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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January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. With an estimated 3 million people in the United States living with glaucoma, this is a good time to be educated about glaucoma and how to test for it.  Glaucoma is an eye condition that primarily affects the optic nerve.  This is an aggressive condition where symptoms typically worsen, and in most cases, will result in total or permanent blindness.  The condition may progress slowly, but the vision loss can set in within a few years after the initial symptoms begin.

Persons over the age of 40, those with a family history of glaucoma and those with poor vision or health conditions like diabetes, high blood reassure or heart disease may be at a higher risk of glaucoma. If you’ve suffered an eye injury, or have suffered serious eye infections, you may be more susceptible to glaucoma. Certain medications like steroids may also place you at a higher risk of this condition.

Symptoms can include seeing halos around objects, poor vision, redness or eye pain. If you experience these symptoms, talk to an ophthalmologist and get tested for glaucoma. Tests for these conditions can include a tonometry test, a dilated eye exam in which the doctor will dilated your pupil to see the optic nerve, epically the colour and shape in detail, and a vision field test that maps your field of vision.

 

 

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The Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) has recommended that states periodically screen medical consultants who are in charge of reviewing disability benefits claims.  In a recent report, the GAO advises that the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) needs to ensure that states are up to date on their review of medical consultants.  SSA policy requires that states frequently conduct reviews of medical consultants for eligibility and overall competence.  However, the report shows that this is not always the case.

Out of the 52 agencies that the GAO questioned, only some were able to confirm that they conducted periodic reviews of medical consultants in order to ensure that individuals previously barred from screening are no longer currently providing services.  A total of 14 state agencies confirmed that they were consistent or regular in conducting reviews of medical consultants.   Nine state agencies confirmed that they do not provide their consultants re-fresher training.

The majority of states, including Georgia, employed contractors exclusively for the purpose of medical screenings.  Ten states relied exclusively on government employees hired as consultants. The remaining states relied on a combination of both government employees as well as independent consultants.

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The Social Security Administration has released a new COLA fact sheet that outlines the various changes that go into effect in 2022 for Social Security beneficiaries, including those who receive disability benefits.

If you are a beneficiary currently receiving benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program, or plan on applying for benefits this year, these changes will apply to you. The most important changes are related to the substantial gainful activity thresholds that apply to disability benefits.

Substantial gainful activity refers to the maximum gainful work that you are allowed to do in order to still qualify for disability benefits. Basically, this is the maximum amount of work that you can do in spite of your disability. If you are working at a job that helps you earn above this income threshold, then you are not eligible for disability benefits. In 2022, the substantial gainful activity limit for non- blind persons is $1,350 per month. For blind persons, the threshold is $2,260 per month.

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As 2021 draws to a close, Georgia ranked 50th this year, ahead of only Oklahoma and Mississippi in health care.  The Medicare Guide on senior health care analyzed prescription drug prices, the number of physicians in relation to the state’s population and life expectancy.  Georgia ranked 51st in access to care. One problem with access to care is that many rural counties lack physicians.  Nine of the 159 counties have no doctors.  Seventy-six counties have no OB/GYNs and sixty counties have no pediatrician.  In health outcomes, Georgia ranks 47th, particularly due to infant and maternal mortality rates.  Inequities in care and access to care impact the low numbers on health outcomes.

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Georgia Demographics

As of 2021 Georgia had a population of 10,830,007 citizens.  This increased 18.3 % from the 2010 census.  Georgia has the 10th fastest growth rate.  Although all of Georgia is not growing.  The counties with the highest growth rates are grouped together along the southeastern border and along the northern border in and around the capital of Atlanta.  However, there are declining populations from the southwestern border through middle Georgia to the mid-eastern border of Georgia.  Georgia has a 15% poverty rate.   As of 2021, Georgia’s population under 18 is 23.6%; the population over sixty-five is 14.3%.  Eight percent of Georgians under age 65 are disabled.

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The federal Food and Drug administration has approved an injection to prevent exposure to HIV/AIDS, a development that advocates are claiming is a major breakthrough in the fight against this disease.

The drug Aperture is administered in the form of an injection, and studies have found that it provides significant protection against the risk of HIV/AIDS acquired sexually. There are preventive pills that are recommended for at -risk groups, but there are limitations in the use of these. People who have mental disabilities as well as groups that suffer from socioeconomic limitations may struggle to take their pills regularly. Injections, however, are an easier way to provide the same kind of protection. In fact, the injection seems to provide even greater protection than the pills provide. The injection only needs to be administered once every eight weeks to continue to be effective.

