February, 2017: Sandra’s Social Security Disability Claim out of Portsmouth, NH and Manchester, NH ODAR
Sandra’s fully favorable decision provided by the Manchester, NH Office Disability Adjudication and Review reminds me how important it is that claimants do everything in their power to try and return to work. Likewise, whether your claim is out of Maine, Massachusetts or New Hampshire, it is important that your treatment providers are 1) detail oriented when it comes to their office notes and 2) truly empathetic individuals who are willing to stop and hear your whole story. Without detailed treatment notes and a physician who cares about the whole patient, one’s case can take a much different turn than Sandra’s did.
Sandra did not have the benefit of a NH Social Security Lawyer at the time of her initial application. She came to our office after she had filed her initial claim out of Portsmouth, NH (as she resides in Somersworth, NH) and was consequently denied. Given she resides in New Hampshire, versus in Maine or Massachusetts, it was consequently necessary that an appeal of her claim (request for hearing before an administrative law judge) be undertaken on her behalf. Sandra’s background included both a high school education along with some college courses and a strong work history that included many years of working as a medical assistant at a hospital. Unfortunately, Sandra had been struggling for many years with joint pain that included pain, numbness, swelling and tingling in both of her hands and in her legs (knees and hips). Blood testing had failed to show positive signs of arthritis and so she was diagnosed with seronegative arthritis. The past treatment records provided at the time of hearing served to show a lengthy history of struggling to continue working. Ultimately, to Sandra’s credit, she made every effort to continue working in some capacity, even choosing to reduce her work schedule from 40 hours to 20 hours in an effort to keep her job. Unfortunately, notwithstanding this reduction in hours (and work activity), her condition continued to worsen.
Sandra sought treatment with a specialist for her condition (a rheumatologist) who provided a very detailed history in his notes as to the nature and severity of her condition and how it was impacting her ability to function (both at home and at a work site). The treating rheumatologist was quite involved in making medication adjustments, including trials of prednisone, Plaquenil and methotrexate in a continuing effort to quiet down her symptoms. Moreover, Sandra’s was fortunate to have a very conscientious primary care provider who was very hands on with her care and was proactive with referrals and medication management as well.
That being said, Sandra is referred to a neurologist to rule out a demyelinating disease such as Multiple Sclerosis. While a brain study is deemed normal, the doctors are able to determine through an EMG study that she is suffering from a chronic L3-L4 radiculopathy that is contributing to her physical difficulties. Through additional process of elimination, her new neurologist is able to determine that she is suffering from Myasthenia Gravis which is serving to cause her continuing problems of muscle weakness. He likewise provides a new diagnosis of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) that is deemed to result from an inflammatory left brachial plexopathy.
Both of Sandra’s treating specialists were kind enough to address Physical Residual Functional Capacity Questionnaire forms that provided a detailed assessment of the nature and severity of Sandra’s medical conditions and the extent to which they have impacted her ability to function in a competitive work environment. Such assessments were not available at the time of the initial agency decision by Disability Determination Services out of Concord, NH. The additional treatment records, functional capacity questionnaires and a recitation to the presiding Administrative Law Judge as to the long struggle Sandra has made to continue working served to convince him that a fully favorable on the record decision (without the need to proceed to hearing) was warranted and then issued.
Pursuing a Social Security disability claim successfully, whether you reside in Maine, Massachusetts or New Hampshire, requires an understanding of both the legal process involved and the proper support for one’s claim in order to succeed. Whether your claim is out of Maine, Massachusetts or New Hampshire, finding a Social Security disability lawyer who is expert in this area of the law can serve to make all of the difference in one’s case. As one can see from the many years of success stories posted here, it can even serve to avoid the need to do go a hearing before a judge.
Thus, if you find yourself facing an uphill batter with the Social Security Administration, it is not necessary that you go it alone. Fees are only payable if and when you receive a favorable decision. Contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at 1-800-773-8622 now so we can help guide you through this complex maze of rules and regulations.