Author: Catherine M. Callery (Kate)| Louise M. Tarantino

What are the chances of getting two fully favorable “on the record” decisions in one week for siblings?  That is exactly what paralegal Amy Leach of the Norwich office of the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York managed to do.  In two cases involving the autism spectrum, Amy convinced an ALJ in one case and a senior decision writer in the other that both  siblings are disabled.

Although neither the ALJ nor the senior decision writer found that the siblings’ claims met the Listing 12.10 for autism, they agreed that both siblings’ impairments are functionally equivalent to the listings.  In deciding the case of the 14-year-old brother, who suffers from seizures and other neurological impairments, the ALJ relied on the opinions of the treating sources, particularly the treatment records for the seizure disorder, to find that the claimant had marked limitations in the domains of attending and completing tasks and interacting and relating with other. In reaching this conclusion, the ALJ noted that “[t]he medical record supports the characterization of the claimant’s problems as set forth in the recent written communication from the representative, Amelia Leach, a registered nurse with unusual familiarity with the Asperger-type syndromes, and their overall/universal impact on general daily functioning.”

In the sister’s case, the decision writer was not so effusive, but nonetheless concluded that the 12-year-old girl had marked limitations in the domains of acquiring and using information, interacting and relating with other, and caring for personal needs.

Kudos to Amy for quite a week’s work!  Following up on that roll, Amy reports that she recently received another favorable decision for a preschooler with global developmental delays.  The ALJ agreed with Amy’s argument that the child’s speech and language difficulties resulted in marked impairments in the domains of acquiring and using language and interacting and relating with others.  Amy notes how important it is to develop good evidence in these cases, and credits the reports of prior cases in this newsletter with keeping her up to date in this area.  Thanks, Amy!