Even a perfect client faces a fight

One of our clients had a seemingly "perfect" file. The impairments were well documented in the medical records. There was a supportive impairment questionnaire completed by the treating doctor. However, a specific question on the questionnaire requested that the doctor indicate when the client's symptoms and limitations began ... and the doctor filled in the date he had completed the questionnaire, not the date the client's symptoms began.

We've all done something like this at one time or another. Usually it's easily corrected with an eraser or the backspace key. However, in this client's case, the doctor's simple mistake created complex problems.

At the client's hearing, the Administrative Law Judge entertained the notion of adjusting the client's onset date (the day she became disabled) to the date the doctor completed the questionnaire, and granting her disability as of that date. Unfortunately, there was nearly a two year difference between the date our client actually became disabled and the date her doctor completed the questionnaire.

Our advocate noticed the discrepancy right away, and explained the possible clerical error to the ALJ. She provided the ALJ with other medical records to support her theory - noting that the client's impairments started far earlier than the day the client's doctor filled out the questionnaire.

Our advocates are trained to notice the little details. In this client's case, she had all of the key pieces we recommend: medicals, medicals, medicals. She even had a letter of support from her treating doctor, which is often the hardest piece to obtain. A supporting opinion may not always make a client's case a "slam dunk," but connecting the opinion with treatment records and client testimony resulted in a Fully Favorable decision for our client.

However, without the intervention of our advocate, this client's retroactive award would have been reduced by the two years difference between the correct date and the doctor's date. Paying attention to the details really matters at Binder & Binder.

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