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Cincinnati Social Security Disability Law Blog

Pfizer announces expansion of rare disease research and treatment

For a person who has a rare or particularly debilitating condition, there are two things that sit highest in their minds most of the time: getting treatment for their condition and getting access to the disability benefits they deserve. Unfortunately for some though, a condition may be so rare that it may not be seen as a disabling condition by the Social Security Administration. In other cases, there may not be a treatment, oftentimes meaning a high chance of mortality.

While a skilled attorney can oftentimes help someone get the disability benefits they deserve, an attorney can do little about getting them the treatments they may need to prolong their life. This is where Pfizer is looking to step in, especially in the area of rare diseases. Thanks to an expansion of their research and development department, the pharmaceutical company may finally be able to provide treatments where none existed before.

PTSD stops many Ohio residents from working

Scientists and the general public have learned a lot about post-traumatic stress disorder in recent years, as many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have returned with this debilitating mental condition. Exposure to the traumas of war has long led to PTSD in veterans, but it is not until the last few years that this disorder has begun gaining mainstream recognition.

Of course, as PTSD has come out of the shadows, it has become clear that a military conflict is not the only situation that can trigger it. Many people in Ohio are living with PTSD due to:

Disabled workers: Consider all the sources for benefits

Being unable to work can be a devastating experience for any person. If you are sick or injured seriously enough that you can't perform your job duties, you are likely very worried about your finances. 

Under many circumstances, a worker in this position has the option to pursue financial benefits. One critical resource can be Social Security disability benefits, which are available to workers who suffer from a qualifying injury or illness. These benefits can at least partially cover medical expenses and the cost of basic needs. However, for a number of reasons, a disabled worker may want to also consider additional sources of compensation.

Hoyeraal-Hreidarsson syndrome and your eligibility for SSDI

Did you know that there are more than 100 conditions on the Social Security Administration's list of Compassionate Allowances?  That means that there are more than 100 physical and mental conditions that not only meet the SSA's definition of a disability but are also eligible for benefits that can be used to help cover living expenses and medical bills as well as offset the loss of income due to a loss of employment due to a disabling condition.

We bring this up this week because of a rare disorder linked to a recessive gene on the X-chromosome called Hoyeraal-Hreidarsson syndrome.  As you may not know, this particular condition is listed as a Compassionate Allowance.  So what makes this condition qualify for the fast track to benefits?  Let's take a look.

Is it too easy to obtain SSDI benefits?

The question posed in the headline of this post is an argument that has gone on for decades, possibly since the inception of Social Security Disability Insurance.

There are many who point to the minority of beneficiaries who are receiving benefits for apparently dubious illnesses or injuries as an indication that the Social Security Administration is too generous or lenient.

A recent NPR report entitled "Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America" by Chana Joffe-Walt points out that there are places in the country where nearly one in four are receiving benefits.

But does this mean that it is too easy to collect benefits?

Is bipolar disorder eligible for Social Security disability?

The Social Security Administration defines disability as a condition that lasts for at least a year -- or results in death -- that prevents a person from doing their current job and from adjusting to other work. But while the SSA considers this definition to be strict and absolute, our Ohio readers probably realize that it actually leaves a lot up to interpretation.

Take for example bipolar disorder. Although the condition is treatable, its symptoms can be severe, impacting everything from social interactions to job performance to day-to-day life. The condition can also affect a person for the rest of their life, meaning they may or may not be able to hold down a job or adjust to other work. Here is this gray area we hinted at above, which may lead some of our readers to an important question: is bipolar disorder eligible for Social Security disability?

How do I ensure I'm getting accurate information from the SSA?

You would think that anyone who handles customer relations for any product or service supplier would be able to address customers' concerns. If they aren't, it would seem reasonable to expect there would be a way to escalate an issue up the ladder until someone could be found who knows what's what.

That doesn't happen in the commercial world all the time. It seems even rarer when it comes to government agencies such as the Social Security Administration. And the results can be particularly detrimental, especially to beneficiaries who are dependent on Social Security Disability Insurance. It begs the question, how can you be sure that what an SSA official tells you is right?

Do antiquated rules and regs slow SSA disability decisions?

When it comes to the speed or lack of it in the Social Security Administration and claims for disability benefits get handled, there is no doubt about where we stand on the subject.

We've written any number of blog entries about this issue. We also have a number of articles that readers in our Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky audience can draw upon to get a handle on how massive the backlog of claims is and why it takes so long for decisions to be made.

When we last wrote about processing times, we drew on information for 2010 to report that the national average time between when a hearing with an administrative law judge was requested and when it was held was 424 days. By comparison, nearly all the wait times for hearings in our region were longer than that.

Does your illness make you eligible for SSDI?

When someone becomes impaired and unable to work there can be a lot of reasons why. Statistically speaking, the conditions that tend to trigger the largest number of applications for Social Security Disability Insurance stem from physical issues. Whether you happen to be a laborer in the metals industry, construction or a nurse in a clinical setting, physical work is required. It's not unusual for individuals in these lines of work to suffer injuries to their backs, knees and shoulders to a point where they can't do their jobs.

There are some illnesses that qualify for SSDI as well. Some are physical. Others are mental. They can be just as impairing as the more common physical issues, but they are often harder to nail down from an objective medical evidence standpoint. 

'Modest' is the word used to describe SSDI benefit boost

Modesty is supposed to be a good thing. In most polite society and as a matter of religious tenet, modesty is something to strive for -- a virtue. But that's only in the context of definition number one in most dictionaries. There's a second definition that gets applied to amounts or levels reflecting that one may be relatively small when compared to others.

It is definition number two that The Wall Street Journal uses to describe the level that beneficiaries of the Social Security Administration can expect in their next cost of living increase. The word from the SSA is that the monthly benefits now being paid to about 64 million individuals in Ohio and the rest of the country will rise by 1.7 percent in 2015.

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