Client Success Stories
$100 Million Won in the last 5 years.
What Sets Us Apart
We have a proven track record of winning. When you are hurt at work or disabled and unable to work, the attorneys you hire can make all the difference in whether you will win your case, including your Workers’ Compensation settlement amounts. Fields Law Firm has a winning record of getting our clients the compensation and benefits they deserve while at the same time looking out for their long term interests. Here are just a few of our client success stories.
Workers Compensation Settlement Amounts
A woman working as a machine operator at a manufacturing plant suffered an injury to her right hand when she fell into a machine at work. As a result of this injury, she developed chronic regional pain syndrome. Her pain eventually spread to other parts of her body, as is common in people suffering from this condition. Her employer and the workers’ compensation insurer denied that the pain was related to the hand injury she developed at work. Our team helped the client to obtain a court order requiring her employer to pay for the medical treatment she needed to treat her injury. In addition, we helped the woman secure a $200,000 settlement against her employer and its workers’ compensation insurer.
Attorney Kristen Gyolai and our team helped an injured nurse obtain a significant settlement from a large hospital. The client suffered a low back injury at work while transferring a patient from a stretcher to a hospital bed. The client underwent major surgery as a result of this injury, but her back pain persisted. The hospital and its workers’ compensation insurer sent the client to a physician who provided a statement that the client’s pain was unrelated to her work injury. Despite this physician’s opinion, our staff helped the injured nurse obtain a significant settlement of over $190,000.
We represented a carpenter who sustained a serious back injury while working for his employer that made him unable to continue working as a carpenter. Our client’s employer and its workers’ compensation insurer refused to cover the medical bills associated with his work injury. Our team fought the insurance company and helped him obtain a settlement, which included medical costs, wage loss, and the cost of an education. The final settlement for the client was $175,000. In addition to the settlement, medical benefits related to the client’s back remain open, meaning our team continues to work with the client’s doctors today to ensure that he gets all of the medical care that he needs due to his work injury.
One of our clients suffered a severe low back injury while he was loading heavy cases at his employer’s manufacturing plant. As a result of this injury, he suffered from chronic pain and depression. Our team worked with the client’s doctors to fight to get him the medical care he needed and to establish that he was permanently disabled as a result of the work injury. We helped the client obtained a $175,000 settlement for his case, which helped him to move past his unfortunate work injury.
Our office had the opportunity to represent a state employee who had developed PTSD as a result of his work. PTSD became a compensable work injury in October 1, 2013. Prior to that date, individuals suffering from PTSD were not entitled to any wage loss or medical benefits under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation system. Attorney Kristen Gyolai fought the insurance company to help this client obtain a settlement of more than $160,000 to compensate him for his past and future wage loss, medical expenses, and his permanent partial disability due to his mental and physical work injuries.
A 24 year-old construction worker suffered a fractured vertebra while he was working on a project for his employer. His injury required an extensive spinal fusion surgery. His employer retaliated against the worker following this injury, pressuring him not to tell his doctor that his injury occurred at work. Our team helped the worker pursue claims against his employer for both its retaliation against him and for the workers’ compensation benefits that the employer and the workers’ compensation insurer owed him. We settled this case for $160,000, with the agreement that the employer and its insurer would continue to pay future medical treatment the employee will reasonably require for his back injury.
Our team represented a woman who injured her ankle while working as a gas station clerk. The woman developed chronic regional pain syndrome and required extensive medical treatment to moderate her symptoms. Unfortunately, the woman’s doctors found her permanently and totally disabled, unable to ever return to work. We worked with her doctors to make her employer pay for her necessary medical treatment and to compensate her for becoming permanently and totally disabled as a result of her work injury at the gas station. Our team fought the employer and insurer to obtain a settlement of over $200,000 and to ensure that they continued to pay for her ongoing medical treatment related to the work injury.
Attorney Kristen Gyolai represented a man who worked as school janitor. The man slipped and fell on ice while working, tearing his right shoulder rotator cuff. Due to his injury, the man was not able to return to his job as a janitor. His employer initially compensated him for his injury, but eventually stopped paying benefits based on a doctor’s opinion that his shoulder problem was pre-existing and that his work injury was only temporary in nature. Ms. Gyolai worked with the client’s treating doctors to refute the employer’s position. She helped him obtained a settlement from his employer of $150,000, which included compensation for wage loss, medical expenses, and the permanent disability he incurred as the result of his work injury.
Our team represented a woman who sustained a leg injury while carrying cement bricks in her position as a laborer for a large construction company. As result of her work injury, the woman suffered a permanent partial disability and needed retraining in order to make a wage commensurate with what she earned before her work injury. Our team fought the insurance company to make sure the client was compensated for all of these expenses. The final settlement amount in this case was $125,000.
A man came to Fields Law Firm for help when he developed pain in his right elbow, bicep tendon, and wrist while performing his work activities. He had worked for the same employer for more than 30 years. His repetitive stress injury symptoms developed in his most recent position as a welder. When he reported the symptoms, the employer and workers’ compensation insurer denied liability for his injuries. The man went on to require surgery for his injuries, and incurred wage loss and medical bills.
Fields Law Firm brought a claim on his behalf, and argued that the workers’ compensation insurer was responsible for the wage loss and medical bills. After bringing the claim, the workers’ compensation insurer ended up admitting that they were responsible, and paid for the wage loss and medical bills. Unfortunately, our client went on to necessitate another surgery, and developed subsequent injuries. When he was unable to return to his job that employer, his team at Fields secured a $115,000 settlement through mediation.
Attorney Kristen Gyolai and our team represented a man who sustained multiple back injuries over the course of several years. . These injuries rendered him totally and permanently disabled from working. His employer and its insurer argued that they were not liable because the man had done something at home to aggravate his back injury. Kristen Gyolai worked with doctors to prove that the injuries he suffered at work were a substantial contributing factor in his permanent and total disability and to obtain the client a $115,000 settlement from his employer and the insurance company.
Our office represented a woman who hurt her shoulder and ribs while working on a light rail crew for a construction company. She sustained the injury while she was pulling out a compressor for the jackhammer. The woman was put on work restrictions by her doctors due to injury. Her employer laid her off because it did not have work for her within her restrictions. Our team fought the insurance company to secure her a settlement that compensated her for her wage loss due to the lay-off, her medical bills, and her rehabilitation expenses. We obtained a settlement for this client in excess of $100,000.
