One of the biggest problems with mental disorders in the United States is that a lot of people simply do not understand them. They don't have a lot of information about them, and that leads to false assumptions and the rise of dangerous myths.
One such disorder is known as bipolar disorder. To help increase understanding, here are a few important facts that often go overlooked:
Getting an inaccurate diagnosis is a real issue. In fact, the average time that it takes from the first symptoms to treatment is about 10 years. Part of the reason is that it takes a while for people to really know what's going on.
It can also take multiple doctors. In fact, about 50% of those who have bipolar disorder have to go to three medical professionals before someone figures out what is happening.
Many patients do not even know what's happening themselves About one out of every five patients tells their doctor that they think they may have depression instead.
Often, bipolar disorder is not the only one that people have. They may have other psychiatric conditions, like anxiety or depression. They may struggle with substance abuse as a way of trying to cope. All of this can make it harder for medical professionals to really figure out what is wrong and what type of treatment people need.
If you do have bipolar disorder, it's nothing to take lightly. It may change your life forever. It may mean you cannot work. It can impact your personal relationships. Make sure you know all of the legal options you have.
The hearing is understandably the most stressful part of the disability application process for many people.
It's common to feel anxious about having to discuss medical issues in front of strangers. Many claimants dislike having to explain to someone why they should get benefits they've spent years paying for with their taxes.
The good news is that administrative law judges are usually understanding of these concerns and claimants get their decision soon after a single hearing.
But in a small number of cases, judges order that a second, or even third hearing take place.
There are several reasons why a judge might want to hold a supplemental hearing.
The most common reason is usually missing medical records. Due to contact issues, miscommunication, or a particularly stubborn provider, we can't get all the records necessary for the judge to make a decision in the case.
If that happens, the judge might ask you a few questions, or the first hearing might only last a few minutes for the judge to give us more time to get the records.
Another common problem is that even though we've submitted all available medical records, the judge doesn't think there's enough information to make a decision.
The judge can then order what's called a consultative examination, where a doctor or psychologist will examine you and provide more information before the judge makes a decision.
Sometimes, the judge will ask that a medical expert attend a second hearing to provide information about whether you are disabled.
Or it could be a completely different issue makes a supplemental hearing necessary. Social Security regulations give judges wide latitude in deciding to hold a second hearing.
Though they increase the amount of time before a case is decided, generally supplemental hearings do tend to help claimants since it gives them additional time to seek treatment and explain why they cannot work.
War injuries can change you forever. The physical loss of a limb could make it impossible for you to work, for instance. A traumatic brain injury could change your personality. The post-traumatic stress you feel could stress you out and lead to issues with anger, substance abuse and much more.
If you have a family, it is important to remember that this injury does not just impact you. It could also have a drastic impact on your kids. Here are a few symptoms you want to keep an eye out for:
Your kids seem very anxious or on edge all of the time
Your children start crying more than they did before
Your kids start acting out at school or in the home
Your children struggle to deal with grief, loss and depression
Your kids feel embarrassed about the way that you act or the way that you look after the injury
Your children worry that you do not love them anymore, perhaps misinterpreting your outbursts and your own struggles -- which relate back to your injury -- as something that reflects on your feelings for them
Your children think that your own issues are their fault; for instance, if you're dealing with depression after a brain injury, they apologize for making you feel this way or blame themselves for the way you now interact with the rest of the family.
As a parent, you only want the best for your kids, and that's why proper treatment after an injury is so important. It's also wise to look into all of your legal options when dealing with life-changing, war-related injuries.
Everyone struggles with anxiety from time to time. However, some people experience anxiety so severe that it effectively cripples their ability to function normally or hold down a job.
If you have a problem with chronic anxiety, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Before you file a claim, however, read this post to gain some valuable insights into the approval process.
1. Is it necessary to list all your medical or mental conditions on the application?
Yes. Social Security maintains a Listing of Impairments that the agency considers legally disabling. You don't necessarily need to have a condition that's on that list to qualify for benefits. However, if you do, you have to meet all of the qualifications under that listing in order to be approved for that condition.
List all your conditions, physical and mental, that affect your ability to function and hold a job -- just in case you don't perfectly meet the disability eligibility requirements for anxiety. That way, the claims examiner can consider your additional problems when making a decision.
In addition, you must have extreme limitations in one of the following areas (or "marked limitation" in two):
The ability to remember, understand or apply information
The ability to concentrate or keep pace
The ability to interact with others appropriately
The ability to adapt or self-manage
Alternately, if you have three of the symptoms of severe anxiety and a minimum two-year history of medical documentation showing the existence of the disorder, along with proof that you've sought treatment and had minimal success adapting to anything outside of your daily routine, you can also qualify.
3. Why is it smart to have an attorney help you with your claim?
It's been found that some of the people deciding disability claims spend as little as 12 minutes, on average per file -- even though they're supposed to be reviewing hundreds of pages. If you don't present them the information they want to see in the way they want to see it, your risk of denial is huge.
Individuals who are unable to work because of physical or mental disabilities or prolonged illness face significant money hardships for obvious reasons. They are unable to work and unable to earn a living, but have not yet received any disability benefits. The current wait time to be approved for disability benefits though the Social Security Administration is quite substantial and for individuals that have recently applied for benefits, the receipt of such benefits remains in the distant future. Thus, they are in need of monetary support during the pendency of their disability claim.
