Representative Cases

IgG4-related disease 2019

Our client, a self-employed technology worker, came to us for assistance filing an application for Social Security Disability benefits.  She was living with the negative impacts of a condition called immunoglobulin G4-related disease (IgG4-RD).   A person living with IgG4-RD often has multiple organs affected by the condition and it is only recently that the field of medicine has come to recognize that the classical manifestations of this condition are caused by IgG4-RD rather than many separate conditions.  It is still unknown what causes IgG4-RD and there is no known cure.

Our client experienced inflammatory issues with her eyes (dacryoadenitis) along with IgG4-related pulmonary disease.   She was diagnosed with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  She was getting sick frequently and was having increasing breathing difficulties, which worsened her anxiety. She was struggling to keep up with her work and needed long periods for recovery when she fell ill.

The Social Security Administration denied the initial application for benefits and the request for reconsideration.  Ms. Haggerty then requested a hearing, prepared the client to meet with the judge, spoke with her medical providers, obtained all her medical records, and prepared a legal brief summarizing those records for the judge.  Just before the hearing she had waited over two years to attend, she was diagnosed with a hole in her heart which caused oxygenated and non-oxygenated blood to mix together (an atrial-septal defect).  Her providers believed that this birth defect could be the cause of some of her symptoms.

The judge met with our client and decided that he wanted to wait until after the heart defect was repaired before determining her residual functional capacity and if that entitled her to disability benefits.  After her first hearing, our client had the heart defect repaired, but unfortunately her IgG4-RD symptoms persisted and she continued to have frequent bouts of illness and severe difficulties breathing.

At a supplemental hearing five months after the first, the medical expert called by the government failed to appear, so the judge prepared written questions for the medical expert.  Based on the medical expert’s written responses to the judge’s questions, our client was awarded benefits.  The entire process took nearly three years from her initial filing to the receipt of monthly benefits and the benefits owed to her for the time she waited.  In a review of her experience working with Ms. Haggerty, our client said: “Throughout the entire process, their unerring support and ability to communicate the complexities of the application and subsequent decisions were invaluable. They also understand the emotional portion of this type of claim, and how difficult that can be.”

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