Police Officer Wins Benefits

After being injured in the line of duty, after seeing 15 doctors, after being denied twice, after finding an attorney and going through a hearing before the Office of Adjudication and Review, George Granger was approved for Social Security Disability benefits.

Granger, a police officer, was injured on the job pursuing a drunk driver, injuring his back, neck, arm, and leg in June 1994. He cannot sit, stand, or walk for prolonged periods of time and his abilities to reach, squat, bend, kneel, and remember things have been affected. He has problems getting along with others and doesn’t handle stress well. Beyond simple food preparation, he relies on family for meals and household chores.

He filed an application for disability benefits in August 2007, claiming an onset date of late 2006. The application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration; a hearing was then requested. This took place on November 10, 2008. Granger suffers from degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine and lumbar spine; depression; and anxiety. The impairments cause significant limitations in his ability to perform basic work activities. And they have resulted in more than slight functional mental limitations.

He has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work, except he is limited to unskilled work tasks as the combination of impairments affect his ability to sustain the attention and concentration for more detailed or complex tasks. He was being treated for major depression, with persistent symptoms of anhedonia, decreased energy, poor concentration, feelings of guilt, anxiety, and nightmares associated with work. And though he told doctors he manages some family business and exercises regularly, the consistency in his medical allegations overcome any questions that arise by this.

The judge did find “troubling” apparent inconsistencies in the record, primarily over the business management and exercise, but ultimately accepted the medical expert’s opinion “as he is the only medical source who looked at the impairments in combination.”

He cannot perform any past relevant work, the judge ruled. A police officer’s job is skilled work, ranging in medium to heavy exertion and beyond his limitation of sedentary, unskilled work. Moreover, his age plays a factor as well, and given that, plus his education and work experience, the judge ruled the former officer was indeed disabled.