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Midwest Disability, P.A.'s Blog

Your war injury could impact your children

War injuries can change you forever. The physical loss of a limb could make it impossible for you to work, for instance. A traumatic brain injury could change your personality. The post-traumatic stress you feel could stress you out and lead to issues with anger, substance abuse and much more.

If you have a family, it is important to remember that this injury does not just impact you. It could also have a drastic impact on your kids. Here are a few symptoms you want to keep an eye out for:

  • Your kids seem very anxious or on edge all of the time
  • Your children start crying more than they did before
  • Your kids start acting out at school or in the home
  • Your children struggle to deal with grief, loss and depression
  • Your kids feel embarrassed about the way that you act or the way that you look after the injury
  • Your children worry that you do not love them anymore, perhaps misinterpreting your outbursts and your own struggles -- which relate back to your injury -- as something that reflects on your feelings for them
  • Your children think that your own issues are their fault; for instance, if you're dealing with depression after a brain injury, they apologize for making you feel this way or blame themselves for the way you now interact with the rest of the family.

Anxiety disorder and Social Security Disability benefits

Everyone struggles with anxiety from time to time. However, some people experience anxiety so severe that it effectively cripples their ability to function normally or hold down a job.

If you have a problem with chronic anxiety, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Before you file a claim, however, read this post to gain some valuable insights into the approval process.

Unemployment and Disability Benefits

Individuals who are unable to work because of physical or mental disabilities or prolonged illness face significant money hardships for obvious reasons. They are unable to work and unable to earn a living, but have not yet received any disability benefits. The current wait time to be approved for disability benefits though the Social Security Administration is quite substantial and for individuals that have recently applied for benefits, the receipt of such benefits remains in the distant future. Thus, they are in need of monetary support during the pendency of their disability claim.

One source of funds that may seem appealing is unemployment benefits. Since an applicant for disability benefits is presumably unemployed due to inability to work, this might seem like an obvious and appropriate avenue at first blush. However, although it is not expressly forbidden, many disability judges strongly frown on disability claimants who are collecting unemployment benefits. This is because unemployment benefits require an individual to affirm that they have a desire to work and are seeking work, and, thus, are presumably able to work. On the other hand, when applying for disability benefits, an individual is affirming that they are unable to work. Thus, the induvial applying for both programs makes contradictory claims about their ability to perform work. This contradiction is not lost on disability judges. They may see the receipt of unemployment benefits as undercutting one's claim that they are unable to work. They may also see it as an attempt to essentially "double dip" by having claimed both unemployment benefits and now claiming benefits.

There may be fewer veterans in 2037

While predictions are usually not 100% accurate, it's important to note that the veteran population is declining, and it is predicted to keep doing so through at least 2037.

That prediction comes from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which looked at the numbers for 2017 and made a prediction running 20 years into the future. In 2017, they put the total veteran population at 20 million. By 2037, they think it will be just 13.6 million.

Who Decides if I am Disabled?

After you have applied for disability benefits, your claim will be reviewed by the Disability Determination Services office in your state. An examiner will be assigned to your file. The examiner and a doctor will review the medical evidence in your case and the claims you have made about your symptoms and how they impact your ability to function. The examiner and doctor will determine whether the evidence supports a finding that you are disabled based on the regulations that the SSA must follow.

If your claim is denied at this level (known as the initial level), the next step in most states is to request "reconsideration" of your claim. Be advised that there is a very limited window of time in which you are able to request reconsideration. At the reconsideration level, the process is the same as at the initial determination level, however, a different examiner and doctor are tasked with reviewing the claim.

Finally, if your claim is denied at the reconsideration level, you can ask for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

Can cancer be a disability?

When you get a cancer diagnosis, it definitely changes your life. It's frightening, it requires extensive treatment and it makes you think hard about what life has in store for you.

But is it a disability? Does it change your life as drastically as a brain injury or a spinal cord injury that left you paralyzed?

Understanding military brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries are a serious concern for veterans who have seen combat. These injuries may be enough to end a military career, and they can even have a permanent impact on that person's life after they get out. It's important to understand how they happen and the way they may affect you.

To start, let's take a look at the different types of TBIs that soldiers experience. They are:

  • Severe: 1.1%
  • Penetrating: 1.4%
  • Not classifiable: 5.6%
  • Moderate: 9.7%
  • Mild: 82.3%

What if My Disability Case is Denied After a Hearing?

Try though we might, some strong disability cases just do not get approved when they go in front of an administrative law judge for a hearing.

There could be an issue with contradictory evidence, testimony from the claimant or a Social Security expert, or a judge misapplying the law that leads to a denial.

The good news is that such denials can be appealed yet again within the Social Security Administration. The bad news is that it's not a quick process.

Appeals must be filed with the Appeals Council within 60 days of the administrative law judge issuing his or her decision.

Headquartered in Falls Church, Va. And made up of more than 50 judges, the Appeals Council is the final level of administrative review for Social Security disability cases.

Supreme Court Says There's No Right to Vocational Expert Data

In a case closely watched by disability attorneys, the Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that vocational experts testifying at disability hearings do not have to turn over data related to their testimony.

Disability hearings usually conclude with the administrative law judge asking a vocational expert several hypothetical questions about whether an individual with the claimant's limitations could perform their past work or other jobs available in the national economy.

If no such jobs exist, the judge should find that the claimant is disabled.

In the case of Biestek v. Berryhill, a vocational expert testified that Biestek could perform two jobs that existed in the national economy. Biestek's attorney asked for the underlying data about these jobs, but the vocational expert said it consisted of some confidential information and refused to provide it.

The judge sided with the vocational expert, and denied Biestek's claim for disability benefits.

Biestek argued for a per se rule for vocational experts to provide data backing up their opinions upon request.

The role of assistive technology after a disability

Technology has advanced a lot in the last 100 years, especially in the medical field. But it's not all about finding cures and treatments. Some advancements simply help people live better, fuller lives with the conditions that they suffer from.

One example is assistive technology. If you suffer an injury that leads to a disability, or if you are disabled by a disease or disorder, there may be many different types of technology that can help you move forward with your life -- even when it's clear that the disability is something you'll have to live with forever.

MIDWEST DISABILITY office locations

Midwest Disability, P.A.
408 Northdale Boulevard Northwest
Coon Rapids, MN 55448
Toll Free: 888-351-0427
Fax:763-862-7521
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