Tennessee Man With Spondylosis Declared Disabled Twice
Obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a difficult and complex process. Two out of every three applicants initially are denied. Clyde Bishop was recovering from knee and back surgery when he experienced initial denial for a second time. He shares his story here.
* This is a true story as told to Allsup.
Etowah man goes twice around the disability circuit, counting on Allsup to attain his benefits.
On Second Thought, He Really Was Disabled
Etowah, Tennessee-He had been down this road before. It was January 2008, and Clyde Bishop awaited word on the outcome of his Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) appeal. Then age 48, his back ached from a bulging disc and surgery to fuse vertebrae. He gingerly walked around with newly replaced knees.
He had quit work a year earlier because the strain and pain were too much as he climbed on and off and drove roll-off trucks. He knew he was disabled and had been disabled for a long time. Yet, he was uncertain as he waited at home to hear the decision from an administrative law judge who weighed Mr. Bishop's case.
He had reason to worry. At another time, in another courtroom, another judge had agreed that Mr. Bishop was disabled. The judge awarded him closed-period disability, but, as Mr. Bishop recalled, "He said, 'You're still a young man. You need to go back to work.'" And so he did-until he injured himself some more.
Clyde Bishop's ailments might have originated in his youth when he played football. "They told me football injuries come out years later, and I guess that's what happened," he said. Unknown to him at that time, he also had a hidden ailment: Spondylosis, which is degenerative arthritis of the spine vertebra and related tissue. By itself, the condition can cause pressure on root nerves with subsequent pain in the limbs.
Mr. Bishop survived high school football and went on to work as a bread company driver for 18 years. However, in the mid-1990s he hurt his back while digging a ditch. That led to surgery that implanted pins and rods in his lower back and fused discs L5, L4, S1 and S2. "I tried to keep working," he said, "but I lost my job because of my back."
Realizing he was disabled, he hired a lawyer to secure his SSDI benefits. After being declined twice, he attended the hearing where the judge awarded him only closed-period disability. The judge stated that the disability ended in 2003. Mr. Bishop said, "He told me to go back to work. I tried being a driver for a mill, but that didn't last."
After less than two years on that job, he was in worse shape than before. "I had to get a plate in my neck after I blew out a disc," he said. "After I had my knees replaced, it hurt too much to climb in and out of the truck."
In December 2007, Mr. Bishop was once more forced out of work and once more decided to apply for SSDI benefits. This time, though, he opted to use disability experts to help him make his case, and the solution was at his fingertips. When he first researched disability, he found the Web site for Allsup and added it to his browser favorites.
"They said they won 97 percent of their cases, and I was impressed," he said. "I decided to call them, and that's how I ended up with Allsup."
Mr. Bishop learned that he was correct about Allsup, the nation's leading SSDI representation company. In fact, Allsup's success rate is now a staggering 98 percent. CEO and founder Jim Allsup started his company in 1984, after working for the Social Security Administration (SSA), to help people just like Clyde Bishop collect SSDI benefits that he had paid for with FICA taxes throughout his working life.
Celebrating its 25th year in business, Allsup has identified its core vales as True Helping, Fairness, Driven and Expert. In varying ways, Allsup professionals apply these values to every client who asks for their help.
A nationwide company with headquarters in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis, the company is so highly regarded that the Better Business Bureau has presented Allsup its prestigious Torch Award for excellence in customer service. Since 1984, Allsup has secured disability benefits for more than 110,000 deserving clients and obtained nearly $10.3 billion in SSDI and Medicare benefits.
Mr. Bishop was unaware of all those details, but quickly came to trust Allsup experts to travel with him on a well-worn path. Even though he had been approved for SSDI once before, he would have to work for approval once more as if the first favorable decision never occurred.
Again he would apply for disability benefits and-even with Allsup's help-he was denied twice. Allsup representatives had prepared him for the letdowns, and he took them in stride.
"They told me not to worry about it," he said. "They said they had everything under control. I didn't really worry with Allsup because the owner started out working in Social Security, and he knew what to do."
The rejections brought Mr. Bishop once more to the hearing stage before an administrative law judge. However, this "appearance" would be different.
Allsup representative Douglas Nalley was now in charge of the case, and he prepared briefs and Mr. Bishop's medical files to present for on-the-record consideration. That meant written words and medical exhibits would have to carry the day, allowing the client to stay at home to rest and wait.
Mr. Nalley had reviewed Mr. Bishop's claim. "I thought we had a good case," he said. "Having been on disability once before lends credibility to a case. We also needed the attending physician's support, and his doctor was very good. I had also worked with the judge's staff many times. So, I could call the senior attorney and give him a heads up about our added evidence and the prior period of disability."
Mr. Nalley's years of experience typify what Allsup representatives bring to every client's case. As the company CEO proudly says, "Allsup is expert at what we do. As those who developed the industry, we are the experts-understanding what it takes to serve our customers and creating a unique environment so we can deliver on our brand promise every day.
"We continually strive to identify opportunities to expand our expertise-hiring and retaining the best people and building intelligent systems and processes to do what we do best," he added. "Allsup people are inquisitive, smart and driven to be problem solvers; customers are always in great hands with Allsup experts."
So, this was where Mr. Bishop found himself in January 2008, once more waiting for a judge to rule on the merits of his case. This time, however, the wait was short and sweet.
Within days of the judge's review, Mr. Bishop's wife went to the mailbox and brought back a letter from Social Security. The judge had rendered a fully favorable decision. Mr. Bishop was found to be disabled, and this time there was no end date.
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "My wife and I both read the letter, and we both cried. It all worked out like I thought it would. I still have to pinch myself sometimes. It was the hardest thing I ever went through-not just hard on me, but hard on my whole family."
He was also happy that he kept Allsup on his computer's favorites list. "Allsup is professional," he said. "If they say it, you can count on it. I'm glad I found them."