One source of funds that may seem appealing is unemployment benefits. Since an applicant for disability benefits is presumably unemployed due to inability to work, this might seem like an obvious and appropriate avenue at first blush. However, although it is not expressly forbidden, many disability judges strongly frown on disability claimants who are collecting unemployment benefits. This is because unemployment benefits require an individual to affirm that they have a desire to work and are seeking work, and, thus, are presumably able to work. On the other hand, when applying for disability benefits, an individual is affirming that they are unable to work. Thus, the induvial applying for both programs makes contradictory claims about their ability to perform work. This contradiction is not lost on disability judges. They may see the receipt of unemployment benefits as undercutting one's claim that they are unable to work. They may also see it as an attempt to essentially "double dip" by having claimed both unemployment benefits and now claiming benefits.
However, in the instance that an induvial became unemployed and then later experienced health issues that prevented them from being able to work, the fact that this person was initially on unemployment benefits would not be viewed as improper. This situation, where the individual was first out of work and later became disabled and unable to work would not lead to any backlash from the judge in their case.
While predictions are usually not 100% accurate, it's important to note that the veteran population is declining, and it is predicted to keep doing so through at least 2037.
That prediction comes from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which looked at the numbers for 2017 and made a prediction running 20 years into the future. In 2017, they put the total veteran population at 20 million. By 2037, they think it will be just 13.6 million.
One thing that is very interesting is that the number of female veterans is actually supposed to go up. It should rise by .7% annually. That may seem like a small change, but it is a yearly figure, and it flies in the face of the overall trends, which will see a 1.9% decrease for the total population and a 2.3% decrease for the male population.
They also predicted that veterans who are part of an ethnic minority will also go up by a surprising 23.2% of the overall veteran population in that time. By 2037, they should make up about 32.8% of the total. For instance, those with a Hispanic ancestry will rise from 2017's 7.4% all the way to 11.2%.
As the population changes over time, it is critical to think of the different issues that these individuals may face. What does it mean for their future? What types of war-related injuries may they deal with? Of course, depending on the state of on-going conflicts, these numbers could shift dramatically by 2037, but these are still important questions to ask. Veterans need to know their rights.
After you have applied for disability benefits, your claim will be reviewed by the Disability Determination Services office in your state. An examiner will be assigned to your file. The examiner and a doctor will review the medical evidence in your case and the claims you have made about your symptoms and how they impact your ability to function. The examiner and doctor will determine whether the evidence supports a finding that you are disabled based on the regulations that the SSA must follow.
If your claim is denied at this level (known as the initial level), the next step in most states is to request "reconsideration" of your claim. Be advised that there is a very limited window of time in which you are able to request reconsideration. At the reconsideration level, the process is the same as at the initial determination level, however, a different examiner and doctor are tasked with reviewing the claim.
Finally, if your claim is denied at the reconsideration level, you can ask for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
The SSA employs judges who hear nothing but disability cases. At the hearing level, the judge assigned to your case will become familiar with your medical records and your disability case file prior to your hearing. The judge does not have to accept any of the findings made by the doctors and examiners at the initial or reconsideration stages. Instead, the judge may examine your case through an independent lens. At the hearing, the judge will ask questions about your work history, your disabilities, your daily activities, and your medical treatment. You are not required to have an attorney or representative present on your behalf, but it is a very good idea for several reasons. Namely, your attorney will know what medical issues and testimony will be the most relevant to the judge. Your attorney can ask you questions during the hearing to help you explain your limitations and will channel this discussion towards the most important factors for the judge. The judge will use the assistance of a vocational expert (an expert on different jobs and what is required physical and mentally for their performance) to understand the nature of your past work and whether someone with limitations like yours could still perform this work or applicable other work. The judge and your attorney can both ask the vocational expert questions at the hearing. The judge will make a decision based on both your medical records and the testimony in the case.
When you get a cancer diagnosis, it definitely changes your life. It's frightening, it requires extensive treatment and it makes you think hard about what life has in store for you.
But is it a disability? Does it change your life as drastically as a brain injury or a spinal cord injury that left you paralyzed?
It certainly can. While it is not automatically a disability -- maybe you have skin cancer, and you just need minor surgery to remove a spot from your forehead, for instance -- it can qualify if it impacts your "major life activities." These may include:
Taking care of yourself on a daily basis
Performing normal manual tasks
Obviously, every case is different. What type of cancer do you have? What type of treatment do you need? How long will the treatment last? How advanced is the cancer? These are all important questions to ask.
That said, if it impacts your major life activities, it's not hard to see why it would qualify as a disability. You may not be able to do the manual and/or cognitive tasks that you used to perform as part of your job. That keeps you from excelling in your career and earning a living. If you had to take time away from work after the diagnosis, the cancer could mean you can never go back.
Traumatic brain injuries are a serious concern for veterans who have seen combat. These injuries may be enough to end a military career, and they can even have a permanent impact on that person's life after they get out. It's important to understand how they happen and the way they may affect you.
Classifying most brain injuries as mild is a bit misleading. A concussion is often thought of as a mild injury, but repeated concussions during a career can take a drastic toll and may lead to life-long cognitive issues.
It is worth noting that the instances of TBIs in the military seem to be decreasing. In one study, they started at just over 10,000 injuries back in 2000. They rose for years, breaking 15,000 in 2006 and breaking 25,000 in 2008. They peaked in 2011 when they reached nearly 35,000. Then they started falling again, as they have been doing ever since. In 2017, they were back under 20,000, though still higher than the totals at the start of the study.
This does show a trend in the right direction, with fewer injuries, but they're still a significant issue for soldiers and vets in the United States. With the length of the current wars and the size of the military, they're likely to remain an issue for a long time to come. Those who suffer from TBIs need to know all of the legal rights they have.