Cascade of Ailments, Including PTSD, Wins Benefits

Robert Fields had suffered through many misfortunes in his life. When he was 7, he was shot in his left eye with a BB gun. After his divorce, he was raising his four young children as a single parent. In 2005, he lost his house and belongings, including two cars, in Hurricane Katrina. Then, at the age of 41, he injured his back moving furniture at work and became disabled.

Fields filed for Social Security Disability benefits based on his years of work first in a warehouse, then in the parts department of several car dealerships, and finally as an auditor for a cable company. He also filed for Supplemental Security Income based on his financial need. After he was denied at application, he turned to Attorney Neil H. Good to help him get benefits for himself and his children. The case went to a hearing at the Social Security Administration.

In his pre-hearing memorandum, Attorney Good described the injury Fields sustained to his back. An MRI taken after the accident showed two protruding disks at L1-L2 and L4-L5. Fields was treated with epidural injections but got no relief or recovery. He continued to have back pain, sleep loss from positional pain, and difficulty walking. Pain radiated down his legs and he suffered from numbness in both legs.

Fields also suffered vision impairments, which Attorney Good outlined. The childhood accident resulted in a prosthetic left eye and Fields had frequent eye infections. In adulthood, Fields had a cataract removed from his right eye and had an artificial lens. He could only see things close up. He could not use a computer and his mail had to be read to him. He identified money by shape and size of coins. He could only make out faces when they were close to him.

Further, Attorney Good continued, Fields suffered from depression and anxiety. In the previous year, he had been hospitalized by court order for suicidal ideation. His experiences in Hurricane Katrina left him with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and nightmares. He had episodes of aggressive behavior. He suffered from migraine headaches, with light sensitivity and nausea.

After hearing the evidence, the Administrative Law Judge ruled, “I found you disabled … because of chronic severe back pain and extremely poor vision … that is so severe that you are unable to perform any work…” Robert Fields was awarded Social Security Disability Benefits and Supplemental Security Income.