9:00am - 5:00pm

Our Opening Hours Mon. - Fri.

866.438.8773

Call Us For Free Consultation

Facebook

LinkedIn

Search

Case Summaries

Osterhout Berger Persuades Lincoln Financial to Award Benefits Totaling Over $100,000

Our client, a hospital executive, came to us after her claim for Long Term disability benefits was denied two times by Lincoln Financial.  The primary disabling medical conditions our client experienced were fatigue and cognitive limitations.  Attorney Berger obtained a neurocognitive evaluation, a functional capacity evaluation and an opinion from a vocational expert, and successfully argued that our client could not sustain the physical and mental demands of her highly-skilled occupation 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  Lincoln agreed and awarded 12 months of past due benefits totaling well-over $100,000 along with starting monthly benefits of approximately $15,000.

Aetna Reverses its Decision to Terminate Long Term Disability benefits after Osterhout Berger file its Appeal

Aetna terminated the benefits of our client, an Executive Administrative Assistant, after she had been receiving disability benefits for only eleven months.  Our client suffered from significant limitations in the use of her arms and hands as a result of medical conditions to include neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome.

After the client retained us, Attorney Berger obtained updated medical treatment notes and medical opinions from our client’s treating physicians and a detailed vocational report.  Attorney Berger also filed an extensive brief arguing why Aetna was unreasonable in terminating benefits and after a review of all of our submissions, Aetna reversed its previous decision and reinstated benefits, resulting in our client receiving almost one year of past due benefits and ongoing benefits.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office to speak with Attorney Berger if you need assistance with your claim for Long Term disability benefits.

The Hartford Reconsiders its Termination of Benefits

Our client was a College Registrar when she became unable to work due to physical impairments to include fibromyalgia, vertigo, lumbar spondylosis, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depressive Disorder and Panic Disorder.  She received benefits from The Hartford for approximately 14 months before it was determined that she could return to her own occupation. Attorney Berger obtained medical evidence from eight different physicians along with medical opinions from four different physicians.  He also obtained a detailed vocational report and, following a review of all of this evidence and Attorney Berger’s argument, The Hartford reversed its previous decision and reinstated our client’s benefits.

If your Short Term or Long Term benefits have been denied or terminated, please contact Attorney Berger for a free consultation.

Osterhout Berger assists Amazon Employee in her Claim for Benefits from The Hartford

The Hartford denied our client’s claim for Long Term disability benefits due to a lack of medical documentation.  Our client suffered from significant mental impairments, to include a persistent mood disorder and anxiety disorder.  After being retained by the client, who worked for Amazon, Attorney Berger obtained all of the medical evidence, along with a detailed statement from our client’s treating physician and a comprehensive vocational report.  This evidence was enough to persuade The Hartford to overturn its previous decision and award our client her much-needed Long Term disability benefits.

If your Short Term or Long Term benefits have been denied or terminated, please contact Attorney Berger for a free consultation.

Osterhout Berger Helps a Financial Executive Get His Benefits Reinstated from The Hartford

Our client had been receiving Long Term disability benefits from The Hartford for difficulties stemming from a sleep disorder for approximately 10 years before The Hartford terminated the benefits after finding he could return to work.  Our client immediately contacted Attorney Berger and after extensive development of his claim file, to include obtaining multiple statements from our client’s treating physicians, an Independent Medical Examination and a comprehensive vocational evaluation, The Hartford reversed its decision and reinstated our client’s Long Term Disability benefits.

If your application for Long Term disability benefits or your appeal of a decision denying or terminating has been denied do not hesitate to contact Osterhout Berger Disability Law for a free consultation.

Tenacious Representation Leads to Incredible Success Story Out of Minnesota

Disability appeals have, unfortunately, become standard practice for many claimants. Judges frequently make errors in hearing decisions. OBL partners with many firms who are fierce advocates for their clients, yet come to us with unfavorable decisions due to legal error. Disability Specialists of Minnesota is one company we work with on a regular basis. They recently delivered incredible news related to an appeal Karl Osterhout handled, all because they refused to give up on their client’s case! “This case really demonstrates the value of working with a group like mine, who offers all services related to appeals. In fact, the reality is that we never made a dime on this case, since we offer free of cost Appeals Council briefing to our regular referral sources, among many other services” explains Karl. Our partnerships with groups like Disability Specialists are special to us and we always try to help when I can, but this case really stands out!

