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Dallas Social Security Disability Law Blog

Could a blood test be used to diagnose, monitor clinical depression?

Statistics show that clinical depression is a reality for more than 18 million people here in the U.S. What's perhaps even more staggering is that many medical experts have indicated that the methods for diagnosing clinical depression -- subjective observations of moods and behaviors coupled with firsthand patient information -- are not always effective.

Interestingly, this may all soon change for the better thanks to the efforts of researchers at Northwestern University who may have found a much easier way to not only diagnose clinical depression, but also determine whether cognitive behavioral therapy is working.

Appealing an SSD claim denial

Generally, a person's greatest fear when they submit an application for something is that they will receive a denial in response to the application. Sadly, this is a fear that becomes a reality for many Social Security Disability applicants when it comes to their initial application. Initial claims denials are incredibly common in the SSD world. Some estimates have put the initial denial rate for SSD and SSI claims at around 90 percent.

It is natural to feel disappointed after receiving an SSD claim denial. It is always discouraging when an application you put hard work into initially proves unsuccessful. You may also be worried about your future.

SSDI payments can be reduced by other public disability benefits

Social Security disability benefits are an important resource for many seriously disabled Americans, as we like to point out on this blog. Still, for many disabled Americans, SSDI benefits are not the only benefits they receive. With the average monthly payments from SSDI being relatively low and in many cases inadequate as a stand-alone source of income, this only makes sense.

This being the case, it is important for those who apply for SSDI benefits to understand how other disability benefits can affect their SSDI payments. The first thing to say on this topic is that private disability benefits do not count against one’s Social Security disability payments. This includes private pension funds or private disability insurance. This is part of why it is so important for people to take the opportunity to obtain coverage for long-term disability. Doing so will not count against the receipt of Social Security disability payments, if one qualifies for them. 

SSA urging people to sign up for an online account

While most people might not have realized it, last week was "my Social Security Week," a campaign run by the Social Security Administration to raise awareness among people of all ages about the importance of retirement planning.

In particular, the SSA, acting through various social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, encouraged people to take the necessary steps to set up an online account enabling them to see their Social Security earnings statement.   

It wasn't all that long ago that the SSA would mail a hard copy of this statement to people just a few months before their birthday. However, as we've discussed on our blog before, the agency eliminated this service due to cost concerns.

Texas Legislature to consider 'three-strikes' nursing home law

Most of us associate nursing homes with providing long-term care for the elderly. While this is certainly accurate, it's important to understand that these facilities also care for other types of patients.

For example, they frequently house recipients of Social Security disability benefits, including those people requiring 24-hour medical care or those people recovering from a particularly difficult surgical procedure.  

In light of this reality, it becomes important to examine a recent recommendation by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, the legislative panel "tasked with identifying and eliminating waste, duplication, and inefficiency for more than 130 Texas state agencies," concerning nursing homes.

Last week, the commission recommended that state lawmakers give strong consideration to the possibility of passing a law calling for nursing homes found by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services to have committed three or more egregious offenses over the course of a two-year period to have their licenses revoked.  

Senate approves Autism CARES

Autism impacts many individuals throughout the nation. Some of those individuals reside in the state of Texas. Because the condition affects so many people, it receives a lot of attention. That attention comes from a variety of places including federal lawmakers. Recently the country’s primary autism legislation, known as the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act, was renewed by the U.S. Senate.

The bill’s approval authorizes funding throughout 2019 for programs related to autism. Each year up to $260 million may be provided to these programs. Among other things the autism programs are related to:

What are the qualifications for securing disability benefits?

When people either suffer a debilitating injury or are diagnosed with a medical condition that will prevent them from working, their thoughts inevitably gravitate toward what they can do to keep a roof over their head and cover basic living expenses.

These concerns are certainly understandable and the good news is that there are viable options available to help make ends meet, including Social Security disability insurance.

It's important to understand, however, that the Social Security Administration has established basic qualifications that a person must satisfy in order to secure disability benefits.  

In today's post -- and future posts -- we'll take a closer look at some of these qualifications.

Senators call on Congress to consider measures to help the disabled

While the overwhelming majority of the dialogue on Capitol Hill has recently been focused on immigration, international conflicts and other pressing issues related to the nation's economy, it has expanded over the last few weeks to include discussions about the very important issue of disability.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of senators along with various veterans' rights groups renewed their call for Congress to take steps to adopt the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. For those unfamiliar with this treaty, it is essentially modeled after the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act in that it mandates that all disabled people be afforded equality under the law.

141 nations have already taken steps to ratify the treaty, but the U.S. has yet to do so. Here, the delay stems primarily from apprehension that its passage would serve to introduce onerous new regulations on businesses. 

Research shows stroke risk is increasing for young adults

The unfortunate reality is that a stroke can occur virtually anytime, such that a person may feel just fine one minute while the next minute they start experiencing strange symptoms, including slurred speech, loss of vision and general confusion.

As if this wasn't frightening enough on its own, most people are aware that they need to get to a hospital as soon as possible in order to secure the necessary treatment to minimize any lasting damage from the stroke, such as impaired speech, limited movement and cognitive issues.    

While we tend to associate the nightmare that is a stroke with older people, a growing body of research is actually showing that this may no longer be the case. Specifically, this research shows that younger Americans are now suffering strokes in far greater numbers:

  • A 2010 study published in the medical journal Stroke determined that between 1988 and 2004 the rate of strokes among 35- to 54-year-old women tripled.
  • A 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the hospitalization rate for ischemic (i.e., blood clot) strokes among 15- to 44-year-olds jumped by over a third from 1994 to 2008.

Congress will soon have to address impending SSDI budget shortfall

Anyone who follows the news on a regular basis is well aware of how legislative gridlock and brinksmanship has become the new norm on Capitol Hill over the last several years.  To illustrate, consider how lawmakers from both sides of the aisles have battled over issues that were once considered uncontroversial and altogether necessary, such as raising the debt ceiling.

Unfortunately, political experts are now indicating that the Social Security disability program may soon become the next source of political strife, perhaps to the determent of millions of Americans.   

That's because the current reserves for the SSDI trust fund, which is administered by the Social Security Administration, are set to be exhausted by as soon as 2016 unless Congress takes definitive action.

What makes this so problematic, say political experts, is that this deadline falls in the middle of a major election year, meaning it's a prime issue for politicians to seize upon as Americans go to cast their votes. 

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