Case Spotlight – April 2024

Overcoming Adversity through Dedicated Support and Legal Advocacy

In March 2022, our office received a call from a young man, age 30, the claimant, and his mother, seeking assistance with his claim for Social Security Disability benefits. The claimant had previously worked as an engineer and made significant earnings in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, a very traumatic event occurred in the claimant’s life, sparking a series of severe mental health disorders, including schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. The claimant’s mother eventually became his power of attorney. The claimant tried to work and even go back to school to continue his education but was unable to keep up with the demands of school or work due to his impairments.

Our office immediately recognized the severity of his conditions and how much of an impact it had on his life and the life of his family. Prior to seeking representation at our office, he had applied for benefits on his own and was denied at the Initial Application level. Attorney Farrah Abona from our office took over the case and appealed it to the Hearing Level. Once at the hearing level, his case was assigned to an Administrative Law Judge at the Livonia Hearing Office.

Now at the hearing level, Farrah carefully drafted a brief on his behalf and made a Listing Argument (12.03, Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders) and cited each and every instance documented in the medical records that would fall under this Listing, including delusions and hallucinations, disorganized thinking and speech, and difficulties in adapting or managing oneself. Additionally, we made the argument that the claimant could not perform the demands of his past work or other full-time work at any level. Furthermore, we detailed how his limitations were so severe that he required significant help from his mother to address his most basic needs. The Administrative Law Judge agreed with our position and issued a Fully Favorable Decision, granting the claimant social security disability benefits going back to 2020, totaling over $95,000. Furthermore, with the benefits going back over two years, our client was immediately entitled to Medicare benefits.

Our attorneys and staff specialize in disability benefits, and we will fight to help you win every benefit you deserve. We provide free consultations to better understand your case and provide you knowledge as to your rights and the benefits you may be entitled to. Whether you have a mental health condition, other conditions, or a combination of impairments, we can help you understand your options and win the benefits you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation.


Author: Erika A. Riggs

Attorney Erika A. Riggs, a partner at Disability Law Group, is a renowned legal advocate and community leader. A graduate of Wayne State University Law School, Erika co-founded The 313 Project, a non-profit providing scholarships and pro-bono legal advice for at-risk youth. She actively contributes to community well-being as a board member and community activist, spearheading pro bono events and volunteer initiatives. Erika specializes in Social Security Disability and Veterans’ disability benefits. Recognized for her outstanding contributions, Erika has received accolades such as the ‘Oakland Together 40 Under 40’ Class of 2023, 2022 ABA On the Rise Top 40 Young Lawyer award, eight consecutive Avvo’s Client Choice awards, and the esteemed 2023 Rising Star award for the sixth consecutive year by Super Lawyers (extended to less than 2.5% of attorneys practicing in Michigan). Her multifaceted achievements showcase her commitment to excellence, community service, and advocacy for those in need.