Your Source For Disability Information

A drug shortage has been linked to a relapse in cancer, Hodgkin Lymphoma in particular.

Hodgkin Lymphoma is a cancer typically found in the youth, making up approximately six percent of childhood cancers, in which the cancer cells aggressively attack the lymph system. About 90 percent of those affected by the cancer, however, have been able to continue their life cancer-free by engaging in the seven-drug chemotherapy treatment course, which included the drug mechlorethamine.

In 2002, five institutions engaged in a study to determine the effectiveness of this sort of treatment. The researchers aimed to avoid infertility and other issues while maintaining high cure rate. This is where they found that this particular treatment, using the drug mechlorethamine, saw that “approximate disease-free survival was 88 percent for the 181 patients” involved.

In 2006, a companion study took place that, because of a shortage of mechlorethamine, substituted the drug cyclophosphamine. They found that for the 40 patients that were given this substitute drug, the rate of disease-free survival dropped to 75 percent, prompting the researchers to stop enrolling new patients. They say that there is no valid explanation for the significant difference besides the drug substitution.

Drug shortage is not unique to the healing world, nor is the substitution of another drug to try and counter such unavailability. Even with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) working tirelessly to try and find a solution, these shortages continue to adversely impact the medical world. This event has impelled doctors to beg for “a more systematic solution to the problem” as “it is clear that patients are still suffering from the unavailability of life-saving drugs.”

Monika Metzger, M.D., an associate member of the St. Jude Department of Oncology and the study’s principal investigator stated, “This is a devastating example of how drug shortages affect patients and why these shortages must be prevented. Our results demonstrate, for many chemotherapy drugs, there are no adequate substitute drugs available.”

If your life or the life of someone you love has been negatively impacted because of the lack of a certain life-saving drug, then consult with an attorney who can help you navigate through the necessary fields of law to attain justice and figure out which benefits you are eligible for. There are various steps that can be taken to help aid you through these unnecessary hardships that you deserve to explore.

LTD Benefits Lawyer for Multiple SclerosisMultiple Sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disease caused by damage to the myelin sheath, or the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. The damage to this covering is caused by inflammation which occurs when the body’s immune cells attack the nervous system; this can affect the brain, optic nerve and spinal cord.

There are four different types of MS: relapsing-remitting, primary-progressive, secondary-progressive and progressive-relapsing. Symptoms of MS include loss of balance, muscle spasms, numbness, problems moving arms and legs, leg or arm tremors, double vision, constipation, dizziness, slurred speech as well as many more. MS affects women more than men, and is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40.

Although there is no known cure for MS, there are multiple therapies that slow down the disease and control symptoms so that the patient is able to maintain a relatively normal quality of life. The prognosis is fairly unpredictable and varies from patient to patient. Although a cure is unavailable, life expectancy is usually normal and people with MS are generally expected to continue to work with minimal disability for 20+ years.

In order to qualify for long term disability with the Social Security Administration (SSA) the disability has to have lasted, or is expected to last at least 12 months. Patients who have episodic symptoms may have a hard time qualifying for this reason, even though their episodes could be more debilitating than the symptoms of someone who is suffering chronically.

SSA has identified MS as a chronic condition or impairment under neurological disorders, that could cause disability severe enough to prevent a person from working. To qualify for long term disability benefits for your Multiple Sclerosis, there are four criteria used to qualify someone as “disabled.” They are as follows:
1. Disorganization of motor function: Must prove severity that their MS has caused difficulty walking or using hands because of impairments of at least two limbs. You may have partial paralysis of limbs, tremors or involuntary movements.
2. Visual impairments: A severe decrease in vision that cannot be corrected with glasses.
3. Mental impairment: An organic mental disorder causing memory loss, a decrease in IQ or disturbance in mood.
4. Fatigue: Severe fatigue and muscle weakness that is caused by the central nervous system.

The SSA will request three things from you in order to determine long term disability benefits. First, you will need to obtain complete medical records, relevant case notes and documentation of inability to work. An MRI is the most common way to prove MS because it can detect even the smallest evidence of demyelination or plaque. Another test used is the spinal tap or lumbar puncture, which is slightly less effective.

Secondly, a Medical Source Statement (MSS) will be requested in the form of a letter from your licensed medical practitioner. It should describe the conditions and impact on major life activities. The MSS should reference the four criteria listed above. The MSS should be submitted to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) along with the medical records. Finally, a Consultative Examination may be ordered if the SSA or DDS determines that medical records and MSS is insufficient. The SSA may request that the patient visit another healthcare provider for the examination in order to avoid any biases.

