Monthly Archives: March 2012

SSI – Low Birth Weight

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is offered to disabled children who have a condition which is so serious it causes severe impairment and does not allow the child to develop and perform the same activities of another child of similar age.

SSI is only offered to children whose families have very limited income and resources. Even if a child is severely disabled if the parent’s income and resource level is not below the allowable limit for SSI the child will be denied SSI benefits.

Can my child get SSI for low birth weight?

Low birth weight generally gets a favorable disability determination, and the SSA will generally consider the claimant presumptively disabled, paying the family SSI disability benefits while the claimant’s family is waiting for the SSI application to be processed by the Social Security Administration.

A small premature baby in with an oxygen mask ...

To be considered presumptively disabled the baby’s weight must be below certain weight thresholds established by the SSA. The weight varies based the age of the babies. Babies do not have to be born premature to qualify. For example, the following weights and corresponding ages generally qualify for SSI benefits (assuming the family meets the income and resource requirements):

Gestational Age Weight at Birth

  • If the baby at 37-40 weeks old at birth  is 4 pounds, 6 ounces or less
  • If the baby at 36 weeks is  4 pounds, 2 ounces or less
  • If the baby at 35 weeks is 3 pounds, 12 ounces or less
  • If the baby at 34 weeks is 3 pounds, 5 ounces or less
  • If the baby at 33 weeks is 2 pounds, 15 ounces or less

Why does the SSA award SSI for low birth weight babies?

Although a young child may or may not have visible functional or mental limitations if they are born with a low birth weight, evidence suggests that children who were born with a low birth rate generally do have a higher rate of cognitive difficulties and may need extra intervention. For instance, low birth weight babies have a higher prevalence of IQs which are less than 70 when compared to other adults who were born at a normal birth weight.

Additionally, other studies indicate that low birth weight babies may also be more prone to develop other conditions such as blindness and hearing loss. They also may have delayed speech and language development combined with other learning disabilities (which may influence their success in school). Unfortunately, each of these disorders or difficulties is found in higher numbers in low birth weight babies, leading to lower level functioning in areas such as short term memory or language.

Whether or not your low birth weight child suffers from the most severe complications which can include multi-organ impairments, poor growth and development or severe mental illness, the cost to ensure your child has access to all the educational, social, medical and physical help they need can be high.

Although the child’s SSI benefit payment may not be too high, access to Medicaid can be critical for many families. Remember, if your child is approved for SSI, in most states, your child will be approved for Medicaid at the time of the SSI approval. Talk to the SSA if you have questions about your right to Medicaid.

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Osteoporosis and SSA Disability

Can I get SSI or SSDI for Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition which is caused by a decrease in the density of an individual’s bone mass. Severe osteoporosis leaves the bones fragile and porous causing frequent bone fractures, cracking or collapsing. Claimants who suffer from this condition may experience fractures in the hips, wrists, spine or ribs. Stress fractures are also common and can occur from normal daily activities such as walking or stepping.

Many claimants may have osteoporosis for years without any major symptoms. Some claimants are only aware they have this condition after they begin to experience osteoporotic fractures, which lead to pain in the affected areas. The symptoms are the same for both men and women.

Fractures of the spine are also common, leading to constant lower back pain. The dowager hump or hunched appearance is also common in elderly men and women who have had their spine curve or collapse from osteoporosis.

Medical Evidence for your Condition

If you have osteoporosis the Social Security Administration will expect that you will have medical evidence to support this diagnosis. Medical evidence can include an X-ray and more effectively a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan (DXA, formerly known as DEXA) which can actually measure the bone density of the affected area. This test will also give you a T score which indicates how your bone density may differ from the bone mass density of a young adult.

The Social Security Administration would also expect you to be getting the proper treatment for your condition which can include taking vitamin D supplements and calcium or hormone replacement therapies. Other claimants may also benefit from medications such as Fosamax or Actonel.

Proving disability for Osteoporosis

The Social Security Administration has two methods for determining disability for SSI or SSDI: claimants may have a listing outlined in the SSA Listing of Impairments (also called the Blue Book this is a list of all the conditions and symptoms the SSA automatically finds disabling) or proving through a medical vocational allowance that the claimant is unable to work their current job, previous job or retrain for new work (the SSA makes this determination after considering the claimant’s age, work history, and educational level).

Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments for Osteoporosis

A claimant’s condition for osteoporosis could be evaluated under 1.00 Musculoskeletal System which outlines specific symptoms for a variety of skeletal issues: major dysfunction of a joint, disorders of the spine, fracture of the femur, tibia, pelvis, or one or more of the tarsal bones, or fracture of an upper extremity.

Claimants with osteoporosis may also suffer from other conditions that have a listing such as rheumatoid arthritis and endocrine disorders. Contact a disability lawyer if you have questions about your medical records and whether or not your condition may “meet or exceed” a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairment.

Winning benefits for Osteoporosis through a Medical Vocational Allowance

What is more likely for most claimants with osteoporosis is that they will have symptoms and limitations which make it impossible for them to continue with their current job or retrain for new work.

If you are attempting to win SSI or SSDI through a medical vocational allowance your medical records should clearly state your functional limitations to work (i.e. How long can you sit, stand or walk? How much weigh can you carry? Do your medications impair your ability to complete a normal work week?) With the right medical evidence you may be able to prove you cannot work.

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Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Social Security Disability

To qualify for SSDI or SSI for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) your condition must be so severe you are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months and meet the nonmedical requirements for one of the two disability program.

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) refers to a group of inherited disorders that involve your connective tissue. Mainly, it affects your skin, joints and blood vessel walls.Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a type of connective tissue disorder. These are diseases that target primarily your connective tissue.

Your connective tissue refers to the structural parts of your body. The cells of your body are essentially held together by your connective tissue. They form a framework, or matrix for your body.

Genetic mutations

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is evidenced by genetic mutations (defects) that disrupt your body’s production of collagen. Collagen is one of the main things that compose your connective tissue.

There are several forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome that have been identified. Each one of these types of the disorder has different signs and symptoms. However, all kinds of the disorder affect your joints, and most of them involve your skin.

Somewhere around 1 in 10,000 to 20,000 people in the United States are afflicted with the classical form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which used to be referred to as types I and II. Some of its signs and symptoms are:

  • Non-cancerous fibrous growths that develop on pressure parts of your body, such as your elbows and knees
  • Fatty growths on your shins and forearms
  • Loose joints
  • Muscle fatigue and pain
  • Redundant skin folds in areas, such as your eyelids
  • Slow and poor healing of wounds that lead to wide scarring
  • Velvety, highly elastic skin
  • Fragile skin that bruises or tears easily
  • Heart valve problems (mitral valve prolapse and aortic root dilation)

About 1 in 10,000 to 15,000 people in the United States have hypermobility type Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which used to be called type III. Some of its signs and symptoms include:

  • Loose, unstable joints that have many dislocations
  • Advanced premature osteoarthritis with chronic pain
  • Muscle fatigue and pain
  • Bruising easily
  • Chronic degenerative joint disease
  • Heart valve problems like those of classic type.

Vascular type Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, formerly type IV, affects about 1 in 100,000 to 200,000 people in the United States. Although rare, it is one of the most serious forms. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Fragile organs and blood vessels that rupture easily
  • Thin, translucent skin that bruises easily
  • Characteristic facial appearance of small chin, sunken cheeks, protruding eyes and thin nose and lips
  • Heart valve difficulties
  • Collapsed lung (pneumothorax).

While Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is not on the Social Security Administration’s list of impairments, it does not mean that you will not qualify for Social Security disability benefits. It depends on how disabling the disorder is for you.

Have you suffered internal organ and vascular damage? Have your joints been seriously damaged? How much pain is the disorder causing you? How many times have you had to have surgery because of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome? The answers to these questions will go a long way in determining whether you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

The best thing that you can do is to have a social security disability attorney on your side, working for you. It has been established that claimants with an attorney are approved more often than those who are not represented by an attorney.

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Do SSDI qualifications vary from state to state?

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A common question we receive on our forum is, “Do SSDI qualifications vary from state to state?” This can be confusing given all of the various disability programs offered on the state and federal levels, but understanding SSDI and the federal structure of the disability process is critical to getting SSDI benefits as soon as possible.

What is SSDI?

SSDI or Social Security Disability Insurance is a disability program offered by the Federal Government and administered by the Social Security Administration. Monthly cash benefits are offered through SSDI to disabled workers, their dependent children, their spouse and potentially a divorced spouse.