We represented a man who injured his left shoulder when he fell off of a truck while working as an abatement worker. As result of his shoulder injury, the man underwent a rotator cuff repair operation and participated in extensive therapy. Post-surgery, he began to suffer from numbness and tingling in his left hand. The worker’s doctors placed him on permanent work restrictions due to his work injury. Due to these restrictions, the man was laid off and forced to go back to work at a lower wage than what he had earned prior to his work injury. Our team fought the insurance company to compensate him for his loss in earning capacity. The settlement included $100,000 and an agreement that the employer and insurer would pay for future medical treatment related to the work injury.
Our team represented a department store worker in a claim against her employer after a bank of lockers fell on top of her at work, causing a compression fracture in her lower spine. The woman had to undergo numerous surgeries as result of her work injury. Her doctors deemed her permanently unable to work. Attorney Kristen Gyolai settled the claim through mediation for $99,000, ensuring that the employer and insurer would pay all future reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to her serious and complex back injury.
A truck driver fell out of a truck while working for his employer, sustaining a severe low back injury. The employer and its insurer initially paid for wage loss and medical benefits related to his injury. Then the insurer sent him to a doctor for an independent medical examination. The doctor issued a report stating that the worker had sustained a temporary aggravation of a pre-existing back condition that had resolved. Based on this report, the employer discontinued payment of the driver’s wage loss and medical benefits. We fought the employer to obtain a court order which denied the insurer’s attempt to discontinue benefits. In the end, our attorneys and staff worked with the driver’s doctors to obtain a settlement in the amount $100,000 for his work injury.
Our team represented a machinist with a physically demanding job who sustained a herniated disc in his low back at work. Despite extensive chiropractic care and physical therapy, our client’s pain was too severe for him to continue to do his pre-injury job. The workers’ compensation insurer initially accepted liability for the work injury, but eventually discontinued paying the benefits arguing that the employee had stopped working and that his disabling condition was unrelated to the admitted work injury. Despite this, our workers’ compensation attorneys helped the client obtain a significant settlement in the amount $100,000, which allowed him to move past his unfortunate work injury.
Our office represented an airplane mechanic who broke his right hand when he fell at work. The mechanic earned a high wage and the nature of the injury to his dominant hand made it unlikely that he would be able to return to his pre-injury occupation. Our team fought to include the cost of retraining in the settlement against his employer and insurer. Our workers’ compensation attorneys helped the mechanic obtain a settlement in the amount of $115,000.
We represented a hospital employee who sustained a significant back injury while transferring a patient at work. As a result of this work injury, our client has severe spondylolisthesis, which causes him disabling pain in his low back. Due his work injury, he can never work again. Our team helped the client obtain settlement against the hospital and its insurer for more than $110,000 due to his permanent, total disability.
We represented a man who drove trucks and stocked inventory for a multi-national products wholesaler. The worker suffered an injury to his lumbar spine as a result of lifting heavy objects at work. The employer and its insurer discontinued his worker compensation benefits arguing that he suffered from pre-existing lumbar spine disease. Despite this, Attorney Kristen Gyolai fought the insurance company to secure the worker a settlement of $100,000 with respect to his work injury.
A man with a long history of back problems sustained an acute low back injury while he was loading product at the farm where he worked. The client required three major back surgeries to treat the injury. His positioning during one of these surgeries caused the client to suffer a neck injury. Our team helped the client get the support needed from his doctors to demonstrate that his work injury caused his lower back and neck conditions. One of our attorneys successfully mediated this case, obtaining the client a $140,000 settlement for the injured worker.
Long Term Disability
Long Term Disability Recoveries
Benefits Approved For Woman With Disabling Pain And Depression
A woman who worked as a Child Support Officer for her local county was denied disability benefits after becoming unable to work due to her battle with lower extremity lymphedema. This condition caused severe swelling in her legs that affected her gait and her ability to balance, which caused her to fall frequently. The woman also suffered from depression and had significant cognitive impairments, including memory problems and inability to concentrate.
She was confused and distraught about Voya’s denial of her benefits. The woman knew she needed to appeal the denial but her insurance policy was complex and she was unsure of the process.
Fields Law Firm helped the woman with her case from beginning to end. We reached out to three of our client’s treating physicians to get the information needed to reverse Voya’s denial. Our client found peace in knowing that she would not have to worry about paying her bills.
Large Settlement Recovered After Unfair Denial By Insurance Company
Our client became totally disabled from her job as a pharmacy technician due to chronic back pain, caused by bulging and herniated discs in her lumbar spine. CIGNA denied our client benefits claiming that her job was sedentary and was within her physical capabilities.
The client was confused because her job required constant standing. It also required her to be moving around the pharmacy and between the counter and the filling station for nearly the entire work day. After unsuccessfully appealing the decision on her own, she came to us for help. We were happy to fight the insurance company to get her the benefits she desperately needed.
Based on our experience, we knew that the insurance company had not considered how physically demanding our client’s job could be. We sent our client’s file to a vocational expert for an Independent Vocational Review. This person conducted a national and local job outlook study and determined that the position of pharmacy technician requires constant standing and walking.
The team at Fields Law Firm drafted a strong appeal for our client, exposing all of CIGNA’s errors. In the end, we recovered a large settlement for our client without having to go to court.
Sun Life Financial
Significant Settlement Secured For Man Suffering From Multiple Sclerosis
A young man who worked as a technician became totally disabled from doing his job due to his battle with multiple sclerosis. He was experiencing a decline in his cognitive and neuropsychological functioning. About nine months after he started receiving benefits, Sun Life Financial cut off his benefits claiming that he no longer met the definition of “totally disabled” under his policy. The insurance company claimed that the man’s participation in social activities and exercise proved that he was able to work.
The former technician chose Fields Law Firm to help him appeal Sun Life’s unfair decision. We know that being disabled does not mean that a person must not or cannot engage in any social or recreational activity. In fact, our client’s doctor had recommended he exercise to improve his symptoms. Our team prepared an appeal highlighting Sun Life’s errors.
The insurance company also failed to consider all of the symptoms of his MS, such as fatigue. We strengthened our client’s case by gathering statements from his treating physicians outlining the restrictions that the insurer missed. We resolved the case with Sun Life through mediation. Our client was thrilled with the results of the settlement.
