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Columbia MO Social Security Disability Law Blog

Are my SSD benefits taxable income?

April 15 is just around the corner. Hopefully, all of our readers have filed their income tax returns with the IRS, are ready to file now, or have filed for an extension if necessary.

The IRS considers many sources of funds as taxable income -- including most benefits provided by the Social Security Administration. This could have serious tax implications for households that receive Social Security Disability benefits (SSD). However, Supplemental Security Income payments, which are need-based disability benefits, are not taxed, according to the IRS.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects young women more than men

Memories of your grandparents from your childhood may lead you to conclude that arthritis is primarily a condition for older, retired people. But at least one form of the disease can affect people as young as 30.

Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune disorder that affects nearly 1.5 million people in the United States. It can cause pain, joint stiffness, swollen joints and fatigue. Symptoms can change from day to day, with flare-ups often lasting days or even months. RA often affects people symmetrically; if a joint on one side of the body is affected, usually its corresponding joint on the other side is also.

Man born without cerebellum taught his brain to do without

Though much about the human brain remains mysterious, medical experts know that the effects of a brain injury can depend on which part of the brain is damaged. Different regions of the brain perform different functions, so an injury to a particular part of this vital organ can affect you differently than a blow to another region.

Instead of a brain injury, some people are born with brains that are different from the norm. Some of them have profound mental disabilities. Others are able to function, after their brains adapt in interesting ways.

'Invisible' disabilities often lead to misunderstandings

Have you ever met someone who appeared to be healthy, but later hear that he or she is disabled? Many conditions do not require the use of a wheelchair or cane. They do not cause obvious physical limitations, like cerebral palsy or ALS might. But they still significantly affect the person’s life, and may make earning an income through work impossible.

Conditions like fibromyalgia and Crohn’s disease can be painful, exhausting and limiting. But some people see a disabled person use a disabled parking spot and judge the person because they do not see signs of a more “obvious” condition. Or when a person with an “invisible” disability asks for reasonable accommodations, employers, classmates or others may assume the disabled person is asking for special treatment.

Are there 8 forms of schizophrenia?

If a new international study is correct, schizophrenia is not a disease -- it’s a term for eight distinct illnesses.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, working with colleagues at the University of Granada in Spain, have published this conclusion in the American Journal of Psychiarty. They say that their investigation into the role of genetics in schizophrenia led them to believe that there are eight types of this mental illness.

'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.

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