If for whatever reason it is found that you do not qualify for long term disability benefits under the listed criteria, the SSA will assess your residual function capacity (RFC) in order to determine what type of work you are able to perform, and will assign you more sedentary work when possible.

If you have been denied long term disability benefits, you should consult an attorney who can determine if you should be entitled to benefits and can help you gain them.

Long Term Physical Disability LawyersWhen an employee is unable to work for an extended period of time due to a physical ailment, a long term disability plan can help cover a portion of the worker’s salary, and allow the employee less of a financial burden as well as the opportunity to heal.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has created a formalized process of determining whether or not you are disabled under their strict definitions and guidelines. Their method of deciding is based on criteria that can be answered in five simple questions, in accordance with their manual of qualifying disabilities. To move onto the next in the series of questions you must be able to answer “yes” to each individual question. Question number three is: “Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?”

The Blue Book lists physical and mental impairments that automatically qualify you for Social Security disability benefits, as long as they are of a certain severity and impact your life to a specific level. Provided that such criteria is met, the following is a list of some of the physical conditions that qualify for long-term disability:

• Musculoskeletal problems, such as neck and back injuries
• Spinal cord injuries
• Cardiovascular conditions, like coronary artery disease and heart failure
• Respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
• Immune system disorders, like HIV/AIDS, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
• Cancers
• Brain and head injuries
• Kidney disease and liver disease

The above is only a brief, broad list of qualifying physical conditions that are listed in the Blue Book. It should be noted that if you have an ailment or condition that is not listed in the Blue Book, you are not automatically unqualified for long-term disability benefits, although it is generally more difficult to gain benefits in this scenario. You can be awarded disability benefits if your disability is found to be “equaling a disability listing,” or if your condition prevents you from being able to work based on the SSA’s criteria and findings.

If your physical condition does qualify you for long-term disability benefits, it is important to understand that the terms of coverage range in the percentage of salary that they cover, as well as how long each individual will be covered. The SSA may even ask that the person on disability find another, more sedentary career to go into. Contact a long term physical disability attorney at Burke, Harvey & Frankowski, LLC who can help you determine your eligibility and the steps that you can take to qualify for benefits.

Social Security Disability Benefits












The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a formalized process of determining whether or not you are disabled under their strict definition based on limited criteria that can be answered in five simple questions.

The national long term disability attorneys at Burke, Harvey & Frankowski, LLC explain that the  SSA’s definition of “disability” is based on your inability to work. You must be unable to perform the work that you did before, be unable to adjust to other work due to your medical condition, and your disability must have lasted or is expected to last at least one year or result in death. You also must have worked for long enough and recently enough under Social Security in order to qualify for disability benefits.

The following are the five questions that the SSA asks to decide whether someone is disabled. If you answer “No” to any of the questions, you will not be qualified to move on to the next question and will not be considered disabled.

1. Are you working? – If you are working in 2012 and your earnings average more than $1,010/month then you generally cannot be disabled.
2. Is your condition “severe”? – This means that your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities.
3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions? – SSA has a list of conditions in their Blue Book that are so severe that they automatically qualify you.
If you have a medical condition that affects your ability to work on a regular basis but it is not as severe as an impairment described in the listing, SSA assesses your “residual functional capacity” (RFC). It will be determined through this step what you are still able to do despite your limitations or impairments.
4. Can you do the work you did previously? – This will be determined by the SSA
5. Can you do any other type of work? – The SSA will consider age, education, past work experience within the most recent 15 years and any transferable skills you may have. More sedentary work will be assigned if possible.

Most Social Security disability claims are processed through SSA field offices and State agencies, also known as Disability Determination Services (DDSs). Appeals are decided in a Disability Determination Process or by an administrative law judge in the SSA’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.

Many people do not qualify for disability benefits because they enter the process without knowledge of what is required or understanding the impact of the questions that they will be asked. To increase your chances of obtaining benefits, a long term disability attorney who specializes in the Social Security applications process can guide you through this often difficult experience. Determine your eligibility and the steps that you can take to qualify for benefits by contacting Burke, Harvey & Frankowski, LLC.