Long Term Disability Appeal Won For Disabled Nurse
The Fields team had the opportunity to help a 64-year-old nurse suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis and Fibromyalgia after CIGNA cut off her benefits. The insurance company argued that the nurse should be able to find a sedentary job using her transferable skills. CIGNA relied on an incomplete analysis of the nurse’s ability to find work, and claimed that the nurse should pursue positions that would require considerable training and education.
The former nurse came to Fields Law to represent her in appealing the discontinuation of her benefits. Attorney Kristen Gyolai and the team at Fields Law helped the client through the entire process. We worked diligently to prove that the former nurse was truly unable to find suitable work. Attorney Gyolai prepared an appeal that detailed the mistakes and thoughtlessness of CIGNA’s review of the nurse’s claim. CIGNA had no choice but to reinstate her benefits.
Benefits Reinstated After Unjust Discontinuation
A staffing specialist at Allina Hospitals and Clinics had been receiving disability benefits from CIGNA since 2003, when she was forced to stop working due to her systemic lupus erythematosus, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, and life-threatening pulmonary emboli. CIGNA abruptly discontinued her benefits at a time when her health was continuing to decline. She was very ill, requiring 24-hour home health care, along with IV fluids and tube feedings. Her medical expenses were substantial. She had already appealed the discontinuation once on her own, but CIGNA upheld its decision to discontinue.
Fearful for her future and the future of her family, the woman contacted us at Fields Law Firm and discussed her case with an Attorney. Our team determined exactly what was necessary to prove our client was disabled. We collaborated with her doctors to make clear to the insurance company the severity of her condition. Because of our work, our client’s benefits were reinstated and she was provided back pay for the time her benefits had been wrongfully cut off.
Lincoln National Life Insurance Company
Substantial Settlement after Denial of Benefits
Our client became totally disabled from his work due to his inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis, restless leg syndrome, low back pain, and cervical radiculopathy. He worked for many years as a director of employee services for his employer. This job required him to travel to worksites in his region weekly for inspections. His physical limitations due to his conditions, especially with respect to standing, made it impossible for him to continue this work. However, Lincoln National Life Insurance Company denied the worker’s claim for long-term disability benefits, alleging that the worker’s occupation was sedentary in nature. Lincoln also claimed that a statement from the claimant’s physician did not contain physical restrictions severe enough to preclude him from performing the duties of his job.
The disabled employee made the decision to get Fields Law Firm to help him fight the insurance company’s wrongful denial of benefits. The Fields Law team showed that Lincoln failed to properly evaluate our client’s claim, and that by doing so, Lincoln breached its fiduciary duty to our client. First, Lincoln had wholly misstated the physician’s statement, ignoring important limitations and restrictions imposed on our client by his doctor. In addition, Lincoln misclassified the disabled worker’s occupation as a sedentary position, when in fact, the position was not sedentary in nature at all. Attorney Operana provided evidence that his client’s job was actually performed at a “light duty,” or even “medium duty” exertional level. Our team filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of our client. Attorney Operana was able to settle the case for a lump sum without having to go to court.
Disability Benefits Reinstated after being Discontinued Based on Invalid Workability Assessment
Our client worked as a mixer driver for a concrete company. Our client became disabled from doing this job due to chronic back and bilateral knee pain. His diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea also contributed to his disability. AIG initially paid our client long term disability benefits. However, AIG abruptly discontinued his benefits based on an Employability Assessment it conducted, which stated that our client was capable of performing gainful employment based on his lack of restrictions and limitations, as well as his education, transferrable skills, work history and residual capacity.
The disabled worker, confused and distraught about AIG’s actions, came to Fields Law Firm. Our team was able to spot critical errors made by the insurance company when it discontinued our client’s benefits. In preparing the Employability Assessment, AIG had based the analysis of his workability on a misleading report from a doctor. This doctor had released our client to work with no restrictions, but he only based his decision on the resolution of a temporary shoulder injury our client suffered from. The doctor did not consider our client’s disabling conditions, for which he was approved for benefits in the first place. Attorney Kristen Gyolai prepared a strong appeal exposing AIG’s mistakes, leaving AIG had no choice but to reverse its decision and reinstate our client’s long term disability benefits.
Long Term Disability Benefits Won Under “Any Occupation” Definition of Disability
A woman who worked for many years as a personnel officer for the state was unable to continue to work due to a number of serious and debilitating mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, panic attacks, bipolar 1 disorder, and ADHD. The Hartford accepted her claim and paid her long term disability benefits for two years under the “your occupation” definition of disability. After two years, The Hartford continued to pay benefits under the “any occupation” definition of disability. Despite the woman’s continuing impairments and limitations, The Hartford discontinued her benefits based on an Independent Review Report prepared by a doctor who reviewed the woman’s medical records.
Confused and distraught about The Hartford’s action, the woman called Fields Law Firm for help. Our team immediately began working on an appeal to fight The Hartford’s discontinuation of benefits. We argued The Hartford had ignored important parts of our client’s records, which showed that her condition had not improved and that she continued to suffer from limitations that make her disabled from any occupation. The appeal was a success, and The Hartford reinstated our client’s long-term disability benefits. Our client was put at ease, knowing that she would have financial security despite her disabling mental health conditions.
Liberty Life Assurance
Long-Term Disability Benefits Reinstated after Liberty Life Assurance Applied Wrong Definition of Disability under Policy
Our client worked as a packager in a factory for many years until she became disabled due to chronic back pain in January 2013. At that time, Liberty Life Assurance began paying her long-term disability benefits. However, Liberty seized her benefits in September 2015, alleging that her medical records did not continue to support severe and incapacitating symptoms that would warrant work in any capacity beyond that date.
Our client was frustrated and confused because she knew she could not return to work in her condition. She called us for help in appealing Liberty Life Assurance’s discontinuation of her benefits. Attorney Kristen Gyolai and our team prepared a strong appeal letter for our client, in which we exposed the fact that Liberty Life Assurance had applied the wrong standard of disability in discontinuing her benefits. Our client’s policy provided for payment of disability based on an inability to perform the duties of her “own occupation” for 36 months. At the time of its discontinuation, our client did not need to prove she was unable to work “in any capacity” in order to remain eligible for benefits.
