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Showing posts from April, 2017

Mental Illness and SSDI

Mental illness could well be called an epidemic in the United States; the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), estimates that around 60 million Americans over the age of 18 suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year (about one out of every four people in that age bracket).

Common mental conditions can include mood disorders such as major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder, schizophrenia anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Mental illness can sometimes be serious enough to keep you from working. If that's the case in your situation, documenting your condition is the key to proving your disability case.

One of the most important steps for your case will be getting treatment for your condition and tracking down medical records from any healthcare professional that have treated you for your condition.

These records should outline how your mental condition impacts your daily life and limits or interf…

Peripheral Neuropathy and Social Security Disability

Peripheral nerves carry messages from the spinal cord and brain to the rest of the body, and vice versa. Peripheral neuropathy occurs when these nerves are damaged. Diabetes is a major cause of peripheral neuropathy. Other culprits include metabolic disorders, toxins, certain medications, and autoimmune diseases, to name a few.

Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can range from muscle weakness, balance issues, and diminished coordination to numbness or tingling in the extremities, loss of sensation, and a burning-type feeling, among others. THe end result of these symptoms may be chronic pain and/or walking, standing, and controlling muscle movements. In addition, some people who have lost sensation may unknowingly experience injuries, which can lead to infection and amputation.

For some, trying to work while dealing with peripheral neuropathy may be an extreme challenge or outright impossibility. The Social Security Administration lists peripheral neuropathy in its "blue book"…

Research on New IBD Treatment in Full Swing

Over 1 million Americans are beset with irritable bowel disease (IBD), an umbrella term for various chronic, debilitating inflammatory intestinal conditions, including Chron's disease and ulcerative colitis. Symptoms of IBD include severe diarrhea, pain, fatigue, and weight loss. Currently, treatment options are limited, with many depending on daily enemas to find a measure of relief.

Daily enemas, as one could imagine, are uncomfortable and impractical. In addition, the drugs utilized in enemas are also absorbed by healthy tissues that don't need them, sometimes resulting in further complications.

However, a research team from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, in coordination with other research centers, offers hope of a better way for IBD sufferers: hydrogel.  The hydrogel is composed of ascorbyl palmitate (AP), which is already an FDA-approved material, and is an excellent carrier of medication.

Inflamed tissue is positively charged, while AP is negatively charged…

Making Inroads to Prevent Suicides

Severe depression has long been known to be a risk factor for suicide, with common symptoms including a feeling of hopelessness, a recent significant change or loss in one's life, or isolation from others. However, not all depressive states are the same.

The results of a study recently presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology's annual meeting in Amsterdam expanded upon the warning signs for possible suicide attempts. Not all people who suffer from depression exhibit the same effects.

Some who are depressed may also experience bouts of anxiety or agitation, engage in risky behaviors, or act on impulse wihtout regard for consequences prior to a suicide attempt. For these people- who experience "mixed depressive states"- the risk of suicide was found to be as much as 50 percent higher, according to study results.

Mixed depressive symptoms may sometimes be indicative of bipolar depression (manic depressive disorder). Bipolar patients are at an elevat…

A Tough Nut to Crack

Until now, the only way for those with peanut allergies to steer clear of anaphylaxis- a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction - was to avoid peanuts or peanut by-products altogether. They they accidentally ingest anything peanut related, short of a dash to the hospital emergence room the only option is an EpiPen®, a medical device used to inject a measured amount of epinephrine to counter or stave off anaphylaxis. 

However, recent clinical studies have shown promise that a new weapon for those with severe peanut allergies may boe on the horizon: oral immunotherapy. Oral immunotherapy involves adding a small amount  of peanut flour to meals, and then gradually increasing the amount over time. THe goal is to decrease sensitivity and build up a tolerance to peanuts. 

A recent study involved 99 children ages 7-16. Upon completion of the six-month study, 87 of the kids in the trial were able to eat the equivalent of five peanuts per day without any ill effects, or 25 times more tha…

Elephants and Cancer...the Strange Paradox

Give the immense size of elephants, the amount of cells they have (about 100 times more than humans), and their relatively long life span of around 70 years, it stands to reason that elephants should get cancer and die from it more often than we as humans do.

But that's not what happens.

Instead, elephants die from cancer at a rate of just around five percent. In contrast, humans suffer cancer-related deaths at a rate of 11 to 25 percent.

So, why the big difference? Scientists believe they may have figured that one out.

