The Social Security Disability system in the United States is very complicated. Whether you are a recently disabled father trying to provide for your family, a single mother who can no longer work because of an illness, or the parent of a child who needs extra help because of a challenging condition, obtaining benefits is not easy. The “system” involves a complex set of rules and requirements that make it very hard for the average person to successfully receive payments.

There is hope, however, and we appreciate you looking for help here. Our law firm provides unique benefits to clients just like you, which include:

  • A singular focus on representing the injured and disabled.
  • Having all important work performed by an experienced disability attorney.
  • A guarantee that you pay no fees unless you obtain social security disability benefits.
  • A proven track record of success in both routine and difficult cases.

Regardless of whether you are considering filing for benefits for the first time, or have been denied numerous times in the past, please call our office at (404) 255-9838. We will discuss your options free of charge, and help you make an informed decision about what to do next. We look forward to talking with you.

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Children born to mothers who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis may have a much higher risk of suffering from chronic diseases. That information comes from a new study which found that fetuses that are exposed to symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis while still in the womb, may have a higher risk of developing a high sensitivity to certain chronic conditions.

In a study recently published by the Arthritis Care and Research Journal, researchers reviewed 2100 Danish children born to mothers with rheumatoid arthritis between 1989 and 2013. The study found that children of mothers who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis during their pregnancy were at a higher risk of chronic disease compared to children of mothers who did not suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers focused on 15 kinds of diseases, including epilepsy, asthma, and other diseases that are chronic in nature.  The most severe risks seemed to involve chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy, thyroid conditions, asthma, and anxiety.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis typically begin in the joints, and spread around the body. A person who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis may suffer from inflammation, swelling and pain in the knees, hips, joints, feet, shoulders and hands. Other symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, tiredness, and fevers. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis may find that their joints become deformed over a period of time.

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Fibromyalgia is a condition that is characterized by chronic body pain.  It is often a misunderstood condition that can have a serous impact on a person’s life. There are some triggers that seem to contribute to a stronger risk of fibromyalgia. For instance, stress and anxiety are strongly linked with the condition.

The person may also be constantly fatigued, and parts of the body may be very tender to touch. Any kind of stress associated with a physical or emotional cause can trigger fibromyalgia. Injuries suffered in an accident, for instance, or the kind of anxiety brought about by a life change like a divorce or death of a close one, are also associated with the condition. Workplace or occupational injuries can also trigger the condition.

Apart from these, there are very few risk factors that are associated with fibromyalgia, although women seem to be much more susceptible to fibromyalgia than men. Diagnosis of the condition is often delayed because of the failure by medical research to identify any strong and clear-cut cause of fibromyalgia.

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Women who use a commonly-prescribed multiple sclerosis drug for treatment of their symptoms may find complications arising when they choose to stop the drug before conceiving, or continue to take the drug during their pregnancy.

A team of Italian researchers recently found a number of reproductive hazards involving Natalizumab , a drug that is commonly used to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis. This is an extremely potent drug, and according to the Italian researchers, there are several reproductive challenges facing women who try to get pregnant while on the medication.

Women who take the drug to manage their symptoms have a much higher chance of suffering a relapse of their symptoms during their pregnancy, if they cease taking Natalizumab before they conceive. However, if the woman continues to take it even after conceiving, then there’s a serious risk to the health of the fetus. The researchers found that continuing to take the drug after conception, was associated with a much higher risk of a miscarriage. Even in those cases in which the pregnancy was carried to full term, the drug was associated with a much higher risk of a lower birth weight, or a shorter length.

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Athletes receive plenty of attention for brain injuries.   However, other professionals  are also very likely to suffer head injuries and may require disability benefits. According to a new study, theater workers and actors are at a high risk of head injuries, due to the risky nature of many of their job activities.

According to the results of the study conducted by researchers at Ohio University, more than two -thirds of surveyed theater workers had suffered at least one head injury on the job. A total of 258 workers were surveyed as part of the study. More than three-quarters of the theater workers said that they had suffered more than three head injuries on the job, and 40% admitted to having suffered more than five head injuries. Many of the injuries were moderately serious, and resulted in concussion-related symptoms, like dizziness.

However, while head injuries among professional athletes are taken very seriously, the same doesn’t happen in the case of theater workers. Approximately 50% of the workers admitted that they had never reported their injuries to anyone.  Theater workers don’t benefit from medical specialists on standby, as sports athletes do, and are, therefore, less likely to seek medical treatment when they are injured.

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A simple test involving a keyboard may allow quick detection of Parkinson’s disease, thereby helping patients slow down progression of the disease.

Early detection of Parkinson’s disease is crucial in helping limit the deterioration of symptoms. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can worsen in intensity, and over a period of time, the person may find himself unable to perform routine activities without great difficulty. Diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease however, is a challenge. A lot of precious time may be lost between the appearance of the earliest symptoms of the disease, and an accurate diagnosis of the condition. The current standard for detection of the condition is the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale Part 3 III. However, the test can only be administered by a trained specialist and at a diagnostic clinic.

Research into Parkinson’s disease therefore, has focused on early detection of the condition. Digital technologies have proved vital to the development of detection techniques. Researchers have recently found that a simple keyboard method can be used to detect the earliest symptoms of the condition.

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Last week I blogged on national trends with the opioid epidemic.  Georgia data tracks national trends, and unfortunately, seems to be leading the nation in opioid overdoses.  A 2017 research paper from the Georgia Prevention Project tracked the following data.  Of the 1,307 drug overdose deaths in 2015 in Georgia, 900 or 68 percent were due to opioid overdoses including heroin.  Georgia ranks among the top 11 states with the most prescription opioid overdose deaths.  Recent data indicate that 55 of Georgia’s 159 counties had higher drug overdose rates than the U.S. average.  Sixty percent of the 55 counties with drug overdose rates higher than the national average are located in rural areas with limited access to substance use disorder treatment and/or medication-assisted treatment.

