SSD for Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome
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SSD for Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome
We recently had a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) appealing SSD for Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrom. Our client is 48 years old, with a rare disease known as Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome. The disease is called Lambert-Eaton after the two doctors at the Mayo Clinic who were the first ones to carefully study the disorder. It is a rare condition with possibly two different causes.
The first cause seems to be related to having a particular type of lung cancer. The other cause is not related to lung cancer but the doctors are still trying to figure out why otherwise healthy people get this rare disease. It is similar to myasthenia gravis, a more common but equally horrible autoimmune disease.
What Is Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrom?
Lambert-Eaton disease, as an autoimmune disorder is a disease where your own protective body cells attack your own organs. In Lambert-Eaton, they attack the areas where the nerve endings meet the muscles. Doctors think that it’s an attempt to attack the cancer cells and the body has trouble separating the good guys from the bad guys but as I said, some cases do not have a relationship to cancer.
Blindness Due to Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrom & SSD
This claimant had a rare form of a rare disease. His body was attacking the nerves around the eye muscles. Horribly, his body is attacking the nerves that control his eye muscles and making them not function. This was diagnosed when the claimant first saw the eye doctor for a sudden loss of vision with both eyelids swollen shut. The client was described as legally blind and it appears that his eyelids could no longer signal his muscles to open up his eyes. I’m sure a doctor could describe this more accurately but it is awful enough just to imagine having that condition, a rare symptom in a very rare disease.
Once the ALJ had a chance to study the record, he granted the case.
The question I had after the hearing and the question the judge must have had after reading the file is why was this case before him and why he wasn’t granted SSD for Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrom. His doctor had said he was legally blind. My client worked as a stockbroker so it was ludicrous to suggest that this man who couldn’t see was going to be able to return to his job as a stockbroker or even use any of his multiple skills in another occupation.
SSD for Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrom Appeal
The disease had not only attacked the nerves in his eyes but he had lots of other symptoms from the same disease attacking other organs. The Social Security Administration had sent him to their consultant and this government doctor noted that he walked with a cane, had trouble walking in general, had no functional vision and had great limitations walking, standing, lifting, carrying. So at the time the State Agency made the decision at Initial Application and Reconsideration, both a treating doctor and their own doctor basically said the claimant was disabled. Based only upon the lack of vision – or even based only upon the findings by the government doctor – this man could not work. He should have been granted SSD for Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrom.
When you appeal cases like this, you are just puzzled. This case should have been granted at the initial stage. He had applied on his own which was a mistake but the government’s own doctor made findings that should have granted his case. When we got involved, we got his doctor’s report and submitted it so the evidence was overwhelming at that point.
Even the judge was puzzled about this case. Neither he nor the advocate handling the hearing were familiar with this disease but looking up a disease and understanding why it is disabling is something we do all the time. That is our job but it is also the job of the State Agency analyst who denied this case. The ALJ had not heard of this disease but once he read the medical reports it was obvious this man could not work. But again, the question is, if the case is so overwhelming, how can the State Agency justify turning this claimant down? For that I have no answer. And to be truthful, there are quite a few ALJs I believe who would have turned this case down too.
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