Amy Pearson, President of Disability Specialists, describes the history of the case:

We filed her application for benefits in 2014, with an alleged onset date in 1/13, when she stopped working due to her conditions. A hearing was held in April of 2016, with the judge awarding her a partially favorable decision with an onset date of October of 2015- the date her neurologist completed a supportive medical source statement. I sought out the advice of an appeals attorney who reviewed her decision and strongly recommended appealing. After a discussion of the risks/benefit of appeal, the claimant decided to move forward with an appeal. There were several inconsistencies in the judge’s decision and little rationale for why he chose the date of a supportive opinion vs. her longitudinal treatment records supporting the opinion. It was appealed to the Appeals Council.

The AC remanded her case. Instead of being scheduled with the same judge from her prior decision, it was scheduled with a new judge (the prior judge was on military leave). The new judge denied her claim altogether and this resulted in the loss of her monthly benefits as well as an overpayment.  We were crushed.  I had never had this happen before, and we never imagined that this would happen.  I can’t count how many hours of sleep I lost agonizing about the outcome of her case.  My disappointment was nothing compared to the effect it had on her life.  She could no longer afford her apartment, so she and her daughter had to move into subsidized housing.  She went from receiving a substantial check every month to relying on county assistance.  

Clearly, this claimant went through a lot over the course of several years. Disability Specialists reached out to the original attorney who assisted with her federal court appeal but they declined to provide any additional help or guidance in this case. Disability Specialist then turned to Karl who accepted the case after hearing the case and the emotional turmoil it had caused the client. Amy adds, “I didn’t want to give up on this for her. I strongly felt that the judge made the wrong decision and that we could prove it. She was relieved that Karl agreed to appeal the decision to the Appeals Council. The denial was extremely upsetting for her, and she was glad to know that we were not going to give up on the claim- and that we would have Karl on our side.” After reviewing Karl’s appeal, the Appeals Council made a favorable decision and sent the case to an Administrative Law Judge who had never reviewed her case before.

Amy explains the procedural and emotional aspect of the new hearing:

I have been doing hearings for over 8 years, and I don’t think I have ever been as nervous about the outcome of a hearing as I was for hers. There was so much riding on this!  Another denial would be catastrophic for her well-being.  We just HAD to win. Her testimony was very compelling and she was extremely credible. The judge posed a hypothetical to the vocational expert for absenteeism at a rate of one day per week, including the need to leave work early or arrive late, and the expert said she would not be employable with this limitation. She further clarified that employer tolerance for absenteeism was 8-9 days per year. The judge stated that he felt this hypothetical was a true reflection of her limitations, and he would be awarding benefits! My client was relieved beyond measure.  This will improve her quality of life, allowing her to move into better housing and provide financial stability for herself and her child.

“I was really happy to hear from Amy; I ask all my referral sources to let me know how things turned out, and most probably get busy and forget, but it’s really awesome to hear that a case like this ultimately came out right. This is especially true when the claimant’s representative is someone I respect as much as Amy and her group at Disability Specialist. They are so committed to the best outcome for their clients, and consistently develop incredibly good records on their behalf. This makes the job of someone like me, coming along later and trying to demonstrate error in the judge’s decision, so much easier,” explains Karl. Amy adds, “I am extremely grateful for Karl’s assistance in this claim. I don’t know if we would have secured a second AC remand without his help. He knew exactly what issues to present to the AC to strengthen our appeal. I have helped thousands of clients in my 17 years working for Disability Specialists. This case is definitely one that I will carry with me for the rest of my career. I am glad she didn’t give up faith and trusted us to keep fighting for her.”

We commend Disability Specialists and representative Amy Pearson for truly advocating for their clients and we are happy to be a part of this success story!

OBL on FIRE: Three MORE federal court reversals with outright award of benefits!

A few months back my office had a run where we had obtained three federal court decisions which not only overturned a terrible ALJ decision, but also took the rare step of finding the ALJ’s errors so egregious that it ordered Social Security to begin paying our client benefits. Because by far the most typical outcome in a federal court appeal is a remand to Social Security for further proceedings, I remember saying at the time that I might not see another decision like it for a long time.

I’m happy to report that I was wrong; my team has managed to obtain three more reversals with an outright award of benefits just within the last 30 days. In California, our client’s case had been pending for almost 7 years, and she had not worked in over 10 years due to multiple medical conditions including fibromyalgia, diabetes, and degenerative disc disease. Moreover, because of the passage of time her date last insured had expired by the time of the ALJ’s second denial decision. The court awarded benefits, because it agreed that the ALJ had improperly ignored altogether (twice) the uncontroverted evidence demonstrating that she required a cane to walk and had wrongfully given little to no weight to the medical opinions of her rheumatologist, her PCPs (she had two during this very long stretch of time) and her physical therapist. The court awarded benefits outright, because of these errors and because, in its words, to remand for further proceedings would be to give Social Security a “mulligan.”