The appeal prepared by Fields showed that Liberty Life Assurance had breached its fiduciary duty to our by misusing video surveillance. The appeal also highlighted why Liberty Life should not have ignored the Social Security Administration’s finding that our client is totally disabled from any job in the national economy.
In the end, Fields was successful in appealing Liberty Life’s decision and our client’s benefits were reinstated. Our client was thrilled that the benefits on which she relies will continue.
Discontinuation of Long Term Disability Benefits Appealed and Reversed
A customer service agent suffering from an immunity virus, chronic low back pain, and coronary artery disease was abruptly cut off from his benefits based on Reliance’s selective and partial review of his medical and vocational records. In support of the discontinuation, Reliance stated that the claimant should be capable of frequent and continuous sitting and frequent standing and walking. The insurer relied on the opinion of a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist who reviewed the worker’s file and opined that he was able to perform sedentary work.
The disabled worker called Fields Law Firm because he knew that his insurance company had made a mistake. Our team prepared a winning appeal for our client that exposed the inadequacy of Reliance Standard’s review. In preparing the appeal, we gathered reports from our client’s treating doctors and highlighted parts of his medical records to show that he remained entirely disabled from not just his own, but any occupation. We forced Reliance to admit its mistake, reinstate our client’s long term disability benefits and award him back pay for lost benefits.
Benefits Reinstated After Wrongful Discontinuation
Our team had represented a worker who was unable to continue his job due to neurocardiogenic syncope, an autonomic nervous system reflex disorder that causes the individual’s heart rate and blood pressure to drop, leading to fainting episodes. In discontinuing the worker’s benefits, Guardian relied on the opinions of two doctors who had never even seen the man, but felt that he could perform sedentary work based on their review of his medical records. Additionally, Guardian stated that the man’s restrictions, as provided by his treating doctor, were “preventative” in nature and not indicative of his ability/inability to perform gainful work.
Attorney Kristen Gyolai presented a strong brief to Guardian, in which she argued that it had not applied the correct standard of disability when it found that her client was not disabled. She argued that the fact that her client’s restrictions were in place to prevent him from fainting and sustaining further injury did not preclude payment of benefits under his policy. Ms. Gyolai and her team also gathered updated medical records for the client and illustrated that his condition had not improved since he was initially awarded benefits. Based on these efforts, Guardian agreed to reinstate the man’s benefits.
Settlement Awarded after Discontinued Benefits
A custodian working at a public school was forced to stop working due to degenerative joint disease, arthritis, and tendonitis in his shoulder. The Standard, the worker’s long-term disability insurer, initially awarded the man benefits. However, after paying benefits for several months, The Standard discontinued his benefits. The Standard alleged that the definition of disability had changed and that the man no longer met the definition of disability. The Standard based its denial on the opinion of a vocational consultant.
The disabled worker came to us for help getting his benefits reinstated. We fought hard for him every step of the way. We filed a strong appeal directly to The Standard, which demonstrated that the vocational consultant’s opinion was not supported by the claimant’s functional capacity. Our team also represented the former custodian in his claim for Social Security Disability Benefits. After our client was found disabled by the Social Security Administration, we used the SSA decision to support our client’s claim for ongoing long-term disability benefits. We helped the client obtain a significant settlement for his case, helping him to find some peace despite his inability to work.
Reinstatement of Benefits Under “Any Occupation” Definition of Disability
A housekeeping staff manager very much enjoyed her work and was a valued employee at the hotel where she worked until she became physically disabled from performing her job. She was initially awarded long-term disability benefits based on her inability to perform her own occupation. Aetna discontinued her benefits after 24 months, alleging that she could perform sedentary work and was therefore, not disabled from performing any occupation.
Our team argued that our client was unable to continue her job as staff manager. We also argued she was unable to perform any job at all. We reached out to our client’s treating physicians in an effort to gather support for our client’s claim. We showed that Aetna’s conclusion that our client was able to perform any occupation was not supported and was inconsistent with her medical records. After Aetna denied our client’s claim at the administrative level, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of the disabled worker. In the end, we settled the case without going to trial. Our client was thrilled with the outcome of the settlement.
Reinstatement of Discontinued Disability Benefits
A hospital technician for a large healthcare provider suffered from chronic cervical spine and neck pain that radiated down her arms into her fingers, causing tingling and numbness. Prudential discontinued her benefits alleging that she no longer met the definition of disability under her policy and was not entitled to benefits. Prudential based its decision to discontinue benefits on a report from an Independent Medical Examination. The technician came to Fields Law Firm to challenge Prudential’s decision.
Our team gathered evidence to show that our client continued to meet the definition of disability and her condition had not improved since she was originally awarded benefits. The Independent Medical Examination report that Prudential relied on misstated, ignored, and selectively cited the substantial medical evidence in the file that supported our client’s disability. We argued that Prudential had actually breached its fiduciary duty to our client in denying her benefits. Our team eventually filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of our client. We successfully settled the case for an amount that put our client at ease, knowing that she would have financial security despite her disabling condition.
Reversal of Initially Denied Short-Term and Long-Term Disability Claim
A former business technology analyst contacted us when The Hartford denied her short-term and long-term disability benefits despite the fact that the she was unable to work due to her rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and degenerative disc disease. The Hartford’s denial of benefits was based on the opinion of a doctor who had never even seen our client; he merely reviewed her medical records and then gave an opinion that she was not disabled.
Disability attorney Kristen Gyolai drafted a strong appeal for our client, pointing out that the doctor, whose opinions The Hartford relied on, selectively reviewed the records, and ignored vital facts. We also obtained letters from our client’s treating doctors to refute The Hartford’s denial of benefits. In the end, The Hartford reversed its denial of benefits and our client received back pay as well as ongoing monthly benefits. Our client was thrilled that we got her the benefits she deserved.
Benefits Originally Denied, Reversed on Appeal
A nurse who had enjoyed her work for many years became completely unable to do her job due to her chronic mental health issues. She suffers from depression and anxiety, which significantly affected her ability to care for her patients at work. The Hartford denied the nurse’s application for long term disability despite the fact that she submitted a letter from her attending physician that stated she would likely never be able to return to work.
