Diabetes is a challenging disease that can lead to a number of different complications, as Patrick Fisher discovered. Unfortunately, Patrick lost his leg to the disease, which made it impossible for him to put in the eight hour days he was used to working at the local Walmart. Faced with losing the income that supported him and his wife, Debi, Patrick applied for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
“I was turned down on my initial application, even though it seemed pretty obvious to me I could no longer work,” he said. “So I talked to Kevin Bambury at Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys PLLC, and they took my case.”
Bambury and his staff collected the medical evidence and employment history needed to prove Patrick’s case and asked for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Patrick had been paying into Social Security while he was employed, so he qualified to receive benefits. It took a year and a half, but Patrick was awarded full SSD benefits.
“It was challenging trying to make ends meet for those 18 months — and just waiting to hear the decision was stressful,” Patrick said. “But the people at the firm were great. They answered every question we had and stayed in contact with us throughout the whole process.”
Patrick was one of the fortunate cases, Bambury said. The average wait time to receive a hearing is 25 months in the Buffalo area and 22 months in Rochester.
“There is a backlog of more than a million claims for SSD,” Bambury said. “The agency (Social Security Administration) has been underfunded for several years, and the current staff and ALJs just cannot make progress in decreasing the backlog.
“It’s hard on our clients. We see people go through some very difficult times both financially and health-wise. Because Medicare doesn’t kick in until you are awarded benefits, clients who don’t have health insurance often put off care that they really need.”