Friday, April 8, 2011

Seven Year Wait Over

I was asked by another attorney to take over the Social Security Disability (“SSD”) case of a 52 year old Salvadoran aircraft plater who speaks very little English and has no formal education. The U.S. District Court granted my summary judgment motion, and remanded the case back to Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Seymour Rayner.

The claimant had applied for SSD benefits in 2004, and had treated with various specialists for his lumbar radiculopathy since that time. Eventually, the claimant continued his treatment with his internist only when it was determined that there was little else his other doctors could do to improve his condition.

At the remanded hearing, among other things, I pointed out that the ALJ had previously been under the mistaken impression that the claimant’s internist was a chiropractor, which resulted in his opinion being given less weight. This time, the ALJ gave great weight to the internist’s opinion because he had been treating the claimant since 2004. Today I received a fully favorable decision from ALJ Rayner.

It is possible that had the mistake been brought to the ALJ’s attention upon reviewing the original decision, then the ALJ may have been persuaded to conduct a supplemental hearing to correct the error. As it stands, the claimant had to wait nearly three years for a decision from (a) the Appeals Council, which was a denial and the point at which I took over the case, and (b) federal court, which remanded the decision.

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