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Disability makes finding work much harder

Those who suffer from a disability have a harder time finding work than those who do not, according to a recent Labor Department report. About 12 percent of Americans who are 16 and older have a disability, but this group only accounts for 3 percent of those who have a job in the U.S. It’s not hard to imagine why the number of applicants filing for Social Security Disability has been on the rise over the years.

Rodger DeRose, president of the Kessler Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to improve employment and job-training options for Americans with disabilities, told The Wall Street Journal that there are some big challenges for those with disability and companies looking to hire them. There are fears and doubts that those with disability will be able to meet demands of a job, but he said there is more willingness today than there has been.

“Companies are slowly engaging,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “We’re seeing more of it with big companies now starting to actively participate in hiring.”

However, the numbers do not lie. The Labor Department report found that 17.6 percent of people who were disabled had a job in 2013, which is down slightly from 2012. Currently, there are 28.6 million people over 16 who have a disability. Americans without a disability are much better off, it seems.

According to the Labor Department, 64 percent of Americans without a disability had a job, with a 7.1 percent jobless rate as of the end of 2013. Much of the work was part time, as 34 percent of disabled workers were employed part-time, compared with 19 percent of those without a disability.

When a person can no longer work, the Social Security system is available to replace some of the income lost from the inability to work. If a person is denied disability benefits, the Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates is ready, willing and able to help win your disability benefits.

What to know before applying for Social Security disabilities

Whether people want to think about it or not, disability is a very real threat. Elliot Raphaelson of the Tribune said the Social Security Administration reported that one quarter of current 20 year olds will be disabled by the age of 67. It is imperative for people of all ages to know what are considered disability qualifying benefits and figure out how they can apply with the Social Security Administration when they need to.

The SSA said in order to qualify for disability benefits, the illness must be considered medically “severe” will prevent the person from performing gainful work. The disability must either last a year or result in death, prevent the patient from doing the same work they did before its onset and not be able to adjust to other forms of work while affected by it.

“There is a further eligibility requirement: You must have sufficient work credits, based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income,” Raphaelson wrote. “Generally you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years. Younger workers can apply with fewer credits.”

While it may seem like a complex process, the money that would come to those who are truly suffering can surely help pay medical bills and with other costs of living.

The Law Offices of Harold W Conick and Associates have over three decades of experience winning their clients’ SSA disability benefit claims. The law offices represent both children and adults with SSDI and SSI claims throughout the greater Midwest and U.S.

Number of Americans getting disability on the rise

Just in the past 10 years, there has been a 29 percent jump in Americans with little or no work experiencing getting disability benefits, according to the Social Security Administration. CNN Money said in that same time period, there has been a 44 percent increase in disability claims by those who have formerly worked. Veterans benefits claims have gone up 28 percent since 2008, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said. With all of these, those applying for benefits need to have someone with experience to help them wade through the complex application process.

“All told, the federal government spent nearly $250 billion in 2011 paying more than 23 million Americans some type of disability claim,” according to CNN, showing the large number of people that are trying to obtain benefits. “That’s about 7 percent of the overall population, and 16 percent of the workforce.”

Andrew Houtenville, an economics professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability, told CNN Money that every recession sees a rise in the number of applicants for disability, with the 2001 recession finding disability claims up 13 percent. With more applicants, the process may grow longer. Those looking to obtain benefits must have knowledge of how they can make their own process of procuring benefits quicker.

Throughout different types of economic climates, the Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates has been helping people successfully obtain their Social Security disability benefits. We are are experts in processing the critical evidence necessary to win benefits and represent clients at all stages of the appeal process. Our offices often represent client successfully in cases that other lawyers have turned away or abandoned. As one Social Security expert recently said about our commitment to winning our cases, “Mr. Conick will fight to the death for his clients.”

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.

Depression in elderly linked to increased dementia risks, cognitive impairment

Depression is never an easy Social Security disability case to prove, as there needs to be a lot of medical records and proof lined up that the disease is truly affecting someone’s work life, but a recent study may give some more weight to this disorder. Dr. Edo Richard of the University of Amsterdam and colleagues recently found that depression in the elderly may be associated with an increased risk of dementia and prevalent mild cognitive impairment.

