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.

 

Lawyer Matthew Lane Obtains Federal Court Judgment Awarding Client Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits Back to 2006

On March 30, 2012, United States District Judge Tucker L. Melancon issued a Judgment in favor of Plaintiff Ray Romero and against the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the “Administration”) in a lawsuit appealing the Administration’s denial of Mr. Romero’s application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB” or “disability benefits”). In the Judgment, the Court reversed the Administration’s adverse decision and ordered it to pay Mr. Romero disability benefits from his disability onset date of February 2, 2006. Mr. Romero was represented in Federal court by Matthew Lane, a Lafayette, Louisiana Social Security Disability lawyer.

Mr. Romero’s case illustrates the importance of being represented by an experienced and knowledgeable Social Security Disability lawyer when appealing a denial of disability benefits in Federal court. Mr. Romero represented himself before the Administration, including at his Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing and while appealing the ALJ’s denial to the Appeals Council. He also filed the Federal court lawsuit against the Administration on his own; however, he had problems untangling the procedural complexities of the Federal court system while also dealing with a debilitating heart problem.

When Mr. Romero first met with attorney Matthew Lane in January 2011, Mr. Romero’s lawsuit was scheduled to be dismissed in two days for failure to prosecute. Moreover, Mr. Romero’s eligibility for disability benefits had expired on June 30, 2008, which meant that the Federal court appeal was Mr. Romero’s last chance to prove that he was disabled prior to that date. In other words, had Mr. Romero’s case been dismissed from Federal court, he would never again be eligible for DIB (unless he returned to work, which is not possible due to a severe heart problem).

Once Mr. Lane began representing Mr. Romero, the first obstacle to be overcome was a motion by the Administration claiming that Mr. Romero had filed his lawsuit one day late. The Administration urged the Court to dismiss Mr. Romero’s lawsuit due to the alleged late filing. Mr. Lane was able to demonstrate multiple reasons why the lawsuit was timely filed, and the Court agreed. It denied the Administration’s motion in a decision dated June 20, 2011. Ray Romero v. Social Security Administration, CA No. 6:09-0155, 2011 WL 2634104 (W.D. La. 2011).

Thereafter, Mr. Lane filed an appeal brief with the Court demonstrating that the Administration had failed to consider significant medical evidence demonstrating that Mr. Romero had cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart) and congestive heart failure that caused him to be severely short of breath on minimal exertion. Mr. Lane further demonstrated that Mr. Romero’s condition did not significantly improve despite medical management and implantation of a pacemaker.

Based on the appeal briefs prepared and submitted by Mr. Lane, the Court found that Mr. Romero was disabled under the Social Security Act since his alleged disability onset date of February 2, 2006, and ordered the Administration to pay benefits from that date. Federal courts rarely order the Administration to pay benefits; typically, Federal courts remand cases for re-adjudication by the Administration. In 2011, for example, Federal courts ordered the Administration to pay benefits in only 3% of all Social Security cases appealed to the Federal court level.

As a result of Mr. Lane’s legal representation, Mr. Romero has been awarded over 5 years of past-due disability benefits, ongoing monthly disability benefits, and is now entitled to Medicare coverage. “Winning Ray’s disability case,” said Mr. Lane, “was the most gratifying victory of my legal career to date. I am very happy for both Ray and his family.”

Mr. Lane is the owner and managing attorney of Matthew D. Lane, Jr. and practices exclusively in the area of Social Security Disability law. Matthew D. Lane, Jr. assists individuals throughout Southwest and Central Louisiana whose applications for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits or Supplemental Security Income have been denied.

Matthew Lane Speaking at National Conference

Matthew Lane, a Social Security Disability lawyer in Lafayette, Louisiana, has been invited to speak at the Spring 2012 Social Security Disability Law Conference hosted by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR). The conference is being held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from May 2 to May 5. Matthew will be participating in a panel discussion regarding Federal court practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The discussion will focus on recent case law in the Fifth Circuit and practical techniques for litigating Social Security Disability appeals in Federal District Court. The panel discussion is currently scheduled for 2:45 p.m. on Friday, May 4, 2012, at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown.