July Case Spotlight

Attorney Erika Riggs was contacted by a woman from Macomb, Michigan, who had been referred to her from another attorney to help with her Social Security Disability case. She had worked as a senior accounting specialist for many years before her health problems took a turn for the worse. In August of 2018, she suffered a heart attack and underwent a triple coronary bypass; she also suffered from uncontrolled diabetes with diabetic neuropathy, retinopathy, high blood pressure, and obstructive sleep apnea. Hoping that she would recover and improve after surgery, she took about one year off work before realizing that she would not be able to return and needed help applying for SSD benefits. When she called Disability Law Group, she knew she found the right place to help her win her case. Attorney Riggs and staff immediately got to work on her SSD application.

At this level, SSA issued a ‘Partially Favorable’ decision, granting disability benefits but only back to January of 2019. However, in review of the medical evidence, Erika determined that this date was completely arbitrary and simply unfair. After speaking with her client, Mrs. Riggs filed a Request for Reconsideration, arguing that the true date that disability began in August of 2018 when the heart attack and surgery took place, and rendered her client unable to work. At this time, in October of 2020, a representative from Social Security (SSA) called Erika and stated that they were going to be requesting that her client see yet another doctor for a consultative examination. Under normal circumstances, this examination would be considered standard and there would be no issue. However, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Erika’s client was overcome with fear of attending this exam as she was at high-risk considering her severe cardiac and pulmonary conditions.

Attorney Riggs contacted the SSA representative and advised that there was already a recent examination, and now updated medical evidence in support of granting her client’s disability benefits back to August of 2018; therefore, her client would not be attending this additional exam due to the risk involved. Unfortunately, SSA then issued another ‘Partially Favorable’ decision, only this time with an even less advantageous date of November 2020 due to her turning 55 years old at that time. This new decision not only meant that the client would potentially have to wait even longer for Medicare to take effect, but also that she may have to pay back the SSD benefits she received over the few months prior while awaiting this determination. Erika talked with her client and they agreed that we would not give-up the fight, especially here when the evidence does not support the decisions made. Disability Law Group filed a request for hearing.

The hearing before an ALJ was scheduled for June of 2021. A few days before the hearing, the ALJ called attorney Erika Riggs, stating that she would never have appealed the prior decisions and asked if we would consider withdrawing the request for hearing. Erika kindly advised that we would not be withdrawing the request and, instead, we would be moving forward with the hearing scheduled seeking disability benefits back to August of 2018, when she believed her client became disabled. Mrs. Riggs drafted a thorough brief in support of the case, and she presented arguments before the Judge to help prove disability beginning on that date. Erika developed testimony from the client to confirm that her current Medicaid coverage does not cover her continuous glucose monitor, which has been a significant factor in her inability to monitor and control her blood sugar levels. Medicare is the insurance program that accompanies SSD, and Erika knew how important this insurance would be for her client.

Within just a few weeks, the decision was made: Fully Favorable! This decision meant that Erika’s client no longer has to worry about owing money back to SSA, and that she would receive thousands of dollars in additional money owed back to her as well as immediate entitlement to Medicare. This is what Erika’s client had to say: Erika Riggs is a fantastic Attorney. She looks at your case and will tell you if she feels you have a case. Then she fights for you, believes in you and stands by your side through the whole process.”

If you need an experienced, compassionate disability attorney on your side to help you win and keep the disability benefits that you deserve, contact Disability Law Group. Our attorneys and staff specialize strictly in disability benefits, and we will fight to help you at every step of the way. Whether you have been denied, or would like advice from the very start, contact us today and speak with an attorney for a free consultation to understand your rights and get the representation that you deserve.