Our client turned to Fields Law Firm for help during this difficult time. Our team prepared an appeal that exposed The Hartford’s deficient review of our client’s claim, especially its failure to consider how our client’s mental health condition made it impossible for her to complete tasks required in the nursing profession. The appeal summarized diagnostic testing and the opinions of her doctors in support of her inability to work as a nurse. The Hartford finally realized its initial decision was in error.
Award after Original Denial of Long-Term Disability Benefits
Our disability attorneys filed an ERISA appeal for a nurse who worked for many years on the labor and delivery floor of a hospital and in a special needs nursery. The former nurse suffers from reflex sympathetic dystrophy/complex regional pain syndrome (RSD/CRPS). The Hartford denied her disability claiming that she did not meet the policy definition of disability and that there were no objective findings of her impairments. However, its denial was based on an incomplete review of our client’s medical records. Our client’s records were fraught with evidence of her ongoing pain and symptoms, which made her simply unable to do her job.
Our team fought hard to reverse the decision of The Hartford. We obtained letters from our client’s treating doctors to refute the denial. We also supported the appeal with the Social Security Administration’s finding that our client is entirely disabled due to her RSD/CRPS. Our appeal presented the medical evidence clearly so that The Hartford could not deny that she is disabled. She was thrilled to have the decision reversed and to be awarded ongoing benefits. Since our client was injured at work, we were also able to represent her in a workers’ compensation claim. We helped her obtain a significant settlement from the workers’ compensation insurer.
Reinstatement of Discontinued Disability Benefits
The Hartford reinstated disability benefits after Attorney Kristen Gyolai and her team successfully appealed its decision to discontinue a disabled worker’s benefits. Our client, who had worked for years as a financial assistance specialist, was unable to work due to major depression and anxiety. The Hartford, which had initially paid her benefits, suddenly ceased even though she had seen no improvement in her symptoms.
Our firm prepared an appeal that showed her psychological condition had not changed and that she remained entitled to benefits. In this appeal, we showed that The Hartford based its denial on a selective and partial review of our client’s medical records. We also obtained medical opinions from her treating doctors to support the persistence of her impairments. Our appeal was successful and our client was incredibly relieved when she learned that her benefits would continue.
Discontinuation of Disability Benefits Appealed and Reversed
Fields Law Firm had the opportunity to represent a hospital-worker when The Hartford erroneously and arbitrarily discontinued her long-term disability benefits. The Hartford sent her to a doctor for an “Independent Medical Examination” and then based its discontinuation of benefits on the doctor’s opinion that our client was capable of sedentary work.
Our attorney’s familiarity with the law allowed them to identify vital errors that The Hartford made in considering our client’s claim. We drafted a strong appeal arguing that the insurer must provide sufficient evidence of an improvement in order to discontinue benefits, which it could not in this case. We worked with doctors to reinforce our client’s ongoing restrictions and limitations due to her condition. We refuted the opinion of the independent medical examiner. The appeal was successful. Our client was relieved that she would continue to receive her long-term disability benefits.
Initial Denial of Disability Benefits Reversed on Appeal
Prudential denied a welder’s claim for long term disability despite his inability to do his job due to a significant neck injury. The welder was bending over his work station when a piece of metal jumped into his welding helmet and hit his eye. He tried to stand up quickly to get the piece of metal out, but the back of his helmet got caught as he was attempting to stand up. He “wrenched” his neck. He made every attempt to return to work but it became impossible due to the pain in his neck that radiated into his upper extremities. He tried various jobs, but nothing worked.
Prudential claimed that the welder’s medical record did not support an impairment that would prevent him from performing his job as a welder. The welder came to Fields Law Firm to help him stand up to Prudential to get the benefits he deserved.
Our team drafted an appeal to show that Prudential overlooked medical evidence and provided little to no rationale for its denial. We know that an insurance company cannot discontinue benefits based on a selective or partial review of a beneficiary’s file. We provided a strong legal argument in the appeal, forcing Prudential to change its position. The man was awarded back pay, along with ongoing monthly benefits.
Discontinuation of Disability Benefits Appealed and Reversed
A woman who worked as a housekeeper became entirely unable to work due to chronic back pain and degeneration of her lumbar discs. Aetna paid the woman her long-term disability benefits for 24 months because she could not perform her job as a housekeeper. After 24 months, Aetna ceased her benefits, stating that in order to continue to receive benefits, she needed to be disabled from any occupation. She came to Fields Law Firm distraught, knowing that she could not work at all anymore due to her pain, but that Aetna was stopping her benefits.
We could see that Aetna had failed to properly evaluate our client’s claim. Aetna relied excessively on certain evidence, while ignoring evidence that was supportive of her disability. We drafted an appeal that exposed Aetna’s mistakes. We also reached out to her doctors to obtain reports supporting her disability, which were vital to her case. These reports allowed us to prove that our client was unable to work in any occupation. In the end, we were successful in reversing Aetna’s denial of benefits and our client was awarded ongoing benefits.
Successfully Appealed Denial of Disability Benefits
A teller at a bank came to us after Aetna denied her disability benefits. She was distressed because she suffers from advanced degenerative disc disease, cervical radiculopathy, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain and simply could not do her job. She deals with ongoing pain in her back, arms and legs that has diminished her quality of life and has made it impossible for her stand for long hours at work. Aetna claimed that there was not enough evidence to support her disability so it denied her.
The woman called Fields Law Firm to represent her in appealing Aetna’s denial. We worked with her doctors to obtain objective evidence of the impairments that make her unable to perform her own occupation. The doctor provided us with information concerning our client’s functional restrictions and limitations, which allowed us to directly attack Aetna’s assertion that was able to do her job.
Through thorough analysis of the law and our client’s case, we drafted an appeal that exposed Aetna’s improper and deficient review of our client’s limitations. Our appeal was successful and our client now receives the benefits to which she is entitled. She was very relieved that our team was able to fight the insurance company to pay her benefits without having to file a lawsuit.
Denial of Benefits Reversed on Appeal
Attorney Kristen Gyolai and the Fields Law team helped a former middle school worker who was forced to stop working due to major depression, anxiety, panic disorder with agoraphobia, and urticarla. Her disability insurer The Standard denied her long term disability benefits. The Standard claimed that she was able to perform the material duties of her job. The Standard based its denial on a doctor’s review of our client’s medical records that was entirely inaccurate. This doctor had never even seen our client and he conducted a selective review of her medical records.
