Social Security Disability Audio

September 2, 2009

Social Security Disability and Stress

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Disability Audio is a regularly updated podcast that provides information about the Social Security Disability and SSI disability benefit system. It is produced by former Disability Claims Examiner Tim Moore, who previously worked for the Social Security Administration’s “DDS”, or Disability Determination Services agency.

 

More resources on the Social Security Disability Resource Page.

 

Description of this podcast segment:

Social security looks at all physical and mental impairments the same way. In other words, to be approved for disability benefits on the basis of one or more conditions, the condition must be severe enough that it prevents an individual from being able to perform substantial gainful work activity for a year or longer, or be severe enough that it may possible result in death.

Stress is not a condition that is listed in the SSA blue book; however, when most individuals list “stress” on a claim for disability, they are referring to an anxiety related disorder. Anxiety disorders do have their own section in the impairment listing manual for consideration.

In any event, disability examiners base their determinations on what the medical records have to say about a claimant’s condition, versus what the claimant has to say about their condition. More specifically, examiners use the information contained in the records to rate a claimant’s residual functional capacity, a rating of what a person can still do and can no longer do. Functional capacity ratings including physical ratings and mental ratings.

How are functional capacity ratings used? Essentially, by gauging what an individual is presently capable of doing and comparing it the physical and/or mental requirements of jobs that, in the view of the social security administration, a person might be capable of doing.

Of course, it should be noted that individuals who are filing for disability based on stress or some type of anxiety disorder should attempt to get treatment from a mental health professional. Social Security decision makers generally look for treatment records from a mental health treatment professional that establish a longitudinal history of diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.

Do Nitrates Increase Risk of Death?

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Nitrates and risk of death

Transcript of this podcast segment:   A group of Rhode Island researchers, led by Suzanne de la Monte, MD, MPH, studied typical old age diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and found that exposure to nitrates may increase deaths from these diseases. The study was extensive, and began with a 37-year study of mortality for people aged 75 to 84 years old, studying not only these diseases, but also cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases. The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. At first they suspected a genetic cause, but after a dramatic increase in diabetes and two other insulin resistant diseases, they started looking at possible environmental causes. They found that nitrates and nitrites had increased over the same 37-year period as additives in preserved foods, processed foods, pesticides, cosmetics, rubber products and fertilizers, and deduced that exposure to these toxic substances may be at fault. Diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cerebrovascular diseases actually decreased over the same 37-year period. Nitrites and nitrates are carcinogenic at high levels, and heat from frying and cooking can turn sodium nitrate into nitrosamines. Nitrosamines cause damage to DNA by altering gene expression. The researchers believe this damage causes the cells to change in the same way cells change during diabetes and aging. The researchers believe that the high amount of nitrates and nitrates found in foods such as cheese, cured meats, beer, and fried bacon, is contributing to the development of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. To help cut back on this potential health issue, they recommend cutting nitrates and nitrites out of one’s diet, and also in agriculture processes and the use of these toxins in other items, such as fertilizers and cosmetics. They also recommend finding a way to prevent nitrosamine formation when cooking these compounds, since this reaction to heat seems to be the cause of DNA damage.

More resources on the Social Security Disability Resource Page.


 

Additional Information
 

Can Dietary Oil Supplements Affect Fat Loss and Increase Muscle?

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Dietary Oil Supplements

 


 

Transcript of this podcast segment:

 

A new study lead by the Carol S. Kennedy professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University, Martha A. Belury, shows that dietary oil supplements could help obese older women with type-2 diabetes decrease fat and increase muscle. The study involved two oils, safflower oil and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and was published online by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study was noted as receiving no funding from the supplement industry.

The study originally involved 55 women with an average age of 60 years old, but only 35 women completed the full study. The 35 women were involved in two different study periods, each period concentrating on an individual oil for 16 weeks, separated by a four week break. During the two 16 week periods, the women took eight dietary oil capsules of either safflower oil or CLA, for a total of eight grams of oil per day. Although the women did not change their exercise or dietary routines, they did keep a journal of both to note any subtle changes in either.

Safflower oil was noted as decreasing belly fat tissue by 2 to 4 pounds and boosting muscles mass by 1 to 3 pounds. It also lowered blood sugar levels by 11 to 19 points. Safflower is a common cooking oil that is considered a ‘good’ fat.

CLA was noted as decreasing body fat by a little over 3 percent, while decreasing body mass index (BMI) by about half a point. CLA is an omega-6 fatty acid.

Despite study results, experts say it is still best for obese older women with type-2 diabetes to adhere to a healthy diet and regular exercise routine to help lower weight, increase muscle mass and control diabetes.

More resources on the Social Security Disability Resource Page.

August 5, 2009

Veterans, PTSD, and the Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s

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Veterans PTSD, Dementia and Alzheimers


Transcript of this podcast segment:

 

Many veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the trauma of being in combat. This anxiety disorder can include sleeping difficulties, flashbacks, anger, problems functioning in society, issues with work and relationships, and the avoidance of topics, experiences and things that may induce flashbacks or anxiety. A recent study finds that this may be linked to increase risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s for older veterans. The reason is unknown, though PTSD has been linked with a reduced volume in the part of the brain that affects stress and memory, the hippocampus. The findings suggest that older veterans with PTSD should be watched closely for signs of early dementia.

The study was led by Kristine Yaffe, MD, Associate Chair of Research for the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Epidemiology, and Chief of Geriatric Psychiatry and Director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

The study included over 53,000 veterans with PTSD and no dementia, and over 127,000 veterans without PTSD and dementia. The data was gained from the Department of Veterans Affairs National Patient Care Database. The veterans were followed for six years to find whether or not they would develop dementia.

What they found that those without PTSD developed dementia at over 10 percent, while those with PTSD developed dementia and double that amount. The results suggested clearly that those with PTSD were more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s. These results were adjusted for medical and psychiatric comorbidities and demographics, and excluded those with a history of depression, substance abuse and brain injury.

More resources on the Social Security Disability Resource Page.

July 30, 2009

Having a Severe Condition and Qualifying for Disability

 

Qualifying for Disability

 

Social Security Disability Resource links Below


Disability Audio is a regularly updated podcast that provides information about the Social Security Disability and SSI disability benefit system. It is produced by former Disability Claims Examiner Tim Moore, who previously worked for the Social Security Administration’s “DDS”, or Disability Determination Services agency.

More resources on the Social Security Disability Resource Page.


Description of this podcast segment:   It’s apparent to every individual who decides to file for social security disability or SSI disability that an applicant must have an impairment of some kind, either physical or mental in nature, or a combination of impairments (that may be physical, mental, or both). Furthermore, the great majority of applicants for SSD and SSI benefits realize that the strength of an adult’s claim will hinge on the extent to which their ability to engage in work activity will be affected. However, few disability claimants typically have any concrete idea as to how the social security administration, through its use of judges and claims examiners, actually makes the determination as to whether or not a claimant can work. The answer is actually fairly simple. Disability adjudicators, the individuals who make decisions on claims (judges and examiners) evaluate a claimant’s medical records to ascertain if their impairment is severe. The records are also evaluated in an attempt to learn how the claimant’s condition functionally limits them and interferes with their ability to perform work activity. By rating a person’s current abilities and limitations, and then comparing this rating to what was required in the jobs previously held by the claimant, social security can determine whether or not a return to past work is possible. Social security also uses the claimant’s work history information and their medical information to determine if the claimant might be found capable of performing some other type of work, assuming they cannot return to their past work. However, one overriding factor in this process is whether or not the claimant worked and received earnings (or is currently working and receiving earnings) at the substantial gainful activity level. As this segment explains, SGA is a monthly earnings limit that cannot be exceeded by anyone filing for disability or receiving disability benefits. The amount is indexed to the cost of living and, therefore, does change annually.

Additional Information

Other Posts

Social Security Disability Eligibility 
Filing for Disability 
Will I be Found Disabled for Social Security Disability? 
Social Security Disability Claim Decisions 
Applying for Disability with Fibromyalgia and Fibrofog 
Lupus and Social Security Disability Benefits

 

July 27, 2009

How can I get SSI Disability Benefits?

How can I get SSI Disability Benefits?

 

Social Security Disability Twitter Links Below

*Follow Link to Social Security Disability Secrets Website 




Disability Audio is a regularly updated podcast that provides information about the Social Security Disability and SSI disability benefit system. It is produced by former Disability Claims Examiner Tim Moore, who previously worked for the Social Security Administration’s “DDS”, or Disability Determination Services agency.

More resources on the Social Security Disability Resource Page.


Description of this podcast segment:

 

The ultimate determination of whether or not a claimant will receive SSI disability benefits (after filing a claim, and perhaps filing multiple appeals) will rest on the claimant’s medical records. However, it’s not really as simply as that. A claimant’s records need to establish that the claimant has functional limitations (the reduced ability to engage in various activities of daily living) that basically make it impossible for the claimant to work and earn what social security refers to as substantial gainful activity, i.e. a substantial and gainful income.

This segment of Disability Audio describes briefly how a claim is initially worked on by a disability examiner at disability determination services. Of course, the very first task that the examiner will accomplish will be to request the claimant’s medical records. So, it becomes obvious at the outset that the information contained in those records are the core of a claimant’s case. And for that reason, claimants need to provide accurate lists of their various medical treatment sources. Because in far too many cases, claimants do leave off information about various sources of treatment and doing so can potentially disadvantage a claim by giving the disability examiner less information with which to work.

Additional Information
 

Other Posts

Social Security Disability Eligibility 
Filing for Disability 
Will I be Found Disabled for Social Security Disability? 
Social Security Disability Claim Decisions 
Applying for Disability with Fibromyalgia and Fibrofog 
Lupus and Social Security Disability Benefits

 

July 23, 2009

Social Security Partial Disability Benefits

Social Security Partial Disability Benefits

Follow link to Social Security Disability Secrets site

Social Security Disability Links Below

 




Disability Audio is a regularly updated podcast that provides information about the Social Security Disability and SSI disability benefit system. It is produced by former Disability Claims Examiner Tim Moore, who previously worked for the Social Security Administration’s “DDS”, or Disability Determination Services agency.

More resources on the Social Security Disability Resource Page.



Description of this podcast segment:

 

It’s not uncommon for individuals who are filing for disability, under either the title II social security disability or title 16 SSI disability benefit program (or both if their application is concurrent) to wonder if they can receive benefits for partial disability, or if they can receive temporary disability benefits.

In either case, the answer is no. Social security uses a definition for disability, and for the approval of claims, that requires that a claimant be so affected by their condition that they are rendered unable to work and earn what is referred to as a substantial gainful income. For the social security administration, this standard of disability equates with total disability.

That does not mean, of course, that an individual who is filing for disability, or an individual who is actually receiving disability benefits, cannot work and earn income at the same time. In actuality, a claimant can work in either situation as long as their gross monthly earnings do not exceed the allowable limit set for that particular year. However, having said that, an individual who is filing for disability may wish to consider the fact that disability adjudicators (disability examiners at the first two levels of the system, and disability judges at the hearing level) are human beings and very often (or most often) their decisions have a subjective component to them.

That being the case, the fact that a claimant is continuing to work may influence how they are rated in terms of functional capacity, as well as the outcome of a case. This may be even truer when it comes to disability claims that are predicated, for the most part, on mental allegations.

Additional Information
 

Other Posts

Social Security Disability Eligibility 
Filing for Disability 
Will I be Found Disabled for Social Security Disability? 
Social Security Disability Claim Decisions 
Applying for Disability with Fibromyalgia and Fibrofog 
Lupus and Social Security Disability Benefits

 

July 21, 2009

How Social Security Disability Works

 

How Social Security Disability Works

 

 

Social Security Disability Twitter Links Below

Social Security Disability Secrets Website




    Disability Audio is a regularly updated podcast that provides information about the Social Security Disability and SSI disability benefit system. It is produced by former Disability Claims Examiner Tim Moore, who previously worked for the Social Security Administration’s “DDS”, or Disability Determination Services agency.

    More resources on the Social Security Disability Resource Page.


     

    Description of this podcast segment:

     

    This post focuses on providing a basic explanation of how the social security disability and SSI disability process works. The post does not address the disability appeal process (typically, when I do this, I focus on the first level appeal, the request for reconsideration, and the second level appeal, the request for a disability hearing before an administrative law judge), but, rather, discusses how claims are typically initiated (by calling a local social security office) and, subsequently, what happens after.

    To recap, after a disability application is taken by a social security employee known as a CR, or claims rep, the claim is sent to the disability determination services agency in that particular state (in most states, the agency actually is called DDS, but in other states it goes by the moniker “Bureau of disability determination” or “Disability determination Unit” or “Disability determination division”). Once received at that agency, the case is given to a disability specialist, also called a disability examiner, who will handle the task of evaluating both the claimant’s medical history–via records that are gathered from the the sources that are indicated by the claimant at the time of application–and also the claimant’s work history.

    Most claimant’s can easily guess why medical records will need to be obtained from their various treatment sources. However, some may not be entirely clear as to why information regarding their work history and individual jobs needs to be gathered. Well, the answer is simply this: the SSD and SSI disability programs issue decisions that are both medical and vocational in nature.

    In other words, to receive disability benefits in either program, the federal government does not require that an individual be completely physically or mentally incapacitated (they must be 100% disabled, but as you’ll see, disabled and incapacitated are not necessarily the same thing). Instead, the social security administration requires that, in addition to lasting a minimum of 12 months, a claimant’s condition must simply be disabling to the extent that they cannot engage in their past relevant work (certain jobs performed within the past 15 years) and, additionally, cannot engage in other forms of work that they might, under normal circumstannces, be able to switch to based on their age, education, and acquired working skills.

