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Social Security Disability Law Blog

Those with fibromyalgia may want to seek disability benefits

As some people can attest, whether they have fibromyalgia or whether someone they love does, those who suffer from fibromyalgia face a whole host of crippling symptoms. They experience widespread and constant pain, fatigue, issues with the quality of their sleep and often psychological distress.

Many who suffer from fibromyalgia find that the condition prevents them not only from being able to work, but also to even keep up with their normal day-to-day activities. It is an illness that can affect every facet of their lives. When this happens, those with fibromyalgia may want to consider pursuing Social Security disability benefits.

Fibromyalgia can be a severe, disabling condition

If a person finds that they are in constant pain, are tired all the time and are having a difficult time concentrating, they may have fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a condition in which a person suffers from musculoskeletal pain, along with fatigue and issues involving their memory and mood.

A person with fibromyalgia experiences widespread pain. In general, it is a dull ache that the person feels constantly for at least three months and that occurs on all sides of a person's body, left, right, top and bottom. The fatigue a person with this condition experiences means that even though a person may sleep for a long time, they still wake up tired. Moreover, the pain can affect the quality of a person's sleep. In addition, a person may have a hard time concentrating, a symptom which is often referred to as "fibro fog."

What are the income reporting requirements for SSI benefits?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are benefits that are meant to go to low-income individuals nationwide who are disabled, aged or blind. However, due to the income requirements, if an SSI recipient works and receives benefits, he or she must report his or her earnings to the Social Security Administration (SSA.)

Of course, a recipient's gross monthly wages (that is, what the recipient earns before taxes or other deductions are taken out of his or her paycheck) must be reported. However, if a recipient either starts or stops work, this must also be reported. If a person's income goes up or down, this too must be reported. If a recipient takes on a second or third job, or stops working at a second or third job, this also needs to be reported. The SSA must also be informed of any work expenses the recipient has that are related to the recipient's disability. Finally, if the recipient is blind, all of the recipient's work expenses must be reported.

Marines may have been made ill while at Camp Lejeune

Service members who serve overseas are often exposed to many dangers. Of course, there is always the risk of combat, but there are other non-combat conditions that could make a service member ill or cause an injury. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides Marines who served at Camp Lejeune and were exposed to chemically contaminated water while there with benefits if the Marines thus became sick due to the water. However, the VA only recognizes eight diseases the water could have caused, including Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, aplastic anemia, Parkinson's disease, adult leukemia, multiple myeloma and cancer of the bladder, kidney and liver.

Per rules that the VA recently adopted, the agency will provide Marines and Reserve and National Guard members who spent at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune anywhere from 1953 to 1987 who have one of those eight diseases. Also, when a veteran becomes disabled, he or she may automatically be provided with disability benefits, if he or she qualifies for such benefits.

Veterans with 'Gulf War Syndrome' may seek benefits

Veterans of the Gulf War, like all other veterans, sacrificed much in the line of duty. Not only did they sacrifice their safety to ensure the safety of our country, but some also sacrificed their health. Disabled veterans nationwide are eligible to seek certain government benefits, but there are some benefits that those who served in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm should be especially aware of. Specifically, compensation may be available to Gulf War veterans who suffered an illness or injury in the line of duty, if these veterans served in the military between August 2, 1990, to July 31, 1991.

For example, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Gulf War veterans may be able to seek compensation if they suffered an illness that went undiagnosed. Some conditions that a veteran may suffer include sleep problems, mental health problems, neurological problems, breathing problems, pain in their muscles and joints, heart problems, headaches, menstrual problems and skin problems. These conditions, which cannot be pinpointed to a specific illness, go by the moniker of "Gulf War Syndrome."

Is age a factor in determining whether to award SSD benefits?

When a person applies for Social Security disability benefits, one thing the Social Security Administration (SSA) will take into consideration is whether the applicant can perform any other type of work. Since anyone -- young or old - can become disabled, one may wonder whether the applicant's age is a factor the SSA will consider when determining whether the applicant can perform any other type of work.

When assessing an applicant's ability to adjust to a new line of work, the SSA will not consider age alone. However, it will consider age along with the applicant's work experience and residual functional capacity. In general, the SSA will consider that as an applicant gets older, his or her age may limit his or her ability to perform a different type of work.

What documentation is needed to prove you have a blood disease?

As discussed in our previous post, sickle cell anemia can be a disabling illness that can cause severe pain and complications. Those who suffer from it and cannot work may want to pursue Social Security disability benefits. And indeed, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes sickle cell disease as a disabling disorder in its Listing of Impairments, also called the "Blue Book." For those who are applying for benefits, it is important to understand what documentation the SSA requires to prove an applicant has a hematological disorder like sickle cell anemia.

Several forms of evidence can suffice. The first form the SSA will accept is a lab report that establishes that the applicant has a hematological disorder via a definitive test. This report must bear a physician's signature.

Sickle cell anemia can be a disabling blood disease

Sickle cell anemia is a blood disease suffered by some people. The disease is inherited, rather than contracted, and involves a person's red blood cells. Normal red blood cells are circular and flexible. This allows them to travel effectively through a person's blood vessels. However, for those with sickle cell anemia, their red blood cells are crescent-shaped, sticky and inflexible. This means they can become trapped in small blood vessels, slowing or even blocking the passage of red blood cells and through that the flow of oxygen to a person's system.

Sickle cell anemia is an incurable disease. It causes anemia, which can result in fatigue. It can also cause pain, that can sometimes become severe and can go on for as little as a few hours to as much as weeks. Some people with sickle cell anemia have episodes of pains dozens of times a year, sometimes requiring hospitalization. Sickle cell anemia can also cause a person's hands and feet to become painful and swollen, and it can cause a person to suffer frequent infections, some of which can be life-threatening.

What is considered income for SSI purposes?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program for those who need disability benefits, but in general, have not worked in the past. Whether or not a person is eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is dependent on their income and resources, that is, the person's belongings. What constitutes income for the purposes of applying for SSI?

Keep in mind that income requirements for SSI depend in part on the state that the person lives in. But in general, income includes the money a person brings into the household via their wages or salary. Also included as income are pensions and Social Security benefits. Food and shelter are also counted as income. If a person is married, at least a part of his or her spouse's income and resources will be counted as income. Similarly, if the person applying for benefits is under 18-years-old, part of his or her parents' income and resources will be counted as income. Also, if the applicant is a sponsored noncitizen, the sponsor's income and resources may be counted as income.

Present a complete picture when applying for disability benefits

When a disability prevents a person from working, it can be incredibly frustrating. A person could go from being able to support themselves financially to being unable to take care of even their basic needs. Fortunately, there is a social safety net in place to help people in such situations in the form of Social Security Disability Insurance.

The Social Security Disability Insurance program pays around $143 billion annually to over 11 million people. And the number of people applying for benefits is only going up. For example, in 2013 the program saw almost 2.7 million applications, which represents nearly a 2 million increase since 2003.

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