaire) and her psychiatric nurse practitioner (a Mental Impairment Questionnaire). These additional, compendious records served to provide the presiding ALJ with new and material evidence that made very clear to him just how severe Cathy’s condition had remained. While a 17 page argument brief was provided to the presiding ALJ well in advance of the hearing, in this case we were well aware that we would need to go to the hearing as this ALJ does not grant favorable decisions without first meeting the claimant in person.

What became clear upon hearing Cathy’s story is that she was indeed very deserving of these benefits and had exhausted all avenues before seeking long term disability benefits. As we like to inform all of our clients, SSA wants to see that claimants are coming kicking and screaming rather than running to obtain a check for benefits. Certainly, Cathy only sought such benefits as a last resort.

Thus, I am happy to report that Cathy is much less anxious now that her hearing is over and benefits have been provided both for her and her family. As I know Cathy would agree, if you or someone you love is struggling to obtain the disability benefits they so sorely need to survive, contact an experienced and aggressive Social Security disability lawyer to assist you with your claim, the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith, at 1-800-773-87622.