Monthly Archives: February 2012

Emphysema

Can I get disability for emphysema?

Emphysema is a progressive disease of the lungs where there lung tissue which surrounds sacs or alveoli have been destroyed, no longer able to hold their shape when an individual breathes. Emphysema is generally caused by smoking, although there are other environmental factors which can contribute to the disease: pollution, age, secondhand smoke, fumes, dust, chemicals, and coal.

Many workers may have this condition for years without feeling too sick to work. Eventually, however, it is not unusual for emphysema to begin to interfere with daily activities making it difficult to stay focused and alert. Many workers may become short of breath, have difficulty talking, or have a racing heart. Other workers may find it difficult to lift heavy objects, stand or walk for long periods of time.

Workers who develop emphysema may also suffer from additional health conditions which make it difficult to work including severe heart conditions or a collapsed lung.

Winning Disability Benefits for Emphysema

The Social Security Administration has two ways of awarding Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits: meeting a listing on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments (also known as the Blue Book it is a list of all conditions and symptoms the SSA finds automatically disabling) or proving that you cannot work through a medical vocational allowance.

Meeting a Listing in the SSA Blue Book for Emphysema

Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not have a specific listing for emphysema on their SSA Listing of Impairments they will evaluate this condition and other types of breathing disorders under Listing 3.00 Respiratory System Impairments, Listing 3.02 Chronic Pulmonary Insufficiency.

To meet the listing for chronic pulmonary insufficiency you will need to take a pulmonary function test which is done through a spirometry which measures the FEV1 (refer to tables found in the SSA Listing of Impairments for specific measurements). Additional testing may also be required “to measure chronic impairment of gas exchange due to the clinically documented pulmonary disease.” These tests specifically measure your ability to absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide. The Social Security Administration also maintains tables which outline the measurements they find disabling.

Due to the complexity of the testing, you may need to consult with your pulmonologist or your disability lawyer to have them review the information with you and help you understand what information you will need to prove your are disabled or “meet a listing.”

Winning SSI or SSDI for Emphysema through a medical vocational allowance

If your condition does not meeting a listing on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments you will have to prove that you do not have the residual capacity to perform your current job. If you can prove that you cannot work your previous job than the SSA will review your age, work history and education to determine if you could retrain for new work.

What types of medical information will you need to prove disability through a medical vocational allowance? You need specific medical evidence which identifies your physical limitations. For instance:

  • How far can you walk?
  • Do you have difficulty reaching, pushing or pulling?
  • How much weight can you lift?
  • How long can you sit or stand?
  • Does your medication make it difficult to concentrate?
  • Do you have a breathing machine?
  • Do you have to use a cane, crutches or walker to ambulate?

The more limitations you can prove the higher the chance that you can demonstrate to the Social Security Administration that you cannot work your current job or retrain for new work which can help you win disability benefits.

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Social Security Administration and Cachexia Anorexia Syndrome

Can I get disability for Cachexia Anorexia Syndrome?

Cachexia anorexia syndrome, which is also referred to as anorexia-cachexia syndrome, is a complex metabolic syndrome that is associated with palliative conditions, such as cancer. Palliative conditions are those in which treatment is aimed at alleviating a problem or relieving pain without dealing with the underlying cause.

Cachexia refers to weight loss which is unintentional. Cachexia is weight loss that includes both muscle and fat. Cachexia is usually brought about by shifts in metabolism that are the result of tumor by-products and cytokines. Cytokines are chemicals that are produced by your cells that act on other cells to inhibit or stimulate their function.

Anorexia is a lack or loss of appetite. Anorexia is a condition that is brought about by disease in which you become incapable of eating or have no desire or appetite to eat, resulting in severe weight loss.

Although anorexia is the common name that people use for anorexia nervosa, it is not the same thing. Anorexia nervosa is an emotional condition that is evidenced by the refusal to eat for the purpose of losing weight. Anorexia nervosa results from a fear of gaining weight and an inaccurate and unhealthy perception of your body’s appearance.

The word syndrome is a term that is used for a disorder that is marked by a group of associated signs and symptoms. Syndrome refers to a group of signs and symptoms that take place together consistently.

While the definition of cachexia anorexia syndrome varies, and the way in which the syndrome works is poorly understood, there are some signs and symptoms that are usually common with the syndrome. Some of these include:

  • Inflammation
  • Early satiety (state or quality of being gratified or fed to or beyond capacity)
  • Anorexia
  • Weakness
  • Low albumin (the main protein in human blood)
  • Fatigue
  • Involuntary weight loss
  • Anemia

Cachexia anorexia syndrome can be primary or secondary. Primary cachexia anorexia syndrome is caused directly by a malignancy. Secondary cachexia anorexia syndrome is brought about by cancer-related barriers that reduce dietary intake. These include changes in smell/taste from chemotherapy, mucositis and vomiting/nausea.