For cisgender women, the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS with the use of the injections dropped by 90 percent.  For cisgender males as well as transgender women who had sexual relations with males, the risk dropped by 69 percent.

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New studies find that that there is a possible relationship between flu and the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

The research was published recently in the JAMA Neurology journal, and suggests that the onset of Parkinson’s disease could be triggered by an infection like viral influenza. As part of the study, the researchers went through medical records between 1977 and 2016, and found that there was a correlation between a diagnosis of influenza and the onset of Parkinson’s disease about a decade later.

The records of more than 60,000 people were analysed, and out of these, the researchers found that more than 10,000 received a Parkinson’s diagnosis. The researchers found that people who had suffered from the flu were as much as 73% more likely to receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis a decade later, compared to people who had never suffered the flu.

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Filing a Social Security disability benefits claim for multiple sclerosis can be challenging. One major reason for benefits claims being denied is because symptoms of MS are so often intermittent, or appear and disappear suddenly.

These symptoms are called paroxysmal symptoms, and many patients who are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis suffer from these kinds of irregular symptoms which come on suddenly without any warning and last for very little time. Paroxysmal symptoms may last for a few minutes or even a few seconds. There may be several dozen such episodes of symptoms throughout the day, and these could be either painful or just irritating, preventing you from doing your normal work easily.

Some of the common symptoms of multiple sclerosis like tingling or numbness in the extremities can occur and disappear throughout the day, but still cause discomfort or pain. Other paroxysmal symptoms of multiple sclerosis include weakness in the eye muscles, slurred speech, changes in the volume of your voice, changes in your speech rhythm, freezing up of facial muscles, and freezing up of the muscles that are responsible for swallowing and general fatigue.

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The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the weakest of Americans, including those who suffer a disability.  As Social Security field offices around the country, including Georgia, continue to remain closed, thousands of disabled persons are struggling to meet their basic needs without access to disability benefits.

Field offices are where disability beneficiaries – who often do not have easy access to the internet  – drop in to submit documentation such as  medical reports, physical applications and appeals  vital to the processing of their applications and the approval of their benefits. Unfortunately, as offices have remained closed, the number of Social Security beneficiaries who have been able to access these offices, has dropped. Before the pandemic, as many as 43 million Americans used these field offices.  Since the office closures, many of them have been unable to submit their documents, correct errors and perform other activities that affect their applications.

The closures have had a direct impact on the number of persons who now receive Social Security benefits. During the year 2021, there has been a significant drop of 25 percent in the number of Americans who receive benefits from the Social Security Administration, compared to 2019. In the case of disability benefits, the drop has been even more staggering with a 30 percent decline in beneficiaries. As many as half a million fewer Americans are now receiving Social Security disability benefits, compared to 2019.

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New findings suggest that when blood pressure is kept at stable levels during surgery, patients with a spinal injury have a much better chance of regaining mobility.

Spinal injuries are serious injuries that can have a devastating impact on the quality of a person’s life, including his or her ability to live a normal life, go to work and earn a living. Spinal injuries are often caused as a result of blunt force trauma, like the kind that is caused in a car accident or during a serious fall.

Surgery is often performed to treat a spinal cord injury. A new study finds that even patients who have suffered serious spinal injuries can regain functional mobility, provided their blood pressure is maintained within a certain range during the surgery. The study found that precise and accurate blood pressure management is crucial in the success of spinal surgeries. When patients had a fluctuating blood pressure that was either too high or too low during the surgery, they found it difficult to regain neuromotor skills after the surgery. The researchers found that the optimum blood pressure range during the surgery was between 76 mmHg and 104 to 117 mmHg. When blood pressure was maintained between this clearly defined range during the surgery, the researchers found that the risk of long term or serious paralysis was lower.

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Deaf people or those who suffer from a hearing disability can benefit significantly from having service dogs. These animals can alert the hearing disabled to sounds that the person would not have been otherwise able to hear; thereby improving the quality of the person’s life.

A new study in the United Kingdom focused on 165 deaf people who relied on service dogs to help them with hearing day -to- day sounds. These dogs helped the deaf person hear common everyday sounds like alarms, monitors and doorbells that the the person might not otherwise have been able to hear. The hearing- disabled may find that their disability limits their social interactions. These animals also provided the hearing-disabled – who often suffer from limited social interactions – with companionship and emotional support.

The researchers found that those who had a service dog had significantly better mental health than those who did not have a hearing dog. The persons who had service dogs were less likely to suffer symptoms of depression, and also reported higher levels of independence.

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