In a recent paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers showed that elephants have 20 copies of a gene called TP53, which is known for its ability to create a protein that suppresses tumors. Humans have just one copy of TP53.

Scientists conducted experiments (by exposing white blood cells collected from elephants and humans to radiation that damaged the cells' DNA) to see what role the extra tumor-fighting genes might play in…

Chapter 13's advantages over Debt Management Programs

If you're pondering whether to utilize a Debt management Program (DMP) or file for CHapter 13 bankruptcy, consider the following:

Many credit-counseling agencies have pre-arranged terms with credit card companies for repayment. The interest rate may be reduced, but there will still be interest to pay.

Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy enables the debtor to pay off debts with zero percent interest and provides a legal means to eliminate debt. Income left over after a reasonable family expenses goes toward paying off your debts. Anything you can't be paid will be eliminated or discharged. 

DMP's are dependent upon all creditors agreeing to the plan. If just one balks, it may throw a monkey wrench into the whole plan.

Creditors have no influence on a Chapter 13 filing. These filings are approved by a court of law. 

Most DMPs establish a budget and monthly payment amount. By the time arrangements are worked out with creditors, you might wind up having reports of late payment going…

Multiple Sclerosis and Social Security Disability

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system, encompassing the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. It is generally a progressive disease and may eventually become debilitating for some. Loss of coordination, weakness in the extremities, tremors, vision problems, fatigue, bowel and bladder problems, diminished coordination, difficulty speaking, and depression are a few of its hallmark symptoms.

These symptoms sometimes make it a challenge, or impossible, to continue working. Research has shown that roughly 50 percent of those diagnosed with MS will have to leave their jobs within three years of diagnosis. Applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) may be necessary.

MS has a specific listing in Social Security's blue book listing impairments. To qualify, you must receive a diagnosis of MS, and your disability must have lasted to be expected to last 12 months or more. You can also qualify under listings of other bodily systems af…

When your employer finds out about your bankruptcy

Many people who file for bankruptcy are stressed over the potential impact it may have on their job.

Relax.

No employer- government or private- may legally fire you, demote you, reduce your salary, and so forth just because you filed for bankruptcy. That doesn't mean, however, that they cant fire you for other valid reasons while you're going through bankruptcy.

An employer will often never even know that you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The only time they might uncover this knowledge is if a creditor has sued you prior to you filing and has obtained a judgment to garnish your wages. When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your employer will be notified to discontinue the wage garnishment. Regardless, it can't be used against you.

If you have a regular job and file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court may order bankruptcy payments to be automatically deducted from your paycheck, therefore your employer will know.

In the hiring process, no government agency may take your…

Is Prenatal Drug Exposure Considered Child Abuse?

In an interesting case, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2013 that the state may not find that a newborn has been abused or neglected based solely on evidence of prenatal drug exposure without evidence of actual harm to the child.

In New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (NJDYFS) v. A.L., a child was born with detectable levels of cocaine metabolites. All other birth scores were good, and the baby appeared to have been well taken care of at home following birth. A month after the baby's birth , NJDYFS filed a complaint for "care and supervision" of both the children of A.L. (the mother).

At the hearing, the NJDYFS had no witnesses, made no allegations against A.L. for her behavior in the seven months following her baby's birht, and could prove no actual harm to the baby, relying on its own report, documents citing the positive drug tests for both the mother and her baby, and a concession from the father that the family was in "need of…

The Various Forms of Alimony

Following a divorce (and sometimes preceding one), alimony may be awarded to a spouse, depending on the circumstances. Alimony is designed so the recipient can maintain a lifestyle reasonably comparable to the lifestyle reasonably comparable to the lifestyle they were accustomed to while married. Alimony comes in a number of forms:

Permanent alimony can only be terminated upon the death of either spouse, or if the supported spouse remarries. The amount of alimony paid can be adjusted based on a significant change of circumstances - for example, the financial  situation of one or the other spouse has changed or supported spouse cohabits with another man/woman for a specified period of time. Permanent alimony is generally geared to those who had long-term marriages (10 or more years). If the marriage was too brief for permanent alimony, the court might award limited duration alimony, which is similar in principle to permanent alimony but has a fixed start and end date determined in advan…

Precautions When Divorcing an Abusive Spouse

Domestic violence intrudes on the lives of approximately 4 million people each year, 95 percent of whom are women. Children, other relatives, friends, and employers suffer the ripple effects as well.

Protect your and your children's lives and well-being when the threat of violence and abuse looms by calling the police if necessary. Then immediately contact a domestic violence relief agency for direction to a safe shelter.

If divorce is an option you want to pursue, be aware that domestic violence changes the entire equation. In divorce proceedings devoid of violence, just up and leaving with the children in tow without what the court considers a good reason may negatively impact alimony payments and the ability to return to the house until property is divided by the court.

When domestic violence is in play, however, safety is an overwhelming objective. Leave for a safe haven; focus on legal matters when you are safely situated. A court order may be obtained on the fast track for m…

Social Security Disability Insurance Could be a Lifeline for Millions of Americans

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides insurance to millions of American workers and their families. IT is an important part of our nation's Social Security system. Established nearly 60 years ago, workers and their families are provided insurance in retirement and in the event of a serious long-term disability. The 11 million Americans currently benefiting form SSDI could face an abrupt reduction of 19% in benefits if lawmakers cannot address a long-projected shortfall in the program's finances.

How the Program Works

SSDI is an insurance program that workers pay for while they are employed. If the employee is unable to maintain employment because of a severe disability, SSDI replaces part of the lost income. Beneficiaries earn coverage under the Social Security system through employment and paying into the system.

Most people receiving SSDI earned middle-class wages before becoming disabled, and beneficiaries usually have paid into Social Security for…

How Long Does Probate Take?

Any time you lose a loved one it can be difficult as you cope with your grief and try your best to move forward.

However, things can get a bit more complex (and possibly even confusing) if you've been named as executor of that person's estate. If that happens-- and especially if you've never served in such a role -- you'll likely have many questions about what the probate process entails, including how long it will take.

Simply put, probate is the process of transferring legal title of the decedent's property to the rightful beneficiaries or heirs. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule for the time it takes to complete probate. In fact, it can take anywhere from several months to several years

There are many factors that can impact the length of time probate takes to complete, including whether:


Any creditor claims existThere is property that needs to be soldThe estate has federal or state tax liabilitiesThere are disputes among the heirs or beneficiariesSom…

Alcohol Isn't the Only Cause of Driving Impairment

When it comes to driving under the influence (DUI), many people automatically think "alcohol." However, a myriad of drugs - illegal, prescription, and over-the-counter-- can also impair one's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle and subject a person to DUI charges. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that in 2014, approximately 22 percent of drivers involved in fatal auto accidents were impaired by drugs. In over half of those cases, prescription drug usage was involved.

Drugs of many varieties can cause drowsiness, dizziness, impaired motor skills, diminished reflexes, sensitivity to light, and impaired judgement-- all of which can make driving a perilous venture. In addition, not all drugs affect people in the same way.

Measuring a person's blood-alcohol concentration can be done easily and with a high degree of accuracy at the time of a traffic stop, or shortly thereafter. Measuring a drug impairment is a bit trickier. For instance, s…

Assets Uncovered after the Estate Has Closed

Sometimes, estate or trust administration appears to be all wrapped up, and the estate is officially closed or the trust is terminated. Then weeks, months, or years afterward, other assets are discovered. Now what?

Generally speaking, guidelines to distributing assets discovered after an estate has been closed encompass the following:


When someone dies intestate (without a will), state law determines the rightful heirs of the estate's property. Newly discovered assets will be distributed by the same formula. If the decedent died and had a will, and if the estate needs to be reopened because of additional assets, the "new" assets will be distributed according to the provisions in the will, just as the "original" assets were.If the decedent passed away with a will that called for all assets to be placed in the decedent's trust, any new assets will wind up in the trust too, to be held, sold, or distributed in accordance to the terms of the trust. The beneficiar…

A Deadly Mix of Distractions on the Road -- Texting While Driving

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, distracted driving can be broken down into three main types of distraction -- visual (in which you take your eyes off the road), manual (in which you take your hands off the wheel), and cognitive (in which you take your mind off what you are doing).

While any type of distraction while you are driving can be dangerous, what makes driving while texting especially problematic is that it involves all three main types of distractions.

Statistics show that around 20 percent of all crashes involve some type of distraction, and in 2008, nearly 6,000 people were killed in collisions involving a distracted driver.

And even though many states have banner or are considering bans on texting while driving, it is up to drivers themselves to use common sense. When you're behind the wheel, put the phone down entirely, or if you absolutely have to send a text, pull over to a safe area on the side of the road, or in a parking lot.

If you or a family…

Credit Card Debt Options

If credit card debt has you stuck in a financial hole, there are solutions at your disposal.

First, take an in-depth look at your finances. Reduce spending where possible, take on a second job if necessary, and pay down your debt over time. It requires dedication, but its well worth the effort. However, if your income simply can't keep up with debt, you may have to consider alternatives.

Debt management plans involve a third party - usually a nonprofit credit counseling company or a for-profit debt management company- that reviews your financial particulars and negotiates with credit card companies on interest rates, and sometimes balances. A single monthly payment is made to the third party, which distributes the funds for you. Make sure you thoroughly understand the fee arrangements.

Negotiate with credit card companies. you may be able to slash interest rates or significantly lower your total balances, especially if you pay off a renegotiates balance with a lump sum. Up-front c…

Can Pre-Existing Injuries Ruin My Accident Case?

This is one of the questions we hear frequently in the law world, and with good reason: If you have a pre-existing injury and are considering filing a personal injury claim after an accident, there are some key factors that need to be considered.

For instance, you'll need to be able to prove that the injuries you have suffered in the car accident were not related to your prior injury. This can be easier to do if your pre-existing injury occurred many years ago and has not required any treatment for some time. However, if it was a more recent injury, you and your attorney will need to develop a strategy to show that there was no connection between the injuries you suffered in the car accident and the pre-existing injury.

No matter what, you need to be up-front and 100 percent honest with your attorney about any pre-existing injuries you may have. That way, they are prepared to deal with the issue head on, won't be caught off guard, and can build the strongest case possible.

Her…

Autism's Connection to Exceptional Abilities

Autism is a complex disorder affecting brain development that causes difficulty in social interaction as well as verbal and nonverbal communication, and often produces repetitive behaviors. Interestingly, savant abilities spring from those who are autistic to a far greater degree than the general population -- as high as 33 percent with autistic individuals, compared to less than 1 percent in the non-autistic individuals. "Savant" refers to exceptional abilities not exhibited by most persons, such as musical, artistic, mathematical, or mechanical ability, coupled with extraordinary memory.

The autism-savantism connection is a mystery. In recent years, however, a fuller picture has begun to emerge. The current line of thinking goes something like this: Much of the brain dysfunction marked by autism occurs in the left hemisphere of the brain. Many of the savant skills originate in the right hemisphere. The brain redirects neural activity from the left hemisphere to the right h…

Owner Liability for Injuries Caused by Dogs

Approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year (per the CDC), over 800,000 of whom require medical attention. Dogs may be the source of otehr injuries as well-- for instance, a dog may jump up on someone and knock them down, or cause a bike rider to fall off their bike.

Owners may be liable under one of the following categories:

The "one-bite" law - A dog owner is liable for injuries their dog causes if they had reasons to know their dog might cause some type of injury. A misinformed understanding of the law is that every dog gets a "free" bite, which isn't necessarily true. While the first bite puts the own on notice that the dog might be a danger, so does growling threateningly, snapping, or jumping on someone, among other behaviors. Owners may escape liability if the injured party provokes the dog or knowingly risked being injured by the dog.

Strict liability statute- Under this statute, the owner is liable if their dog bites/ harms someone who …

Unmarried Couples and Credit Discrimination

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits creditors from discriminating on the basis of martial status -- or race, national origin, religion, sex, age, or because a portion or all of a persons income is derived from public assistance. Creditors may ask about most of this information in specific situations, but they may not use it when deciding whether to issue credit, or for determining the terms of credit. Legally, ability to pay and demonstrated responsibility in pay should be the only criteria that matters.

By law, creditors cannot:


Inquire about martial status of applicants for individual unsecured credit unless the applicant lives in or is using property as collateral that exists in a community property stateRequire the use of a married name; they must allow credit to be issued in a person's given name or a combined surname. Terminate your account or require reapplication if you change your name or martial status unless there is evidence that you're unwilling or unable to…

A Clash of Sleep and School

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers on average need 8-10 hours of sleep each night in order to fire on all cylinders the next day. Trouble is, 87 percent of them fall short. Many of them also experience what the medical community calls "phase delay"; they have more trouble falling asleep earlier in the night than in their pre-high school days, possibly due to hormonal changes, which means they want to sleep longer in the morning.

There's one big problem: Many schools start classes at roughly 7:30 a.m. If you give a kid one hour to get ready, that's a 6:30 a.m. wake up. GO back 8-10 hours and you arrive at a bedtime of 8:30-10:30. For many teens, that ain't happenin'. 

