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Mental health for vets may not be up to par

Perhaps due to awareness of illnesses, the Department of Veterans Affairs said the number of former service members has risen by a third over the past five years, but are there enough veterans benefits for mental healthcare to go around? NPR said the agency is trying to boost funding and standards, but it may still be lacking in mental health care for the men and women returning home.

Paul Rieckhoff of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America told the news source that an investigation shows that VA statistics are skewed to make them look better than they actually are. VA said any vet asking for help should be evaluated within 24 hours and begin treatment in two weeks, which the department said happens in the majority of cases.

“It illustrates, in incredible clarity, how dysfunctional the VA system is right now for thousands of veterans around the country,” Rieckhoff told NPR.

One activist from Veterans for Common Sense told the news source that the government has been too slow to react to mental illness by many veterans, something that has shown can be dangerous over a long period of time. Veterans in need may need to seek out help to ensure they get the benefits that are coming to them.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates are experts in securing evidence to prove mental illness of veterans. PTSD is just one of many issues affecting the men and women defending our freedom.

SSA moves those with rare lung disease ahead on benefits list.

For soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Social Security Administration is making sure those affected by a rare lung disease can move ahead on the list if they display disability qualifying conditions stemming from burn pits and fires, according to Army Times. This “compassionate allowance” may help speed up the benefit process and get these veterans the help they need in procuring money while they cannot work.

“The irreversible disease, constrictive bronchiolitis, also called obliterative bronchiolitis or bronchiolitis obliterans, is characterized by the narrowing or obstruction of the lung’s smallest airways, the bronchioles, by scarring or fibrous tissue,” according to the news source. Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said he would be adding this disease and  51 others, including metastatic melanoma and juvenile onset Huntington Disease to the list as of August 11.

One veteran, Army Chief Warrant Officer Neil Rodgers, told the Army Times that this is a “huge breakthrough” for soldiers like him who are affected by the disease, noting that it “practically guarantees us benefits.” Hundreds of other service members were made sick by toxic smoke while serving about 50 suffer from this disease.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates have over 25 years of experience in successfully representing claimants before the Social Security Administration. We stand ready to expeditiously gather and present all evidence necessary to prove our clients case and thereby obtain the benefits they deserve.

Social Security Administration takes a new look at fibromyalgia

Last month, the Social Security Administration put out a new ruling on fibromyalgia which sought to clarify how they look at claims for the disease, which is marked by body pain, tenderness in soft tissues, sleep problems, headaches and more. Those who suffer from this disease could very well have disability qualifying conditions for Social Security benefits.

The SSA said it browsed medical evidence to support a ruling that a person would not be able to work due to fibromyalgia and said the claimant needs to have “medically determinable impairment” in order to qualify for benefits.

“A physician’s opinion as to a patient’s limitations alone is not enough to establish a medically determinable impairment,” Disabled-World said on  the ruling. “The physician must diagnose fibromyalgia and provide the type of evidence described in the new ruling, and this information must not be inconsistent with other information in the Social Security Disability applicant’s case record.”

Two instances where this disease would most likely qualify include a history of at least three months of widespread pain and/or at least 11 positive tender points in the body.  Other disorders would have to be ruled out for a positive ruling by the SSA.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates has successfully represented numerous clients afflicted with fibromyalgia over the last 25 years. It is important to have sufficient medical evidence supporting the client’s inability to perform their activities of daily living. If such activities are limited by the disease, this evidence will likely be critical in demonstrating that a client can no longer be employed.

PTSD can lead to suicide, depression in vets

Many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after returning home to the life of a civilian from war, but not too many know how to deal with the effects of the mental illness, such as suicidal thoughts. The New York TImes wrote about one 27-year-old former Marine who found life at home difficult upon his return and ended up hanging himself. It does not have to go this far; there are veterans benefits and counseling available for returning vets suffering from PTSD and other illnesses.

“P.T.S.D. in a high-risk cohort like war veterans could actually be a physical disease from permanent brain damage, not a psychological disease,” said Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist who examined the veteran, according to the Times. The doctor published an article about t 27-year-old veteran as a sentinel case in Neurosurgical Focus, as the Marine had also suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative condition known for affecting those who have taken blows to the head.

Many studies have found links between traumatic events that cause PTSD and the likelihood of thinking about or committing suicide. Any veteran feeling these effects should look for help through veterans benefits to help them feel good again.

The law offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates stands ready to assist Veterans across the nation with their claims for benefits.