Emma is 7 years old and suffers from ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, making it hard for her to control her behavior and concentrate in school. Her teachers, daycare providers, and family members have a difficult time working with and caring for Emma. The child’s behavior has made employment difficult for her mother, a single parent, because she is often late to work or called away because of Emma’s outbursts. Fortunately, Emma’s mother works for a flexible employer who has allowed her to take absences. Unfortunately, the mother does not get paid when she is not at work, causing the family’s income to fluctuate depending upon Emma’s condition. The family recently lost their housing due to the child screaming and damaging the property.
Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota agreed to represent Emma and her mother at a disability hearing. The family had spent considerable time trying to get benefits from Social Security for Emma without success. Sherry Gruenhagen, a paralegal with over twenty years of experience in disability law, worked many hours to develop Emma’s case. She worked with Emma’s treating doctors to provide the medical evidence necessary to prove that Emma qualified for Disability. She prepared the mother to testify about Emma’s behavior and represented Emma at the administrative hearing. They won the hearing. The Supplemental Security Income benefits subsidize the family’s income, make up for the mother’s lost work time, and ensure that they remain housed.