Edward Cassini has struggled with depression much of his life, being hospitalized for the first time at age 13. He was hospitalized four more times before age 18. Cassini was placed in special education classes in school. He spent time in a juvenile correction institution. He managed to complete his high school education by getting a GED. When he was 18, he spent a year in a behavioral health hospital.
Cassini worked as a plasterer in construction for 21 years. At the age of 40, his deepening depression made it difficult for him to work. His employer allowed accommodations for his disability, and Cassini attempted to continue working. He still had frequent absences due to his disorder. After two more years, he left the job.
Cassini filed for Social Security Disability benefits. After being denied at application he turned to Attorney Neil H. Good for representation. The case went to a hearing at the Social Security Administration.
In his prehearing memorandum, Attorney Good described the extent of Cassini’s medical condition. Cassini suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. He was in and out of the hospital. He had daily thoughts of suicide, and he heard voices. He avoided leaving home, and he kept himself isolated and withdrawn. He had episodes of aggressive and assaultive behavior, such as breaking the windows in his house. He went through periods when he slept a lot, followed by periods when he didn’t sleep at all. He didn’t take care of the necessities of daily living, going long periods without showering or changing his clothes. Attorney Good further stated that Cassini’s last two years of work had been “an unsuccessful work attempt.”
At the hearing, the SSA’s Administrative Law Judge, issued an immediate bench decision after reviewing the evidence. She found “this impairment is so severe as to preclude all competitive employment.” The judge agreed that Cassini’s last two years of work were not significant gainful activity. Edward Cassini was awarded Social Security Disability benefits including the maximum back pay allowed.