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Social Security Disability Lawyer

Possible Alzheimer’s Breakthrough

There are many studies going on this very minute, desperately seeking to better treat, delay the onset and even prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. Roper St. Francis Healthcare in Charleston is participating in studies that may potentially produce groundbreaking results for the future of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“The Alzheimer’s Association reports that nearly 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.”  (PostandCourier.com)  Around 92,000 of those people live right here in South Carolina. The 2018 National Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures report shows that the Palmetto state “has the 8th highest rate for Alzheimer’s related deaths in the nation.” (ABC4News.com)

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. It causes problems with thinking, memory and behavior, and normally affects people 65 years and up. However, about 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Scientists are still researching to figure out exactly what causes the horrible disease. They believe that Alzheimer’s prevents parts of a brain cell from functioning properly. They are not sure why. These parts not functioning properly cause problems in other areas. “As damage spreads, cells lose their ability to do their jobs and, eventually die causing irreversible changes in the brain.”(alz.org)

Previous attempts to come up with a vaccine for Alzheimer’s have not worked, but experts’ and researchers’ understanding of the disease has developed in recent years. It turns out that the disease is much more complicated than what was known in the past. For example, before 2013 researchers were unaware of “nearly 10 additional genetic variations that were associated with an increased risk of the disease, meaning there were additional biomarkers, or things experts could pinpoint, to gauge a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s that were previously unknown.”

Two of the studies Roper Hospital is participating in:

The A4 study is a five-year study which looks at a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s before they start showing symptoms. After an examination and PET scan, researchers examine abnormal lesions (amyloid plaque) in a volunteer’s brain that are often associated with Alzheimer’s. This indicates high risk to develop the disease.

The volunteers who are selected to participate in the A4 study will go in once a month for 3 years and have an infusion treatment of either the drug solanezumab or a placebo. “The study will test the safety and efficacy of solanezumab…to see if it slows memory and cognitive decline and affects the buildup of amyloid plaques, as shown by brain imaging and other biomarkers.” (NIH.com)

For more information on participating in the A4 trial, visit www.a4study.org or call 844-247-8839.

The T2 Protect AD study focuses on people already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. This study “tests Biohaven’s new investigational drug, troriluzole seeking to assess if the neuroprotectant can protect against, slow down or stop memory and thinking problems in people between ages 50 and 85 already diagnosed with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s.”(Forbes.com)

Each volunteer goes through screening, including memory and thinking tests, a physical exam, and EKG to determine if he/she is eligible for the trial. Eligible participants have a brain scan using MRI at the beginning and end of the study, and will visit the clinic 9 times during the 48-week trial. Half of the participants are given troriluzole (in pill form), and the other half are given a placebo that looks like troriluzole.

Researchers are aiming to reduce what would be a patient’s normal decline from Alzheimer’s by about 40%. Howard Feldman, M.D. says, “If the drug proves effective it could give patients a way to manage or lessen their symptoms even if a cure remains out of reach.”

To be eligible for the T2 study, participants must:

  • Be between the ages of 50 and 85
  • Be previously diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease
  • Have been treated with Alzheimer’s medication for at least 3 months
  • “Have a study partner who has regular contact with the clinical trial candidate and is able to attend study visits.”
  • Be willing to participate for 48 weeks.

For more information on participating in the T2 study, visit http://www.t2protect.org/ .

The Law Offices of David L. Hood: Representing Social Security Disability Applicants in South Carolina

At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we fight for the rights of the disabled. If you are considering a Social Security disability application or appeal, schedule a free consultation with us today at no risk to you. We handle all SSD cases on a contingent fee basis, which means you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we help you receive benefits.

You can easily contact us by filling out our quick and easy online contact form or by calling (843) 491-6025.

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

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Social Security Disability Lawyer

Stem Cell Therapy: Safe and Effective for Relapsing MS

A recent study taking place in the US, UK, Sweden and Brazil proved Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HCST) to be a safe and effective treatment for people with a relapsing form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). HSCT “is more effective at preventing disease progression compared to currently used disease-modifying therapies, according to the new study published…in JAMA.” (CNN)

110 patients who had relapsing-remitting MS participated in the clinical trial. Patients were randomly given either the HSCT treatment or another DMT (disease-modifying therapy), different from the classes they had previously used.

Only three out of 55 patients receiving HSCT showed progression after a year. However, 34 out of the 55 patients who received the DMT showed progression after a year.

In the HSCT group, 2% of patients had disease progression after two years, 5% after three years, and 10% after years 4 and 5.

By contrast, in the DMT patients, almost 25% showed progression of disease after one year, more than 50% after two years, and just under 75% at five years.

What is MS?

In MS, the immune system damages the brain and spinal cord. This happens “when myelin, a white fatty coating that insulates the body’s nerves, is mistakenly labeled as a foreign invader, [and is then] attacked, and stripped from the nervous system by the immune system. Without insulation, neurons lose their important ability to conduct electrical signals.”

The cause of this happening is unclear; but 2.3 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with MS.

Symptoms of MS:

  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling in face, body or extremities
  • Muscle weakness, and spasms
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Sexual problems
  • Pain
  • Emotional changes
  • Walking difficulties
  • Stiffness
  • Vision problems
  • Bladder and Bowel problems
  • Cognitive changes
  • Depression

What is HCST?

