Federal Court Reverses SSA Disability Decision

Because of a recent successful Federal Court appeal by Louisiana Social Security disability attorney Matthew D. Lane, Jr., an Administrate Law Judge’s (ALJ) unfavorable decision was reversed and remanded.

 

In 2011, client applied for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income based on prior cervical spine trauma, osteophytes of the cervical spine, chronic headaches, and bilateral hand numbness and weakness. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denied his claim in 2012, and the Appeals Council did not grant review.

In 2013, attorney Matthew Lane filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on client’s behalf seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

In 2015, the Court issued a Judgment reversing the ALJ’s decision. The Court found that the ALJ did not properly evaluate the claimant’s treating source medical opinion under Myers v. Apfel, 238 F.3d 617 (5th Cir. 2001) because it did not analyze the six factors for evaluation of medical opinions in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527 (length of treatment, frequency of examination, nature and extent of relationship, support provided by other evidence, consistency of opinion with record, and specialization).

The Court further found that the ALJ did not comply with regulations requiring evaluation of the side effect of claimant’s medications, which included Methadone, Darvocet, Lortab, Neurontin, and Flexeril, on the ability to function despite an opinion from claimant’s treating doctor that he experienced drowsiness, dizziness, and delayed reaction time.

As a result of the successful Federal Court appeal, the client will have another opportunity to prove he was disabled prior to his date last insured (DLI) in 2011. And if successful, the client will be eligible to receive disability insurance benefits and Medicare rather than being restricted to receipt of supplemental security income and Medicaid.

Learn more about representation in the Federal Court appeal process or complete a claim evaluation if you need assistance appealing an unfavorable ALJ decision.

 

Louisiana Federal Court Reverses ALJ Decision

Because of a recent successful Federal Court appeal by Louisiana Social Security disability attorney Matthew D. Lane, Jr., an Administrate Law Judge’s (ALJ) unfavorable decision was reversed. Consequently, the client has the opportunity for a new hearing and retains the original alleged disability onset date.

Retention of the original alleged disability onset date is significant because if the client can prove disability at a new hearing, the client can potentially recover past-due disability benefits from that date. In contrast, had the client re-applied after receiving the unfavorable ALJ decision and not appealed, the client’s disability onset date typically would be the day following the unfavorable ALJ decision. Thus, the client could not be found disabled for the period of time covered by the unfavorable ALJ decision and past-due benefits for that period of time would not be recoverable.

Here, the client became disabled in 2008. In 2011, the client applied for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income based on cervical disc disease and hypertension. In 2012, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision, and the Appeals Council subsequently denied review.

In 2013, attorney Matthew D. Lane, Jr., filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on client’s behalf seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

In 2015, the Court issued a Judgment reversing the ALJ’s decision and provided three reasons for its decision.

First, based on MRI evidence demonstrating impingement of the spinal cord and evidence of significant problems in client’s daily functioning, the Court found that the ALJ did not properly evaluate whether client’s condition met or medically equaled a listed impairment at step three of the sequential evaluation process.

Second, the Court found that the ALJ did not properly evaluate treating source medical opinion evidence regarding client’s functional limitations under controlling law, 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c) and Social Security Ruling 96-2p.

Finally, the Court found that the ALJ’s assessment of client’s residual functional capacity (RFC) was not supported by substantial evidence.

Learn more about representation in the Federal Court appeal process or complete a claim evaluation if you need assistance appealing an unfavorable ALJ decision.

 

Tenacity in the Social Security Disability Appeal Process

Recent favorable outcomes demonstrate that Matthew D. Lane, Jr., has the experience and tenacity to prevail during the long and complex Social Security disability appeal process.

Matthew D. Lane, Jr. recently obtained long-overdue disability benefits for a client out of work since 2007 with multiple impairments, including bipolar disorder, who filed a disability insurance claim in 2008. We obtained a medical source statement (MSS) from client’s treating psychiatrist indicating his impairments precluded sustained employment, but an administrative law judge (ALJ) nonetheless denied the claim in 2011. We appealed, and in 2013, a United States District Court reversed the ALJ’s decision. In 2014, a second ALJ found our client disabled based on the opinions of the client’s treating psychiatrist.