How does the Social Security Administration evaluate cachexia anorexia syndrome?

You may have been diagnosed with cachexia anorexia syndrome. You may be wondering if this syndrome will qualify you to get Social Security disability benefits.

Cachexia anorexia syndrome is not in the list of impairments of the Social Security Administration. However, this does not mean that you will not qualify to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for this condition.

If you have cachexia anorexia syndrome, you also probably have some type of malignancy. Many types of malignancy are listed in the Social Security Administration listing of impairments. If your malignancy is listed in the list of impairments, the Social Security Administration will consider you to be disabled (assuming you meet the nonmedical criteria for either the Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance program).

Even if your malignancy is not on the Social Security Administration list of impairments or your cachexia anorexia syndrome is the result of another condition, you may still be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits through a medical vocational allowance. This is a term that is used to grant someone Social Security disability benefits when your disability keeps you from working and engaging in what is called a substantial gainful activity (SGA).

If you have suffered severe weight loss or if you have questions about cachexia anorexia syndrome, contact a disability lawyer for more information.

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Children’s Mental Disorders

Can my child get disability benefits for a Mental Disorder?

The Social Security Administration recognizes that there are many mental disorders which are very disabling for children. In the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments (a list of all the conditions and diseases the SSA finds automatically disabling) there are eleven diagnostic mental disorders for children.

Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments – Childhood Listings

Mental Disorders are listed on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments Childhood Listings (Part B). They are found under the listing 112.00 Mental Disorders – Childhood.

The listings for mental disorders in children are arranged in 11 diagnostic categories:

  • 112.02 Organic Mental Disorders
  • 112.03 Schizophrenic, Delusional (Paranoid), Schizoaffective, and Other Psychotic Disorders
  • 112.04 Mood Disorders
  • 112.05 Mental Retardation
  • 112.06 Anxiety Disorders
  • 112.07 Somatoform, eating, and Tick Disorders
  • 112.08 Personality Disorders
  • 112.09 Psychoactive Substance Dependence Disorders
  • 112.10 Autistic Disorder and other
  • 112.11 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • 112.12 Developmental Disorder of newborn and younger infants

The Social Security Administration separates the listing of impairments for children because they acknowledge that there are various signs and symptoms which are present in young adults that vary significantly from those of an adult.

My child is diagnosed with one of these conditions but was denied Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits

The listing first identifies the disorder and provides a short introductory statement about the disorder. Even if your child has been diagnosed with the condition identified on the SSA Listing of Impairments this does not mean they will be considered disabled.

The second part of the listing identifies the criteria needed, evidenced with good medical records, to prove that your child is disabled. This criterion outlines the types of functional limitations that your child must have to be considered disabled. The SSA uses the functional limitations which are exhibited by your child to determine the severity of their mental disorder.

What functional areas does the Social Security Administration evaluate? They will look at your child’s communicative ability, social functions, cognitive functions, motor functions, personal function, and their ability to maintain concentration, persistence and pace. These criteria are evaluated against other children in their age group.

What evidence do I need to prove my child is disabled?

Many children may be severely disabled and have not received the proper medical care to make the right diagnosis or generate sufficient medical evidence to prove disability. If you hope to win benefits for your child’s mental disorders you must have documentation from acceptable medical sources. Additional evidence which can also supplemental medical evidence include information from occupational, speech and physical therapists, nurses, social workers, teachers, and special educators.

Evidence is available but my Supplemental Security Income was denied

What if your child has been diagnosed and you have sufficient medical evidence that they are disabled but the Supplemental Security Income claim was still denied. It is likely that your family does not meet the income and resource limitations of the Supplemental Security Income program.

Supplemental Security Income is provided only to children who are determined disabled and who have very limited income and resources. If your child lives with their parents, the SSA will automatically “deem” a portion of the parent’s income to them, and if the parents make too much money the child is automatically denied, regardless of the severity of their mental health disorder.

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Getting disability for migraines

Can I get Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income for severe migraines?

Migraines are painful headaches which are more severe than a common headache, lasting for hours or days. Females are more likely to experience migraines, but it is estimated that over 28 million American may sometimes experience them.

Migraines may be triggered by a variety of factors: bright lights, odors, perfumes, allergic reactions, smoke, alcohol, irregular sleep patterns, fasting or missing meals, emotional stress, physical exertion, or certain types of foods.

