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Susan O’Malley’s Social Security Decision Ten year Anniversary

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2016 | Firm News

Susan O’Malley’s Social Security Decision Ten year Anniversary


In 2006 our office successfully defended the decision to approve Social Secuirty Disability benefits for our client by a Federal District Court Judge. 453 F.3d 559 (4th Cir. 2006).  

Our client suffered from sickle cell disease. This disease can cause many different problems such as joint pain, fatigue and even damage organs in some cases. The Administrative Law Judge denied Mr. Hines benefits finding that since he had no organ damage from his sickle cell disease it could not be as severe as he claimed. That finding was not consistent with the law, so out office appealed the denial from Social Security. The District Court Judge and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that the law allows an individual to prove the severity of their medical condition through testimony once the medical condition has been established by appropriate diagnosis. The decision also held that the hypothetical questions to a vocational expert in a hearing had to contain all of the relevant limitations supported by the record in order to sustain a denial. 

Susan O’Malley argued before a panel of judges at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The judges, through their written decision, in Hines v. Barnhart confirmed a standing Federal Court case that subjective evidence (testimony of the claimant and witnesses) could be used to support a finding of disability based on the pain and limitations that a medical condition causes. We and other attorneys continue to use the law confirmed in Hines v. Barnhart to help our clients in appealing denied cases.

We find that quite often once a doctor has made a diagnosis they do not need to ask about all of the limitations it causes because they are only concerned with the treatment or maintenance of a condition.   The doctor understands what the patient is telling him. However, when the words fine or okay appear in a medical record the Judge may assume that means you are having no problems from your conditions. This makes it important to always tell your doctor what your limitations are so that the medical records are consistent with your testimony.

We are proud of Susan and that our office has been able to help not only our client but also those who came after by confirming the case law that testimony is a means of proving disability that is caused by pain.  What a great time of the year to discuss the true benefit of Susan O’Malley’s Social Security Decision Ten year Anniversary!


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