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Spinal cord injuries devastating; disability benefits available

Injuring different areas of the spinal cord can mean a varying level of injury. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation said for some lucky patients, there could be a changing level to where the sufferer can heal. However, those less fortunate may forever have their way of life altered. Patient suffering from disability qualifying conditions should gather their medical records and apply for Social Security Administration disability benefits. While these will not solve all problems, they could go a long way in helping to pay for medical bills and life in general.

“A complete injury is indicated by a total lack of sensory and motor function below the level of injury,” the foundation said. “But the absence of motor and sensory function below the injury site does not necessarily mean that there are no remaining intact axons or nerves crossing the injury site, just that they do not function appropriately following the injury.”

Types of injuries can include:

– Tetraplegia, which can cause paralysis or weakness in both arms and legs

– Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury T1- T12, which can cause loss of function of physical ability

– Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury L1-L5, which can cause paralysis or weakness in the legs, as well as loss of control of many bodily functions and muscles

– Sacral Spinal Cord Injury S1 – S5, which can cause loss of bowel and bladder function, as well as sexual dysfunction

It is important for patients to stay vigilant in visiting their doctor and collecting medical records throughout the process of treatment.

A significant number of disability claims involve some form of injury to the structures of the spinal column. Traumatic injury, as well as degenerative arthritis, are common causes of these medical problems.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates are experts in presenting evidence of such injuries and their debilitating affect on an individuals ability to perform work, as well as daily activities. Claimants are served by their ongoing treatment, including conservative methods of dealing with the problem as well as surgery when warranted.


Veterans see a longer-than-anticipated wait for benefits

Everyone who has served in the U.S. military knows there is a backlog for benefits right now, but not many knew how bad the wait was. According to a recent report by the Center for Investigative Reporting, the average wait to begin receiving veterans disability is now 273 days. This shoots up to to 327 days for those who are making claims for the first time and even more for bigger cities, with the average wait in New York being 642 days. There are about 600,000 veterans in the disability backlog.

Aaron Glantz of the Center for Investigative Reporting, said he looked through records via the Freedom of Information Act and confirmed numbers with the department. The agency has spent nearly $550 million on a new computer system but most of the veteran records are still on paper. He wrote that in the Department of Veterans Affairs office in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the building was filled so much with claims files that it had potential to challenge the building’s integrity.

“The agency admits being overwhelmed, but it says it is getting control,” The New York Times said. “It says its job has become more complicated in part because it added more than 940,000 veterans to the compensation rolls in the last four years and covers more conditions — like those linked to Agent Orange and gulf war illness — while easing standards for proving post-traumatic stress disorder.”

In light of the long wait for due process of their claims, veterans should always appeal any adverse decisions made on their claims by the VA in a timely fashion. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates is prepared to assist veterans with processing their claims.

Social Security judges can no longer be kept a secret

A recent policy that allowed the Social Security Administration to keep the names of administrative law judges secret before hearings has been reversed. Now, ALJs must be revealed to the claimant and counsel before they go to court, something that should make the fight for Social Security disability benefits somewhat easier.

While SSA claimed this was due to legal representatives trying to pick the judge they liked so they could more easily gain benefits, there have been many problems caused by the rule. As of April 20, it will no longer be in effect, as the names of the ALJs assigned to each case must be provided to the attorney and the client.

The final straw that ended this rule happened after multiple Freedom of Information Act requests came to the SSA asking for names of ALJs assigned to cases, with one case ending with the claimant being awarded with the money for legal fees, as well as the name of the judge assigned to their case.

“The secret judge policy was never a good idea or fair to claimants,” Harold W. Conick said. “Not only did the policy complicate the hearing scheduling process, but it put claimants at a disadvantage at the hearing. Since every judge varies in their conduct of the hearing, counsel’s knowledge of such variation enables a claimant to be better prepared for the hearing process.”

Attorney Harold W. Conick is well acquainted with numerous SSA Judges in the Chicago Metropolitan hearing offices as well as hearing offices in downstate Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan.

Veterans fighting against federal cuts

With many waiting for a staggering amount of time to even get veterans benefits, groups and vets alike are now looking to rally against any thought the White House could have to make cuts to these benefits, according to The Associated Press. Supporters are worried that President Barack Obama’s changes to using a different measure to calculate Social Security Administration disability benefits may affect veterans as well.

“I think veterans have already paid their fair share to support this nation,” said the American Legion’s Louis Celli, according to AP. “They’ve paid it in lower wages while serving, they’ve paid it through their wounds and sacrifices on the battlefield and they’re paying it now as they try to recover from those wounds.”

The AP said veterans groups will be watching the coming weeks and months of budget cuts very closely, as groups have already held news conferences and raised the issue with politicians. Next month, the new budget will be released and many will get a first look to see if veterans benefits will fall at all on the chopping block.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates are experts in presenting medical evidence in support of claims for federal disability benefits and are available to assist in processing their claims for veterans benefits.