In 2015, over seven years after leaving work and due to our diligent representation, the client received past-due Social Security disability insurance benefits (DIB) totaling over one-hundred thousand dollars.

Similarly, in late 2014, Matthew D. Lane, Jr. obtained a fully favorable ALJ decision for a client with femoroacetabular impingement syndrome (FAI), lumbar disc problems, central canal stenosis, and lumbar radiculopathy. The client left work in 2010, and an ALJ issued an unfavorable ALJ decision in 2011. We appealed, and in early 2014, a U.S. District Court reversed the ALJ’s decision. The favorable outcome was again due in part to a MSS obtained by Matthew D. Lane, Jr.

 

In late 2014, Matthew D. Lane, Jr. helped a client with inflammatory arthritis in multiple joints obtain a fully favorable ALJ decision following a successful appeal to the Appeals Council. The client left work as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) due to arthritis and filed a claim for benefits in 2011; an ALJ denied her claim in 2013, and we appealed. Key evidence in the case included a MSS we obtained from client’s treating rheumatologist.

When Matthew D. Lane, Jr. has a legitimate basis to believe an individual’s due process rights were violated and that SSA wrongfully denied a disability claim, we appeal for as long as it takes to obtain the benefits to which the individual is legally entitled. We have the required skills and experience to represent individuals at all levels of the administrative appeals process (ALJ hearings & Appeals Council) and in U.S. District Court.

 

The Federal government and the Social Security Administration (SSA) have nearly unlimited money, time, and resources to expend when denying your Social Security disability claim and oppose your appeal. When hiring a lawyer to handle your disability appeal, consider whether the lawyer has the ability to represent you at all levels of appeal, including in U.S. District Court. Also evaluate whether the lawyer has demonstrated the tenacity to stick with a case for as long as it takes because unfortunately, in some cases, applying for and obtaining Social Security disability insurance benefits or Supplemental Security Income can take several years and multiple appeals.

Learn more about attorney Matthew Lane or submit a free claim evaluation.

 

Favorable ALJ decision under Grid Rules

In an application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) before the Social Security Administration (SSA), Matthew D. Lane, Jr. recently obtained a fully-favorable administrative law judge (ALJ) decision for a 53 year-old, female client with multiple spinal impairments, including a herniated lumbar disc contacting a nerve root and prior cervical fusion surgery, 

“Now, because of Matthew D. Lane, Jr., my life has meaning and I can . . . live and have money to live with.” she wrote.

Based in part on a medical source statement (MSS) we obtained from client’s treating orthopedic surgeon and a pre-hearing memorandum submitted on client’s behalf, the ALJ issued a favorable decision several days after client’s hearing finding her disabled under the Medical-Vocational Guidelines (20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).

“I was very pleased,” she wrote, “because of Matthew D. Lane, Jr., I was able to get my case settled very fast.” It was heartening to see the system work properly for a woman who spent the last 20 years laboring and paying for Social Security Disability Insurance coverage that she so desperately needed once injured.

SSA Critical Case Procedures Worked

Last week, just forty-two days after being retained as counsel, I obtained a fully-favorable, on the record decision from an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for a client diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic lung cancer.

Our client originally applied, without representation, for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) due to a brain aneurysm, and after receiving an initial denial by the State agency, client was diagnosed with lung cancer. Our client was understandably overwhelmed by the diagnosis and consulted Matthew D. Lane, Jr. to see what could be done to get help quickly.

After meeting with the client, I obtained updated treatment records, payroll records, and an opinion letter (medical source statement) from the treating doctor. I submitted these materials to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, along with a letter requesting expedited handling of the case, including a request for classification of his case as a critical TERI case and for a compassionate allowance.

The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) special procedures for handling of critical cases, such as advanced stage lung cancer, worked as intended in this case. Forty-two days after meeting the client, we received a fully-favorable, on the record decision from the ALJ.

Due to my experience and knowledge of SSA’s complex regulations, I was able to my client in obtaining an expedited decision and payment of benefits from SSA, and as a result, the client has been able to focus on matters of larger concern.

SSA and the ALJ’s handling of this case were extraordinary; I was very pleased to see the critical case procedures work as intended for a client who required rapid assistance.

To have your disability case reviewed by an experienced attorney familiar with SSA’s regulations and procedures, submit a claim evaluation.