Social Security Disability Benefits

Low-income disabled and elderly individuals are among the most vulnerable client populations in need of legal services. We represent some of the poorest people in the country on Social Security Disability benefits matters, including children. These individuals desperately need lawyers to secure the most basic necessities of life, such as access to healthcare and a subsistence income—benefits that often mean the difference between housing and homelessness, an adequate diet and malnourishment, or even life and death.

Social Security Income Benefits for Disabled Child. O’Melveny secured Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for an 11-year-old boy with severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Disruptive Behavior Disorder. The child, who was diagnosed five years before the firm took his case, struggled at home and school to concentrate on basic tasks and control his behavior, and he read and wrote two years below his grade level. He had difficulty interacting with adults and other children, except when he was engaged in organized sports—he loves playing baseball and basketball. His disability and treatment caused significant strain on his grandparents, who are raising him, and they sought SSI benefits on his behalf so they could continue to provide him with the support he needs. After he was denied benefits, O’Melveny appealed and represented the child at a July 2016 hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, including preparing a prehearing statement explaining the severity of his condition and arguing that he is disabled under the Social Security Administration’s five-step sequential evaluation. The judge agreed, and the client was awarded full benefits going forward, as well as 32 months of back benefits. These benefits will make a huge difference in this child’s day-to-day life.

Social Security Benefits Hearing for Disabled Immigrant. O’Melveny worked with the Legal Aid Society of New York to obtain Supplemental Security Income benefits for a 59‑year-old Korean immigrant who has suffered from debilitating interstitial cystitis, a painful bladder condition, for over five years. The client owned and operated a dry cleaning business for 25 years, working 15 hours a day, seven days a week, while raising two children. Before falling ill, she was active and social, but now her condition prevents her from leaving home most days, and she has become clinically depressed. She rarely sleeps more than ten minutes at a time and experiences constant pain despite years of increasingly aggressive treatment. The O’Melveny team appealed her denial of benefits, preparing a prehearing statement and representing the client at her hearing before the Administrative Law Judge. The judge, relying heavily on the evidence O’Melveny presented, held that the client was disabled because she could not perform any work based on her age, education, prior experience, and physical and mental impairments. In 2015, she was awarded full benefits, retroactive to August 2012.

Disability and Social Security Benefits for Disabled New Yorker. O’Melveny helped secure Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits for a 48‑year-old Manhattan native who suffers from painful degeneration in his left foot and right hip, which in 2013 became so severe he could no longer work. He underwent extensive treatment and multiple surgeries, including a right hip replacement, but they were largely ineffective, and he relies on daily in-home healthcare to accomplish everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping. Despite his condition, he was denied disability benefits. Working with the Legal Aid Society, O’Melveny appealed and represented him at the hearing, conducting direct examination of the client and responding to questions from the Administrative Law Judge. After reviewing the prehearing statement and weighing the evidence and testimony, the Administrative Law Judge agreed that the client is disabled and granted him full benefits, retroactive to May 2013. The client was very pleased with the outcome, which will significantly improve his day-to-day life while he focuses on rehabilitation. 

UK Social Security Appeal for HIV-Positive Client. O’Melveny, in collaboration with Horizon Legal Advice Clinic, helped an HIV-positive client win an appeal against the UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). PIP is a form of UK social security that helps with the costs of long-term illness or disability for people aged 16 to 64. It requires that claimants be regularly tested for improvements to their debilitating condition through an assessment process that has been widely criticized as unreasonable. The appeal, in the First-Tier Tribunal of the Social Entitlement Chamber, resulted in a significant revision of the government’s original appraisal of the client’s daily living and mobility circumstances, and secured him a PIP award for five years. 

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