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From the Files of Powell and Denny

From the Files of Powell and Denny

In this week’s “From the Files of Powell and Denny” blog, I am reviewing a Social Security Disability claim we had in North Alabama.

Our client lived in Limestone County, Alabama, and in 2003 he suffered a back injury after falling from a ladder at work and had to have surgery to try and repair a herniated disc at L4-5; our client also had multiple disc bulges as a result of this job injury.  After surgery our client returned to work, but he suffered a second back injury which required further surgery; afterwards he was suffering from constant and chronic pain because he had developed epidural fibrosis.  He was referred to a pain management doctor (a physiatrist) and was prescribed Hydrocodone, Celebrex, Ambien, Prilosec, was given a TENS Unit and was prescribed a home traction unit and told to use it 3 times a day.  He was unable to continue to perform his job duties and he applied for Social Security Disability benefits but was denied.  At that time, he hired our firm.

In 2007 a hearing was held before administrative law judge Patrick Digby, but Judge Digby denied our client’s claim, saying that “After considering the evidence of record, the undersigned finds that the claimant’s medically determinable impairment could reasonably be expected to produce the alleged symptoms; however, the claimant’s statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of these symptoms are not credible to the extent they are inconsistent with the residual functional capacity assessment…[because] they medical records fail to document a sufficient objective basis to accept the claimant’s allegations resulting in functional limitations as wholly credible….”  The administrative law judge ruled that our client could perform sedentary work and opined that the pain he testified that he was experiencing was not as bad as our client said it was; we appealed the case to Federal Court in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Northeastern Division.

We argued that Judge Digby misapplied the pain standard used in Social Security Disability cases, and failed to respond to the vocational expert’s hearing testimony that if our client had to lie on the floor to use a traction unit during work hours, he would be unable to maintain steady employment.  The United States District Court judge ruled in our favor and sent the case back to the administrative law judge for a second hearing, centered on our complaints.

A second hearing was conducted in 2011, and at this hearing Judge Digby had a medical doctor present to offer testimony given our facts.  On cross examination, the medical expert testified that our client met Listing 1.04, yet Judge Patrick Digby again denied the claim, and once again we were forced to take the case to Federal Court.  This time, the Federal Judge fully reversed the findings of Judge Digby and awarded our client Social Security Disability benefits from 2006 to 2013 (when the reversal was rendered).  It took 7 years of fighting to win, but thanks to our client’s perseverance and his refusal to give up, he was eventually able to win the benefits he was legally entitled to receive.

The simple fact is that there are judges employed by the Social Security Administration who deny most of the cases they hear, which means that the lawyer you hire to represent you during your hearing not only has to be knowledgeable in how best to present your case, but they also have to know how to preserve issues for appeal and how to effectively present your legal arguments to the Federal Court should your claim be denied.

At Powell and Denny, both Mr. Powell and Mr. Denny have 30 years of individual experience handling Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim, 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 you are disabled and are entitled to Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, 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, or virtually through Zoom, so you can meet with a lawyer from the comfort of your home.

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

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

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