LTD AttorneysPeripheral nerves carry information to and from the brain, spinal cord and virtually every other part of the body. When a person has peripheral neuropathy it means that those nerves don’t work properly – this type of damage interferes with vital connections, and distorts and interrupts messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

When the damage affects only one nerve the neuropathy is called mononeuropathies. More commonly multiple nerves are affected. This is called polyneuropathy. Less often, two or more isolated nerves in separate areas of the body are affected. This is called mono neuritis multiplex.

Because every peripheral nerve has a highly specialized function in specific parts of the body, there are more than 100 different types of peripheral neuropathy that have been identified. With this wide array of classifications come all types of symptoms. Common symptoms include temporary numbness and tingling, prickling sensations, twitching, sensitivity to touch and muscle weakness. More debilitating symptoms are burning pains, muscle wasting, paralysis and organ and gland dysfunction.

Symptoms usually cause people to feel much less sensation than they would if nerve damage was not present, however in some cases people with peripheral neuropathy feel pain from stimuli that are normally painless. Gastrointestinal symptoms can also be linked to nerve damage. Nerves that control intestinal muscle contractions sometimes malfunction and often lead to diarrhea, constipation and incontinence.

Peripheral neuropathy can be inherited or acquired. Acquired peripheral neuropathies are caused either by systemic disease, trauma from external agents, or infections or autoimmune disorders. The most common cause of nerve damage, including peripheral neuropathy, is diabetes. Other causes are autoimmune disorders, chronic kidney disease, infections such as HIV and liver infections, low levels of vitamin B12 or other dietary issues, poor blood flow to the legs, under active thyroid gland and excessive drug and alcohol use.

Diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy can be difficult because it has so many varying symptoms and can present itself in a number of ways. To diagnose, a doctor will take a detailed history of you and your family, perform a physical exam, do blood tests, check muscular activity, measure the speed at which signals travel along nerves and might even sample a nerve under a microscope.

There are things that patients can do to prevent or treat their own nerve damage. For example, restricting alcohol use, replacing vitamins and controlling blood sugar can prevent damage and assist in its healing. Self-awareness is also crucial. Because many peripheral neuropathy patients do not feel pain the way they should, they do not take the proper precautions in their everyday life. Doing simple day-to-day tasks like wearing closed toe shoes and testing the temperature of things before grabbing them can make daily life more manageable.

No medical treatments currently exist to cure peripheral neuropathy, however there are recommended therapies that patients can participate in. Medicines can reduce pain although they will not return a loss of feeling. Physical therapy specialists can help train your body to recover, and physical exercise and exertion is helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Long term disability attorneys Burke, Harvey & Frankowski, LLC understand the importance of obtaining disability benefits for peripheral neuropathy and work diligently to aid you in collecting the required documentation and eveidence supporting your disability insurance claim and appeal. Call your healthcare provider if you think you may have any form of nerve damage. Early detection and treatment can decrease the presence of symptoms, and can ease the often difficult process of applying for LTD benefits.

National Disability Insurance LawyerThe process of appealing a denied insurance claim
If you have become sick or injured and are unable to work, it may become difficult to pay bills and related expenses. The financial obligations of a long term disability can mount, allowing little room for error in applying for disability benefits from your insurance company. Often times, those who do properly apply for benefits are still denied. Unfortunately, the insurance companies have created an all too familiar routine of receiving qualified applications and wrongfully denying those requests.

Obtaining Legal Help For A Denied Insurance Claim:
With the help of an attorney who specializes in making insurance claims appeals, your chances of obtaining benefits increase exponentially. Most of the advice and assistance offered in the appeals process requires strict attention to detail and an understanding of insurance industry greed. An LTD lawyer can help you:

  • Understand why your insurance claim was denied and the methods used to measure/value your need for benefits
  • Setting legal and reasonable deadlines for completing your appeal
  • Keep track of supporting documentation, communication and additional interaction with your insurance company
  • Write an appeal letter detailing your circumstances, timeline and/or evolution of injury or disability, doctor visits and supporting information.
  • Keep tabs on the insurance company and the progress of your appeal.

After all the steps taken to ensure benefits are awarded, insurance companies are still able to deny your appeal. In any situation, you have the right to take legal action against them and have your case reviewed by a federal judge. If your initial insurance claim, or your appeal have both been denied, then strengthen your case by hiring a disability insurance lawyer who has extensive experience fighting the insurance companies and successfully obtaining benefits.

