In January 2006, I applied for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits for a client who had suffered a stroke in 2003. Last October, the Social Security Administration (the “SSA”) initially denied the claim even though I secured a medical report from his doctor opining that the claimant met a “listing.” A listing is a condition that is considered so severe that the claimant is presumed to be disabled. The good news is that I submitted a brief explaining why the claimant’s application should be approved without the necessity of holding a hearing, and my request was granted. The typical wait for a hearing is close to two years.
The most significant thing about the decision concerns the onset date. The decision not only found that the claimant had been disabled since 2003, but also agreed to reopen a previously unknown application.
The claimant has memory problems as a result of his stroke, and did not recall filing for SSD benefits previously. Because of the claimant’s memory problems, I often discussed the claimant’s case with his friend, and she advised me that the claimant had filed for SSD. However, according to the SSA, they could not locate any records of a prior application.
After succeeding in expediting the scheduling of the claimant’s hearing, I prepared for the hearing by reviewing the claim file. The last piece of paper in a miscellaneous part of the claim file that is often overlooked contained a note that indicated the claimant had in fact filed an application previously, but the SSA could not locate it. I immediately brought the information about the prior application to the attention of the hearing office, which notified the Administrative Law Judge. Consequently, the claimant will now be entitled to several more years of SSD benefits.
Whenever a client has memory problems it makes sense to discuss the disability matter with a friend or relative of the claimant who can help fill in the gaps. It is also prudent to be extra careful when reviewing that client’s claim file because it may reveal helpful information which the claimant has forgotten.Previous Next
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