From 2011 to 2018, I represented a claimant through three hearings with Administrative Law Judges and two appeals with the Social Security Appeals Council until we ultimately received a fully favorable decision. Due to a number of biases and unfavorable SSA regulations, this claimant was mistreated and misjudged, but I refused to give up on her claim. Throughout those seven years, my client became homeless, moved to other states, and lost contact. I always made every effort to find her, to feed her, and even visit her when she was in the hospital. This client was one of my first disability clients, and remains the symbol of why I do this job.
Some of my most rewarding cases involve claimant’s with intellectual disabilities – I consider this one of my areas, or disabilities, of expertise. Most disability cases require longitudinal medical evidence to prove the inability to work. Yet, there is no real medical treatment for an intellectual impairment. The challenge requires me to prove the longstanding existence of this impairment, accommodated work settings, the inability to live independently, and to argue for the testing that these claimant’s deserve to prove an impairment that is invisible and unrecognizable to the average individual. These cases require a unique ability to advocate to the Judges, to help them have the same understanding of the claim.
Some of my greatest personal successes have come from representing Veterans and First Responders. Each of these selfless individuals deserve the utmost respect for their bravery and sacrifices, and their careers expose them to conditions that often lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. These claims offer a unique opportunity to talk about a claimant’s past, when most claims are focused on the present. Yet, you have to possess the skills and knowledge required to highlight for a Judge how such a condition can worsen over time, how an individual who was exposed years ago can suddenly deteriorate with a triggering event, and how when this happens, this state of mental health is often impossible to recover from to a point that an individual can return to work.