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Helping veterans reduce the suffering of PTSD

Many veterans come home from war with new physical ailments that will need to be treated. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs said up to 20 percent of the 2.3 million veterans who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan experience post-traumatic stress disorder at some point of their lives, which affects mental health far more than physical health. This can lead to depression, anxiety and, in some cases, even suicide.

While veterans can receive disability benefits from the VA to help with bills while PTSD is being treated, other tools may be helpful as well. One recent study, published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, found that yoga may be a great way for veterans to fight against the mental anguish that PTSD brings.

Agnieszka Golec de Zavala, senior lecturer in psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, said yoga can help veterans move away from many of the negative thoughts and feelings that PTSD can bring, according to The Washington Post. He said an increased focus on breathing will help keep the veteran in the present and help them better understand and control their internal state. Simply knowing their pain, discomfort or anxiety will soon pass can be of great comfort to a veteran or any sufferer of PTSD.

Veterans who suffer from PTSD should not stop seeing doctors or getting medical advice, but yoga could be an extra tool to help ease some of the suffering involved with this disorder.

PTSD can be a lifelong medical condition that veterans must manage with treatment. Too many resort to self treatment, such as alcohol or drugs, and many do not seek professional treatment. Private medical providers and VA can help veterans manage their PTSD symptoms.

Veterans should also consider applying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration if their PTSD symptoms are severe enough to prevent their employment. There are private medical help and cash benefits available to veterans from the SSA.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates are committed advocates for veterans and their families in the effort to secure the benefits they are entitled.

Washington Post spotlights huge SSA disability backlog

At our offices, we see those terribly affected by disability on a daily basis. Many will end up waiting months, if not years, to be helped by Social Security Administration disability benefits. In Cook County alone, there are 158,840 people who receive disability benefits, unable to work in due to mental illness or physical disability.

However, the general public may not know just how backed up the SSA is and how many people are desperately in need of help. Reporters at The Washington Post wrote a long feature this month showcasing the problems of the SSA disability system, starting by highlighting the fact that there are nearly one million cases in backlog.

“I had two claimants on my docket this past month. . . . They died. They died. Waiting for a hearing,” said Carol Pennock, a Social Security judge told the Washington Post on just how serious the backlog can be.

Currently, there are 1,445 SSA administrative judges. That means that for each judge, there is nearly 700 backlogged cases waiting for their approval or denial by the SSA. This does not take into account new applicants for SSA disability benefits or the fact that some areas, such as Chicago, are more populated and will likely be much deeper into the backlog.

There is nothing new about the the SSA claim backlog, as it has existed for many years. The numbers have varied over the years, but the effect is the same: justice delayed is justice denied.

Although judges have numerous cases to decide, there is also the problem of the size of the SSA staff available to assist in the hearing process. Bench decisions and attorney adviser decisions were helpful in pushing out favorable results for clients, both of which were helped by SSA staff, but those methods of rendering decisions are no longer common. Why? Only SSA executives in charge truly know.

A claimant seeking expeditious justice only have their attorneys and local congressmen to help them. We at The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates strives to do everything in our power to push our clients’ cases to favorable decisions.

Speeding up the process of veterans benefits

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has taken a lot of flack over the past few years when it comes to veterans benefits, and rightfully so. The backlog of those waiting for their benefits has been on the uprise for years, with the average wait time for benefits skyrocketing to 923 days by the end of 2013. Many were simply not getting the treatment they needed.

However, VA officials have announced plans they hope will speed up the process of disability claims and appeals. A new standardized set of forms from the VA aims to make it easier for veterans and their families to get the benefits they so desperately need.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald said in a press release that it is his department’s goal to do everything they can to ensure veterans receive an accurate decision on their claim.

“Our veterans and survivors will know, at the outset of the claims process, what is needed, which removes subjective interpretation from the process,” McDonald said. “We want to eliminate any barriers that make it difficult for our veterans or survivors to receive benefits to which they are entitled.”

These new regulations are set to be in place by March 2015, according to VA. However, it is important to remember that we have heard claims that the process will improve before. There have been years of work on a system to eliminate backlog, which peaked in early 2013 at more than 611,000. The backlog still sits at more than 300,000 veterans.

Veterans who want to ensure they receive their benefits should seek the assistance of a trained attorney. This can make the process of attaining maximum benefits much easier.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates is based in Wheaton, Illinois and committed to assisting veterans obtain the maximum benefit from their claims. The process is complicated and lengthy, but veterans must be persistent in pressing their entitlement to service connected benefits.

Mini-strokes may cause PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is usually associated with veterans returning from war, those who have had near-death experiences or people who have been abused. However, a recent study from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany reported that mini-strokes could also cause PTSD, even in cases where they do not cause lasting physical damage.

PTSD can be a long-lasting ailment that is extremely difficult to deal with. Those who suffer can qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration if their case is strong enough. As this study showed, nearly a third of patients who suffered from a transient ischemic attack developed PTSD symptoms, including anxiety and depression.

Kathrin Utz, a researcher in the department of neurology, told HealthDay Reporter that doctors usually don’t put much weight into TIAs. However, they could lead sufferers to have PTSD and experience flashbacks, social isolation and nightmares, among other symptoms. To an onlooker, this may not seem bad, but PTSD can cause depression, lost sleep and a much lower quality of life over time.

About five out of 1,000 people experience TIAs in their lifetime. If you believe you are experiencing PTSD after a mini-stroke, it is a good idea to start seeing a doctor immediately to start fighting the problem immediately. SSA administrative law judges will also need to see patients taking a proactive approach to their PTSD before awarding disability benefits.

Our attorneys are very familiar with how to use the evidence and legal arguments required to win a PTSD case. Medical evidence, including all treatment records, are vital in convincing an SSA law administrative judge of the merits of a client’s case for disability benefits.

A call to modernize disability benefits

Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration can be a great way to fill in a wage gap caused by an inability to work. However, many people spend months, perhaps even years, waiting for their benefits to be approved. In this time, there is a limit to the amount of money disabled people can make, making it extremely difficult to survive.

In an editorial on the Huffington Post’s website, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of disability advocacy non-profit www.RespectAbilityUSA.org, wrote that this current system was meant for another era. The current system used by the SSA started back in 1956, a time when those who were disabled were in a much different light than they are today.

“But today’s system is all or nothing, and to get those vital services people with disabilities on SSI can’t have more than $2000 in liquid assets,” Mizrahi wrote. “This undermines two basic American values — hard work and savings – and promotes isolation and poverty. It victimizes people with disabilities. It traps people with low expectations, when they would rather pursue their dreams of work, savings, dignity and independence.”

While SSA disability benefits can be a tremendous help for those in need during dire times, the system is certainly in need of a few tweaks to help those with injuries, illnesses or disabilities adapt. Training, education and the ability to learn new ways of working while disabled may be helpful ways to get people off of disability benefits and into the workforce more quickly.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates represents clients seeking SSDI benefits as well as SSI. We are familiar with Federal disability laws know what it takes to win a case. We pride ourselves on our ability give our clients personal service while we pursue their entitlement to disability benefits.