By WILLIAM WHALEN, Chief Counsel and MELS Director
The spouse of a DC 37 member contacted MELS in summer 2020 asking for help with her Social Security Disability (SSD) denial. She had applied for disability in 2018 based on right-eye blindness and other medical conditions and was denied. Then she had a hearing before a judge. Her disability claim was denied again.
She had filed for a reconsideration to the Appeals Council and then learned that DC 37 MELS assists members and their eligible family members with SSD denials.
She was frustrated and felt lost trying to navigate through the bureaucracy of the Social Security Administration.
The first step for MELS was to review her case and make sure that her medical records were complete and up to date. Alfia Agish, an attorney in MELS’ Administrative/Wills unit, worked with the member’s spouse and prepared her for the questions that would be asked in the virtual hearing (which has been the medium used for hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic).
In November 2021, the hearing finally took place. A few weeks later, MELS learned that the judge issued a fully favorable decision deeming the member’s spouse disabled. The member’s spouse received over $107,400.00 in back pay and would continue to receive a monthly disability check going forward.
“Alfia Agish and the DC 37 legal team were by my side with my initial inquiry for assistance,” said the member’s spouse. “Throughout the process, Alfia Agish offered professional guidance and support for my disability appeal case. When I first started my Social Security Disability claim alone, I was denied. I had no idea that the union supported members and their families in these types of claims.
“It was with their assistance with my appeal that the outcome was successful. I would have reached out sooner for their assistance. I appreciate Alfia Agish and DC 37 union’s efforts. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Any DC 37 member or eligible family member applying for SSD/SSI can contact the MELS screening Department at 212- 815-1111 to obtain free legal representation and to get answers to questions related to Social Security Disability/ Insurance cases.