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Meuser v. Colvin: Disability Benefits Appeals

Meuser v. Colvin, a Social Security disability appeals case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, involved a claimant who was disabled due to be being diagnosed with schizophrenia.  While many people use the term schizophrenia used in a non-professional manner, the disease is a serious mental illness that affects many Americans. Some of the patients will experience paranoia, and many will respond and react to a stimulus that is not actually present.  In some cases, this is actually hearing voices, but in many cases, it is just a series of thoughts that can lead to actions.  Even when properly medicated, it can be very difficult for a person with schizophrenia to work, and they should be entitled to disability benefits.

1034029_medicine_2In this case, claimant was 46-years-old  He had been diagnosed with the serious mental illness back in 1996, but was able to keep working and lead a more normal life while taking Zyprexa.  Zyprexa is a powerful antipsychotic medication but is considered mild on the spectrum of other drugs, as compared to Risperdal or Clozaril that can put patients in a trance-like state similar to Thorazine, which was once hailed a s a medical lobotomy agent. Prior to becoming completely disabled, he was working in the mail room of a small publishing house.  He was considered a socially impaired person, but was generally able to function, despite having a serious mental illness. However, after about six years of treatment, his medical condition started to get worse.  This is quite common for patients who suffer from schizophrenia.  According to case records, the problems started when he was switched to generic Zyprexa.  Before taking the generic, he has sleeping well and not suffering from any side effects.  After taking the generic, he began to suffer from insomnia and could not focus at work due to loss of seep.  His doctor told him the stress at work was not good, so he took a temporary leave from work and moved back in with his parents.  He still lives with his parents at the time of this appeal.

At this point, he started seeing another physiatrist, and this new doctor changed his diagnosis from schizophrenia not otherwise specified (NOS) to paranoid type.  This is generally considered a more severe form of the illness.  His doctor switched him back to name brand Zyprexa and increased his dose.  He is symptoms did not go away.  As our Boston disability attorneys have seen in various cases, claimants who suffer from mental illness will often become more disabled over time, and there is often not a way to reverse this condition with medication.

As noted in court records, he was now suffering from prominent delusions or auditory hallucinations. At this point, it was virtually impossible for him to return to work, so he formally quit his job and applied for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits.  He was eventually given a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), and that ALJ determined he was not disabled.  However, on appeal, the court determined that decision was not supported by sufficient evidence and reversed the denial of benefits.

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:

Meuser v. Colvin, October 3, 2016, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

More Blog Entries:

Worker Taxed Thousands for Social Security Disability Benefits He Never Received, June 21, 2016, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog