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.
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.