    To make this type of medical-vocational determination, of course, the social security administration, through the disability examiners who process claims for it in the various state agencies, must be able to A) determine what a claimant’s current physical and mental limitations are and B) must be able to compare these rated limitations to what was required of a claimant in their past jobs, as well as compare these limitations to other jobs for which the claimant might ordinarily be suited to take up.

    Additional Information
     

    Other Posts

    Social Security Disability Eligibility 
    Filing for Disability 
    Will I be Found Disabled for Social Security Disability? 
    Social Security Disability Claim Decisions 
    Applying for Disability with Fibromyalgia and Fibrofog 
    Lupus and Social Security Disability Benefits

     

    July 20, 2009

    Social Security Disability Claim Decisions

     

    Social Security Disability Claim Decisions

     

    Social Security Disability Twitter Links Below

    Social Security Disability Secrets Website




    Disability Audio is a regularly updated podcast that provides information about the Social Security Disability and SSI disability benefit system. It is produced by former Disability Claims Examiner Tim Moore, who previously worked for the Social Security Administration’s “DDS”, or Disability Determination Services agency.

    More resources on the Social Security Disability Resource Page.


     

    Description of this podcast segment:

     

    Though an individual will usually file a claim for social security disability or SSI disability at a local social security office, the case itself (and by this we mean the evaluation of an individual’s medical records and work history), is not actually worked on by the social security administration. In actuality, a social security office will simply take a person’s claim and then send it off to an entirely separate agency where the case will be examined and decided by a disability examiner.

    Disability examiners do not have medical training; but, they are trained to review medical records to look for signs of an individual’s loss of functional ability. For instance, a claimant who applies for disability may allege on their disability application that they have a shoulder injury or pain in their lower back. However, the allegations of such complaints will mean little to a decision-maker unless the medical records that are being read and evaluated actually indicate (or lead the examiner to conclude) that the claimant has loss of function such as, for example, a reduced ability to reach, to lift, to bend, to sit, to stand, etc.

    Loss of function, and a claimant’s remaining level of function (known as residual functional capacity) allow disability examiners to decide whether or not a person filing for benefits actually has the ability to go back to work, either in one of their former jobs or in some form of other work.

    In Naples, FL, a resident of Island Walk (http://www.islandwalk.com) was able to file for disability and got approved in less than three weeks. Obviously, to make this assessment, a social security disability claims examiner needs access not only to a claimant’s medical records but also information regarding their work history. By reviewing the work history, a disability examiner can learn more about the duties and physical and mental requirements of the claimant’s former jobs to determine if they can return to one of these jobs. By reviewing the work history, a disability examiner can also learn if the claimant has job skills that might allow them to perform some other type of work.

    Additional Information
     

    Other Posts

    Social Security Disability Eligibility 
    Filing for Disability 
    Will I be Found Disabled for Social Security Disability? 
    Social Security Disability Claim Decisions 
    Applying for Disability with Fibromyalgia and Fibrofog 
    Lupus and Social Security Disability Benefits

     

    February 20, 2009

    The Social Security Hearing Appeal

    The Social Security Hearing Appeal

    Social Security Disability Twitter Links Below

    Social Security Disability Secrets Website 




      Disability Audio is a regularly updated podcast that provides information about the Social Security Disability and SSI disability benefit system. It is produced by former Disability Claims Examiner Tim Moore, who previously worked for the Social Security Administration’s “DDS”, or Disability Determination Services agency.

      More resources on the Social Security Disability Resource Page.



      Description of this podcast segment:

       

      This page provides a discussion of the second step in the social security disability (and SSI) appeal process. This is the disability hearing, more formally known as the request for hearing before an administrative law judge.

      Disability hearings are where the majority of applicants will have their most favorable opportunity for being approved, assuming they have been previously denied at the initial claim level. I say this because claimants who are denied on a disability application are typically denied at an even higher rate on the first appeal, the request for reconsideration.

      Reconsideration appeals are handled by the same state disability processing agency that renders the initial disability determination. This agency is usually known as DDS, or disability determination services. Why is DDS so apt to turn down a claim on the first appeal? The answer may be as simple as this: because DDS is handling the claim again. After all, it would throw a strange light on the validity of the disability evaluation process if claims could be routinely denied at the application level and then approved several weeks later on a reconsideration appeal. Reconsiderations are likely to be denied because they are handled by the same agency. The fact that a different disability examiner handles the reconsideration versus the initial application seems to make little difference in the outcome of a case on this first appeal.

      Hearings, however, are different. Disability judges are not state employees who answer to immediate supervisors. They function autonomously and also recognize, far more often than disability examiners, the primacy of the opinion of a claimant’s doctor, a.k.a. the claimant’s treating physician.

      This post also details several tips for those who are scheduled to appear before an administrative law judge at a hearing.

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