Elderly woman with back pain seeks help from DLG SSD attorneys.

Case Spotlight – January 2023

Disability Law Group (DLG) recently received a decision approving benefits for a client from Harper Woods, Michigan, after she had waited more than five years with a different firm. Prior to coming to our firm, she had gone through multiple appeals, including a triple remand from the Appeals Council after the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) had denied her case multiple times.  She contacted DLG feeling defeated, overwhelmed, and worried about her future, but that quickly changed. She spoke to Attorney Erika Riggs, who helped her understand her rights and the strategy to help her win the benefits she deserves. 

How a SSD Attorney Can Help

Our client had been suffering for years from debilitating back pain, requiring her to use a cane; she was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, as well as epicondylitis of the right elbow, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and depression. Our team worked swiftly and diligently to obtain all medical records and updated evidence, such as Medical Source Statements from the treating doctors, to help support our client’s disability case. Erika drafted a brief outlining the best arguments to help her win. We argued that the physician’s supportive statements are “persuasive” under the new rules, considering all the factors outlined in 20 CFR 404.1520(c).

For disability claimants who are over the age of 50 with any physical limitations (such as difficulty standing, walking, lifting, carrying, bending, etc.), the burden of proving disability becomes relaxed or easier to establish disability than for those who are under the age of 50. While this client was over the age of 50, the Social Security Administration must find that the claimant cannot perform the demands of her past work and that she would be mentally and/or physically incapable of performing most other full-time work, especially at the light level or above. 

In her cross-examining of the Vocational Expert, Erika carefully crafted hypotheticals regarding her client’s use of a cane for balance and support while standing, the inability to use the right dominant hand while standing due to the need to use a cane, and requirement to sit and take rest breaks during the workday due to pain. Ultimately, the Expert testified that there are no jobs available that this person could perform due to these limitations, which were well-supported by the client’s physicians in their statements. The ALJ agreed, and the decision was in: Fully Favorable! This decision allowed for nearly 8 years of past due benefits to be awarded to our client in addition to Medicare insurance. Winning his disability case provided a long-awaited, much-deserved lifeline for our client, allowing her to afford proper housing and received continued medical treatment. 

Contact Disability Law Group today

Whether you have a physical or mental health condition, or a combination of health problems, you may be eligible for disability benefits. If you are over the age of 50, it becomes critically important to introduce evidence to your case that will help Social Security understand your limitations, whether physical or mental. No matter how old you are, you could be entitled to receive monthly payments and insurance based on your disabling conditions. Our Social Security Disability Attorneys only practice disability law, and our consultations are always free. You can call us today to better understand your rights and how to properly plan for the future. 

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.