The appeal we drafted for our client revealed the inadequacy of this doctor’s review and showed that the doctor ignored substantial medical evidence that was contrary to his conclusions. We used medical records to show the severity and persistence of our client’s symptoms. Fields Law Firm helped the worker fight every step of the way to reverse The Standard’s denial of benefits and ensure that the she continued to get the benefits she deserves.
Settlement of Long-Term Disability Claim
A woman who worked for years in community outreach was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and hypertension. Her biggest barrier to working was her extreme fatigue. She struggled with cognitive function deficits, such as poor memory, making it difficult to complete tasks at work. In denying her disability claim, The Standard stated that because she has use of her arms and can walk unassisted, she was capable of meaningful employment. The Standard primarily based its decision on the report of a Physician Consultant that it hired to review her claim.
The disabled worker came to Fields Law Firm to represent her in appealing The Standard’s decision to deny her claim. Our team gathered evidence from the woman’s treating doctors and drafted a letter to The Standard appealing its decision to deny benefits. The Standard refused to change its decision so we filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of our client. We fought for her knowing that The Standard’s review of her claim was truly inadequate and that she was entitled to benefits under her policy. We negotiated with The Standard to settle the case for our client so she did not have to go to court. Our client was very pleased by this resolution to her case. Our team also represented this client in her Social Security claim.
Benefits Denied, Reversed on Appeal
A registered nurse was forced to leave her job at a hospital because she suffered from a rare pelvic condition that made her unable to work. Her long term disability insurer, the Life Insurance Company of North America (aka CIGNA) denied her application for benefits, claiming that there were no “functional tests” in her file that supported her inability to work. She called Fields Law Firm to represent her in appealing the denial. We were able to spot the errors that Cigna had made in reviewing her case. We know that given the rarity of her condition, CIGNA should have sent her to a doctor to be examined before it denied her. Our appeal highlighted this failure, along with the fact that CIGNA never even talked to any of the nurse’s treating doctors and did not obtain all of her medical records. By reaching out to our client’s doctors and presenting the medical evidence, we prepared a successful appeal. The former nurse was happy to know that she would receive the benefits she deserves.
Madison National Life Insurance
Denial of Long-Term Disability Benefits Reversed on Appeal
Madison National Life Insurance took away benefits from a disabled custodian who worked at public school. The man suffers from bilateral knee problems. He injured both of his knees when he fell on ice. The insurance company argued that the custodian was able to perform a sedentary or “light” job, and therefore, not entitled to benefits. It based its decision on results of a functional capacity evaluation that was never even conducted.
The man retained Fields Law Firm to represent him in appealing the erroneous decision. Our team prepared an appeal by gathering evidence to show that the man is precluded from performing the substantial and material duties of any job. This meant obtaining support from his doctors and a vocational expert. We were victorious in our appeal and the man was awarded his benefits. He was relieved knowing that he had financial security despite his inability to work.
Madison National Life Insurance
Reversed Initially Denied Disability Claim
Madison National Life Insurance denied a probation officer her long-term disability after she became unable to work with her clients due to her mental health. The disabled worker retained our firm to represent her in appealing the insurance company’s denial. The insurer relied on the opinion of a doctor who had never seen our client and who discounted and erroneously ignored valid neuropsychological testing that demonstrated our client’s inability to work. The denial did not even consider how her mental limitations affected her ability to do her job.
Our disability lawyers prepared an appeal for our client, which demonstrated the validity of the neuropsychological testing and obtained a letter from our client’s treating doctors to support her disability. In the end, Madison National Life Insurance reversed its denial of benefits and our client received back pay as well as ongoing monthly benefits.
Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability Recoveries
Younger claimant hurt on the job and denied disability following back surgeries
A 34 year old man injured his back on the job. He received some workers’ compensation benefits; however, those benefits were not enough to cover his permanent disability. He applied for benefits and was represented by another law firm but following his hearing, the Judge denied his claim.
He decided to reapply for benefits a second time; this time he chose our law firm for representation. We argued that his various back conditions, such as low back pain, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, radiculopathy, and nerve compression, caused him so much pain that he would be unable to maintain work on a full time basis.
Social Security initially denied his application and reconsideration appeal; we attended a hearing with him and the Judge approved his claim. He now has the financially security that he and his family need and deserve.
Client was able to obtain benefits even though they returned to work
A client suffered an injury on the job in 2012 where he hurt his shoulder. He required surgery and rotator cuff replacement. He did not know how long his injury would take to heal or whether he would ever be able to return to work. He attended physical therapy and gradually, his shoulder returned to normal. He eventually returned to work full time about 14 months after his injury.
We helped him apply for Social Security benefits for the time period he was off work. Many people do not realize that as long as you are disabled and unable to work for a period of 12 months, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. Following a hearing with a Judge, we were able to obtain benefits for him, even though he had returned to work full time by the time we attended his hearing.
In 2014, the same client sought our services again. Although he was able to return to work, he again injured his shoulder, requiring additional surgeries. We helped him apply for benefits a second time and were able to get him approved for benefits following a hearing. He will now receive ongoing benefits as long as he remains disabled.
Benefits obtained for individual while in prison
A client suffered from a numerous mental health conditions such as a learning disability, gender identity disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, adjustment disorder, bipolar disorder, panic disorder with agoraphobia, dependent personality disorder, and ADHD. We helped the client apply for benefits. However, while his claim was pending with Social Security, he committed a crime and was sentenced to prison for a few months.
At the time of his hearing before the Judge, he was still incarcerated. Our attorneys traveled to the prison and represented him from prison while the Judge appeared by video. We argued that due to his mental illnesses, he was disabled and unable to work. We also argued that the crime he committed would not have happened but for his mental illness. The Judge approved his claim. When he was released a few short weeks later, he began receiving benefits.
13 year old child awarded SSI benefits
The parents of a 13 year old boy contacted our law firm for assistance in helping their son obtain benefits. The boy had been diagnosed with a variety of conditions, which included oppositional defiance disorder, depression, anxiety, and a learning disability. He had an IEP in school and required special care when attending school and doing his schoolwork.
