Seniors Facing Inconvenience with Increased Social Security Office Closures

August 21, 2014

Baby boomers may be most in need of Social Security payments. However, seniors are likely to find it more and more difficult to apply for disability benefits, or appeal rejected disability claims, because many Social Security offices around the country are facing closure.

The Social Security Administration blames budget crunches and shortage of resources for this increased number of closures. The agency has been closing down a record number of offices. As a result, more and more seniors are being forced to go online to get help for their Social Security benefits claims, instead of walking into an office.

Since 2010, the Social Security Administration has closed down 64 field offices across the country. That is the largest number of such office closures over a five-year period in the agency's history. The agency has also decided to close down 533 temporary mobile offices that were specifically situated to serve claimants in remote areas.

There are only approximately 1,235 field offices that are still open, but in many of them, hours have been reduced, so that the agency can continue to maintain these offices while maintaining control over its finances.

A congressional report criticizes the agency's position, and specifically calls into question the criteria for making the decision to close down field offices. It recognizes that these closures have the hardest impact on seniors because less are likely to use online services.

Body Vibration Therapy May Benefit Fibromyalgia Patients

July 1, 2014

Patients with fibromyalgia may benefit from a new therapy that involves whole-body vibration exercise.

Whole-body vibration exercise is not new, and has been used for the treatment of symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome. However, research on the effectiveness of this therapy in treating this painful condition has been sporadic. Now, however, scientists from Indiana University have announced the results of a pilot study which they say indicates that the therapy is very promising in treating symptoms of fibromyalgia.
As part of the study, patients who suffered from fibromyalgia were asked to sit, stand, and lay on a machine that came with a vibrating platform. When the machine was turned on, the vibrations caused the patient's muscles to contract and relax. Subjects reported a significant alleviation of muscular pain.

According to researchers, what is really beneficial about this therapy is that it encourages patients to exercise who otherwise would avoid it because of the accompanying pain. When patients who have fibromyalgia avoid exercise, it only leads to weight gain, and also leads to other conditions that can only worsen symptoms. Those conditions include type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.
More studies are needed to further confirm the benefits of this whole-body vibration exercise. However, the study seems to indicate that patients did report and experience better strength, increased muscular spasticity, and reduced pain.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia appear because of a disconnect between the nerves and the brain. About 5 million American adults currently suffer from symptoms of fibromyalgia that include severe pain, stiffness in the morning, and sleep disorders.

Child Victims of Gun Crimes and Social Security Benefits

June 12, 2014

Georgia recently became the most gun-friendly state in the country when a piece of legislation became law that allows people to take guns into schools, bars and churches.

Governor Nathan Deal recently signed the bill, officially allowing licensed gun owners in the Peach State to carry their weapons everywhere in the state, except the Capitol Building. So if you enter a church, bar, school, or even Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, there are likely to be people carrying guns around you. The law, called the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, allows people to carry almost everywhere, but also permits local businesses to decide whether they want to allow guns on their property.

The most debated part of this legislation is that which involves guns inside schools. Even if a school decides to choose not to allow guns inside campus, there are likely to be bitter and very acrimonious debates and lawsuits involving the issue of guns in classrooms.

According to data published in the journal Pediatrics, the majority of child gunshot injuries involve intentional assault with a firearm. More than 4,500 gunshot injuries are the result of intentional assault. Roughly 2,000 are accidental injuries, and 270 are the result of suicide attempts. Typically, the kinds of injuries that result from such gun violence are fractures, open wounds, heavy bleeding or catastrophic brain or spinal injuries. The challenges the United States faces with respect to gun violence is significant, with a fatality rate for gun violence that is approximately 10 times the rate in other developed countries.

Social security disability benefits can be available to families who must care for a child injured by a gun or other weapon. The most important thing you can do after a tragic event involving injury to a child is plan for their future physical and emotional needs. It's not easy, but it's an important step in making sure your child and your family are cared for.

Drinking Milk Could Slow Progression of Arthritis in Women

May 27, 2014

Persons who suffer from debilitating knee arthritis may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if the pain impairs their ability to work and earn a living.

Something as simple as drinking six glasses of milk per week could actually help slow down the progression of painful and disabling knee arthritis in women. According to new research that was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH), women who drink more quantities of low fat and fat-free milk see a slower progression of knee arthritis. However, the same results were not seen when men drank the same amount of milk. Furthermore, women in the study did not see the same types of benefits when they consumed other dairy products, such as yogurt or cheese.

Researchers were looking at the effect of dairy products on the progression of knee arthritis, a fairly common form of osteoarthritis, which affects nearly 27 million Americans above the age of 25. Women tend to be much more frequent victims of knee arthritis, which can lead to consistent and disabling pain. The study analyzed more than 1,200 women and monitored the progression of knee arthritis in these women when they consumed significant quantities of milk.

