Social Security must consider Claimant's Medications and GAF (global assessment of functioning) score in determining their disability. After our client's case was denied by the Administrative Law Judge and again by the Appeal's Counsel, Susan O'Malley determined our client's case had merit and filed suit against the Social Security Administration.
Our entire office would like to wish our clients, staff and the communities in which we work a safe and happy Holiday. Please be extra vigilant this time of year due to busy roads and dangerous stores. We hope to see you all doing well in the new year. Holiday Wishes from Susan and Joe
Recently Joe Tunstall successfully argued a Social Security case that had been worked on by Susan O'Malley and Amos Waranch in front of Federal District Court Judge Terrence Boyle who found that an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing Social Security Disability cases must look at whether a claimant can perform a full range of work; which includes the ability to walk 6 hours out of an 8 hour day for light work. Lyons v. Colvin 4:12 CV 210. Susan and Maisey at Wags 4 Tags Judge Boyle determined that the ALJ erred when he failed to give any consideration for the lack of ability to walk for any considerable distance. In fact, the fact that the claimant could only walk for six minutes without getting short of breath was not considered relevant by the ALJ. Clearly this "walking test" given by the treating physician was relevant to the client being able to walk for 6 hours per day. Judge Boyle found that as the claimant could not perform light work, then under the law the claimant was disabled and ordered benefits. Susan and Amos have many hours trying, appealing and briefing the issues for this client. This case is ongoing and could, like Hines v. Barnhart, be appealed by the Government.
Recently Joe Tunstall successfully argued a Social Security case that had been worked on by Susan O'Malley and Amos Waranch in front of Federal District Court Judge Terrence Boyle who found that an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing Social Security Disability cases must take into account witness statements and medication side effects when deciding permanent restrictions. Boddie v. Colvin 4:12 CV 221 Judge Boyle determined that the ALJ erred when failing to even discuss the testimony of third parties and explain why the testimony was or was not given weight. Judge Boyle used a case that Susan O'Malley had argued before him in 2005 called Hines v. Barnhart (upheld by the 4th Circuit) to determine that the vocational expert must be given a hypothetical that clearly sets out all the claimant's impairments and cannot merely "pick and choose" the what information will be asked of the expert. This case is ongoing and could, like Hines v. Barnhart, be appealed by the Government. Injury Lawyer -- Joe Tunstall
Wags 4 Tags a great organization that raises money to have shelter dogs trained to work with veterans with PTSD is having a fundraiser at Doherty's Irish Pub on July 20th beginning at 2pm. Live music from 6 bands. Doherty's is located at 1979 High House Rd, Cary, NC. Please come out and help raise money for our veterans with PTSD. Our own Susan O'Malley is a member of Wags 4 Tags and encourages participation in this wonderful program.
Loose a Social Security Disability decision? Should youAppeal An Unfavorable Decision? If you have been denied Social Security benefits at the hearing level the case can be appealed to the Appeals Council. The council will look at several factors when reviewing an appeal. They will look to see if there was an abuse of discretion by the judge. The will review the case to see if an error of law was made. They will look to see if the finding and conclusions in the decision are supported by substantial evidence. They will consider policy and procedural issues. They will also consider new and material evidence of disability if it relates back to the time period before the decision was made. 20 CFR §404.970. Susan O'Malley Board Certified Disability Specialist There are only 60 days after a denial in which to submit an appeal. An extension to file can be requested. Partially favorable decisions can be appealed as well. However, if appealed, the Appeals Council will review the entire decision not just the parts you object to. This means the Appeals Council will determine whether any benefits should have been granted at all. At the present time, you have to choose whether to appeal or file a new application. You will generally not be allowed to do both. We handle our clients appeals to the Appeals Council but rarely take an appeal we could not build the underlying record. Call us early and before an unfavorable decision. We cal often help. 800 755 1987. O'Malley Tunstall Social Security
Social Security Disability, SSI What You Hear and What is Real. There continues to be a lot in the news about the problems with Social Security disability system. The news is telling the public that the system is too lax and granting too many cases. I have been practicing in this area for eighteen years. My experience is just the opposite. Social Security has become even stricter and is granting fewer cases that it did when I started. Let's look at some facts about Social Security. The average case in the Raleigh hearing office takes 420 days to be processed. The processing time in Greensboro hearing office is 498 days. The processing time for the Charlotte hearing office is 461 days. Many beneficiaries are terminally ill - about 1 in 5 males and 1 in 6 females die within 5 years of receiving benefits. This is not an easy process and it clearly is not quick. People would not wait for this benefit if they had any other choice. The reason for the growth in the number of claims and the length of the processing time is primarily due to the aging of baby boomers and the large scale entry of women into the work force in recent decades causing more people to need and qualify for disability. The media has ignored that there a Social Security judges around the country with very low approval rates. There is even a judge with an approval rate of only 4%. When you look at the whole picture, where Social Security is now makes sense. There are always changes necessary for any program to continue. However, making an already strict system even stricter is not the answer. If you are disabled and unable to work, or becoming unable to work, call us; we will be glad to answer your questions. O'Malley Tunstall
Social Security needs to gather quite a bit of information when they take a disability application from you. Our office can help you submit an application based on you work history and we would need the same information. Meet Susan O\'Malley, head of our Social Security Section. Social Security Administration (SSA) needs accurate contact information. This includes your mailing address and a phone number where you can be reached. SSA will need your work history for the last fifteen years before you stopped work due to your disability. You must include the name and address of the employer and your job title. SSA will also require a description of what you did on each job. SSA will need to know what the highest grade you completed in school. They will need the contact information for any healthcare provider that treats you for you health problems. This will include the doctor's name address and phone number. SSA will also need to know what the doctor treats you for and how long you have gone to that doctor. Social Security will need the list of medications you currently take. They will need the name of the medicine, the dose, what it does and who prescribes it to you. SSA will need to know about any marriages and divorces. They will want to know that date on which your medical conditions stopped you form working. This date may be different from the date the condition began. Susan board certified disability specialist Social Security will also need a brief description of how your health condition limits you ability to function. Social Security uses this information to determine whether you are unable to work on a full-time basis based on your age, education, skills form past work and the limitations caused by your health condition. It will help the application process go smoother if you already have this information gathered. Our social security attorneys have provided a list of the above.
