2016 Top Lawyers of Acadiana Recognition

Acadiana Profile Magazine recently published its list of Top Lawyers of Acadiana 2016, and I was honored to be included in the field of Administrative/Regulatory Law for my representation of Acadiana residents before the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Acadiana Profile Magazine’s 2016 list of Top Lawyers includes 414 listings in 46 categories. The results are based solely on an online peer-review survey sent to all licensed lawyers in the Acadiana area.

I greatly appreciate the local lawyers who found my work worthy of recognition for the second year in a row.

ZIEGLER & LANE, LLC Changes Name to MATTHEW D. LANE, JR., LLC

I am proud to announce a change in the name of my law practice from Ziegler & Lane, LLC to Matthew D. Lane, Jr., LLC. The change was effective with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office on October 29, 2015, and will be reflected in the firm’s advertising and marketing beginning in January 2016.

My mentor and law partner, William “Bill” J. Ziegler, Jr., established this practice over many years by providing quality legal representation in the field of Social Security disability. On July 1, 2010, Bill and I formed Ziegler & Lane, LLC. Thereafter, in October 2010, Bill died at the age of 54 from pancreatic cancer. Since that time, I have honored his contributions and memory by properly operating under the name Ziegler & Lane, LLC, and by continuing to provide high-quality representation to individuals wrongfully denied disability benefits.

Over five years have now passed and for the sake of clarity and transparency, I have changed the name of the firm to Matthew D. Lane, Jr., LLC. The new name reflects my ownership but also provides clarity to prospective clients that I am the attorney personally handling their disability claims.

The firm’s address in downtown Lafayette, Louisiana as well as phone and fax numbers will remain the same. In January 2016, I will begin using the website address www.MatthewLaneLaw.com, but www.ZieglerLane.com (and associated e-mail addresses) will remain operational and will be redirected to www.MatthewLaneLaw.com for the foreseeable future. Thank you.

Admission to CAVC Bar

I received notice on August 31, 2015, of my formal admission to practice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). Being a member of the CAVC bar will enable me to help Veterans obtain judicial review of erroneous VA decisions.

Notably, before the CAVC was created in 1988, veterans had no court of law in which to appeal the Government’s decisions on veterans benefits. Veterans had no right to judicial review until passage of the Veterans Judicial Review Act in 1988.

While spreading the word that I now am representing Veterans, I’ve been asked multiple times about what drew me to the work. It was a long path yet is simply explained.

I am a veteran; I served with great people and had many formative experiences in the Army. After deploying for the first Gulf War, I was fortunate enough to return whole and to obtain an education using the G.I. Bill. I spent the next twelve years practicing law and acquiring the skills to advocate effectively for my clients. And then, in 2014, I realized that I could put my legal skills to work on behalf of my fellow Veterans. After that insight, my path forward was clear.

Less than 1% of our Nation’s population serves in the armed forces. And currently, twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day. Any observer of recent events is aware that our Nation is not fulfilling its duty to provide for those who served. I have personally represented veterans who fought for years to establish entitlement to Social Security benefits due to disabling service-related impairments caused by Agent Orange, PTSD, TBI, Gulf War Syndrome, psychiatric disorders, or traumatic physical injuries. I was outraged by the experiences my clients reported having while seeking VA benefits. Something needed to be done.

Fortunately, I have found a way to harness my angst and to apply it for the benefit of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who voluntarily serve with dedication and vigilance.

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.

 

2015 Top Lawyers of Acadiana Recognition

Acadiana Profile Magazine recently published its list of Top Lawyers of Acadiana 2015, and I was honored to be included in the field of Administrative/Regulatory Law for my representation of Acadiana residents before the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Acadiana Profile’ Magazine’s 2015 list of Top Lawyers includes 366 listings in 48 categories. The results are based solely on an online peer-review survey sent to all certified lawyers in the Acadiana area.

I greatly appreciate the local lawyers who found my work worthy of recognition. And coming across the print edition on the newsstand during a recent trip to Barnes & Noble was pure lagniappe!