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More children with autism being hospitalized

Autism is a disorder which has been shown to a large number of young people. According to recent research from the Stanford University School of Medicine, the number of children affected by autism, ages 1 to 18, nearly tripled.

Parents whose children are affected may not know where to turn, but they should know that disability benefits may be available for them from the Social Security Administration. While this will not fix everything, it could help with many of the expenses incurred during treatments and doctor visits.

These studies, which were published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, found that the number of children hospitalized for other developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, remained steady.

“Overwhelmed parents, schools and community providers of mental health resources may have been unable to meet the needs of these patients and this failure to treat adequately in the outpatient sector may have led to a direct increase in hospitalizations,” the study authors wrote.

The Stanford study found that once children with autism were between the ages of 15 and 18, there were three-and-a-half times more likely than their peers to be hospitalized.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates have successfully represented numerous children affected by autism in SSA benefit hearings. Helping children affected by autism is a matter of obtaining all relevant medical and school records, as well as opinions, and presenting this evidence persuasively to the SSA judge.

Sharp contrast seen in people with disability benefits by area

Many people are affected by disabilities every day, but Stephan Lindler of the Urban Institute posted an interactive map on the MicroTrends Blog recently which shows that the number of people who receive disability benefits differs greatly in small regions. In Cook County, for example, 3.25 percent of the population receive disability insurance. However, drive a few hours south to Marion county and you will see that number rise north of 6 percent.

“Such sharp differences across small geographic areas are puzzling: What could explain them?” Lindler asked on the blog. “Solving that puzzle could lead to meaningful reform and policies that are more closely tailored to people’s actual needs.”

The map shows that most counties with more than 10 percent of the population receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration are in southern states. But how can there be such a great contrast between areas?

Lindler said the prevalence of disabilities may be higher in certain areas, economic conditions may be worse and state policies could differ. In addition to this, determination of who gets disability could be vastly different county-to-county and state-by-state. There may also be a different knowledge of how these programs work. All of this makes it essential for those applying for SSA disability benefits to hire an attorney to make sure they have the best chance of receiving benefits.

Our firm represents clients seeking SSA benefits across several states. While the judicial approaches and temperament can vary by region and hearing office, one constant that will always serve clients is a well-prepared medical file and legal argument by their legal counsel.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates are experts in obtaining medical evidence and presenting persuasive legal arguments. This will help clients win disability cases at all levels of the disability claim process.

Q&A: Preparing for a mental disability case

There may not be as much attention paid to mental problems as physical disabilities, but the Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates has seen a large amount of these mental disability cases come through its doors. Preparing for a hearing in front of the Social Security Administration will take a lot of work, but these cases can be successful. You can attain mental disability benefits from the SSA.

Harold Conick, who has practiced for more than 30 years, answered a few questions about what it takes to prepare for one of these cases.

Q: How do you prepare for a mental disability case versus a physical disability case? Is it different?

Conick: The preparation is similar except the focus for the mental case is on how the mental illness interferes with the functionality. This concerns their ability to concentrate, memory, judgment and their ability to think about work related activities.

Q: Generally, what are the outcomes of these cases?

Conick: The outcome depends on how much treatment they’ve had for their condition. Some people are mentally ill and they don’t get much treatment because of mental issues. They can’t leave the house or don’t want to leave the house. Others are better at getting treatment The more one treats the illness, the better chance they have of prevailing on a claim for disability. The records are everything. The SSA thinks if they’re not treating they’re not that sick and they can’t prove it.

Q: Do you see a large amount of these cases in your practice?

Conick: Yeah, it is probably about half who have some component of mental illness. Bipolar, depression, schizophrenia, personality disorder or some combination of several elements. PTSD is common as well, especially among women.

Q: What’s the hardest part of trying a mental disability case?

Conick: Getting the client to cooperate with revealing their evidence. I don’t just mean their medical evidence; That’s readily obtainable usually. I mean testifying about how they are affected by their mental illness. A lot of people are hesitant to talk about it. It’s a very personal subject.

Q: Do you have any advice for people with a mental disorder applying for disability benefits? Or perhaps friends/family who want to help?

Conick: They should try to get treatments for two reasons: One their health and the hope they can be cured or treated. Two, to support their claim for federal disability benefits. Mental illness is very common; disability benefits can be had. The claimant must be willing to do everything in their power to help the case.

VA claims backlog is being reduced slowly but surely

One of the biggest and most accurate complaints lobbied against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is that they are too slow and bogged down by records. We have heard time and again that the veterans benefits process would be sped up but have yet to see real results. The Washington Post reports that this may soon be changing, as VA officials claim the backlog have been cut by 44 percent since reaching its zenith in March 2013.

New data shows that the number of claims in processing for more than 125 days dropped to 344,000. Last year, this was at 611,000. VA also claims that it has improved accuracy from 83 percent in 2011 to 91 percent in March 2014. The average wait time for benefits has also shortened from 282 days in March 2013 to 119 days now, VA officials say. However, the Post said American Legion official Zachary Hearn told a Congressional hearing that there were errors in 55 percent of the cases it reviewed.

He said the department has “greatly reduced the claims backlog, but we still have concerns with accuracy and the rapid manner in which they are adjudicated.

Moving forward, VA officials must ensure that not only are claims being reviewed in a timely manner, but they are determining benefits accurately as well.

The reality is that VA is not accurately adjudicating veterans claims, nor can the process be reasonably characterized as timely. A veteran applying for a disability claim lingers while the VA promises that they are reducing the claim backlog; It’s mostly lip service to keep Congress at bay.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates does it’s best to assist its veteran clients in benefits in a timely fashion.

Social media may play role in SSA disability hearings

Are you mindful of what goes on your social media accounts? If you are applying for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration, you certainly should be.

The Washington Times reported that members of Congress made recommendations to allow SSA administrative judges to have the ability to review the social media profiles of claimants. This means there is potential for them to draw conclusions that an applicant is able-bodied from viewing Facebook, Twitter and other similar websites.

In addition, some members of Congress want to see reviews of cases by judges who “show inclinations toward rubber-stamping applications,” the Times reported.

“We recognize that one case of fraud is too many and work aggressively to detect and prevent abuses. We continue to enhance our program integrity efforts by adding tools like data analytics which enables us to identify patterns of suspicious behavior in disability applications,” Kia Anderson, a spokeswoman for Social Security, told the news source.

It is never advisable to fake injury or disability to get benefits, but you never know what can be taken seriously if the SSA is able to start reviewing websites such as Facebook or Twitter where jest is the norm. It is essential for claimants to be careful what they post online while applying for disability benefits.

The Social Security administration and it’s managers have shown a propensity toward paranoia when dealing with the public and their representatives in recent years. From the recent and now revoked policy of withholding the name of the judge from attorneys to their interest in viewing a claimants Facebook or Twitter account, it seems there is no end their endeavors to find ways defeat a claimant’s right to secure SSA disability benefits.

Sadly, claimants can have an uphill battle facing “hired gun” SSA experts and judges who often seem to go along with the SSA’s position concerning a claimant’s ability to return to work. In many cases, most reasonable people would agree a claimant could no longer perform.

Claimants must gather all available medical evidence and retain counsel willing to fight to secure their disability benefits. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick, & Associates is ready, willing and able to battle for its clients right to disability benefits.