Over just two days in June 2017, 33 people overdosed on opiates in central Georgia. Five of them died.  Law enforcement tied the outbreak to a street version of counterfeit Percocet laced with fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control says fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine

What is Georgia doing about the opioid epidemic?  You can read more about the steps Georgia is taking to prevent opioid addiction and overdose at the Governor’s website.  Georgia funds specific programs that focus on education and training on opioid use as well treatment and recovery programs for those addicted to heroin or opioids.

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Many people ask how to win a Social Security Disability case.  However, it also might be helpful to analyze why people lose their claims.  Here are my top 6 reasons why a case is not successful.

  1. You are working while applying for disability.  Nothing hurts a case more than claiming you cannot work while simultaneously working.  When I realize my clients have been working and it constitutes “substantial gainful activity” we usually have two options.  If the work has stopped, then they need to amend the onset date to a time after the work ended.  If the work has not stopped, we may be able to claim a closed case to cover that period of time when they were not working – provided it lasted at least twelve months.    If you never stopped working, then dismiss your application.
  2. You are not treating with a doctor. I know how hard it is to access medical care when you have lost your healthcare insurance and you have no income due to a job loss.  However, you must find alternative ways to treat for your severe medical impairments.  Go to your local emergency room or to a nearby community healthcare center and ask for help.  It is very difficult to win a disability case if you do not have current treatment records.  And no, Social Security will not send you to one its doctors.  Consultative exams are not treatment.   Occasionally, the CE reports are supportive of disability, but that alone will rarely result in a favorable decision.
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Last Thursday, the Trump Administration invited states to add a work requirement to Medicaid eligibility.  States and the federal government jointly fund Medicaid, but states are responsible for running it. The federal government cannot impose work requirements without Congressional approval.  However, states can impose a work requirement by requesting a waiver from the regulations for new programs that carry out the underlying mission of Medicaid.  States do this by applying for a waiver and having it approved by the President.  Hence, it is news when the President of the United States invites states to do this.

Presumably, the work requirement will exempt children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.  There is hope that it will also exempt full-time students and family care-givers.  Assuming all of these groups that currently receive Medicaid would be exempt under the new work requirement proposal that only leaves a small group that would be affected by it.

According to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 1 in 10 people who receive Medicaid would be subjected to the work requirement.  Kaiser research further shows that in the non-exempt populations, more than 50% of the adult Medicaid recipients who would not be covered by the exemption are already working. Thus, a relatively small portion of the individuals who receive Medicaid would be affected.

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This week the A&E channel  highlights Atlanta in a series of Intervention episodes focused on the “Heroin Triangle.”  Intervention documents individuals addicted to drugs and alcohol.  “The Heroin Triangle” consists of areas just outside of Atlanta, mainly in Cobb County.  Cobb County officials report a growing opioid and heroin epidemic.  Examples of opioids are morphine, hydromorphone, methadone, fentanyl, hydrocodone, codeine, tramadol and burprenorphine.  Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine.  Research indicates that 80% of Americans using heroin first misused prescription opioids. 

The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports over 30,000 deaths last year from opioid overdose.  There were 20,000 overdose deaths from heroin and illicit opioids.  Drug overdose deaths in 2016 totaled approximately 64,000 people, making it the leading cause of death of individuals under 60 – exceeding car accidents.  Opioid death rates are highest for white males.

What is the cause of this opioid epidemic?  The New England Journal of Medicine (“TNEJM”) reports that the “widespread use of opioid analgesics has resulted in a national epidemic of opioid overdose deaths and addictions.”  Opioid analgesics are the most commonly prescribed class of medications.  Thirty percent of adults and forty percent of older adults suffer from chronic pain.  However, research suggests that opioids soon become the problem.  As TNEJM explains:  For a patient in chronic pain,  even mild levels of pain can trigger the learned associations between pain and drug relief, which are manifested as an urge for relief.  Such a conditioned urge for relief from even mild pain can lead to the early inappropriate use of an opioid outside of prescribed scheduling.  Given the current overdose and addiction epidemic, doctors and medical associations are starting to question the practice of prescribing opioids for chronic pain.    The Center for Disease Control reports that over 2 million Americans are estimated to be dependent on opioids and an additional 95 million are dependent on prescription painkillers.

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We had a successful hearing last week for a young client who was diagnosed with Amplified Pain Syndrome, also known as Amplified Muscoskeletal Pain Syndrome (AAMPS).   AAMPS is a medical condition in which a young person develops an abnormal pain reflex.  The overactive reflex causes constriction of blood vessels which deprives oxygen to the muscles, bones and skin causing lactic acid build up.  Hence, a mild pain is amplified.  This claimant also had arthritis and other auto-immune diseases.

Some of the symptoms of AAMPS are pain in limbs, whole body pain, abdomen pain, headaches, and swelling of extremities.  For a diagnosis at least three major body parts must be affected longer than 3 months.  Also, other symptoms such as sleep disturbance, weather sensitivity and abdominal pain must manifest as part of a diagnosis.  The treatment protocol appears to be exercise and desensitizing through the pain with aquatic and other occupational therapies.

At the hearing Social Security’s physician expert fully supported disability for our client and was able to synthesize a vast amount of treatment records to explain this condition.  Since many times patients with this condition are suspected of “making it up” it was validating to have a board certified pediatrician, hired by Social Security, support this child’s real and genuine pain.   Many times a hearing is required so that experts can testify as to whether such conditions are actually disabling.