I represent the claimant, John Smith, with regard to his claim for Title II benefits. A hearing in this case is scheduled before you on Thursday, May 7, 2015. Please allow this letter to serve as my pre-hearing brief in this case and request for on-the-record decision.
Please note that claimant Smith is deceased. He passed away at age 61 on January 10, 2015 following emergency surgery for a ruptured colon. I have filed a Form HA-539 (Notice Regarding Substitution of Party Upon Death of Claimant) designating Mr. Smith’s son, Bruce Smith as substitute party.
Claimant John Smith filed this application for Title II benefits on November 15, 2012, alleging an onset date of April 19, 2009. Mr. Hevron was born on May 1, 1953, meaning that he was 55 years of age as of his onset date.
The claimant was a high school graduate and worked consistently since 1972 as an export agent for freight forwarding companies based at the Atlanta airport. From 2000 until he was terminated in April, 2009, the claimant worked for a freight forwarding company called Atlanta Forwarding. Prior to Atlanta Forwarding, he worked in the same capacity for Mocar Logistics and for Star International.
It appears that the D.O.T. would identify this job as Cargo Agent (air transportation) – 248.367-018 – medium, SVP 5 (semi-skilled).
Claimant Smith advised me that he was terminated from his job at Atlanta Forwarding because he was unable to perform the physical demands of that job due to back pain and colitis flare-ups.
Review of Medical Record
The medical record in this case is not extensive as the claimant did not have health insurance and he relied on emergency rooms and Kennesaw Urgent Care for his medical treatment.
The Kennesaw Urgent Care records are at Exhibit 1F and reflect on-going treatment for uncontrolled hypertension, chronic low back pain and diarrhea associated with colitis.
There is a consultative evaluation by Dr. Lance Walker at 2F which discusses the claimant’s uncontrolled hypertension and colitis complications – noting that he had chronic diarrhea with up to 20 bowel movements per day.
Finally, there is a Kennestone emergency room record from August, 2014 which included a CT of the abdomen. The CT identified marked inflammatory changes surrounding the rectum and sigmoid colon compatible with colitis the patient’s history of ulcerative colitis. (3F/6).
As noted above, the claimant died on January 10, 2015 following surgery for a ruptured colon. I have requested the surgical records and will submit when received.
The claimant’s son, Bruce Smith will appear and testify about his late father’s medical issues. I expect that Bruce Smith will explain that his father worked as a freight forwarding agent for over 35 years but was terminated because of difficulties with the lifting requirements of his job and because of colitis flareups which necessitated excessive bathroom breaks.
The claimant himself wrote on my firm’s intake questionnaire about his problems during the last few weeks of his tenure at Atlanta Forwarding:
I would work Saturdays and Sundays just to keep up with work requirements. I had to keep going to the bathroom all day long due to ulcerative colitis. I would go to the bathroom 10 to 15 times a day – sometimes 20 times a day. It is just such a draining and wearing out process. (See attached page from my questionnaire in the claimant’s handwriting).
I expect that Bruce Smith will testify that when his father’s colitis flared, his diarrhea was uncontrollable – this assertion is consistent with the claimant’s statement to Dr. Walker at the consultative evaluation that the claimant could lose control of his bowels due to pressure from trying to stand up.
In addition I expect Bruce Smith will testify that his father frequently complained of headaches and dizziness due to chronic hypertension.
On behalf of the claimant I contend that because of his need to take unscheduled breaks to use the restroom 10 to 20 times per day, the claimant did not have the capacity to perform either his past work or any other competitive job. I contend that any knowledgeable vocational witness would conclude that 10 unscheduled bathroom breaks even two or three days a week would be excessive and not compatible with competitive work.
In the alternative I would argue that Grid Rule 202.02 or a grid framework may apply here as it does not appear that the claimant’s past work generates any transferrable skills and that his exertional capacity would be less than 20 lbs. because of the claimant’s chronic back pain and because of the likelihood of involuntary defecation.
Finally I would point out that the claimant’s cause of death was from a ruptured colon, which was a complication of his long standing ulcerative colitis and serves as evidence regarding the severity of that condition.
Kindly consider this claim for an on-the-record decision. Otherwise the claimant’s son and I will appear on May 7, 2015 to present this claim to you.
Very truly yours,