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Change in PTSD definition could affect veteran benefits

Veterans looking for disability benefits should keep a watchful eye on the proposed new definition changes of post traumatic stress disorder. The proposal can be found in a draft of the American Psychiatric Association’s fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which serves as a guide for mental health workers across the world, according to The Augusta Chronicle.

Changes include remove subjective criteria such as fear and expanding other definitions, such as traumatic events, the news source said. Dr. Bill Albrecht, a staff psychologist at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center said they’ll be getting rid of some problems but may be gaining some in the process, according to the Chronicle. He said while dropping “disorder” from the title may reduce stigma, changing it to “injury” may make it hard to qualify for benefits.

“That’s the concern,” said Dave Autry, the deputy national director of communications for Disabled American Veterans, told the news source. “We’re certainly keeping an eye on it.”

PTSD is a traumatic and long lasting injury that can lead to inability to work. Veterans affected by PTSD are to entitled to Veterans benefits if they can present sufficient and credible evidence of the illness. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates are experts on proving PTSD cases for United States military service veterans.

People with ALS may be able to get SSD benefits quickly

With May being ALS Awareness Month, Denise Jones, a Social Security Administration employee, wrote an editorial for The Daily Nonpareil which said those with the illness may be able to get quicker Social Security disability benefits. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive disease which attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord. She said ALS is one of Social Security’s “Compassionate Allowances.”

“The compassionate allowances initiative identifies claims where the nature of the applicant’s disease or condition clearly meets the statutory standard for disability,” Jones writes. “With the help of sophisticated new information technology, the agency can quickly identify potential compassionate allowances and then quickly make decisions and begin monthly benefit payments.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, early warning signs of ALS include difficulty lifting the front part of feet and hands, weakness in lower extremities, slurring of speech and muscle cramps or twitching in the arms, shoulders and legs. The disease begins in the hands, feet or limbs and spreads to other parts of the body.

ALS is a devastating disease and can lead to inability to work. Although the SSA generally does a well intentioned job in approving obvious cases of disability, we have found that often it is still necessary to provide sufficient and convincing evidence to obtain approval for benefits in “obvious cases.” Consequently, a claimant is always served by retaining counsel early on in the disability application process.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates is available to represent clients from the initial application through federal court appeals.

Social Security benefit system may need to be fixed

In an editorial written on political news website The Hill, Marc Goldwein, senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, writes that the Social Security disability system is broken and needs to be fixed. He said within the next five years, the program will no longer be able to fully pay the 12 million people with disability qualifying benefits that currently benefit from receiving benefits.

“The Social Security disability system is broken in many ways,” he said. “Not only is the program financially insolvent, but the system is wrought with fraud, needlessly complex, difficult to navigate, inconsistent and unfair in determining eligibility, inflexible to changes in the structure of the workforce, administratively overburdened, almost completely uncoordinated with other government policies, and unable to help or reward those who are interested in re-entering the workforce.”

To fix the system, Goldwein said the short-term fixes could include limiting retroactive benefits and reductions in duplicative benefits. Long-term, structural fixes are more difficult, but he said questions have to be asked to make the Social Security Administration more financially solvent.

Although there is complexity and uneven justice involved in the Social Security system, the program represents a viable safety net to the disabled. A disability case must be backed up by credible evidence. Legal services are often necessary to prevail. The retroactive benefits due to disability claimants is helpful in allowing them to hire counsel on a contingent fee basis. Counsel is only paid if benefits are secured. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates are experts in securing disability benefits for its clients.

American workforce shrinks, number of disabled rises

While many Americans want to work, it is made impossible or nearly impossible by a litany of crippling disabilities. Business Week reports that the number of workers in the country receiving Social Security Disability payments jumped 22 percent from December 2007 to April of this year. There are currently 8.7 million people receiving Social Security disability payments.

Business Week said the number of working age people holding a job or seeking one was 63.8 percent in March after being at a 30 year low of 63.7 percent in January.

“How we measure and understand what’s going on in the economy can be influenced by the degree to which various public- support programs are available and being used,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan in New York. “With a rising number of disability beneficiaries, there are both lower unemployment rates and lower participation rates.”

Those people who cannot work but are not receiving disability payments from the Social Security Administration should look to apply for disability payments as soon as possible if they have disability qualifying conditions.

There is no advantage for a claimant to wait to apply for disability benefits if they believe they can no longer work. In fact, it can make a disability case more difficult to prove if a claimant waits too long to file a case. The law offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates have been successful in obtaining disability benefits for its clients in cases where the claimants have delayed filing a claim. We are experts in securing benefits in difficult disability claims.