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.


2015 Social Security COLA Increase

On October 22, 2014, the Social Security Administration announced that a cost of living adjustment of 1.7% will go into effect on January 1, 2015.

The increase will apply to disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income (SSI) as well as retirement benefits.

The monthly maximum SSI benefit for an individual will increase from $721 in 2014 to $733 in 2015.

Another notable change on January 1, 2015, is an increase in the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax from $117,000 to $118,500.

The Social Security tax rate is current 6.2%. Taxes for Social Security are part of FICA taxes deducted from each paycheck. Note: employees pay 6.2% and employers pay an additional 6.2%, for a total of 12.4%; self-employed individuals pay the entire 12.4%.

Reduction of SSA Field Office Hours Delays Disability Decisions

On August 7, 2014, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released an Audit Report regarding the effects of SSA’s reduction in field office operating hours. As of January 2013, SSA’s field offices, which are the primary locations for the public to obtain face-to-face services from SSA, closed to the public one hour earlier each week day and every Wednesday at noon. As a result, field offices are now open to the public 27 hours per week whereas they were previously open 35 hours per week.

As a result of the reduction in hours, the OIG found that “[a]verage public wait times increased.” The average field office wait time went from 14.4 minutes in July 2011 to 30.5 minutes in November 2013 – “more than double the wait time before the reduction in hours began. “In addition, reduced hours “created customer lines out the [field office] door because of insufficient lobby seating to handle the increased visitor volume per hour. At times, visitors waited outside in the rain.”

The OIG concluded that the reduction in field office hours led to a longer wait time for decisions on disability claims during fiscal year 2013.

I echo and support the sentiments of David Cox, Sr., the President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), who, in a recent Washington Post article, called for proper funding of SSA so that Americans who have earned Social Security benefits through a lifetime of work are fairly and timely served. Individuals of retirement age or with disabilities and who have paid FICA taxes out of every paycheck to fund the Social Security system deserve better treatment from their government.