October Case Spotlight

In the early part of 2020, attorney Erika Riggs was contacted by a woman from New Baltimore, Michigan, who had been referred to her as someone known for zealous and compassionate representation. She had previously worked for decades in sedentary type positions for Motor City Stamping and as a purchasing agent for a local plant. However, by about age 50, she began experience increased pain and symptoms making it difficult for her to do the work she loved and took great pride in for the majority of her life. She suffered from heart conditions, palpitations, hypertension, arthritis of her neck and back, fibromyalgia, Barrett’s esophagitis with severe stomach and esophageal pain, as well as anxiety. On top of this, her husband passed away and her children were all grown with busy lives of their own. After exhausting her savings and 401K for nearly 10 years after she stopped working, and now at almost 60 years old, she was told by a friend that there may be programs available to help her; she knew that she could no longer work due to her health problems, but she did not know about programs like Social Security Disability, Disabled Widows Benefits, and Supplemental Security Income.

Attorney Erika Riggs immediately got to work on her case, explaining what programs are available to her, what to expect from the very start, and how to increase her chances of being approved. The team at Disability Law Group prepared and submitted her application for Social Security Disability benefits, and diligently followed-up on the case. Mrs. Riggs believed that her client would be working if she was able, but that her medical conditions have become too severe and debilitating for her. Erika always made herself available via email correspondences, text messages and phone calls to ensure that her client was informed along the way while her office obtained all medical records and supportive documents. Unfortunately, this case presented the additional challenge of proving that her disability began before her work credits expired in December of 2015, nearly 5 years prior to filing the application and reaching out for help.

Many people do not know that there is an expiration date for our work credits, and that the timing of that is controlled by when the individual claiming disability stops working. Generally, you have 5 years from when you stop working full-time, assuming you have enough work credits based on your prior work history, to be eligible for disability benefits. In this case, Erika knew that she would need to work with her client’s doctors to obtain medical source statements detailing her symptoms and limitations beginning in at least 2015. While this was no easy task, especially considering some of these doctors were no longer treating her client or even located in Michigan, she was up for the challenge.

During the video hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), Erika presented evidence showing that her client was unable to tolerate the Stress Test attempted in 2014, and obtained testimony from her client demonstrating that she felt tired, weak, and short of breath on a daily basis, in addition to the pain and anxiety she struggled with daily since that time. Next, Mrs. Riggs argued that, as a result, her client would be unable to perform the mental demands of her skilled past work she was used to performing for so many years, and that therefore even with a Sedentary RFC since 2015, she would be found disabled under the applicable Medical-Vocational Rules. The ALJ then went right to the Vocational Expert (VE) and agreed that Erika’s client is “disabled” under Social Security’s rules, and awarded her benefits, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars of back-pay owed to her, along with Medicare insurance coverage.

If you or someone you know are suffering from pain or other serious problems that keep you from being able to work and affect your ability to function normally, contact Disability Law Group today for your free consultation. Our attorneys and staff specialize strictly in disability benefits, and we will fight to help you win every benefit you deserve. We pride ourselves on helping disabled individuals receive disability benefits as quickly as possible. Whether you have been denied or if you 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.