Persistence Pays Off

Empire Justice Center April 30, 2019

Attorney Allison Zaloba of the Legal Aid Society of Northern New York (LASNNY) recently received a fully favorable decision for her client, who has been represented by LASNNY since 2012.  It took three LASNNY attorneys, an appeal to U.S. District Court, a remanded hearing, another trip to the Appeals Council, and a final third hearing, but justice finally prevailed.


The client had filed an application for SSI benefits in July 2011 and received an unfavorable decision in March 2013.  Following an Appeals Council denial, LASNNY filed a complaint in the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.  The Office of General Council (OGC) offered a voluntary Sentence 6 remand because the ALJ’s decision was based on another individual’s medical records.  On remand, the client was again denied, but that decision was remanded by the Appeals Council.  Allison represented the client at a third hearing before a different ALJ in May 2018.


Following the 2018 hearing, the ALJ sent out for medical expert (ME) interrogatories.  The first medical expert ignored and contradicted multiple sources in the record.  Allison requested a supplemental hearing to cross-exam the ME.  But thanks to the work of advocates Jennifer Karr, Mike Telfer, and Adam DeFayette at the Empire Justice Center and LASNNY, this medical expert’s opinion was disqualified. In fact, ME Didio was removed from the roster of medical experts.


The ALJ sent interrogatories to a second medical expert who found the claimant disabled under multiple Listings.  The supplemental hearing, which would have been the client’s fourth hearing, was canceled the day it was to be held.  The client received a fully favorable decision in December 2018, in which the ALJ found her disabled as of her application date.  The client received over $50,000 in SSI and SSP benefits retroactive to August 2011, and is in current receipt of benefits.  LASNNY will also receive attorney fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).  Of note, LASNNY was able to claim fees for administrative time on remand because the District Court remanded the case under Sentence Six of 42 U.S.C. 450(g).  See Sullivan v. Hudson, 490 U.S. 877, 109 S.Ct. 2248, 104 L.Ed.2d 941(1989).


A job well done by all the advocates at LASNNY, who did not give up on this case.