By Justin L. Haines, Supervising Attorney, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley
I want to highlight Milena’s advocacy on behalf of a disabled client. Her client is a 30-year-old woman who suffers from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). She has post-traumatic epilepsy after a horrific accident 17 years ago when she was ejected from a go-kart and slammed her head into the pavement.
Milena represented the client in the initial hearing, but despite overwhelming evidence of her disabilities the client was denied SSDI. Milena filed an appeal to the Appeals Council which ultimately vacated the Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) decision. The Council vacated the hearing decision and remanded the decision to the ALJ to resolve several mistakes in the ALJ’s decision. The issues that the Appeals Council (AC) identified are the ALJ’s mistaken belief the client was non-compliant with her medication regimens despite evidence to the contrary. Also, the AC identified that the ALJ failed to either adopt or exclude the limitations from a neuropsychic exam when considering the client’s residual functional capacity. The limitation was that the client would need to take frequent brief rest breaks while working.
Thousands of dollars in back benefits are at stake. Since her initial hearing, the client has gotten much worse and desperately needs the income.