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Columbia MO Social Security Disability Law Blog

'Breaking Bad's' RJ Mitte discusses disability in Columbia

University of Missouri students who attended a recent lecture by actor RJ Mitte recently may have expected a lot of talk about “Breaking Bad,” the hit television drama that Mitte starred in. What they got instead was an education about Mitte’s experience growing up with a disability.

As fans know, Mitte played Walter White Jr. on the show, which ran for five seasons and ended in 2013. Like his character, Mitte has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that can affect body movement, speech, sensation and depth perception.

Other signs, besides sadness, that you have depression

Someone suffering from depression is very sad, hopeless and withdrawn from their old interests. At least, that is what most of us think of when we imagine depression.

But as those who are living with depression and their loved ones know, there are other possible signs of this form of mental illness. Prolonged sadness may be the most well-known symptom, but depression often causes other symptoms and behaviors.

Are cancer drug trials accurately capturing side effect severity?

Cancer drugs can have some rather major side effects. A recent study indicates that the side effects of new cancer drugs may be even more severe than their clinical trials indicate, if such trials relied largely on doctor reports to track side effect severity. This is because the study found that doctor reports in clinical trials tend to under-report side effects as compared to the reports of the patients in such trials.

The study focused on 1,090 patients of three cancer drug clinical trials. The study looked at what the patients themselves reported having experienced in the way of side effects during the trials and compared it to what doctors in the trials reported regarding patient side effects. The study particularly looked at what was reported regarding six common side effects of chemotherapy drugs: hair loss, appetite loss, diarrhea, constipation, nausea and vomiting. The study found that for all six of these side effect classes, the doctors reported significantly lower occurrence rates than the patients did.

Asthma explained

The National Institutes of Health reports that more than 25 million people in the U.S. are living with asthma. This condition impacts the ability to breath, and in severe cases may limit the patient’s ability to work. An asthma diagnosis may qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits, if the disorder prevents you from earning an income.

The airways that carry air in and out of the lungs are inflamed in people with asthma. Not only does this constrict the airways, it often makes them sensitive to certain substances when the person inhales them. Common triggers include dust, animal fur, mold, cigarette smoke and certain medicines.

An untreated brain aneurysm can lead to stroke

While a brain aneurysm may not cause problems on its own, if it leaks or bursts, the result can be a life-threatening stroke. By knowing the symptoms of an aneurysm, patients can see a doctor before that happens.

As the Mayo Clinic’s website puts it, a brain aneurysm is a bulge or ballooning section in a blood vessel in the brain. It often resembles a berry hanging on a stem. Symptoms of an unruptured aneurysm include pain above and behind one eye, a dilated pupil, double vision, numbness or paralysis on one side of the face, and a drooping eyelid.

What is an SSD appeal hearing like?

As we have discussed in this blog before, most initial applications for Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are denied. Once rejected, applicants have the right to appeal and make their case that they deserve SSD or SSI benefits due to a disability that prevents them from supporting themselves financially.

After filing an appeal with the Social Security Administration, the applicant’s case goes before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for a hearing. Readers who have never gone though one of these hearings naturally will wonder what goes on at these hearings, and how they would get to argue their side.

House seems reluctant to keep SSD fund afloat past 2016

Time is growing short for Congress to find a way to keep the Social Security Disability program, but so far this session, doing so does not appear to be a big priority. If nothing is done, your SSD payments could be cut by 20 percent next year.

Shortly after the new Congress was sworn in for the session, the House adopted a parliamentary rule that makes it more difficult to reallocate money between the SSD fund, which is used to help people too disabled to keep working, and the Social Security fund used to pay people after they retire.

Survey suggests pets can help kids with autism socialize

A few weeks back, we addressed one challenge that parents of children on the autism spectrum: creating a home environment that allows them to stay calm and focused on their education. As parents of children with autism know, another common challenge is social development. Many such children struggle to interact with others, and may become socially isolated without help.

Researchers are always looking for new ways to facilitate social development for children on the spectrum. A newly published survey from the University of Missouri suggests that pets can be a big help.

Can I qualify for SSD benefits due to obesity?

Obesity is a major health problem in the U.S., including here in Missouri. A website called the State of Obesity lists Missouri as having the 16th highest obesity rate for adults in the country at 30.4 percent. That is right around the national rate for adults, according to Disabled World.

Among the many negative health effects that obesity can wreak on the human body is a limitation on its ability to move. Many obese people have difficulty walking. If their jobs require them to be on their feet for significant periods of time, those jobs may eventually become impossible.

Chronic pain and SSD

What if you were in terrible pain, but doctors in Missouri could not find what was wrong with you, or they were unable to do much about your condition? More than 100 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, some of them badly enough that they are disabled for Social Security Disability purposes.

Unlike acute pain, which alerts the victim to injury, there does not appear to be any function for chronic pain, except perhaps to make the patient miserable. Though many people are able to manage their pain through medication or other treatment, many people’s chronic pain does not improve from conventional medicine.

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