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KKC v. Colvin: Disability Benefits Cases

KKC v. Colvin, a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, involves a federal disability claimant who dropped out of high school in the 11th grade.  He went to work in various jobs, including being a cook, a restaurant server, an employee at a fast food restaurant and eventually the manger. In addition to working in the food service industry, he also worked as an electrician’s assistant.

1034029_medicine_2Unfortunately, many in the restaurant industry become heavy smokers, and this claimant was no different.  As those who have worked in the food and beverage industry know, in most jobs you do not really get any breaks as you do in other types of jobs, despite relevant labor laws.  The only practical way to get a break is to say you are going out back (usually by the dumpster behind the kitchen) to go smoke a cigarette.

Claimant was a very heavy smoker for most of his working life and was smoking between two and three packs a day. He was then diagnosed with congestive heart failure and worked on quitting and was eventually able to cut down to around half a pack a day, which is still smoking, but obviously way better than what he was doing.

As part of his medical condition with his heart, he was required to rely upon a defibrillator, and this made it impracticable for him to work. While the court document did not indicate whether this was an internally placed pacemaker or some type of external defibrillator, it is safe to assume we are talking about an implant.

As part of the application process for benefits, claimant was required to undergo several evaluations, and a vocational expert (VE) made a determination as to his level of disability and determined his residual functioning capacity (RFC).

It should be noted that this entire process is set up in a way to favor the United States Social Security Administration (SSA), and it is especially difficult for an unrepresented claimant to be successful.  It is for this reason that you should seek a consultation with an experienced Boston disability benefits attorney as soon as possible to greatly increase the chances you will obtain a full and appropriate award of benefits.

In KKC, VE determined claimant could cook at home, play with his children, do household chores like dishes and laundry, watch TV and go visit his friends.  According to his fiancée, while he could do all of these things, he became very fatigued quickly and could only stand for about 30 minutes before he could no longer stay on his feet.

He was soon hospitalized for shortness of breath after only very light exertion, and he was diagnosed with pain in his chest, shortness of breath, and fatigue.  He had an ejection fraction (EF) that was down to 10 percent.  An EF is a medical term to rate the efficiency of one’s heart, and a 10 is very bad and requires a heart transplant. However, his doctor said he could not be put on a transplant list until he quit smoking and passed a mental examination.

Despite his serious heart condition, he was found not to be disabled, and on two appeals, the denial of benefits was affirmed.

If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

KKC v. Colvin, March 18, 2016, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

More Blog Entries:

Dimmett v. Colvin: SSDI Appeals, April 5, 2016, Boston SSDI attorney