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Philadelphia Social Security Disability Law Blog

The myth of the minor brain injury

This blog has previously discussed traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs. As their name implies, TBIs involve damage to the brain from an outside physical force, like a blow to the head or a violent shake. As is the case with many other medical conditions, professionals classify TBIs according to how profoundly they affect a person. In the world of neurology, there is a distinction between mild TBIs and moderate or severe TBIs.

This does not mean that a mild TBI is nothing serious. For instance, someone with a mild TBI can experience consistent fatigue, sleep disturbance and some sense of vertigo or dizziness. They may also have other problems with sensory processing, which could make it difficult for them to see and hear properly.

What if my disability is related to a drug or alcohol struggle?

There are many people who struggle constantly with drugs or alcohol. Of course, people who have these addictions may also get sick or hurt, just like everyone else. When this happens, they may not be able to return to work because of their medical condition.

Fortunately, since Social Security disability benefits are awarded on a no-fault basis, those struggling under the weight of an addiction can still obtain benefits, provided they meet the criteria required by the Social Security Administration. This is the case even if their injury or illness was caused by their drug or alcohol problem.

What if my injury was my own fault?

People make mistakes all the time. Even responsible and careful Philadelphia drivers will, from time to time, blow a red light or totally miss the fact that the traffic in front of them has come to a stop. On other occasions, a worker in one of the area's many factories or construction sites may just forget about taking an important safety step.

Unfortunately, these little mistakes can lead to severe and even disabling injuries. If the accident is the person's own fault, options for financial support may be limited. Worker's compensation may not be available, and a person may not have good health insurance. Moreover, there will likely be a need for income if an injury is serious enough to keep a person out of work indefinitely.

Disability trust fund not in as bad of shape as once thought

There was recent good news for the famous, or rather infamous, disability trust fund. For those who are not aware, the trust fund is a government asset which can be and often is used to help pay disability benefits when the volume of claims do not keep pace with revenues from payroll taxes.

There has of late been a lot of concern that this trust will be depleted. At one point, as late as last year, experts in charge of the fund predicted it would be out money by the end of 2032, which, in the grand scheme of things, is not a lot of time. However, in their annual report for this year, the same group said they expected the fund to last until 2052.

PTSD is not just a condition that affects veterans

The concept of post-traumatic stress disorder originally came to light as mental health professionals treated combat veterans returning from war. Indeed, the horror of battle is one thing that can trigger PTSD. However, as time has gone on, psychologists and other experts have come to understand that any number of people, veterans and non-veterans alike, can experience PTSD for any number of reasons. There are, after all, a lot of ways in which people can experience traumatic events.

Someone who is bullied at school or someone who has been mugged, for instance, can have PTSD, as can someone who had a difficult childhood. Even a paramedic responding to a car accident or a rescuer involved in a natural disaster can experience PTSD. PTSD can develop over the long-term as well, such as when a person experiences ongoing exposure to trauma.

Many spine injuries lead to paralysis, other serious issues

One of the most vulnerable parts of one's body is the back, particularly the spine. Among other things, the bones of the spine protect the all-important spinal cord nerves, which serve to transmit signals to the rest of the body. In other words, when a Philadelphia resident's spinal cord is not working properly, the person will likely lose some or all control and sensation in the affected parts of their body.

Exactly how one's body responds to a spinal cord injury depends on the location of the injury and the extent of the damage to the spinal cord. Generally speaking, the closer an injury is to one's head, the more of the body that will be affected.

Administration may start reviewing social media posts

A new regulatory proposal, currently being floated between the President's team and the Social Security Administration, may lead to a regulation that will authorize or even require the Administration to examine social media posts when reviewing disability benefits and claims. Currently, the Administration only does so when there is already some suspicion of fraud or abuse.

For those in favor of the measure, the concern is that many people in Philadelphia, and throughout the rest of the country, are gaming the disability system. In other words, they may claim they have a debilitating injury but are in fact perfectly able to carry on with their normal life, and work, activities.

Can schizophrenia patients claim SSD benefits?

Living with a mental illness is always difficult. Many people would have either experienced the difficulties themselves or would have witnessed a family member or friend experiencing those difficulties. One example of such a mental illness that people in Pennsylvania would be aware of is schizophrenia. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration acknowledges the severity of schizophrenia and, therefore, offers Social Security Disability Insurance benefits to patients who meet the eligibility criteria.

According to the SSA's rulebook, a person is eligible for schizophrenia-related SSD benefits if he or she demonstrates certain symptoms of the disease. Some of those symptoms are delusions, hallucinations, mood swings, abnormal speech and several others. Besides checking the existence of those symptoms, the SSA also checks if those symptoms have prevented the claimant from performing basic daily activities or affected some of the most basic inherent abilities. Additionally, the SSA will check of the symptoms have affected that person's social behavior and personal relationships.

Sympathy alone not enough after a disabling injury

Losing one's job can be a difficult experience all by itself. However, it can be even more difficult if the job loss was due to a disability that was a result of a work-related injury. As readers may know, a disabled worker may be entitled to workers' compensation per Pennsylvania law, but the money received from such benefits is often not enough to meet the various expenses that arise after a disabling injury.

Thankfully, most workers pay Social Security taxes, making them eligible for Social Security benefits when facing financial challenges resulting from a disabling injury that eventually leads to job loss. The Social Security Administration runs the Social Security Disability Insurance program and will grant benefits to those people whose inability to work is because of a disabling condition.

What is a herniated disk?

Many people in the Philadelphia area, particularly, those who perform difficult manual labor, may have to put strain on their backs as they work. No matter how hard they try to stay safe, exertion will wear down the various parts of the spine, and this wear-and-tear can cause back problems, like a herniated disk.

To give some background, the spine, which gives structure to the whole body and protects the all-important spinal cord nerves, is made up of several little bones called vertebrae. Between the bones are natural padding called disks.

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