Researchers believe that the fact that estrogen is closely linked to bone health may help explain why consumption of milk benefits females much more than it does males. Similarly, cheese is high in some unhealthy fats, which also may explain why knee arthritis symptoms were accelerated because of cheese consumption.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked to Kidney Disease

May 9, 2014

Persons who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis may experience a number of symptoms including swelling, pain and fatigue that may prevent them from standing for long periods of time, or performing certain routine activities. A new study finds that persons who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis may actually be at a much higher risk for suffering kidney disease.

The study which was conducted at Mayo Clinic focused on 813 people who had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and compared them with another group of people who did not suffer from the condition. They found that over a period of 20 years, persons who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis had a 25% risk of developing chronic kidney disease. In the general population, the risk was 20%. According to researchers, that may not seem like a statistically significant disparity, but it is quite a big difference, and creates serious implications for the management of rheumatoid arthritis.

Typically, a person who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis may suffer from stiffness of the joints because of inflammation. In fact, this is a hallmark characteristic of this condition, and the stiffened joints make the upper and lower extremities difficult to use. Apart from stiffness, patients may also suffer from chronic pain and severe fatigue, both of which affect their ability to work. Approximately one out of three people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis leave their jobs.

If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and believe you are eligible for disability benefits, call Atlanta Social Security disability benefits attorney Lisa Siegel.

New Non-Surgical Treatment for Knee Arthritis Show Promising Signs

April 28, 2014

Knee osteoarthritis causes chronic pain, stiffness, and difficulty in walking, often making it challenging for individuals to perform routine activities. As a result, going back to work may not be an option for persons with this medical condition. Now, researchers have announced a new non-surgical technique to treat the pain and stiffness that accompanies knee osteoarthritis.

The technique has been developed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. According to researchers, they have experimented with a two-solution treatment, which involves a series of injections that are administered to the knee region. This therapy is called prolotherapy, and the results of the study were recently published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Researchers reported substantial improvement in symptoms in a group of participants who were monitored over a one year period. During the testing time, participants received at least three of the two-solution injections. The researchers found that there was an improvement in symptoms varying from 19.5% to 42.9% compared to the person's original status.

Additionally, researchers reported that there was improvement in pain, function and stiffness beyond the minimum clinically important difference in approximately 50% to 75% of the patients.

There is no separate category for knee osteoarthritis for a person to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. However, if the condition has proven to be so severe that the person suffers from regular, chronic and severe pain or stiffness, and is not able to stand, walk or perform important routine activities that are essential to the performing of his job, he may be eligible for benefits.

New Research Focuses on Enhanced Outcomes for Shoulder Surgery

April 15, 2014

Rotator cuff injuries are shoulder injuries that can lead to severe pain and chronic disability. Very often, surgery is recommended for persons who have suffered serious rotator cuff tears, but these surgeries also have high failure rates, especially when they involve very large tears, or older patients. Now, researchers are trying to understand exactly how these muscles and tendons attach to each other, in order to possibly develop engineered tissues that could help to improve outcomes for rotator cuff repair surgeries.

The rotator cuff refers to a combination of bones, muscles and tendons in the shoulder, which play a prominent role in helping the person move his or her shoulder freely. However, these muscles and tendons may be at a higher risk of injury due to aging- related wear and tear, repetitive stress in the workplace, a fall, or any other type of shoulder injury. Sometimes, these injuries occur as a result of severe shoulder dislocation.

A person who suffers from a rotator cuff injury often suffers from severe pain, which may range from a deep, dull ache, to constant pain that makes it difficult for him or her to lie down on the affected side. There may be limited range of mobility in the shoulder, and that may make it difficult for the person to raise his arms high. There may be muscle fatigue or weakness. If the pain is consistent or severe, the person may simply find it easier to not move the shoulder at all. Obviously, such pain can severely impact the person's ability to perform routine activities, especially workplace activities.

Shoulder injuries are some of the most common musculoskeletal injuries. Obtaining Social Security disability benefits when you have a shoulder injury depends very heavily on the kind of functional limitations that your injuries involve, or how badly they affect your ability to work.

Reconstructive Knee Surgery Linked to Higher Risk of Arthritis

April 7, 2014

Persons, who have undergone knee reconstruction surgery to repair knee ligaments are much more likely to develop arthritis in the affected knee. According to the results of a new study that was released by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, persons who have undergone knee reconstructive surgery are three times more likely to develop knee arthritis in the repaired knee, compared to the uninjured knee.

