Brandie became disabled by posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and a learning disorder with borderline intellectual functioning.

On July 31, 2012 she filed a claim for SSI. Brandie’s SSI claim was denied initially on December 20, 2012 and upon reconsideration on April 18, 2013. She requested a hearing on May 10, 2013, and on January 22, 2014 went to hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Brandie was represented by John J. Chihak. A vocational expert also testified at the hearing.

At the hearing, Brandie testified that she was in special education and was unable to get past the 8th grade in school. She testified that she had never been able to work because of her severe mental health impairments. Brandie testified that she struggled to talk about her past; she was tearful and distressed. She experienced nightmares and flashbacks about once per week, hyper-vigilance, hyper-startle, difficulty with sleep and concentration, poor mood with lack of enjoyment in anything, poor energy, and feelings of chronic worthlessness and guilt. At the hearing she was extremely reserved and withdrawn with poor eye contact and slow speech. She testified that doing housework and grocery shopping took her far longer than others. Additionally, her boyfriend’s testimony that Brandie had a diminished mental capacity fully corroborated Brandie’s testimony.

Chihak + Chihak obtained medical records and evidence that supported Brandie’s allegations of debilitating limitations secondary to her impairments. Brandie’s providers included The Carolyn Downs Clinic and Sound Mental Health – Tukwila.

The vocational expert testified that based on Brandie’s age, education, work experience, and inability to engage in work 20% of the time, there would be no jobs in the national economy that she could perform 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, or a comparable schedule. This was based in part on the medical evidence that Chihak + Chihak obtained for Brandie’s case. Brandie’s claim was subsequently approved.


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  • "John is the best in every way. I couldn't have won my case without him! I will always be thankful."

    Aden F.

  • "I wasn't afraid to reach out to ask questions- they work for you and want you to be informed."

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