From the Files of Powell and Denny
In this week’s “From the Files of Powell and Denny” blog, we will review a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits that we handled for one of our clients who lived in Madison County, AL.
Our client was a younger adult-26 years old at the time of her application for disability benefits in 2011. This is an important factor because individuals between the ages of 18-49 are legally classified as being a “Younger Individual,” and if said person is capable of maintaining sedentary work-they are not deemed to be disabled and therefore entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. We knew that our client’s age would be a detriment, but we believe her medical problems associated with her brittle diabetes (including generalized anxiety disorder, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathy, bouts with diabetic ketoacidosis, end organ damage, diabetic gastroparesis, periodontal disease and foot problems associated with plaintiff’s uncontrolled diabetes) were severe enough to prevent her from being capable of maintaining steady employment.
In preparing for our client’s hearing, we obtained medical records from Huntsville Hospital, Retina Specialist and the Community Free Clinic, Chi Memorial Hospital, Erlanger Medical Center and The Wound Care Clinic, and these records reflected that our client’s uncontrollable diabetes had led to various bouts of diabetic ketoacidosis and foot infections, steadily worsening eyesight and evidence of end organ damage. We believed we had a strong case when we had a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Patrick Digby in 2013-but we also knew that Judge Digby has a record of denying most of the cases before him. After spending a good amount of time preparing our client for her hearing, she did a great job, testifying that she can only be on her feet for 2 hours out of an 8-hour day due to her foot pain; that when her blood sugar goes too high, she suffers with blurry vision, fatigue, that she cramps up and that it is difficult to keep her mind on what she is doing. During periods where her blood sugar drops, she just wants to curl up and sleep. She testified that she has had to have 9 teeth removed due to continued gum infections and has stomach problems due to her diabetic gastroparesis. Unfortunately, this was not enough for Judge Digby, and he denied our appeal.
Our office immediately appealed the case to the Appeals Council in Virginia, and when they summarily denied our appeal, we filed a Federal lawsuit claiming that the Social Security Administration-though Judge Patrick Digby- failed to consider all the relevant medical evidence and that in denying our client’s claim for disability benefits, he used the wrong standard. Judge Digby had evaluated our client’s case under an old Listing instead of the one that was in effect at the time our client applied for disability benefits.
The judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama agreed with our argument, and reversed and remanded Judge Digby’s decision, and a second hearing was held in 2016. This time, Judge Digby awarded our client the disability benefits she was entitled to receive on the record.
This review shows that while it is legally more difficult to obtain Social Security Disability benefits if you are classified as a “Younger Individual,” it is obtainable with the right representation, and if you don’t give up and have the perseverance to continue fighting for your disability benefits when you are denied benefits, a successful outcome is achievable, but you have to be prepared for a long fight which could lead to a federal lawsuit.
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 and included in the list as one of the Mid-South’s Super Lawyers.
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 disability clients 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