Some school districts have opted to move starting times one hour later. The results have been encouraging: lower rates of absenteeism and tardiness, improved academic performance, increased levels of safety (e.g., driving to school), and a diminished incidence of health issues …

Congestive Heart Failure and Social Security Disability

Congestive heart failure - a serious condition that affects around six million Americans - leads to more hospital visits for people over 65 than any other condition.

While the term "heart failure" seems to imply that the heart simply stops working, what actually happens is that the heart exhibits less pumping power than normal, blood moves through the heart and body slower and there is more pressure in the heart. This causes you to not be able to get enough oxygen and nutrients throughout your body since your heart can't pump strongly enough.

In turn, your heart stretches to hold more blood to try to compensate, but then it can bcome weakened, stiff, and thickened over time. Ultimately, the kidneys often react by cuasing the body to retain water and salt, which can build up in the extremities, the lungs and other organs, leading to the body becoming congested.

Congestive heart failure is a condition that may qualify you for Social Security Disability or SSDI benefits. To…

Major Advance in Stroke Treatment

Nearly 800,000 Americans each year suffer from strokes. According to the american heart Association, strokes are the fourth-leading cause of death and a major source of disabilities among adults.

Time is of the essence in stroke treatment. A recent one-year study conducted by UCLA researchers showed that those who suffered strokes had a roughly 80 percent chance of a successful outcome- able to live independently within three months, when treated within four hours of the onset of symptoms. The percentage drops significantly beyond four hours.

For the past 20+ years, the first-line therapy for strokes has been an injection of tPA (tissue plasminogen activator)*, a blood thinning medication. It is very effective on small blood clots but frequently fails to break up larger ones. However, a new therapy is proving to be a game changer.

Stent retriever therapy* can remove clots more quickly, including larger ones that are problematic for tPA, improving a patients outlook. The only drawback …

Why Autism Strikes More Boys than Girls

In recent years, research has ramped up to get to the bottom of the striking disparity between genders when it comes to the incidence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). ASD affects approximately four times as many boys as girls.

In one theory, the PTCHD1 gene on the X chromosome plays a pivotal role. PTCHD1 is a protein coding gene that helps to deliver information to cells during brain development. If it has mutated or is missing altogether, there is an elevated risk of autism or an intellectual disability.

Boys inherit one X chromosome from their mother and one Y chromosome from their father. Girls carry two X chromosomes. If one X chromosome carries a mutated PTCHD1 gene, or is missing it altogether, the second X chromosome provides backup, shielding a girl form ASD. However, the genetic abnormality can still be passed on to a future son.

Other research is examining the role that the brain cortex thickness has on the development of ASD. The cortex is the brain's outer layer th…

Legal Look at Pain and Suffering

"Pain and suffering" is a key component in many personal injury cases. There are two types: physical pain and suffering, and mental pain and suffering, and mental pain and suffering.

Physical pain and suffering covers not only the ill physical effects that a claimant has suffered to date, but also what they are likely to endure in the future as a result of the defendants negligence. Mental pain and suffering is an offshoot of the claimant's physical injuries and the trauma of an accident. It can include anxiety, anger, depression, humiliation, sleep disorders, fear, and loss of enjoyment of life, among other negitive effects. It encompasses what hte victim has suffered to date as well as what they will likely endure in the future.

Calculating compensation for pain and suffering is an imprecise task; there are generally no set guidelines. In most states, judges simply instruct the jury to utilize good common sense and to draw upon their individual backgrounds and experien…

Strive to be an Ideal Patient After an Accident

If you have a misfortune of suffering injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident, one of your first priorities is going to be recovering as quickly and fully as possible. The best way to accomplish that goal is to strive to be an ideal patient. Here's what we mean when we say that:

Be sure to report all of your symptoms and be completely honsest with your doctor. The key is not to downplay any symptoms (that headache or nagging depression may not seem like a big deal to you, but it could be a sign of a more serious injury), but to also not exaggerate or inflate any symptoms or injuries when discussing them with your doctor. Just be accurate and candid. When it comes to your appointments, medicines and any treatments, stay on top of things and be inquisitive. Don't be afraid to ask questions about why a particular medicine is being prescribed or why a certain treatment is recommended. Be fully engaged with your recovery. Carefully follow and adhere to your doctors instruct…