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Q&A with an attorney: Attaining children’s disability benefits

Children’s disability cases are not easy to win. Many attorneys don’t bother taking these cases due to how much goes into proving a child is disabled in front of a Social Security Administration judge. However, Harold W. Conick, a Chicagoland attorney, said it is not impossible to prove.

Conick answered a few questions about what it takes to win a child’s disability case.

Q: What makes these cases different from an adult’s disability claim?

Conick: Well what sets it apart is the Social Security Administration assesses a child’s case differently than they do an adult’s case in terms of functionality. In an adult case, functionality would be whether or not a person is unable to work at a competitive job because of of physical or mental illness. In a child’s case they would look at multiple domains of functionality. These have to do with the ability to learn, socialize, their health and well-being and behavioral issues.

If a child has a marked level of impairment in two of the domains or one extreme level in any of the domains, they would be considered disabled by the SSA.

Q: Are these cases more difficult to win?

Conick: Yeah, they are more difficult to win than adult cases. Many of the judges don’t like to label children as disabled if they can help it. Many times, the child doesn’t have enough medical treatment to support a claim of disability. The child cannot testify on their own behalf because they’re not old enough to deal with testifying. However, It is not impossible to win as long a there’s enough medical evidence.

Q: What are some of the main cases that receive benefits for children?

Conick: Mental illness, behavioral problems and learning disabilities such as ADHD. Also, severe physical handicaps will support a disability claim for children.

Q: Any that are harder to prove?

Conick: Behavioral mental illness can be difficult to prove, but it can be done. Also, even though they are common, ADHD cases can be a challenge.

Q: How long do these benefits usually last?

Conick: The SSA can review them basically at will, although they don’t. It’s usually an annual report that has to be submitted. Once they become an adult they will have to quality for adult disability from the SSA. This means another assessment, which may involve another hearing.

Q: What’s the main thing for a guardian to know when applying?

Conick: They have to know that in order to prevail, there has to be sufficient medical treatment to prove severity, no matter if the illness is mental or physical. Without this, it’s pretty difficult to prove the case. With sufficient medical evidence, there’s a much better chance of having a child’s disability case approved.

Shaky economy may cause disability increase

When the economy get works, those filing for and getting Social Security Administration disability benefits seems to rise. A recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research said the answer isn’t obvious for this happens, but there are many possibilities.

There may be many Americans who keep working despite their disability and fight through it until they lose their job. Perhaps it is easier for people with moderate disabilities to get benefits with fewer jobs. Another possibility the paper brought up is that many are using disability as a “safety net” once unemployment runs out. However, the authors said this third option is not what is going on

Jesse Rothstein, one of the authors of the NBER report, said the issue is likely that federal disability rules reward workers that have an impairment that prevents them from working. He told the Wall Street Journal that the ability to work isn’t necessarily on its own from the labor market. Getting a job back during hard economic times becomes more difficult and businesses may be more wary of hiring someone with a disability, thereby giving the impairment a role in the inability to get new work.

The majority of workers who suffer from illness will attempt to hang onto their jobs as long as possible. However, most jobs require a level of pace and production that a disabled worker may not be able to meet due to mental or physical limitations. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates are well experienced in winning disability benefits for their clients and. We are available to fight for clients who are entitlement to benefits.

Lack of diagnosis could hurt benefits

The deep backlog the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is currently dealing with has ramifications for the system and country as a whole, but perhaps more importantly, a big impact on the individuals who do not receive benefits.

NPR’s Quil Lawrence spoke with Reed Holway, a veteran returning from Iraq, who received a bad conduct discharge after suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism after and during his deployment. He was arrested after hitting a small child. Doctors say he acquired his PTSD in Iraq but was never properly diagnosed or treated for it before it was too late.

Now, Holway works for and rents housing from his father, paying for PTSD medication and rent out of his own pocket. Getting an early, proper diagnosis from VA is key for veterans returning home, as it can make a big difference in the treatment plan. Lawrence said due to Holways’ bad conduct charge, he is not eligible for help with his disease.

The Institute of Medicine reported that for servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan, levels of PTSD is as high as 20 percent. Alcohol abuse is at 39 percent and depression is at 37 percent. There are likely similar stories to Holway’s; it is important to ensure they are taken care by VA before it is too late.

Veterans with a discharge status that precludes them from VA medical treatment should consider attempting to upgrade their discharge. PTSD is a serious and often lifelong condition that can color every aspect of a veteran’s life. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates is available to assist veterans with their VA claim.

Female veterans face hard time upon return home

After serving in Iraq, Xatavia Hughes returned to Chicago in December 2010, according to The Chicago Tribune. Hard times started immediately as she faced living in a homeless shelter and protecting her children. Much like many others who have served in wars, Hughes had a hard time being taken care of by the government she served. Upon return home, soldiers should look to apply for veterans benefits to ensure they can stay afloat through hard times.

Hughes said she was homeless a month after a return home and her $3,500 in savings all went into clothing for her children, moving costs and rent payments to those she stayed with. The Tribune said women have the fastest growing segment of the veteran population and gives many new issues to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of these women have children, have issues after being sexually assaulted while serving and

“And though they already served in dangerous, life-threatening positions, the recent decision to allow women to fight in combat zones means even more are likely to return with complex and severe injuries that need attention,” Tribune reporter Annie Sweeney wrote.

There are many benefits available to veterans who have honorably served in the Armed Forces of the United States. It is not uncommon for VA to deny a meritorious claim made by a veteran, but this should always be appealed. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates is available to protect both female and male veterans rights.

Children with oppositional defiant disorder can quality for disability

 Kids that show a consistent pattern of tantrums, arguing, anger and disruptive behavior may have more going on than simply a childhood phase. The Mayo Clinic said this could be oppositional defiant disorder, which can be considered a disability qualifying benefit by the Social Security Administration in some cases. Treatment of ODD will involve therapy, training and perhaps even medication, so monetary assistance from the SSA would definitely not hurt.

“It may be difficult at times to recognize the difference between a strong-willed or emotional child and one with oppositional defiant disorder,” the Mayo Clinic said. “It’s normal to exhibit oppositional behavior at certain stages of a child’s development.”

One sign that a child is dealing with ODD is persistence of negativity, anger and defiance. ODD spans longer than six months and is certainly disruptive to the family and home environment. The family should visit a doctor when it notices these signs, as that will help diagnose the child and begin the process of filing for disability.

The SSA’s evaluations will look at whether ODD has had a “marked and severe” limitation on the child’s activity compared to one of the same age. Things that can and cannot be done by the child will be considered.

In order to be approved for benefits, the child claimant must prove that they have two marked impairments or one extreme impairment in the several domains of childhood activities. These domains can include learning, socializing, health and well being. The Law Offices of Harold W Conick & Associates are experts in successfully proving both child and adult disability claims before the SSA.