“We found that depression was related to a higher risk of prevalent mild cognitive impairment and dementia, incident dementia, and progression from prevalent mild cognitive impairment to dementia, but not to incident mild cognitive impairment,” Richard said in a statement.

The study, published in full by the Archives of Neurology, looked at a group of 2,160 community-living U.S. Medicare patients. Those with mild cognitive impairment and co-existing depression at baseline at a higher risk of dementia, especially vascular dementia, the report said. However, Alzheimer’s disease did not see an increase in this study.

“Our finding that depression was associated cross sectionally with both mild cognitive impairment and dementia and longitudinally only with dementia suggests that depression develops with the transition from normal cognition to dementia,” the authors of the study said.

Many people who suffer from physical illness can also suffer from symptoms of depression. Physical and mental impairments as a basis for disability benefits requires proof that the symptoms of this sickness are so severe that the person cannot perform the work requirements of any substantial and gainful employment in the national economy.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates are experts in obtaining and presenting sufficient proof of disabling depression allowing its clients to be approved for Social Security disability benefits.

Lawsuit filed for in-house nursing funding

According to Courthouse News, a class action lawsuit have been filed in Illinois in response to drastic cuts of in-home nursing for disabled people once they turn 21 years of age. The lead plaintiff of the class action suit, Don Harris, sued director of the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services Julie Hamos in federal court. Those affected by these cuts with disability qualifying conditions should consider filing with the Social Security Administration.

“This reduction in funding is not due to a change in the plaintiff’s medical needs but on the fact that the plaintiff’s funding at age 21 comes from a different state program, which has significant caps on funding,” the court complaint said, according to the news source. “The reduction in funding will either result in the plaintiff becoming institutionalized (hospitalized) or if he remains in the family home without sufficient skilled nursing care, then he faces a strong possibility of imminent death or a life-threatening episode.”

Harris turns 21 this month and the Courthouse News said he is blind, developmentally disabled, has seizures and severe scoliosis, according to what Harris’ mother wrote in the complaint. For those with debilitating problems like this, Social Security benefits may be a good alternative to the in-home nursing funding.

Social Security disability benefits, including Medicare, can be vital in ensuring ongoing medical treatment for a disabled individual. The law offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates are experts in proving disability claims for their clients. We are available for clients to file the initial disability and will go with the client through appealing a case to the Federal court level if necessary.

VA cuts benefits for service dogs

Although many veterans of the United States military may be in need of service dogs due to the effects of post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD,  ABC news reports that according to the Federal Register, these veterans benefits are being cut. The Department of Veterans Affairs told the news source that there is not enough medical evidence to support the need for these dogs. This new rule will start October 5, according to ABC News

“Although we do not disagree with some commenters’ subjective accounts that mental health service dogs have improved the quality of their lives, VA has not yet been able to determine that these dogs provide a medical benefit to veterans with mental illness,” the VA said.

While VA does not believe in the medical benefit of these dogs, many seem to. Lindsey Stanke, CEO of Paws and Stripes, told ABC News that they have a waitlist for trained dogs that is more than 600 long. The news source had an estimate of 100 new service dogs that would be provided each year, but Stanke said the list is growing longer and longer. She believes having these dogs helps not only the veterans, but eases the veteran’s family as well.

PTSD is a serious medical condition that often is not considered as disabling as other medical conditions suffered by the veterans. The law offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates are experts in establishing claims based on PTSD through credible medical evidence that will be recognized by VA officials.

Veterans in Chicago face longer waits for benefits

Veterans benefits are one thing that should be extremely easy to get for those who have served our country, but a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting finds that the average wait time for veterans in rural areas tend to have their benefits granted much quicker than those in big cities. Time Magazine pointed out that vets in cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and New York face long waits.

“As a reporter who has spent the last decade covering the war in Iraq and the experiences of American veterans, I can’t tell you how many veterans I’ve met who committed suicide or became homeless while they waited on a disability claim,” said Aaron Glantz of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting, according to the news source.

Time said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told the American Legion convention earlier this month that no one at the department is standing at rest when it comes to claims, but they are getting more in than they have been pushing out. VA still has a goal of processing all claims within 125 days at 98 percent accuracy by 2015, a lofty goal by the department.

Regardless of the good intentions of VA, the truth is justice delayed is justice denied. The law offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates are committed to advancing the client’s VA claim to an early approval of benefits as soon as legally possible.