Witnesses Will Help Your Social Security Disability Case When you go before a disability judge, also known as an Administrative Law Judge or ALJ, you will have the opportunity to tell your story about why you are disabled and cannot work. But it's not just up to you! Of course the experienced disability attorneys at O'Malley Tunstall can help you put on the best case possible and ask all the right questions, but your spouses, friends, family, children, case managers, former employers, and other people who know about your disabling conditions can also testify on your behalf. And it can really help your case! In fact, the disability judge is required by Federal law to listen to your witnesses, and the judge must take their opinions into account when making the decision about your disability. Always continue to treat and follow your doctors advice. Evidence from non-medical sources including "spouses, parents and other caregivers, siblings, other relatives, friends, neighbors, and clergy" is explicitly allowed to "show the severity of your impairment(s) and how it affects your ability to work." 20 C.F.R. § 404.1513(d); see also, 20 C.F.R. § 416.913(d). "Because symptoms, such as pain, are subjective and difficult to quantify, any symptom-related functional limitations .... other persons report, which can reasonably be accepted as consistent with the objective medical evidence" must be considered in the ultimate disability conclusion. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529(c). The ALJ may only reject lay testimony regarding functional limitations "by giving specific reasons germane to each witness." Glover v. Astrue, 835 F.Supp. 1003 (9th Cir. 2011)(quoting, Reginnitter v. Commissioner, 166 F.3d 1294, 1298 (9th Cir. 1999)). The sufficiency of the reasons given "will depend on the thoroughness with which the ALJ conducts and discusses his or her evaluation of the evidence." Id. "The rejection of the testimony of the claimant's family members because the claimant's medical records did not corroborate her fatigue and pain violates SSR 88-13, which directs the ALJ to consider the testimony of lay witnesses where the claimant's alleged symptoms are unsupported by her medical records." Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1289 (9th Cir. 1996). What this law means is that your disability judge must consider testimony from your lay witnesses. If the witnesses' testimony is consistent with the medical evidence, the disability judge can only reject the testimony if he has good, specific, germane reasons that he explains thoroughly. If you have questions about lay witness testimony in your disability case or have any other questions about disability, call or email our firm. One of our disability lawyers Susan O'Malley, Joseph Tunstall, or Amos Waranch will be in contact with you shortly.
How Does Social Security, SSI Disability Look at Fibromyalgia? Social Security bases a lot of their evaluation of fibromyalgia on a person's medical treatment. A doctor needs to have reviewed the person's medical history, examined the person and done sufficient testing to eliminate other possible medical conditions that could be causing a patient's symptoms. SSR 12-2p. The medical records need to document a history of widespread pain and there needs to be at least 11 out of 18 tender points found on examination. SSR12-2p. They will also consider the presence of other symptoms often associated with fibromyalgia such as fatigue; cognitive problems; memory problems; difficulty sleeping; depression; anxiety; or irritable bowel syndrome.SSR 12-2p. Susan O'Malley board certified social security disability specialist Social Security is trying to determine whether the symptoms of Fibromyalgia interfere will a person's ability to work on a regular and continuous basis. Social Security defines a regular and continuous basis as eight hours a day five days a week or an equivalent schedule. SSR 96-8p. It may be helpful to keep a diary of the Fibromyalgia flare-ups. This diary can be shared with the doctor to let them know how the symptoms fluctuate. It may help with treatment. It can also be submitted to Social Security as evidence of how often Fibromyalgia would interfere with a person's ability to go to work. If the Fibromyalgia has resulted in depression or anxiety, it would be helpful to seek treatment from a mental health professional. A mental health professional's insight into the depression or anxiety can also be helpful in understanding why the symptoms interfere with a person's ability to work. Maintaining continuous treat to the best of your ability is also recommended. Fibromyalgia is largely evaluated on the basis of medical records. If there is less treatment, it can make establishing disability more difficult. If you have suffered with fibromyalgia and can no longer work, call O'Malley Tunstall today to speak with someone on Susan O'Malley's team.