Learn more about the basics on disability insurance law from skilled LTD attorneys Burke, Harvey & Frankowski, LLC:

Ataxia is an impaired neurological condition of the body that affects the muscles. Ataxia is a symptom, not a specific disease. Areas that are affected commonly include:

• Physical coordination – various areas of the body are affected, particularly walking
• Balance – ability to undertake normal skills such as walking and stepping may be extremely difficult or impossible
• Movement abilities – ability to walk, move the limbs, extend or reach with the limbs, gesture
• Speech – dysarthria – ability to form words and speak
• Eye movements – nystagmus, or ability look from left to right, up and down, etc.
• Ability to bend down, stoop, grasp object – affects ability to pick up objects from the floor, tie shoes, etc.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Ataxia, but there are methods to manage and mildly rehabilitate those living with this condition. These methods are as follows:
Physical Therapy
Movement Therapy
Speech Therapy
Balance skills enhancement
Improvement has been shown through through chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture treatment.

Mental health disability claims
Mental Disability Claims

Physical disabilities can make it very challenging to function in a work environment. For this, employers provide workers compensation and disability benefits to cover you financially until you are able to return to work. What happens however when you are suffering from a mental disabilities?

As most who have suffered from depression, dost-traumatic stress, or bipolar disorder can attest to, mental disabilities can be just as debilitating as any physical condition and occur more often than people think.

What most people also do not know is that a mental disability in many cases can and should be covered by your disability insurance. The problem however is that a mental disorder can be difficult to prove. Because of this, insurance companies try everything in their power to avoid awarding you coverage.

Additionally, if by some miracle you are awarded a mental disability claim, insurers will often cap the length of coverage to less time than you may need.

Dealing with insurance companies is a full time job and suffering from a mental condition can make it near impossible to manage. If you or someone you know is having trouble receiving the disability coverage they deserve, contact an Employment and Disability Lawyer immediately.

You need help from a long term disability attorney who specializes in obtaining benefits for mental health disabilities. You have been through enough, put your trust in their hands and be confident that you will get the best resolution possible from your case.

LTD benefits for rare disordersAccording to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), nearly 7,000 rare diseases affect close to 30 million Americans. Applying for long-term disability benefits can be especially difficult if you have an uncommon condition because you need to document the existence of specific symptoms of a medically determinable rare disease. Currently, many people with rare diseases experience devastating delays, most up to three years, because those making the decisions are less familiar with such diseases and their debilitating capacities.

Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowances (CAL) is a recent initiative that was designed to fast-track Social Security disability applications for 25 rare diseases and 25 cancers that are deemed to be severe. CAL criteria and conditions were developed due to information received at public outreach hearings, comments received from the Social Security and Disability Determination Service communities, counsel of medical and scientific experts and research with the National Institutes of Health. A few of the conditions that have been included in the initiative are ataxia telangiectasia, numerous cancers and early-onset Alzheimers disease.

Unfortunately, there is a giant number of rare diseases that didn’t make CAL’s cut. Getting long-term disability coverage for rare yet painful and debilitating diseases like carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia and Lyme disease remains difficult, largely because the Blue Book that is used as a reference when determining whether a person with a condition qualifies for coverage does not put as much focus on such rare diseases and their symptoms – therefore making them subjective and difficult to prove.

Living with an invisible disabilityInvisible disabilities are characterized by symptoms that may not be noticeable to those unaffected, but what exactly constitutes an invisible disability? A person with an ID often suffers from debilitating symptoms including excruciating internal pain, fatigue, dizziness, weakness, cognitive dysfunctions, learning differences, mental disorders, and hearing and vision impairments. Those who are unaffected by this class of disability should not discount the suffering people with ID endure, as they are often fighting to mask the pain and other unwanted symptoms.

Examples of Invisible Disabilities:

Back and Spine Problems
Bipolar Disorder
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Cerebral Atrophy
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Lyme Disease

Living with and managing an invisible disability is a constant battle and unfortunately presents unique challenges for someone attempting to obtain disability benefits. Because of the great variety in symptoms and the difficulty in obtaining a diagnosis, many people suffering from an invisible disability are unable to work. Many disability claimants attempting to obtain long term disability benefits on their own are often met with application denials, filing appeals,unreasonably long delays, and other unethical insurance bad faith practices. Hiring an LTD attorney with extensive experience dealing with insurance companies can give you an advantage over their tactics.