Midwest Disability, P.A.'s Blog

How can Ehlers-Danlos syndrome be disabling?

According to the most current research, there are about 13 different types of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome -- because the illness is produced by a set of variant genetic markers that aren't totally consistent.

You're either born with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or you're not -- but many people don't realize they have the condition until they develop some of its most common complications. Almost everyone with Ehlers-Danlos suffers from hyper-mobility, which often leads to dislocated joints and chronic joint pain.

Tips for those taking care of someone with a disability

A loved one suffers serious injuries and ends up getting disabled. While they do work with medical professionals for rehab and things of this nature, you basically become their in-home caretaker.

This is a common setup, and it can feel overwhelming. To help you, here are a few tips:

  • See how other family members can help, as well. Do not be too proud to ask. When everyone pitches in, it makes life easier and shows the disabled individual how much everyone loves them.
  • Learn as much as possible about the injury, the disability and any other medical conditions. The more you learn, the easier it is to provide care.
  • Keep your focus on the positive, not the negative. For instance, don't spend as much time thinking or talking about what that person can no longer do. Instead, discuss what they can do. Find inspiring goals or milestones to work toward.
  • Learn about new technologies and products that may help. Things are constantly being invented that can make people more independent, healthier and happier.
  • Understand when you need a break. There's no shame in that. This can be a long-term position -- perhaps forever -- and it's all right to have other family members take over for a bit or look into respite care options. You need to take care of your loved one, but you need to take care of yourself, as well.

Peripheral Artery Disease and Disability Benefits

Per the Mayo Clinic, peripheral artery disease (also called peripheral arterial disease) is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs. The extremities, typically the legs, do not receive enough blood flow, which causes leg pain when walking. This is known as claudication. Claudication symptoms can include muscle pain or cramping in the legs or arms with activity. Sometimes this pain can be debilitating. The condition may also be reducing blood flow to the heart and brain as well as the legs.

If you are experiencing peripheral artery disease, you may be eligible for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will find that an induvial is disabled due to peripheral artery disease if certain criteria are met. Specifically, the peripheral artery disease must be determined by appropriate medically acceptable imaging and must be causing intermittent claudication.

The mental and emotional impact of losing friends in combat

Many difficulties come along with joining the armed forces. It's a physically demanding job. You run a high risk of injury or even death. This is especially true for those who see active combat, but it's worth noting that even training can be more dangerous than what many people do on civilian jobs.

For many veterans, though, that's not the hardest part of going to war. They can take the discomfort. They can deal with fear. They do not mind physical challenges. The toughest thing, for them, is losing those who are close to them.

Substantial Gainful Activity and Social Security Disability

The first step in any social security disability case is whether the claimant has performed "Substantial Gainful Activity" (SGA) during the period they are alleging they were disabled. Substantial gainful activity is used to describe a level of work activity and earnings. By definition "substantial gainful activity means work that involves doing significant and productive physical or mental duties and is done (or intended) for pay or profit." 20 CFR ยง 404.1510. Whether a job or activity is considered substantial gainful employment is generally based on gross earnings per month. This amount of monthly earnings changes every year based on standard of living. There is also a different monthly amount allotted to blind individuals. In 2019 the monthly substantial gainful activity amounts are set at $1,220 per month for non-blind individuals and $2,040 per month for blind individuals. This amount then increases in 2020 to $1,260 per month for non-blind and $2,110 for blind. For example, a non-blind individual requesting disability benefits cannot be performing at or above $1,220 per month (in 2019) for the time period they are alleging disability. It is also important to note that an individual must have a continuous twelve month period (prior to the date of the hearing) of either not working or earning under SGA in order to qualify for any type of benefits. Overall, there are several exceptions and nuance to this rule such as the issue of self-employment and that is why it is crucial to consult with a social security disability lawyer to better understand whether any issues relating to this topic are present in your case.

Vocational Experts: Who are They and What is Their Role at the Hearing?

A vocational expert plays a large role in any social security disability hearing. By definition, a vocational expert is a professional who provides impartial expert opinion evidence about a claimant's vocational abilities that a judge considers when making a decision about disability (Vocational Expert Handbook, August 2017, p. 3). Typically, a vocational expert will appear at a social security disability hearing in person, by video teleconference, or via telephone. Simply put, a judge uses a vocational expert to determine whether a claimant can do his or her past work or other work available in the economy (Handbook, p. 8). A vocational expert will give opinion based on their knowledge of physical and mental demands of certain occupations, characteristics of work settings, existence and incidence of jobs within occupations, and provide analysis on the issue of transferable skills when necessary (p. 8).

Social Security Announces 2020 Cost of Living Adjustment

The Social Security Administration has announced a modest benefit increase next year for individuals receiving Social Security retirement, Social Security Disability Insurance, or Supplemental Security Income.

Individuals receiving disability benefits will see a 1.6 percent increase in those benefits starting in January 2020.

That means that if you're already receiving Supplemental Security Income, currently capped at $780 per month, you'll see about $12 increase in benefits next year.

Disability Insurance is based on how much you've paid into it over the years, so the increase you'll see is harder to calculate.

The average amount an individual receives for disability insurance is about $1,200 per year, which would see a 2020 cost of living adjustment allowance of about $19.

Pregnancy and Disability

Some individuals mistakenly believe that Social Security will pay them benefits if they miss work due to a pregnancy or childbirth. While pregnancy can greatly impede one's ability to maintain full time employment, it is generally not considered a disability under the Social Security Act. Social Security's disability program only applies to long-term medical conditions. To establish a disability, a claimant must demonstrate a severe medical impairment expected to result in death or lasting at least twelve continuous months. A pregnancy or childbirth will not meet the duration requirements for disability benefits, unless the child is born with a permanent disability or giving birth causes a long-term impairment.

As is the case with Social Security, pregnancy is typically not considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), though pregnant workers may suffer other impairments related to their pregnancies that qualify as disabilities.

The future is unclear after a traumatic amputation

If you have suffered a traumatic amputation in a car accident, a workplace accident or some other such incident, your first thought is likely for the future. What does this severe injury mean for you moving forward?

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer that applies in all cases. There are a lot of factors to consider here and a lot of potential outcomes.

When do SSD payments begin after approval?

It takes time and effort on your part, but you eventually do get approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. What you're wondering, almost immediately, is when the payments actually start. When will you get the money they approved for you? When does that coverage begin? Could it be prior to your approval date?

Per the Social Security Administration's official regulations, your payments will begin for the "sixth full month" after the start of your disability.

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Contact us online or call our offices directly at 888-351-0427 for a free case evaluation. All cases are taken on contingency, meaning there are no fees until we recover benefits for you.

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In Minnesota, we handle Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. Throughout the nation, we handle SSDI applications and appeals for people from Ohio to Kansas, North Dakota to Texas and everywhere in between.

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