Knee arthritis is also referred to as osteoarthritis of the knee, a condition in which the cartilage on the bones begins to wear down. Earlier studies have also found that osteoarthritis is very often linked to knees that have undergone a reconstructive surgery, but the amount of risk was not determined.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimates that approximately 200,000 anterior cruciate ligament injuries occur in the country every year. Very often, the surgeons treat injured knees by replacing the torn ligament with a replacement graft. Surgeons believe that between 10 and 15 years after the reconstruction is generally when patients begin to suffer symptoms of knee arthritis.

However, reconstruction surgery is not the only factor linked to osteoarthritis. There can be other factors that are linked to this debilitating knee condition, including excessive weight. Persons who have sustained multiple injuries to their knees may also be at a much higher risk of developing knee arthritis.

If you suffer from knee osteoarthritis or knee arthritis, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits depending on the amount of lost functionality as a result of your condition and other factors. If the lack of movement and motion, and pain associated with arthritis prevents you from performing routine tasks and working to earn a living, contact a disability lawyer today to discuss your situation.

Hormones May Provide Relief from Chronic Pain

March 24, 2014

Persons who suffer from chronic pain may find that their symptoms are so extreme that they are unable to perform normal, routine day-to-day activities. According to a small study conducted recently, a combination of two hormones could provide some relief to people who suffer from such chronic pain.

The study was conducted on nine patients, who were given doses of oxytocin and human chorionic gonadotropin. The researchers found that seven out of the 9 patients, reported a decrease in pain of up to 40% after using the hormone combination. In addition, the levels of painkillers that these patients needed in order to deal with the chronic pain also dropped by as much as 40%. The patients also reported that there was a much longer time period between flare-ups of pain, and much lower pain intensity.

This was a very small study of nine patients, and therefore the findings are not conclusive enough to actually confirm whether this combination of hormones could actually have a long-term positive effect in controlling chronic pain. Researchers say that their next step will be to study whether these hormones could act as an alternative treatment for chronic pain.

Often times, persons who qualify for Social Security disability benefits are those whose ailments or medical conditions may not be visible from the outside, or may not include external symptoms. For example, persons who suffer from chronic pain may look perfectly healthy, and may not even be able to pinpoint the exact cause of the pain. But that doesn't mean they are symptom free.

Chronic pain is not listed as a separate category by the Social Security Administration for benefits, but patients who suffer from chronic pain may be eligible for benefits if their symptoms closely mirror a condition that is included in the listings.

Growing Incidence of Hip Pain Among Young Patients Raises Risk of Disability

February 17, 2014

Chronic hip pain that is so serious that a person is no longer able to stand or walk now affects many young persons. In fact, researchers recently found a growing incidence of hip pain, or hip impingement, among younger people.

The study was conducted by hip experts at The Ohio State University, and they found that they are seeing an increase in the number of young persons with hip impingement. The experts stated that the ages of these patients range all the way from those in their teens through 60s.

This condition is very frequently seen among young persons who are active and play sports. In many cases these injuries tend to be sports-related, and although the incidence of such hip impingement or chronic pain is also evident in non-athletes, the incidence seems to be higher among those persons who were active round and going through puberty.

The reason for this is simple. During puberty, the hip growth plate fuses, and when a person participates in active sports, it causes the hip to be fused abnormally.
Femoral acetabular impingement of the hip is a risky condition, because if not treated adequately and in time, it can lead to the development of arthritis. Eventually, the person may also need a hip joint replacement.

The condition is even more hazardous, because it is often misdiagnosed, and symptoms often mirror symptoms found in other conditions. Typically, symptoms include lower back pain, and pain in the side of the hip and buttocks. The person may suffer from such chronic pain that he or she is no longer able to walk, which of course affects his or her ability to work later in life.

Federal Watchdog Group Calls on SSA to Strengthen Death Information Procedures

January 30, 2014

A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found deficiencies in the manner in which the Social Security Administration (SSA) collects death information and shares it with other government agencies.

Death information is a strong tool that helps keep federal benefit checks from going to the deceased. However, according to GAO, current methods used by the Social Security Administration encourage the production of inaccurate, incomplete, and untimely information. In fact, according to the report, approximately 1.2 million deceased recipients of SSA retirement benefits were not included in the final tally. Inaccurate information like this could result in other agencies that rely on the information making improper payments to the deceased.

The GAO report is also questioning the federal agency's system in place for sharing such information with other federal agencies. For instance, recently, one senator asked that SSA officials change its policy of charging other agencies for accessing data records. Social Security officials insist that the agency must be reimbursed for the cost of furnishing such information to other federal agencies.

The Government Accountability Office is asking the Social Security Administration to furnish death information, and make the reason for the costs of this reimbursement more easily accessible to other agencies. The GAO report recommends that the SSA assess the risks that are associated with its current information-sharing systems, as well as share detailed reimbursement estimates. The SSA has agreed to both of those recommendations.

