Multiple Conditions Afflict Claimant

 

Theodore Sherman had worked as an insurance agent and auditor and at car dealerships. At age 55, experiencing chronic pain and difficulty walking after surgery on his great toe, and suffering from depression and peptic ulcer disease, he became unable to continue working.

Sherman applied for Social Security Disability benefits based on his contributions to Social Security, and for Supplemental Security Income based on his financial need. After being denied at application, Sherman turned to Attorney Neil H. Good for representation. His case went to a hearing at the Social Security Administration.

In his pre-hearing memorandum, Attorney Good discussed the extent of Sherman’s disabilities. Sherman had hallux rigidus of his right great toe, which made walking painful and difficult. While still working, he had surgery on the toe to remove bone spurs, but he continued to have pain, swelling and difficulty walking. Months after leaving work, he underwent a metatarsal-phalangeal fusion with the placement of wires and screws in his toe. A year later, after he was diagnosed with a possible non-union of the joint, surgery was again required to remove the hardware and stabilize the joint with an autologous bone graft. After the three surgeries, Sherman had gotten no relief or recovery, and the pain extended up through his leg. He used a cane or crutches to walk, and he wore a brace on his right foot.

Attorney Good discussed Sherman’s depression. Sherman had shown marked behavior and memory changes in the past few years. He had been hospitalized after suicidal ideation. He had mood swings and had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He had paranoid thoughts and angry outbursts, and had difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Sherman also suffered memory loss and loss of concentration. A CT and an MRI of his brain suggested chronic microvascular ischemic change. Attorney Good also discussed Sherman’s gastroenterological disorders. He had Barrett’s esophagus, which caused difficulty swallowing. A colonoscopy had revealed two ulcers.

The Administrative Law Judge, after reviewing Sherman’s impairments, ruled that “The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.” Further, since Sherman had reached the age of 55 by the first date of the onset of his disability, the judge would not consider whether Sherman might be able to perform another occupation. The judge made a favorable decision and awarded Sherman Social Security Disability benefits.