October, 2017 Vivian’s Fully Favorable Social Security Decision out of Dorchester, MA and Boston, MA OHO
One can become stricken with a horrible illness, injury or disease at any age, and I see that first hand as a MA Social Security lawyer, with offices throughout Maine, MA and NH and handling Social Security disability claims for the past 32 years. I have been practicing law as long as Vivian had been alive at the point in time she became diagnosed with suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Vivian’s initial MS symptoms were in the form of hip pain that was impacting her ability to walk, and to perform the duties of her job, which required that she show homes. The symptoms stemming from MS may appear more benign, as was the case with Vivian, where it was thought that she was simply having some orthopedic issues. Shortly thereafter, however, she began to experience problems with headaches and dizziness that landed her in the hospital. Ultimately, additional testing during hospitalization for these additional problems made evident the fact that her problems were indeed related to Multiple Sclerosis.
Proving a case involving MS is not always easy. And certainly, in Vivian’s case, it’s not made any easier given how young she is. As is the case with most other disabling conditions, applying too early can help ensure an early denial of one’s claim. Indeed, this is one of the problems Vivian had with her particular claim, although she did not have a choice in the matter. Since she had no financial resources after losing her job, and no household income that would bring her above the poverty line, she had no choice but to apply for transitional assistance benefits through the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA): this included applications for Mass Health, food stamps and EAEDC (Emergency Aid to the Elderly Disability and Children). When applying for cash assistance in the form of EAEDC, Vivian not choice but to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and, correspondingly, Social Security disability insurance (SSDI).
When attempting to establish a case for MS, it’s important to understand that the Social Security regulations do contain what is called a listing of impairment which, if the criteria is fully met, would automatically qualify one as “disabled” under Social Security’s rules (at step 3 of their sequential evaluation process) without the need to prove that one’s residual functional capacity keeps them from being able to work either their past relevant work (at step 4) or other work that exists in significant numbers inn the national economy (at step 5). Listing 11.09 requires one to prove that they experiences disorganization of motor function in two extremities that causes extreme difficulties in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking or use their upper extremities, or a combination of marked physical functioning along with a marked limitation in their ability to understand, remember or apply information, interact with others, concentrate, persist or maintain pace, or adapt or manage themselves.
Most cases we come across do not end up meeting the requirements of listing 11.09, and we are, instead, focused on proving an individual’s entitlement based on application of steps 4 and 5 of the sequential evaluation process.
Fortunately for Vivian, she maintained treatment with a very well respected neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and was continuing to follow through with the prescribed treatment that was being recommended by her neurologist. This treatment included physical therapy, which served to provide helpful guidance as to where the deficits were that Vivian was experiencing despite her ongoing efforts at treatment.
While on some occasions we’re able to avoid the need for our clients to testify at hearing by way of our argument briefs (which are filed in every case), it was understandable that Vivian would be required to come and testify given some of her problems involved issues with pain, balance, fatigue and corresponding loss of function as a result of each of these issues. The extent to which Vivian was having such problems (and how such problems would be correspondingly impacting her ability to function) would not be clear from a paper record alone. As part of our brief, however, we were able to provide a very telling Multiple Sclerosis Residual Functional Capacity Questionnaire from the treating neurologist that did provide her opinion as to the nature and severity of Vivian’s difficulties and she believed they were impacting her residual functional capacity.
Vivian very deservedly received a fully favorable decision and, correspondingly, the help she needed to get back on her feet financially.
If you are experiencing significant difficulties stemming from Multiple Sclerosis and you find that you are in need of Social Security disability benefits, there is no need to try an application on your own. Contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at (800) 773-8622 and see how we can help guide you through the application, or if need be, the appeals process