Attorneys Ryan Gailey and Greg Tuite recently obtained a reversal of denials of Social Security Disability benefits for their clients. After receiving unfavorable decisions from the Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and the Social Security Appeals Council, the attorneys filed appeals in the Federal District Court in Rockford. After reviewing the arguments presented to the Court, the federal judge agreed that the ALJ had made improper decisions in both cases and ordered new hearings for both clients.
Booth V. Colvin
In Booth v. Colvin, the ALJ denied Mr. Booth’s claim that he was disabled due to the effects of a head injury that required extensive brain surgery. The ALJ determined that Booth was not believable because he “rode his bike everywhere” and had not obtained a GED.
The ALJ also disregarded the opinions of Booth’s primary doctor and counselor that he was unable to work. In response, the federal judge agreed with Attorney Gailey that the ALJ had violated the “treating physician rule” by not properly evaluating the opinions of Booth’s medical providers. The judge also found that the ALJ improperly assessed Booth’s credibility.
Sharp V. Colvin
Similarly, in Sharp v. Colvin, the ALJ rejected the opinions of Ms. Sharp’s primary physician, her psychiatrist, and two counselors. Instead, he adopted the opinion of an examining psychologist who only saw the claimant for a short one-time examination that he had arranged. Again, the federal court judge agreed with Attorney Tuite that the ALJ had violated the “treating physician rule” in disregarding the opinions of Ms. Sharp’s treating providers that she could not work because of mental impairments.
Because the judge reversed the ALJs’ decisions, the clients will get a new hearing before the ALJ. The lawyers at Tuite Law file appeals to the Federal Court when they believe that ALJ has failed to follow the law in denying benefits. Only lawyers can file these cases. Non-attorney representatives are not authorized to do so. In the Sharp and Booth cases, the successful federal court appeal means that the client will get another day in court and a chance to prove their disability. Contact us at 877-965-5777.
Northern Illinois University College of Law Alumni On the Move:
Ryan Gailey (’11) has been appointed by the President-Elect of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) to serve as a member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Military Affairs for 2016-2017. The purpose of the committee is to provide information, support, and assistance to the military community and the general public relating to the legal issues that service members may face during and after service. In addition, Gailey has been named a 2016 Emerging Lawyer by Leading Lawyers. That places him in the top 2% of attorneys under the age of 40 in Illinois.
Attorney Gailey currently serves as a Captain with the Illinois National Guard. Contact us at 877-965-5777.
There has been quite a bit of press regarding changes to the Social Security Act that were agreed to last Fall as part of the federal budget. One of the provisions eliminated the “file and suspend” strategy that was used by married couples to maximize social security retirement benefits for the couple. For example, Jack who is 66, and thus at full retirement age (FRA,) could file for retirement benefits and suspend collection until age 70 where he would collect a higher monthly amount.
When his spouse Jill reaches FRA, she could file for a spousal benefit that equaled half of Jack’s benefit. She would then wait until age 70 to file for her own benefit, which would also be higher than at age 66. This strategy has been eliminated except for certain couples that are “grandfathered” in. Even the grandfathered only have until April 29, 2016, to file with Social Security.
Workers Compensation Offset
The new law impacts Social Security recipients who also have a workers’ compensation claim. This is due to changes in what is known as the “workers compensation offset”. Receipt of workers’ compensation has always affected a Social Security disability recipient. In certain situations, the receipt of weekly temporary total disability (TTD) benefits could reduce or even eliminate monthly social security disability benefits. This reduction is based on a calculation that looks at:
- Past earnings
- The amount of the monthly disability
- The amount of the workers’ compensation
This reduction can apply to settlements and awards as well as TTD. Before the amendments, any reduction because of the workers’ compensation offset would end at age 65. Under the amendments, the offset will continue until the person reaches full retirement age. For anyone born after 1959 FRA is 67. Thus social security will apply for an additional 24 months.
Luckily, there are strategies to deal with the workers’ compensation offset. Our lawyers can draft settlement language that reduces or eliminates the workers’ compensation offset. These are techniques that are recognized and accepted by Social Security. If you have a work injury and are on Social Security disability or thinking of applying, feel free to contact us to discuss how to deal with the “workers’ compensation offset”. Contact us at 877-965-5777.
Super Lawyers, a division of Thompson Reuters, recently released its 2016 list of lawyers considered to be the “top attorneys in Illinois”. Attorney Greg Tuite was named a Super Lawyer in the field of workers’ compensation for the tenth year in a row.
Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes:
- Independent research
- Peer nominations
- Peer evaluations.
Attorney Tuite is one of only 34 Illinois lawyers recognized in the field of workers’ compensation on the 2016 list. He is the only Rockford area workers’ compensation attorney to be named to the list. Contact us at 877-965-5777.
Social Security Disability Client
A successful conclusion was reached this week for a Social Security disability client after a five-year battle. The client, with an impairment that had existed since birth, applied for disability benefits in February 2010 claiming he had been disabled since December 1995. That claim was denied by Social Security in June 2010. He initially hired a lawyer from another Rockford law firm to handle his appeal.
That firm withdrew from the case after four months, apparently not believing that he had a valid claim. In November 2011, the client hired attorney Greg Tuite to handle the case. The case proceeded to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). In March 2011 the ALJ denied the claim. The Social Security Appeals Council upheld the ALJ’s denial of benefits in April 2013.
Not satisfied with the result, Attorney Tuite filed an appeal with the United States District Court in Rockford. On December 17, 2014, the Magistrate issued his opinion agreeing with Mr. Tuite’s contention that the ALJ should have given greater weight to the opinion of the claimant’s treating doctor who had known him since he was a teenager. The Magistrate ordered a new hearing for the claimant.
A second hearing was held on August 14, 2015. A medical expert testified and agreed with Mr. Tuite that if the impairment had existed since birth it would have met the requirements of Social Security’s Listing of Impairments on the claimed date of onset of disability in 1995. Based on this the ALJ awarded benefits. The client will receive a lump sum of benefits back to February 2009 (one year retroactive to the application date). In addition, he will be entitled to Medicare coverage.
“This is the second case this year that I received a favorable result after another firm dropped the client,” said Tuite. “From day one I believed the client had a valid claim for benefits. Without our dedication to exhaust all of our appeal rights, the client would have ended up with nothing.” If you are in need of our services, call us at 877-965-5777.
After filing for Social Security disability twice and being denied, Attorney Greg Tuite took my case and they handled everything for me. He got me my back pay from the first time I had filed and he was not even my attorney at that time. I had another lawyer refer me to him – which is how good of a lawyer he is. When some lawyers cannot take your case for whatever reason and he is the one that comes to mind, that right there tells you a lot. All I can say if you want it done the right way and done with your interest in mind Greg Tuite would be the lawyer to call.