Case Study-SSDIB Claim
In late 2019, I presented to a Social Security Judge in Alpharetta, my client (we will call him John Black). He was over 55 years old and had multiple back surgeries that left him with the residual condition called degenerative disc disease at multiple levels in his spine. He also had a depressive disorder and a general anxiety.
His work history of 20 years was described correctly as sit-down work or sedentary work, the lowest form of employment. An FCE with this work residual makes it very difficult to win a case. But the Judge took seriously the psychological condition of my client, realizing he had constant and unrelenting low back pain that compounded his fragile psychological condition. The Judge stated: “due to the effects of the (client's) pain and depression on his ability to concentrate and maintain regular attendance, he would be off task 20% of an eight hour workday or would miss more than three days of work per month.” The Vocational Evaluator then testified that there was no work my client could perform if he were absent to this extent.
We were able to obtain extensive psychological records from my client's treating psychologist and we were able to ask the psychologist for her opinion based upon this treatment. As a result, the Judge was persuaded to award benefits.
Interestingly, the Government's psychologist (Consultative Examiner) declared my client with only having mild limitations in his mental functioning. However, the Judge stated “this is inconsistent with the mental health treatment records provided by the claimant's treating psychologist, which were found to be more persuasive as they take into account the claimant's pain in addition to limitation due to psychological symptoms, and are supported by relevant evidence and are consistent with the record as a whole.”
This documentation is all part of development of the entire medical record which is extremely important in close cases. Again, it is important to emphasize that my client was found to be able to function at a sedentary level but for his psychological condition, which was real, truthful, serious and had quite an impact on his day to day life. This is how we win a case based upon the entire medical/psychological record.
Practice area(s): Social Security Disability