A long legal battle to get Social Security disability benefits approved for her severe and ongoing depression has left Edith Suzzane Allen, a former BellSouth Telecommunications employee, in even more trouble than she was in because of the ailment.
Allen had been suffering from depression for a long time, but it became acute in 2008. The ailment took on physical symptoms, causing weakness and inability to focus. An AT&T counselor decided she was unable to do her job properly and referred her to a doctor for evaluation.
Allen took a week off and had a second evaluation. This time, the doctor said her medical leave should be extended for treatment. A third doctor who evaluated Allen agreed with the earlier assessments, but added that she was able to perform activities of daily living (ADLs). This is one of the primary conditions required by Social Security for cases of depression to qualify for disability benefits.
As a result, Allen's application for 26 weeks of medical leave and claim for short-term disability was rejected by AT&T. Allen appealed the decision, but lost the appeal and was told to report back to work. She chose to retire instead and filed a lawsuit claiming an ERISA violation. She won the case and was awarded the short-term disability that had been rejected by AT&T.
Allen then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alongside another lawsuit, alleging discrimination and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Tennessee Human Rights Act. The case was dismissed by a U.S. federal court which said her condition was not a disability, but a temporary ailment which could be treated. Her appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit was also rejected.
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