Teresa Kohler, a divorced mother of one, worked as a union carpenter for nine years. She developed degenerative disk disease in her lower back. At age 41, she underwent an L5-S1 fusion with cages. The surgery failed to relieve her back pain. Four years later, Kohler left her job. She was still experiencing lower back pain, weakness and difficulty walking. Testing showed she had lumbar degenerative disk disease with facet osteoarthritis. She underwent nerve blocks, denervations and injections to control her back pain. Kohler then started working in a coffee shop, but in less than a year, at the age of 48, she found her disability left her unable to continue working due to her disability.
Kohler enlisted Attorney Neil H. Good to represent her in a claim for Social Security Disability benefits. Her case went to a hearing at the Social Security Administration. In his prehearing memorandum, Attorney Good detailed her failed back surgery, her past attempts at pain relief and her continuing treatment with spinal injections for pain management. Attorney Good stated that, in spite of the treatments, Kohler continued to have back pain that radiated to her leg. She couldn’t sit or stand for long periods of time, and she had difficulty walking. Attorney Good added that Kohler also suffered from depression and anxiety. She was often tearful, anxious and sad. She had experienced panic attacks while at work. She had difficulty concentrating and carrying out instructions, and also had difficulty sleeping and low energy. Attorney Good noted that Kohler’s physicians had found her disabled and backed their opinions with medical tests.
The Administrative Law Judge awarded Teresa Kohler Social Security Disability benefits.