From the Files of Powell and Denny
In this week’s “From the Files of Powell and Denny” blog, I am going briefly discuss a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits that we handled for a resident Bessemer, Alabama in Jefferson County which began in 2013 and which went through 2019 before our client was finally awarded their disability benefits.
Our client was 43 years old at the time she applied for Social Security Disability benefits and she suffered with Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety, Hypertension, a learning disability and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Given the fact our client only went to school through the 8th grade, our office scheduled her to meet with Dr. Alan Blotcky-a psychologist-for an evaluation. Dr. Blotcky corroborated the fact that our client did suffer with depression and a learning disorder and further found that her IQ was 61. Our office submitted copies of our client’s medical records from all her treating physicians and psychiatrists and a copy of Dr. Blotcky’s report and a hearing was held in 2015 before Administrative Law Judge Lisa Johnson in Birmingham at the Office of Hearing Operations. Unfortunately Judge Johnson denied the claim.
A large reason why Judge Johnson denied our client’s claim was because the judge totally discounted the findings of Dr. Blotcky-including our client’s IQ score-because the evaluation was performed after our client’s claim was filed. In doing so, on appeal we argued that by refusing to consider our client’s IQ score, Judge Johnson had failed in her responsibility to properly evaluate our client’s claim.
Given the facts in our case, Judge Johnson should have ordered her own psychological evaluation of our client, but she neglected to do so, meaning our evaluation from Dr. Blotcky was the only evidence on the record which dealt with our client’s IQ-which was a large part of our case. Furthermore, in refusing to consider the IQ score, the judge failed to recognize the fact that absent some traumatic injury-IQ scores are presumed to have manifested prior to the age of twenty-two.
Our office appealed the case to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division, and the federal court agreed with our argument and remanded the case back to Judge Johnson for another hearing. The second hearing eventually took place in 2019 and a fully favorable decision was awarded.
Appeals to the Federal Court takes a lot of time, and preparing a case to take to the U.S. District Court can be arduous, but it is something you and your attorney have to be prepared to do at the outset of your case. Yes, we try to win every case as quickly as possible, but the fact remains that many cases have to go up on appeal to the Federal Court to point out errors committed by the administrative law judge in order to obtain a favorable outcome.
So, when you are considering who to hire to help with a claim for Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, it is important to know whether the attorney or firm has experience in taking appeals to Federal Court. At Powell and Denny, both Mr. Powell and Mr. Denny have 30 years of individual experience handling Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims, not only before the administrative law judge-but also in Federal Court if necessary.
If you or a loved one lives in Alabama and you believe that you are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits as the result of some illness or injury, you do not have to take on the Social Security Administration alone. Please feel free to talk with one of the experienced Alabama Disability Attorneys at Powell and Denny today.
Free consultations are available in person; virtual appointments are also available via Zoom if more convenient for you.
Powell and Denny: We Work When You Can’t
Offices in Birmingham, AL and Huntsville, AL
Alabama Disability Attorneys
Birmingham Social Security Disability Attorneys
Hoover Social Security Disability Lawyers
Huntsville Social Security Disability Attorneys
North Alabama Social Security Disability Lawyers
Tennessee Valley Social Security Disability Lawyers
Powell and Denny have been selected as one of the Best Law Firms by U.S. News and World Report for each of the last 9 years, have been selected as one of Birmingham’s Top Lawyers by B-Metro Magazine for the last 5 years, have been selected by The National Advocates as one of the Top 20 Workers’ Compensation Firms (plaintiffs) and Powell and Denny, P.C.-has been selected as one of the “Best of the Best” law firms by The American Registry.
Mr. Denny is AV rated by Martindale Hubbard (the highest rating possible) and Mr. Powell has been rated as Superior by The National Registry
+ Powell and Denny have successfully represented injured workers from Birmingham, Huntsville, Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, Athens, Decatur, Town Creek Ardmore, Hartselle, Madison, Toney, Scottsboro, Ft. Payne, New Hope, Guntersville, Albertville, Boaz, Ashville, Anniston, Gadsden, Cullman, Jasper, Gardendale, Morris, Kimberly, Centerpoint, Leeds, Tarrant City, Fairfield, Hueytown, Bessemer, Adger, Tuscaloosa, Cordova, Alabaster, Pelham, Harpersville, Opelika, Phenix City, Montgomery, Clanton, Calera, Enterprise, Monroeville, Mobile, Evergreen, Alabaster, Pelham, Trussville and towns and cities in between.
From the Files of Powell and Denny