Common Migraine Symptoms

Migraine symptoms vary by individual. As mentioned above, some claimants may have migraines lasting for days, others for hours. Severe migraines may cause vomiting, throbbing head pain, severe pain, decreased ability to perform activities and sensitivity to light.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income for Migraines

The Social Security Administration has two methods of determining whether a claimant is disabled: through a medical listing found on the Social Security Administration (SSA) Listing of Impairments (a list of all the conditions the SSA assumes are automatically disabling) or through a medical vocational allowance.

Unfortunately, there is not a listing for migraines in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments. Migraine headaches, however, may be a symptom of another severe medical condition which might be listed by the SSA. Claimants who have suffered a stroke, a severe brain injury or who have a neurological disease may be able to meet another listing. Contact a disability lawyer for more information if this might be the case.

Winning Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income for Migraines through a medical vocational allowance

Claimants who have a significant impairment but their condition is not listed on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments may be able to prove that they do not have the ability or “residual functional capacity” to return to their previous job. This process is known as a medical vocational allowance.

If a claimant cannot return to their previous work the Social Security Administration will review their work experience, age, and education (which are called “vocational factors”) to determine if they could retrain for new work. If the Social Security Administration, after considering all of the vocational factors, does not believe the claimant has the residual capacity to perform substantial gainful activity they will determine them disabled.

What does this mean for my Migraine disability case?

If you suffer with severe migraines and you are attempting to win Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income through a medical vocational allowance your goal is to prove you do not have the residual functional capacity to work.

How is this done? It will not be easy. You will need to have great medical evidence that focuses on the frequency and duration of your migraines and why they are so severe you are incapable of performing even the simplest job.

Information that you may need can include:

  • Can you drive?
  • What do you have to do when you have a migraine?
  • How long do they last?
  • How many times per week do you have migraines?
  • How would your migraines make it impossible to complete an 8 hour workday?
  • Have you taken medication to control them?
  • What are the residual effects of your migraines?
  • How long does it take for you to recover from a migraine?
  • Are there any environmental work factors which trigger migraines? For instance, would you have difficulty working in an environment with bright lights, loud noises or fumes?

Do not exaggerate the severity, frequency or the limitations caused by your migraines. If you have chronic headaches or migraines your medical documentations must support your claim or you will be denied. Keep in mind, your goal is to have enough medical evidence to prove that you do not have the ability to work. This can be done by beginning to eliminate potential employment options.

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Social Security Administration – Can I get SSI if I get SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is offered to disabled workers who have a severe mental or physical health condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months and which does not allow the worker to perform substantial gainful activity.

Social Security Disability Insurance is not offered to all disabled workers. Workers who have not worked or who have worked but have not paid employment taxes will not qualify for SSDI benefits because workers must have worked long enough and paid enough in taxes to be considered insured by the Social Security Administration. The amount of work credits you need to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance will vary, but most workers will need between 20 and 40 work credits.

I am receiving SSDI. Can I get Supplemental Security Income benefits?

Many claimants who are currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits may be wondering if they can also qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Supplemental Security Income is a separate wage assistance program offered by the Social Security Administration. SSI is only provided to the aged (65 years or older), disabled or blind who are not able to perform substantial gainful activity but who have not worked or who have not worked enough to be considered “insured” for SSDI benefits.

Can you get Supplemental Security Income if you are currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance? Potentially, and this can be a bit confusing, but SSDI claimants who are receiving a very low SSDI payment and who also have VERY limited resources may also get SSI benefits.

The Social Security Administration has established a federal benefit rate which is paid to SSI claimants. This rate is periodically adjusted but in 2012 it is $698 per qualifying individual. Assuming your SSDI payment is less than the federal benefit rate and your resources are less than $2,000 you may also qualify for SSI benefits.

What if I get SSI? Can I also get SSDI?

Many claimants are receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits and want to know if they can receive SSDI instead or in addition to their current SSI payment. This question is actually much more common than the other way around.

Unfortunately, if you are getting Supplemental Security Income it is because the Social Security Administration has already agreed you are disabled (using the same criteria they use for the SSDI program) but they have also determined that you did not work enough or pay enough in payroll taxes to be considered insured for Social Security Disability Insurance.

If you think the Social Security Administration has made a miscalculation of your work credits and you want to challenge this you can. Contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to discuss what evidence you would need to fight your denial for SSDI benefits.

Hiring a Disability Lawyer

The good news is that if you are receiving SSDI benefits than you are already way ahead of millions of other applicants that are still fighting the Social Security Administration. Keep in mind, most SSDI recipients will not qualify for both SSDI and SSI, but a small number will. Contact the SSA if you have more questions or contact a disability lawyer for assistance.

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