Friday, September 2, 2011

Mixed Connective Tissue Disease

I represent an industrial salesman from Oregon whose application for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits was denied on June 16, 2011 by the State agency on the grounds that the claimant was expected to get better within 12 months. On that same date, I filed an on-the-record (“OTR”) request for a fully favorable decision, which Social Security approved on August 25, 2011.

The claimant was diagnosed with mixed connective tissue disease (“MCTD”). According to the Mayo Clinic, MCTD is an uncommon autoimmune disorder that causes overlapping features of primarily three connective tissue diseases — lupus, scleroderma and polymyositis, and it also may have features of rheumatoid arthritis.

I was able to avoid a hearing for the claimant by showing that he met a “listing” covering MCTD. Under Ninth Circuit law, if a claimant meets the criteria of listing 14.06, then the impairments are considered severe enough that they presumptively preclude any gainful work activity. I obtained a letter from the claimant’s doctor detailing how the claimant met the medical criteria that are listed in 14.06. The OTR then explained how the doctor’s finding and conclusions matched the listing’s criteria.

A medical opinion that a claimant meets a listing is the best type of evidence that can be used to establish entitlement to SSD benefits. Proving that a claimant meets a listing is the best argument to espouse on an OTR. Avoiding a hearing means the claimant need not deal with the stress of a hearing, improves the claimant’s cash flow, and can reduce the claimant’s attorney fee.

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