Atticus Client Success Story: How Maria G. Won Benefits
January 31, 2024 · 2 min read
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Atticus offers free, high-quality disability advice for Americans who can't work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and have helped over 10,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.
For three decades, Maria G. worked in hospice and palliative care, tending to patients at the end stage of their lives. Against the advice of her doctors, she continued to work long hours on her feet despite experiencing pain from arthritis.
“I kept feeling like, you know, I can go another year — but really I was damaging my body even more,” she says.
The breaking point came when Maria could not place her feet on the floor upon waking up one morning. “It felt like electricity was pulsating through my body,” she recalls. “It was then that I decided I needed to start looking into disability.”
Like many disability applicants, Maria found the application process lengthy and cumbersome. She filed her application in 2020 when the long waiting periods were lengthened further by the COVID-19 pandemic and SSA field office closures.
“Everything was at a turtle’s crawl…it felt like no one was moving to do anything, and I really needed someone to step in on my behalf. And that’s what I got when I called Atticus.”
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Maria spoke with Sydney Hershenhorn, an attorney on Atticus’s Client Experience team. “Maria's case is a perfect example of how broken the system is,” says Hershenhorn. “She worked for over 30 years and paid into the system, but when she became sick and tried to access it on her own, she had to jump through hoops and spend her time doing paperwork and dealing with bureaucracy instead of focusing on getting better.”
Atticus matched Maria with Joshua Potter, a dedicated disability lawyer at Potter, Cohen, Samulon & Padilla in Pasadena, Calif., who took on her case. Potter handled the paperwork and facilitated all communication with the Social Security Administration, updating her about the status of her claim every step of the way.
“That was a great, great relief,” she says. “A whole lot of stress was taken off my hands at that point.”
When she applied, she was under the age of 50, making the process more challenging. “Disability for anyone under the age of 50 is just an ordeal, and what we tried to do is listen,” says Potter. Understanding the client’s experience helps build a strong, personalized case. “We try to bring humanity to an otherwise pretty opaque system.”
Luckily, Maria’s success came quickly. She won her disability case and received her first check just six months later, bringing comfort to her and her family. “When I got my first check, let me tell you, I was excited, I was happy, and I was just grateful knowing I’d be able to keep my family together with a roof over our head,” she says.
Obtaining disability benefits has been a critical step in her journey to managing her health and enjoying life fully with her large family, especially her six grandchildren.
“If you’re having difficulty getting through the disability process, and you don’t have anyone in your corner, I would highly recommend Atticus,” Maria says. “They do it on your behalf, and you’ll be well on your way.”
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