An Oregon district court considered the claim of our client, whose case has been pending over 6 years, and who is not worked in over 8 years, based on the ALJ’s failure to consider the VA’s finding of unemployability, inadequate analysis of treating source opinion evidence, and finding that her mental impairments were not “severe.” The court found especially compelling that the ALJ had given very cursory (and not even always factually accurate) reasons for rejecting the opinion of the claimant’s treating doctor, who had long familiarity with our client. Therefore, pursuant to the “credit as true” doctrine in the Ninth Circuit, the district court found that the treating physician’s opinion should have been found to be controlling.

Finally, in New York our client’s application was filed approximately 4 years ago, alleging disability based on severe depression and anxiety, in part related to concomitant gender identity disorder. The ALJ, possibly mistakenly, had adopted the RFC consistent with his first hypothetical assumption to the VE, but relied upon the VE’s response to the second hypothetical. At issue was the issue of “missed days”; in the first hypothetical the ALJ asked the VE to assume the claimant would miss work 2 days per month, to which the VE responded that this would eliminate all jobs. In the second hypothetical, the ALJ changed the assumption to missing only 1 day per month, and the VE testified that this would not preclude all work. But the RFC finding is that the claimant would miss 2 days per month. Although not strictly speaking, a federal court decision reversing and awarding benefits, the agency attorney contacted me and offered to remand the case to the Appeals Council, who will issue the favorable decision.

One of the most notable things to me about these decisions is that I personally had little to do with two of the three cases; rather, they were very capably handled by my supervising associate, Hannalore Merritt, in concert with other associates in my appellate department. It’s just literally true to say that we could not be as helpful as we are being (over 280 remands or outright reversals in the last 12 months) to folks in their last chance to obtain a fair decision in their Social Security case without the intelligence, compassion and commitment of our excellent team in the Appellate Department.

If you are a representative and would like to learn more about how we can help you obtain favorable outcomes for your clients, click HERE.

OBL on FIRE: OBL Win Results in Over $300,000 to Claimant

This case falls into the “it never hurts to ask” category. But, before you can ask, you really need to dig into a case, and Lindsay was very persistent with SSA about producing files related to applications for benefits the claimant told her he had filed in the distant past. Because she was so persistent and focused in her strategy for the case, she obtained evidence that SSA had actually found our client disabled in the late 90s (he never actually received any benefits because of excess resources). However, the finding of disability was made by SSA prior to our client’s 22nd birthday, a key date to establish that he was entitled to disability benefits based on his parent’s earnings record. Moreover, it had overlooked this fact when it had previously considered our client’s claim for these benefits in an application he filed many years ago.

Thus, Lindsay was able to convince the ALJ not only that our client was disabled on or before his 22nd birthday, but also that the previous application for benefits should be reopened because of the mistake made by SSA in failing to acknowledge and rely upon its own previous finding that he was disabled. As a result, he was awarded benefits based upon the much earlier application date and his past-due benefits are the largest amount OBL has ever obtained (or even heard of). Best wishes to our client, and big-time congratulations to Lindsay!

OBL on Fire: Allstate Overturns Its Denial of Benefits Under A Dismemberment Accident Policy and Awards Osterhout Berger’s client $100,000

Our client lost vision in one of her eyes and filed for benefits under her employer-provided Dismemberment/Accident Policy back in 2016.  After being denied numerous times she hired Attorney Berger and within weeks Allstate reversed its decision and awarded our client the maximum amount allowable under her policy – $100,000!

If you need help filing a claim for benefits under an Accident Policy or have been denied benefits Osterhout Berger will review your case free of charge. Call us today: 866.438.8773

OBL On Fire: A Month FULL of Wins!

OBL has a strong track record of monthly favorable decisions outnumbering unfavorable decisions.  For 2019 we have been successful at an average rate of over 66%.  June was an especially amazing month of wins with almost 30 decisions being received and over 70% of those decisions being favorable for our clients. As many who are familiar with the Social Security Disability process know, it’s becoming more difficult to be successful in a disability claim over the last several years.  In response, OBL has worked hard to meet those challenges by developing the argument of your case earlier in the process and proactively gathering evidence before a hearing is scheduled.  We additionally obtain and submit necessary post-hearing vocational reports.  Our comprehensive approach of developing cases results in successfully winning your life back.