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Dallas Social Security Disability Law Blog

Who makes the decisions about disability benefits? - III

In today's post, we'll conclude our ongoing discussion regarding what officials are responsible for making the decision as to whether a person is disabled and what they take into consideration when making this decision.

It's our sincere hope that these last few posts have helped shed some much-needed light on a process that can see mysterious and even a bit intimidating to the average person.

What's the next step after the DDS finds my condition "significantly limits" my work activities?

If the officials with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services' Division for Disability Determination Services find your condition to be severe, they will proceed to determine whether your medical condition is on the List of Impairments.

Who makes the decisions about disability benefits? - II

In our last post, we discussed how even though the process of securing Social Security disability benefits might seem incredibly complex thanks to the myriad considerations and arcane language, the underlying question is always the same in every case: Are you disabled?

We also started discussing what officials are responsible for making these disability decisions and what matters are taken into consideration when making these decisions.

Where does the DDS start when making its disability determination?

As we discussed last time, the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services' Division for Disability Determination Services, located in Austin, is the state agency tasked with making disability determinations.

The first inquiry made by the DDS relates to whether you are working and, if so, how much you are earning.

Who makes the decisions about disability benefits?

For many people, the process of securing Social Security disability benefits seems shrouded in mystery, a complex process that only a limited group of people can readily comprehend.

While it's certainly understandable why people might feel this way, it is by no means the truth. Indeed, behind the myriad considerations and arcane language, the underlying question is always the same in every case: Are you disabled?

In the interests of shedding some light on this issue, today's post, the first in a series, will explore who exactly makes the decision as to whether you are disabled and the matters taken into consideration when making this decision.

SSA report examines decisions of 44 disability judges

There has been a rigorous debate on Capitol Hill over the several years as to whether the administrative law judges employed by the Social Security Administration to hear disability cases are now under too great of pressure to reduce the agency's enormous backlog of appeals.

In particular, some of this debate has centered on whether some disability judges are perhaps approving more cases than they should be just to keep things moving.

While this notion of "rubber-stamping" among disability judges is perhaps aggrandized by critics, there are several arbiters who have been reprimanded or removed for this type of conduct over the years.

Interestingly, the SSA's inspector general recently published its own report on this issue and the results are interesting to say the least.

A carpal tunnel diagnosis doesn't mean you are out of options

Whether we realize it or not, many of us perform repetitive motions at our jobs day after day, sometimes doing the exact same activity -- typing, answering phones, driving, drilling, hammering, etc. -- for years on end.

While most of us experience no real consequences from this reality-- outside of perhaps a little bit of boredom -- others are not so lucky.

Indeed, everyone from office workers and nurses to truck drivers and machinists may someday be diagnosed with a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that can cause both weakness and loss of feeling in the hands, making it virtually impossible to pick up or even grasp objects. 

Study links rheumatoid arthritis to elevated risk of heart disease

Statistics from the American College of Rheumatology show that well over one million people here in the U.S., the majority of them women, suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.

For those unfamiliar with this systemic inflammatory disease, it affects the lining of the small joints in the hands and feet, resulting in a painful swelling that, according to the Mayo Clinic, can eventually result in joint deformity and even bone erosion.   

Interestingly, a recently released study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine found that those people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis or other conditions attributable to a malfunctioning immune system like psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are at an elevated risk of suffering a heart attack, cardiac arrest or stroke. 

November 2014 is American Diabetes Month

While most of us associate November with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, it's important to recognize that there is actually much more going on over the course of these 30 days, including an important initiative concerning a disabling condition affecting millions of Americans.

The initiative in question is American Diabetes Month, a program run by the American Diabetes Association that is designed to both promote understanding and help encourage those diagnosed with the condition stay healthy.  

MRI scans may be able to detect chronic fatigue syndrome

Because diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome is so difficult, many people, including some doctors, do not believe it is real. People who feel exhausted no matter how much they try to sleep will seek medical help, but often be told their problems are all in their heads. Despite their symptoms being dismissed as hypochondria, these unfortunate people’s health problems persist until they finally receive the proper diagnosis.

Even doctors who know the illness exists may struggle to make a diagnosis, which currently can only be done by ruling out other disorders. That is because no blood test or brain scan can currently definitively detect chronic fatigue syndrome.

SSA announces 2015 COLA increase for benefits recipients

News announced earlier this week in Washington, D.C. by the Social Security Administration regarding scores of millions of benefits recipients was not exactly prefaced by a drum roll or loud clash of cymbals.

In fact, there was no drama or hyperbole at all preceding a benefits-related statement issued by the SSA. Rather, the news item delivered was issued in straightforward and understated terms.

The reason why: A 1.7 percent increase in recipients' monthly disability checks doesn't exactly amount to earth-shaking news.

Are disability benefits an option for those with schizophrenia?

While the exact cause or causes of schizophrenia are unknown, the effects the illness can have on a person's life are certainly well documented. From hallucinations and delusions to memory issues and trouble focusing, those living with schizophrenia -- or helping to care for someone with the illness -- know just how trying the brain disorder can be. 

In terms of mental health, our society has come a long way in terms of treatment. However, currently, none of these treatments cures someone from having schizophrenia. Rather, medications and treatments, such as self-help groups and cognitive behavioral therapy, are just some of the ways of coping with the symptoms. Again, there is no cure and schizophrenia is a lifelong, chronic illness.

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