The assistance of an experienced disability attorney can help all applicants navigate the often lengthy and complicated process of applying for disability benefits. Here is a study of a typical disability case:
Max is a 54 year old man who is unemployed, having previously worked at a tool company for 8 years prior to termination. His current income was $104.00 weekly for unemployment compensation. He has an 11 year old son that lives with him on the weekends, and his income is supplemented with money for food stamps (SNAP).
Shortly before Max’s termination his job at the tool company, he sustained an injury doing work at home that caused severe back and shoulder pain. Because of this, he missed work in order to attend appointments with his doctor, attempting to recover from these injuries. After several months of intermittently missing work, Max was permanently terminated. Because of this, not only did Max lose his source of income, but he also lost his source of health insurance.
Max believed that his back and shoulder pain prevented him from working in any job, thus he applied for Social Security Disability benefits. While awaiting his SSA disability decision, he was sent for a consultative exam. Then, approximately six months after the date of his application, the Disability Determination Bureau (DDB) sent Max a notice denying his claim for the reason that Max was classified with having a light residual functional capacity capable of doing other work. In turn, Max filed a Request for Reconsideration and Disability Report.
In making this request, Max claimed that he had a twenty-year history of mental illness, and had been hospitalized for a suicide attempt fifteen to twenty years before. Further, Max reported that he had not received any treatment for his mental condition for the last 10 years, despite an apparent need for such treatment.
Max finally started seeing a psychiatrist and therapist, who both provided the records detailing the results of their findings to the Disability Determination Bureau. Several months later, the SSA approved SSI and SSDI benefits on Max’s behalf. The finding of the DDB was that his light RFC , coupled with his major depressive disorder, caused Max to be unable to work.
The key here is that the physical condition ALONE was insufficient to win the case. It took a combination of physical and mental impairments to result in disability. Many cases go this way. It takes a combination of physical problems (think back surgery and hand impairment) or a combination of physical and mental problems (think hip replacement and mild mental retardation) to result in a person who is simply unable to sustain competitive employment. Sometimes telling your lawyer of EVERY significant health problem is the difference between winning and losing.
For example, if all we need do is neutralize job skills to win your case, a restriction to “low stress” employment will do the trick. Why you may be limited to low stress work is the “lawyering” at work. Maybe we focus on an affective disorder (Depression) and develop the case as an inability to deal with the public, work on tight schedule, … Maybe mentally you are fine, but you have rampant hypertension and an underlying severe cardiac arrhythmia impairment. Your doctor says it is advisable for you to remain calm at all times to avoid a a heart attack stroke. You are heavily medicated on blood pressure drugs, water pills, and heart pills. So this physical impairment can easily be phrased to mean low stress work! As you can see, we literally weave together impairments and reasonable restrictions to meet your burden of proof. An experienced attorney knows how to do this seamlessly.
One of the best ways to make sure you understand all of the terminology and paperwork associated with applying for disability benefits is to retain the services of an experienced, knowledgeable, and qualified Social Security Disability attorney. Contact Sullivan Law Office today. We offer free consultations, so there is absolutely nothing to lose! Call 888-587-0228 or visit us online today!