July 2017: Shawn’s Favorable Decision following Hearing out of Keene, NH and the Manchester, NH ODAR
Shawn is a former Marine combat Veteran who had served multiple tours of duty prior to becoming disabled as a result of severe orthopedic concerns that were impacting his ability to function with his arms and hands (which was causing him a great deal of pain, whether he was attempting to use his arms or not). Shawn chose to contact a NH Social Security Lawyer (with Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire offices) after he had been denied on his initial claim (filed out of the Keene, NH Social Security district office).
What Shawn did not anticipate is that Disability Determination Services (the state agency arm of the Social Security Administration responsible for obtaining his medical documentation and making an initial determination as to whether he met Social Security’s guidelines) would fail to obtain all of his prior treatment record. Likewise, Shawn remained unaware that they would not be in touch with his treatment providers so as to obtain medical opinions concerning his disabling conditions.
Shawn’s disabling medical conditions included what had been diagnosed as a severe case of bilateral thoracic outlet syndrome. Over the years, this medical condition had been misdiagnosed by a number of medical providers, as Shawn continued with his efforts to remain at work as a mechanic. Various efforts at diagnosis, including MRI studies and EMG studies failed to determine what was causing such significant problems with his neck, arms and hands. Attempts were made to decrease his work activities (by way of light duty), and to Shawn’s credit, he continued to push through the pain in an effort to remain a working individual. The evidence we were able to present showed that Shawn took multiple leaves of absence in an effort to recover through rest and activity modification. We were able to present evidence that even though Shawn had to discontinue employment altogether, he continued efforts to find new work that his medical condition might allow for, working with the New Hampshire Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (with a vocational rehabilitation counselor). Unfortunately, these efforts did not prove useful fruitful given his conditions, but it certainly evidenced Shawn’s good faith efforts at attempting to find a job while collecting unemployment benefits (and prior to applying for Social Security disability benefits).
Through our efforts, we were able to determine which treatment records were missing (which included records from more than 10 medical providers, including but not limited to multiple courses of physical therapy and occupational therapy, both before and after surgery, that were undertaken during the relevant time period, and which served to show the extent to which Shawn remained limited in terms of his ability to function during the day). Likewise, we were able to prevail upon Shawn’s orthopedic surgeon (who had performed multiple surgical procedures in an attempt to address his bilateral thoracic outlet syndrome) to address a detailed residual functional capacity questionnaire which spelled out the extent to which Shawn remained limited in terms of his ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, push, pull, and use his arms for repetitive activities (to list just a few of the areas covered by the questionnaire).
I am happy to note that the presiding Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at hearing, upon reviewing the additional evidence provided in the forms of medical records, the residual functional assessment provided by Shawn’s surgeon, and the legal brief we provided in advance of hearing, was very receptive to revisiting the prior denial (especially upon hearing from Shawn as to how his medical conditions had been impacting his physical ability to work, not to mention his mental health insofar as he had remained unable to support his family) A fully favorable decision was issued in short order following the hearing and life for Shawn and his family has changed dramatically for the better since that time.
Thus, if you or a loved one has been struggling to continue working and has found themselves in severe financial distress as a result of their inability to do so, don’t want too long before calling an experienced and aggressive Social Security lawyer. Call a Social Security lawyer who has been assisting Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire residents for 28 years: contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at 1-800-773-8622.