Fortunately, disability is sometimes temporary

Young woman was granted benefits for a “closed period” after a terrible car accident that resulted in life-threatening injuries requiring helicopter transport to a regional trauma center. The good news is that she recovered from the accident.  But her recovery process lasted 12 months. Social Security benefits are available when a person is unable to work for at least 12 months. And we at Roose & Ressler were pleased to help prove that she was disabled during the 12-month recovery period.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Finding missing school records wins Lorain County woman’s disability claim

Woman with tested low intelligence found disabled after administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing because she meets a medically listed impairment that requires lifelong intellectual disability supported by I.Q. test scores and the presence of another functionally limiting medical problem.  When she came to Roose & Ressler after being denied twice by Social Security, we saw that Social Security had failed to obtain her school records.  We got them, and they contained the needed I.Q. tests to show that the low intelligence was lifelong. 

Social Security recently followed changes in the psychiatric diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals in changing the language it uses to describe low intelligence conditions from “mental retardation” to “intellectual disability.”

Posted in Uncategorized |

Treating doctor opinions key to winning case for young man after a failed back surgery

A Lorain County man with continuing chronic back pain after a failed back surgery recently found disabled by an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ found that he would be unable to sit and stand long enough to do any kind of a full-time job. This man was very motivated to try to work to support his young family and attempted to return to work but could not sustain it even part-time. As with any kind of a pain case, it was critical to obtain opinions about his limitations from his treating doctors. Social Security’s rules give preference to opinions from treating doctors, who are most likely to understand their patients’ limitations the best.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Persistence and effective representation pays off for man finally granted disability

An older, illiterate Mansfield-area man came to us for help when he was denied after an administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing several years ago. The judge found that he could still do the kind of work he had done in the past despite severe breathing and heart conditions and back pain. His previous attorney referred him to us. We took his case to federal court. We also advised him to file a new application. He won benefits on his second application, after we represented him at an ALJ hearing. On his first application, we persuaded the court that the ALJ had not investigated how this man actually performed his past work. The court sent it back for another ALJ hearing to consider this issue and others. At that hearing, the ALJ agreed that he could not perform his past work or other work, considering his age and limitations. We were able to help him get additional years of disability benefits that he deserved.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Woman with Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome granted disability by Cleveland ALJ

Young Lorain area woman with chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) found disabled by administrative law judge because of severe and persistent pain. CRPS is an uncommon disorder that is often connected to a surgery or injury. Obtaining the opinion from her treating pain management specialist about the effect that her pain had on her ability to concentrate to perform work activities despite strong pain medications was especially important to winning her case. CRPS was formerly known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD).

Posted in Uncategorized |

Cleveland area man gets a new hearing on his disability because the hearing judge did not show the attorney key evidence

A 55-year-old former painter from the west side of Cleveland, Ohio, has been given another chance to prove his disability. The Appeals Council, the highest part of the Social Security Administration’s system for deciding disability appeals, recently overturned a decision by an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ after the hearing had obtained more evidence from the vocational (job) expert who had testified at the hearing. The ALJ did not show attorney Roose, as the disabled person’s attorney, the evidence. The attorney had no chance to prove that the evidence was unreliable.  At the new hearing, the former painter and his attorney will have a full opportunity to prove disability.

ALJs now decide a high volume of cases, often 50-60 each month, Mistakes are inevitable at that pace. Mistakes often hurt truly disabled people. With careful representation, many of those mistakes can be corrected, but delay itself hurts impoverished claimants. In this case, the ALJ found that the claimant suffered from severe degenerative disc disease, back pain, coronary artery disease with stents, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, retinal hemorrhage, and depression.  After years of work as a painter, paying in to Social Security, the claimant finally had to apply for disability in 2009. He is married and has two teenage boys. His wife cannot work after back surgery. They have had to borrow money to survive.  It will be difficult to wait through another appeal.

Congress should adequately fund Social Security staffing to reduce mistakes and delays.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Child with hydrocephalus, seizures, and blindness in one eye awarded child’s SSI disability

A Cleveland, Ohio, administrative law judge (ALJ) of the Social Security Administration recently found a child disabled by a combination of several medical problems and granted disability benefits. The child’s mother testified at a hearing that was held by video conference from the Lorain, Ohio, office of Roose & Ressler.  “The judge considered the child’s limited ability to move about and manipulate objects, and overall health and physical well-being,” said attorney Kirk Roose.  “The SSI award can bring up to $710 per month to help the family deal with the special needs of this child.”

Posted in Uncategorized |

Another disability grant by a Northern Ohio Social Security disability judge

A disabled person recently went to an administrative hearing in Cleveland, Ohio, where her attorney presented her case to an ALJ (administrative law judge). The ALJ agreed that she had been disabled since even before she applied.  The ALJ considered the evidence of her Bipolar Disorder, borderline personality disorder, osteoarthritis, and foot problems. The claimant was represented by attorney Kirk Roose of Roose & Ressler.  “We work hard to get the case together and to get you ready,” said Roose.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Client of Roose & Ressler with serious mental health problems is awarded Social Security disability benefits despite recent drug problems

Roose & Ressler won disability benefits recently for an individual who was disabled by Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, Panic Disorder, and Depression.  “The Administrative Law Judge looked past the individual’s recent heroin addiction and found the mental health problems disabling,” said disability attorney Kirk Roose. “The disability benefits will help our client to start a new life after drugs, and maybe even qualify for Section 8 housing.”

Posted in Uncategorized |

Federal judge orders Ohio to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages; possible implications for Social Security benefits for some Ohio residents

Until recently, federal law did not recognize same-sex marriages for purposes of Social Security benefits that depend on marriage. Then the Supreme Court of the United States invalidated part of DOMA (“Defense Of Marriage Act”) on June 26, 2013, in a case called United States v. Windsor. Full rights (and some liabilities) under Social Security became available to same-sex couples who married and lived in states that recognize same-sex marriage.

But what about states that do not allow same-sex marriages to be performed, like Ohio?

It was not clear how the Windsor case would affect people in Ohio, where same-sex couples cannot marry, and where even valid same-sex marriages performed in other states are not recognized. Most Social Security benefits, in determining whether a marriage is valid,  look to the law in the state of residence. So it appeared that Windsor would not affect Social Security benefits for Ohio residents, even those same-sex couples who validly married in another state and moved to Ohio.

However, a federal judge in Ohio has found that Ohio’s law that prohibits recognition in Ohio of valid out-of-state same-sex marriages cannot be enforced, because Ohio recognizes other types of out-of-state marriages that could not be validly performed in Ohio (such as first-cousin or minors marriages). In a case called Obergefell v. Kasich, No. 1:13-cv-501 (S.D. Ohio, July 22, 2013), the judge issued a temporary restraining order against Ohio’s law. If this ruling becomes final, it will affect Social Security benefits, and other federal and perhaps state benefits, for couples who have valid same-sex marriages from another state but now reside in Ohio.

If the Obergefell ruling becomes final, Social Security benefits may be affected in several ways for Ohio residents who have valid out-of-state same-sex marriages.  On the plus side, one spouse may collect Social Security benefits on the earnings record of the other in circumstances like death, disability, or retirement. Also on the plus side, children may collect Social Security benefits on the earnings record of the additional spouse in certain circumstances. On the other hand, marriage is a disadvantage sometimes under the SSI (Supplemental Security Income) disability and retirement programs, where married couples receive less money total than they would as unmarried individuals, and their income and resources are considered together.

Families with a same-sex couple who married validly in another state, but who reside in Ohio, should be alert to these developments.

Posted in Uncategorized |