According to reference.com, a pontine stroke is one that occurs in the pons, which is a portion of the brain stem. The pons, which is located between the midbrain and medulla, relays messages between the cerebral hemispheres and cerebellum. Common symptoms include double vision, dizziness, vertigo, slurred speech and imbalance.
Being disabled from a condition that is somewhat atypical may have helped one of my client’s get approved for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits. The State agency usually requires claimants to attend a consultative examination (“CE”) that its contracted doctor performs. CE opinions are almost always less supportive than treating doctor opinions.
I represent a claimant who suffered from a pontine stroke. The State agency wanted to send the claimant for a CE to Industrial Medicine Associates (“IMA”), which I objected to for several reasons. On this occasion, the State agency agreed with my request that the claimant’s treating doctor perform the CE.
The treating doctor’s CE report stated that the claimant suffered from slurred speech, imbalance, spasticity and right sided weakness, including abnormal gross and fine manipulation. The CE report also provided a less than sedentary work ability. The State agency approved SSD benefits after receiving the report.
Treating doctors frequently supply opinions that claimants possess less than sedentary work abilities to the State agency, but those opinions are usually rejected in favor of the IMA opinion, or are simply rejected on the grounds that determination of disability is for the State agency to make. It may be possible that because the claimant’s problem was somewhat unusual, IMA lacked a proper doctor to do the CE, and therefore, the State agency agreed to allow the treating doctor to do the CE.