The SSDI was an expansion of earlier federal programs established by the Social Security Act of 1935. In 1956, the Social Security Act was amended to provide cash benefits to disabled workers who were 50-64 years of age, the children of retired workers who were disabled or deceased, and children who were disabled before the age of 18.

The goal of the SSDI program was to help disabled workers while they were not able to work with the goal of helping them recover and return to useful employment. Unbelievably, in the 1960s this program serviced approximately 559,000. Now there are millions of SSDI recipients who receive benefits each month.

The program has grown substantially through the years, although the basics of the program have not changed much since the 1970s. The Government, due to the swelling disability roles, started implementing changes in the 1970s and 1980s to the program to create more incentives for claimants to return to work or to attempt rehabilitation.

Does it matter where I apply for SSDI?

Because SSDI is a federal disability program it will not matter where you apply or where you move. Your SSDI benefits will remain the same (disability payments for SSI, however, can vary based on whether or not the state offers a state supplemental payment to SSI claimants).

Claimants are encouraged to wait to apply if they are in the process of moving to a new state because this can cause less confusion in the disability application processing, but if you have to move just contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) and notify them of your new address and they should be able to send your application to the appropriate Social Security Administration (SSA) office for processing.

Other SSDI Issues

The fact that the SSDI program is a federal program has simplified the disability process. The country is divided into regions and processing for your application will be done by the appropriate region. If you are sent for an administrative hearing the hearing office should be within 50 miles of your home, making it easier to see the Social Security Administration judge.

Also, because the program is a federal program you can hire a disability lawyer who practices anywhere in the country. and they will not have to know different laws or statutes which are specific to their state (unlike other types of areas of law). Where ever you live the disability lawyer can help you. They can correspond with you via telephone and email and can fly to your hearing, regardless of where it is located.

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SSI – Can I get it with an Ileostomy bag?

What is an ileostomy bag?

If you have an ileostomy you now have a surgical opening in your abdominal wall through which digested food passes. The procedure has created a stoma, which has been positioned around your abdomen which will now allow your stool to leave your body and situate in a pouch. The types of iliostomies vary: ileoanal reservoir, continent ileostomy, or a permanent ileostomy (caused by the complete loss of the small intestines).

Claimants with this condition may have suffered from a variety of conditions or diseases including familial polyposis, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Claimants who have to use an ileostomy bag may have various systems installed such as the two pouched system or the one pouch system. The amount the pouch will have to be irrigated depends on food and liquid intake.

Activities affected by an ileostomy bag

According to studies and literature, many experts agree that having an ileostomy bag does not necessarily impair a claimant’s ability to perform most activities including work, sex, social activities, sports, or travel.

If you have an ileostomy bag without any other health conditions it may be difficult to prove that you cannot work because there are thousands of workers who are successful business people (doctors, writers, teachers, etc.) who are successfully going to work and completing their job assignments with an ileostomy bag but this may not always to be true. Let’s investigate how the SSA will make their disability determination.

Can I get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) with an ileostomy bag?

To win Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits you must be able to prove that you are disabled, aged or blind and you are unable to perform substantial gainful activities for at least 12 continuous months. Claimants must also have very limited income and resources.

The Social Security Administration determines disability in two ways. First, they will determine if the claimant’s condition is listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments. If not, the SSA will decide if that claimant has enough residual capacity to complete their previous work, past work, or retrain for new work. This is done through what the SSA terms a medical vocational allowance.

Winning Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability by meeting a listing

If you have another severe condition, such as Crohn’s disease, that has lead to the installation of the ileostomy bag the SSA will evaluate your condition under a listing. For Crohn’s disease you must meet the listing under 5.00 Digestive System, Section 5.06 Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Other diseases will be evaluated under their corresponding listing.

Winning Supplemental Security Income disability through a medical vocational allowance

If you do not have disease which is listed you must prove that you do not have the residual capacity to work.

When will this be easy to do? Let’s look at an example. If you are over the age of 55, have limited education and you have worked hard labor most of your life if you have a ileostomy bag installed and you are unable to work your past or current job the SSA is likely to determine that given your history or employment, age, work skills, education and medical condition it is unlikely that you could retrain for new work.

But what if you are age 30 and college educated? You may have more difficulty winning Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or SSDI because the SSA is likely to assume that even if they cannot work your current job, you may be able to retrain for light or sedentary work and having a ileostomy bag may not interfere.

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