BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Back and neck injuries have prevented Kathy Nobilio from working since December 2010.
She filed a claim for Social Security Disability the following July, and an administrative law judge heard Nobilio’s case on February 25, 2013.
The long wait for a decision was about to cost Nobilio everything, including her house in Ransomville, so she contacted Call 4 Action last September. She was desperate.
“I’m afraid I’m going to lose my house. The bank has been very patient. I’ve always worked all my life, and paid my bills on time.”
In the course of the News 4 investigation, it was discovered claims processing times in the Buffalo Office of Disability Adjudication and Review were among the longest in the country, and Nobilio’s judge was at the bottom for Buffalo’s 13 sitting administrative law judges.
Nobilio’s story aired last February, and a lot of changes have taken place since then. The best change came on Wednesday, when Nobilio received two years of retroactive disability benefits.
“I got my first payment today, my first actual Social Security Disability payment.”
Nobilio’s case was heard by an administrative law judge, Nancy Pasiecznik, who has been the subject of Congressional inquires by Chris Collins (R-Clarence) and Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo), due to her long wait times. Nobilio contacted New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who also launched an inquiry.
Judge Pasiecznik retired and her cases were assigned to another judge, and within weeks, Nobilio got word that the new judge had ruled in her favor.
“I am very happy that income is finally coming in, that this whole thing is settled, just because it took so long,” said a relieved Nobilio, a single mother of two grown children.
In the past two weeks, two new administrative law judges have been hired at Buffalo’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, and Kenmore attorney Richard Abbott says it could have an positive effect on ODAR decisions, “which a couple years ago, in Western New York, was 18 months. I think it is roughly about 14 months now, which is still way too long, but they are moving in the right direction.”
Nobilio is still deep in a financial hole. Her home is in foreclosure, but she is slowly getting back on track.
Her disability award is retroactive to March 2012, and she received a lump sum payment covering more than two years of monthly benefits, which included two cost-of-living adjustments.