Social Security denied his initial application and reconsideration appeal and we requested a hearing. At the hearing, we appeared with the boy, his father, and the Judge. We argued that despite his weekly medical treatment and medications, he was disabled and unable to engage meaningfully in school. Both the boy and his father testified at the hearing. A medical expert also testified at the hearing. The Judge made a favorable decision at the hearing.
Claimant awarded benefits following death
A client who suffered from a liver disease sought our services in applying for disability benefits. Social Security denied her claim initially and at the reconsideration stage. Social Security said her condition did not restrict her from doing her old job. We appealed their decision and requested a hearing before a Judge.
Unfortunately, while we were waiting for a hearing to be scheduled, the client experienced significant medical complications and passed away. Following her death, we were able to locate a next of kin and substitute a party in her place. We wrote the Judge, outlining the facts and evidence in the case, and argued that the claimant should have been awarded benefits. The Judge found in our favor and awarded benefits to the deceased claimant’s family.
Client approved for both Social Security and Long-term Disability benefits due to mental condition
A client worked as an office administrator for a school district for many years. She suffered from a lifetime of mental illness; however one day, the stress of her job got to be too much and she had a nervous breakdown. She left work and was admitted for psychiatric treatment. She applied for Long-term Disability benefits initially through The Standard Insurance Company, but was turned down. She sought our help for an appeal and at the same time, we also helped her apply for Social Security benefits.
For both cases, we argued that her mental conditions of PTSD, depression, and anxiety were so severe that she could not return to her old job, let alone any other job. We obtained medical support from all of her physicians and were able to overturn her Long-term Disability claim. We were also eventually able to obtain Social Security benefits without having to go to a hearing in front of a Judge.
Success in obtaining Workers’ Compensation, Social Security, and Long-term Disability benefits
A client initially sought our services in 2012 following a work injury. She worked as a caregiver for the elderly but injured her back on the job. She filed a workers’ compensation claim but was denied. We filed a claim petition against the work comp insurer and we were successful in obtaining a settlement for her case.
Unfortunately, the client’s back condition never fully healed. She also developed new onset of impairments such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, hearing loss, and mental impairments. We subsequently helped her apply for Social Security and Long Term Disability benefits through her insurance company, CIGNA. Both Social Security and CIGNA denied her claims. We appealed her Social Security claim and requested a hearing before a Judge.
The Judge granted benefits at the hearing after we argued that due to her multiple conditions and age, she should be entitled to benefits. We were also successful in obtaining Long-term Disability benefits from CIGNA by arguing that CIGNA’s doctors failed to properly evaluate her claim and that her own doctors should be given deference in assessing her conditions.
Benefits awarded after questioning of doctor at hearing
A claimant suffered a work injury to her foot in 2013 and subsequently developed RSD/CRPS. She also suffered from other impairments such as back/neck pain, diabetes with neuropathy and toe amputation, arthritis, MRSA infection, depression, and PTSD. We helped her apply for benefits. Social Security denied her claim on initial application and upon reconsideration. We requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. At the hearing, Social Security called a Medical Expert (ME) to testify about the claimant’s disabilities and limitations.
Initially, the expert testified that the claimant did not meet Social Security’s criteria and that she could perform a sedentary job. However, during our turn to question the expert, we argued that the expert missed important key information in her records. We further argued that his opinion was not supported by the medical evidence overall. We got the expert to agree with our argument and he changed his opinion.
Following the expert’s testimony, the Judge immediately granted the claimant’s benefits. This shows that having the right representative, who knows your file and what questions to ask at the hearing, is imperative for your case.
Successful in obtaining Disability benefots for Iraq War Veteran and his family
A young 36 year old Army Veteran who served in Iraq was honorably discharged after serving two tours. He was injured during combat when an IED blast hit his convoy. He sustained physical injuries that included a traumatic brain injury, headaches, back pain, and hearing loss from the explosion. The assault also caused him to have severe mental impairments such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
When he came back to the United States, the VA found him disabled and immediately paid him 100% VA Benefits. However when he applied for benefits with Social Security he was denied. We immediately requested a hearing before a Judge and since he was a 100% Service Connected Veteran, we were able to have his hearing scheduled quickly. At the hearing, we argued that the combination of his impairments rendered him disabled from performing any work. The Judge immediately awarded the veteran and his children benefits.
20 year old awarded SSI benefits following hearing
We helped a 20 year client and his family apply for Social Security benefits. He suffered from ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, Autism, pervasive developmental disorder, and borderline intellectual functioning. He had always done poorly in school and required an IEP.
The client and his family initially applied for Social Security on their own but they were denied. They sought our help for a reconsideration appeal. We ultimately had to request a hearing for his case. At the hearing, we argued that the combination of his mental, developmental, and cognitive deficits rendered him disabled from doing any work.
The Judge was still a bit skeptical about his claim requested additional medical information following the hearing. The client then underwent additional neuropsychological testing after the hearing. We submitted that testing and argued that he was disabled. The Judge ultimately granted his case and awarded him SSI benefits.
Individual granted disability after obtaining doctor’s opinion following hearing
A 52 year old individual suffered from back pain, vision/eye impairments, tendonitis of the shoulder, fracture of the toe/foot, headaches, diabetes mellitus, generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, and pain disorder. We argued that his impairments limited him to no more than a sedentary (sit down) type job and that since he was over 50 years old, he should be found disabled based on the Social Security Medical/Vocational Rules.
The Judge at his hearing pointed out that Social Security’s doctors stated he could still perform light work and that there was not enough evidence in his records to demonstrate that he was limited to a sit down type job. We requested additional time after the hearing to obtain an updated opinion from the client’s own treating doctor so we could clarify his restrictions and argue that Social Security’s doctors were incorrect in assessing his abilities.
We were able to obtain an opinion from the client’s treating physician indicating that he was limited to no more than a sit down job. We provided this information to the Judge on this matter and included the evidence for the Judge’s review. The Judge ultimately agreed and awarded the claim.
43 year old with a history of seizures awarded benefits
A client had a history of seizure disorder. He suffered from both grand mal and petit mal seizures. Under Social Security’s rules, if an individual suffers from at least one grand mal seizure (convulsive epilepsy) every three months or one petit mal (non-convulsive epilepsy) once a week, despite prescribed treatment, that person should be awarded benefits.
