September, 2016: Yolanda’s Social Security Disability Claim out of the Manchester, NH Hearing Office
Yolanda’s Social Security disability claim involves that of a hard working woman in her mid-forties who has shown she has done everything possible to remain working despite a whole host of medical problems that have plagued her over the years. At the time of her application, Yolanda had been attempted to work for the last 2 years a job that involved very few hours per week and very little income. Unfortunately for Yolanda, she had not sought the advice of a Social Security disability lawyer in her area and as a result, she ended up losing substantial benefits by waiting as long as she did to apply. It is important to remember that Social Security disability insurance benefits are only payable going 1 year back from the date of one’s filing. By the time Yolanda finally did apply for benefits, it was 3 years after she last worked at a gainful level, working as a cleaning supervisor: the whole host of medical problems at that point in time had required her to discontinue this line of work, but as the medical records and her additional attempts at work did ultimately make clear, her “disabled” status from working any job on a regular basis really began at that time.
Yolanda, upon having to discontinue her very part-time employment, attempted to file for benefits on her own by initiating an application out of the Manchester, NH Social Security district office. Her disabling conditions include that of degenerative disk disease of both her neck and her back, ankylosing spondylitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, anemia, lupus, autoimmune hepatitis and enteropathic arthritis with related irritable bowel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. Given the fact that no medical providers had been asked to address the nature and severity of her condition in medical questionnaires in a manner that would address to which extent each of her long-term conditions had remained severe and disabling for longer than a year, she was denied on her initial application following a review by Disability Determination Services of out Concord, NH.
Yolanda contacted our office upon being denied at the initial level, and because her claim was out of New Hampshire, it was necessary that we file on her behalf a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). As a first order of business, we sought to obtain an opinion from Yolanda’s long-term treating rheumatologist at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center who had undertaken extensive testing to determine the cause of her ongoing joint problems which were hindering her ability to function, as well as the bowel problems she was correspondingly experiencing. It was important that we spell out for the ALJ hearing her claim the extent to which there had been periods of time when her bowel problems had remained severe and disabling, and then, likewise, focus on the other, very disabling aspect of her condition, and that was the orthopedic problems she was continuing to experience as a result of her degenerative disk disease issues and ankylosing spondylitis (which was affecting the majority of her joints). As the two were intertwined, with one condition flaring up as the other condition was being treated effectively, it was important to spell out just how long Yolanda’s improvement would last (and how the improvement itself did not allow for sufficient consistency of function, day in and day out, that she could be performing a job on a regular 8 hour per day, 5 days per week basis). It was important to show the presiding ALJ that some of her conditions simply never improved to the point where she could function meaningfully on a consistent basis in a competitive work environment.
Thus, Yolanda, following her testimony at hearing, was awarded a fully favorable decision which provided her with benefits going back 1 year prior to the date of her initial filing.
Yolanda’s case is a prime example of how important it is to get the advice of a Social Security disability attorney early on: had she known of her rights under the Social Security Act, she would have filed her claim years earlier, at the point in time she could no longer make it to a job on a regular, daily basis. Thus, if you or someone you care about is struggling to go to work as a result of severe medical condition, and their efforts at treatment are simply not working, contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at (800) 773-8622 to find out how our advice can help move you or your loved one onto the right track: whether it be with suggestions for other types of treatment, other types of jobs that might be more suitable, or, if necessary, with an application for Social Security disability benefits.