Exercise Effective Therapy to Treat Back Pain

January 21, 2014

Back pain is one of the most problematic medical conditions in the United States, and is linked to thousands of cases of severe disability. The simple truth is that the back is necessary for almost all work-related activities, and having problems in that area of the body almost always has a negative impact on other areas. However, in spite of the fact that millions of Americans suffer from this debilitating condition, there are very few therapies that have been found to consistently work. While surgeries and painkillers are prescribed in most cases, very often, people continue to suffer from pain in spite of these treatments.

Over the past few years, experts have been more inclined to recommend other less expensive treatments that may actually help treat back pain better than more expensive options, like surgery. To find relief, some patients with back pain are now encouraged to attend "pain boot camps," where they are basically trained to help them deal with their pain. Routine exercise is one method that is focused-on in these training sessions.

However, it is important to understand that there are cases of serious and chronic pain in which people may simply not be able to withstand the pain, or mentally block it out. In cases where people suffer from such debilitating pain, they may barely be able to get out of bed and move about on a bad day, let alone go to work. In these cases, disability benefits may be the only way to provide for the most necessary living expenses. This is why the SSDI and SSI systems exist.

Chronic Pain Often Accompanied by Emotional Challenges

January 16, 2014

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic musculoskeletal pain, which often leaves them in deep discomfort, and often unable to perform even routine daily activities. New research finds that such chronic pain may have other unfortunate consequences. Individuals who live with such chronic pain often suffer from a number of emotional health issues, including reduced self-esteem.

According to the study which was conducted in the United Kingdom by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research Program, patients who suffer from chronic pain very often struggle with feelings about their bodies. They were also very often likely to feel uncertainty about the future, and trapped by the restrictions imposed by their bodies.

The study also found that many of these people were also likely to be disillusioned by the health care system, which they felt had failed them. They were also prone to feelings of helplessness. One of the more serious consequences that these individuals struggled with struggling with inability to explain their pain to others or prove their pain existed. Overall, these individuals had a much lower quality of life, compared to persons who did not suffer from chronic pain.

Experts believe that individuals who suffer from chronic pain benefit emotionally from participating in support groups. These are designed to connect them with other individuals who also suffer from such chronic pain, and have gone on to live happy and fulfilling lives. It is important for people to understand that it is possible to move on with their lives in such a situation, and to take any steps they can to avoid feelings of helplessness.

Experimental Study Finds Reversal of Down Syndrome Learning Deficits

December 31, 2013

In the future, a compound that was discovered recently by researchers could be used to boost learning and memory capacities in children who suffer from Down Syndrome. The compound has been identified as part of research conducted by scientists at Johns Hopkins and the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers found that when the compound is administered to newborn mice who suffer from a Down Syndrome- like condition on the day of birth, it helped improve their learning capacities and memory abilities.

According to researchers, use of the compound, known as sonic hedgehog pathway agonist, was given to mice immediately. What the researchers were hoping the compound would do was increase the size of the cerebellum. In a normal patient who suffers from Down Syndrome, the cerebellum is just about 60% of the normal size.
However, what the researchers were not expecting was that the compound would have a positive effect on learning and memory abilities, because these abilities are generally controlled by the hippocampus area of the brain, not the cerebellum.

So far, the molecule has not been judged safe for use in human beings, but researchers are optimistic about the use of the compound for the treatment of Down Syndrome in the future. They believe that in the future, drugs containing these molecules may be administered to patients who have been diagnosed with Down Syndrome soon after birth to help eliminate many of the negative cognitive effects of the condition.

Individuals who suffer from Down Syndrome are often eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration has specific requirements in these cases, including that applicants provide a chromosomal analysis lab report for eligibility.

Stroke Risks Among Younger Persons Increasing

December 9, 2013

According to a new study, younger persons are at an increasingly higher risk of suffering a stroke.

The research was recently conducted by researchers at the Loyola University Medical Center, and the findings have been reported in the American Academy of Neurology. According to the study, approximately 15% of the most common types of strokes in the United States now occur in young adults. Even more worrying is the fact that many young people who were not considered a high-risk category for strokes earlier are now showing risk factors for such strokes.

Approximately 85% of all strokes reported in the United States every year are ischemic strokes, caused by a block of blood flow to the brain. The number of young people who now show risk factors for ischemic strokes has increased, including diabetes, obesity, hypertension or high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. In addition, younger persons often times engage in unhealthy activities such as smoking, which can also increase the risk.

The physical impact of stroke can be devastating. But the financial costs are frequently just as challenging, especially when they affect a younger person. This is partly the result of young workers being in their prime earning years, and also because they are more likely to have dependents who rely on them for necessary living expenses.

Regardless of their age, if you have a loved one that is unable to work due to a medical condition, contact our office today at (404) 255-9838. We can help them take the next best step to receiving social security disability benefits.