September, 2016: Hannah’s Disability Appeal out of Malden, MA
Hannah’s Social Security disability claim remained one of the more difficult cases for the office as there was not a lot of treatment from her medical providers and, even when she did go to the doctors, the treatment notes were quite sparse in terms of describing the problems she was experiencing. Hannah is a hardworking and very kind woman in her late 50’s whose work history is spectacular: she started working back when she was a teenager and even continued working after giving birth to her daughter, and then following a heart attack around the age of 50. Her jobs consisted of work as a secretary for a manufacturing business and later on as an office manager for many years. Unfortunately, Hannah’s job as an office manager came to an end initially, not as a result of her disabling condition but rather because the demands of the office changed and they were no longer in need of an office manager.
After Hannah finished work, she applied for unemployment benefits and she avidly sought other positions during the time she was collecting a benefit check. Sad to say, Hannah was not able to locate other work and during the time she was searching for work, she began to become more distressed and stressed about her prospects. At the same time, she noticed that she was beginning to experience more and more chest pain and fatigue issues. Upon following up with her primary care physician, she was referred back to her cardiologist and an echocardiogram revealed that her heart was not working at a very high capacity. One of the measures of one’s heart is their “ejection fraction,” and ordinarily a left ventricular ejection fraction of less than 30% would result in a finding of “disabled” under Social Security’s rules. Hannah’s was noted to be in the 30 to 35% range, and thus it remained less than clear that she met one of Social Security’s Listings of Impairments. She filed her initial claim on her own through the Malden, MA Social Security Administration office and was denied on her initial claim. She then requested reconsideration on her own, and was subsequently denied once again.
Upon getting involved in Hannah’s claim and reviewing her file in preparation for hearing (her case was assigned to the Boston, MA Office of Disability Adjudication and Review), it became clear that the treating cardiologist and primary care physician were men of few words. Very little was said in the chart about objective findings on examination or of the symptoms that she was having. This posed a potential problem with pursuing the claim. We find that many times, however, obtaining a copy of one’s file through the MA Department of Transitional Assistance and the office of Disabiltiy Evaluation Services can produce a treasure trove of material. In fact, they had undertaken their own assessment of Hannah’s claim and paperwork had been filled out by Hannah’s physicians that proved to be quite helpful to her claim before the Social Security Administration. Armed with that additional material, along with additional reports we were able to obtain from her primary care physician, we were able to make evident to the presiding Administrative Law Judge that Hannah’s medical condition had remained severe and disabling. I’m sure the mere fact that Hannah had an extensive work history that spanned more than 40 years, did not hurt her cause.
Needless to say, both Hannah and I are experiencing a great sigh of relief that help has been provided to her.
If you or a loved one is in need of legal advice about your disability circumstances, don’t wait until you’ve gone through a denial of your claim. Get some free advice from a Social Security disability attorney who has been handling these matters for 27 years. Contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at 1-800-773-8622 for a no cost evaluation of your potential disability claim.