Although the medical records showed the client did suffer from these sorts of seizures, Social Security still denied his case. We had to request a hearing before a Judge. While we worked on his case throughout the process, we told the client to keep a diary of his seizures on a calendar in order for us to prove to the Judge that he was experiencing seizures regularly. At the hearing, we presented this information to the Judge and the Judge immediately awarded his claim.
Client with renal failure and chronic kidney disease denied; awarded at hearing with our help
A client initially applied for Social Security benefits on her own. She suffered from multiple conditions such as end stage renal failure, chronic kidney disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and anemia. She also previously had a kidney transplant and had undergone dialysis.
Despite all of this, Social Security still denied her initial application and her request for reconsideration. Following her denial, she hired our firm to help her file a request for a hearing and represent her before the Judge. At the hearing, we argued that her condition qualified under Social Security Listings of Impairments or alternatively, due to her physical restrictions and need to undergo dialysis, she would be unable to maintain full time work. The Judge agreed with our position and awarded the case immediately at the hearing.
Client awarded benefits without having to attend hearing
A 58 year old client who previously served in the military and worked as a computer engineer sought our help after becoming disabled. He suffered from a history of Hepatitis C with cirrhosis, hepatic encephalopathy, early dementia, and back pain.
Social Security initially denied his application and reconsideration appeal. We filed a request for a hearing. While his hearing was pending, we requested that the Judge award the case via an On-The-Record decision. We argued that due to his Hepatitis C and hepatic encephalopathy he met Social Security’s Listings of Impairments criteria.
Specifically, Social Security required his “serum albumin” level to be below a certain threshold. We carefully examined his medical records for this information and offered a legal argument with medical backing that he should be found disabled. The Judge ultimately sided with us and awarded our client’s case without having to attend a hearing.
44 year old mother with mental and physical impairments awarded benefits
A client was hurt on the job and suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and back pain. As she remained off of work, she developed anxiety and depression. Social Security initially denied her application and reconsideration appeals, stating that she could return to her old job as a cashier or restaurant worker.
We appealed Social Security’s decision and requested a hearing before a Judge. Prior to the hearing, we obtained medical support for both her physical and mental impairments. We argued that the combination of her physical impairments, TBI, depression, and anxiety, made her totally disabled. We argued that she did not have the ability to properly understand and remember work tasks and instructions.
Specifically, according to Social Security, if an individual has significant (marked) restrictions with the ability to concentrate, maintain social functioning, or the inability to do activities of daily living, they can be eligible for benefits. The Judge ultimately agreed and awarded benefits following the hearing.
Younger individual with chronic back pain awarded after hearing
A 38 year old woman suffered a back injury and subsequently developed degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine. She was very limited in her ability to sit, stand, lift, and carry. She applied for disability benefits but was denied and had to request a hearing.
We did a thorough workup on her case and obtained numerous narrative reports and opinions from her treating physicians. We had her physicians address her physical limitations and outline what other residual difficulties she would have in a work setting, such as side effects of medication and difficulties with focusing on her work due to her pain levels.
We presented all of this evidence to the Judge at the hearing and argued that due to her difficulties, she would need to take unscheduled breaks throughout the workday and would, therefore, be unemployable since employers would typically not allow for unscheduled breaks. The Judge ultimately awarded her case based on this.
Client awarded past-due benefits for his time off of work
A client suffered an injury to his back when he was just 27 years old. He had previous work experience as a truck driver, fabricator, and mechanic. He attempted to try and return to those jobs, as well as others, but could not do so due to his restrictions. He eventually required a lumbar surgery and had to go through intensive therapy.
We helped him apply for benefits. We ultimately had to appeal his claim and request a hearing. While we were waiting for the hearing to be scheduled, the client was able to recover well enough to return to full-time work. Rather than withdrawing the claim entirely, we asked the Judge to award a closed-period claim of disability benefits beginning from the date the client got hurt and ending on the date he was able to return to full time work.
A medical expert who testified at his hearing also agreed that he was disabled during that time and the Judge immediately awarded his case and approved his backpay lump sum, which was over $20,000.
Client who worked part-time awarded full SSD benefits
A client suffered from a history of arthritis in the knees, vision impairments, back pain, and ulcerative colitis. Despite his many physical disabilities, he was still able to work 15 hours per week doing deliveries. He applied for Social Security Disability on his own but was denied on his initial application and reconsideration appeal. He sought our assistance for his request for a hearing.
At the time of his hearing, he was still working part-time. We argued that he had no other option but to work despite his disabilities and that he essentially pushed himself through the pain until a decision on his case could be reached. We further argued that due to his pain and ulcerative colitis, he would need to take many breaks throughout the workday in order to use the bathroom and rest.
The Judge issued a favorable decision in his case. After he began receiving benefits, he had teh financial security that allowed him to quit his part-time work.
Veteran awarded over $60,000 in past-due benefits by Judge
A Veteran who served multiple tours came back suffering from severe PTSD and depression. We helped him apply for Social Security but his application and reconsideration appeals were turned down. We had to request a hearing before a Judge. Due to his military service, he was deemed 100% disabled by the VA.
To support his case, we used the information obtained from the VA as well as information and opinions received by his doctors. We argued to the Judge that due to his severe PTSD and depression, his condition qualified under Social Security’s listings of impairments.
Alternatively, we argued that even if his conditions did not specifically meet Social Security’s criteria, he could still be found disabled due to the severity and frequency of his panic attacks. The Judge awarded his case on the day of his hearing and the client was entitled to receive past-due benefits totaling more than $60,000.
39 year old client awarded over $50,000 due to back pain, obesity, knee pain, migraine headaches, and fibromyalgia
A client became disabled following a back injury when she was only 36. She initially suffered a back injury and underwent a lumbar discectomy and decompression. She attempted to recover and return to work, but was not able to do so. She applied for Social Security but was turned down on her initial application and reconsideration. We had to file a request for a hearing.
By the time the hearing came along, she was 39 years old and suffered from additional impairments, including degenerative joint disease of the foot, knee pain, fibromyalgia, and migraine headaches. Also due to her inability to work, she developed depression and anxiety.
At the hearing, we argued her back and/or knee pain qualified for Social Security’s listings of impairments. After questioning of the medical expert, the expert agreed that the client met these requirements and the Judge issued a favorable decision. She was awarded over $50,000 in past-due benefits for her and her children.