The purpose of HCST is to reboot and restore the immune system.

What is involved in the procedure?

Depending on the doctor and medical center, treatment protocols vary, but the general steps are the same:

  1. Chemotherapy is given for up to 10 days. “This stimulates production of bone marrow stem cells and promotes their release into the blood.”(National Multiple Sclerosis Society) Then blood is drawn and the stem cells in that blood are stored for later use.
  2. The patient is then hospitalized and given more powerful chemotherapy for up to 11 days, which kills the immune cells in the body.
  3. The stored stem cells are put into the bloodstream through a vein.
  4. An antibiotic is usually given to help combat infection.
  5. The immune system begins to rebuild itself. The patient will remain in the hospital for two to four weeks, possibly longer, depending on side effects experienced.

Who is eligible?

A patient must meet very specific medical criteria before being eligible for HSCT:

  • Must have evidence of new lesions (by MRI)
  • Required to have tried two different DMT’s which have failed to control the MS
  • “People with early progressive MS may be considered if there are still signs of active inflammation (either relapses or lesions on an MRI.” (National MS Society)

Benefits:

Clinical trials show HSCT can reduce relapses, especially for people with relapsing MS. Some patients have more stable or improved symptoms.

Patients who have progressive MS had encouraging results when treated early in their condition, when there was still evidence of inflammation. HSCT has also “been shown to slow clinical progression in a few people with early secondary progressive MS.”

Risks:

HCST is not FDA-approved, but is considered experimental. Because it a very aggressive treatment, HSCT comes with high risks and complications:

  • Increased, long-term risk of developing infections
  • Increased risk of developing cancer and autoimmune conditions
  • Early menopause
  • Fertility problems

Of course, the chemotherapy itself has side effects as well:

  • Bleeding and bruising
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hair loss

Also, patients who have a high level of disability before transplant may have more loss of mobility and worsened neurological function.

If you’re considering HSCT, talk to your neurologist to find out if it may be the right treatment for you.

The Law Offices of David L. Hood: Representing Social Security Disability Applicants in South Carolina

At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we fight for the rights of the disabled. If you are considering a Social Security disability application or appeal, schedule a free consultation with us today at no risk to you. We handle all SSD cases on a contingent fee basis, which means you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we help you receive benefits.

You can easily contact us by filling out our quick and easy online contact form or by calling (843) 491-6025.

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

Other online resources used in this article:

https://www.cnn.com/2016/06/10/health/multiple-sclerosis-chemotherapy-stem-cell/index.html

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/new-stem-cell-treatment-for-ms-is-a-game-changer/

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Social Security Disability Lawyer

Social Security Benefits on the Rise

October’s release of inflation data from the Bureau of labor Statistics (BLS) was the last piece of the puzzle needed to determine the 2019 Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). For this reason, October is always an incredibly pivotal month for Social Security beneficiaries. Social Security benefits account for at least half of the monthly income for 62% of retired workers.

Over 62 million people currently receiving a monthly benefit check will get a “raise” (Social Security COLA) in January that will average 2.8%.

What will this “raise” look like for the average Social Security recipient?

2.8% is the highest raise beneficiaries will receive since 2012. “Notably, higher energy prices (e.g., gasoline and fuel oil), along with shelter inflation, were most responsible for pushing COLA higher.”

These are only estimated averages from the SSA; these numbers could change by the time January rolls around:

  • Retired workers: Before receiving a 2.8% COLA, the average retired worker is expected to bring home $1,422 a month. But after their “raise,” the average retiree should be netting $1,461 a month, or an extra $468 per year.
  • Aged couple, both receiving benefits: At the moment, the average aged couple where both retirees are receiving benefits brings home $2,381 a month. After a 2.8% COLA, this figure is expected to increase to $2,448 monthly. That’s $804 extra a year for the average aged couple as of January 2019.
  • Disabled workers: We often forget that while Social Security is geared to protect seniors during retirement, it also provides benefits to around 10 million disabled workers and their families. With the average disabled worker taking home $1,200 a month, the 2.8% COLA will add $34 monthly, or $408 annually, to boost this payout to $1,234 per month.
  • Aged widow(er), alone: Similarly, we forget that nearly 6 million people, most of them aged beneficiaries, may also receive survivor benefits once their spouse passes away. For seniors whose partner has passed, the average Social Security benefit is expected to increase by $38 monthly ($456 annually) to $1,386 after the 2.8% COLA. (The Motley Fool)

Although it appears that average benefits seem to be rising by a decent amount in 2019, it’s important to remember, these are ONLY averages. Your unique case may be totally different.

A good example is those who were protected by the 2016 and 2017 hold harmless provision, designed to keep Medicare costs down for recipients who have their Part B premiums deducted from their monthly Social Security checks. This provision protects against rapid increases in Medicare premiums, by making sure the Part B premium percentage never rises at a faster rate than Social Security’s COLA. This keeps benefits from falling year after year for about 70% of Part B enrollees.

Although Medicare Part B premiums remained the same in 2017 and 2018, this 70% of recipients still had added Part B costs in 2018, being forced to play catch-up for previous years. In other words, some or all of their 2% COLA in 2018 went toward their Medicare Part B premiums.

The other 30% of beneficiaries were: new recipients, those who have chosen to be directly billed for Medicare, and those who are holding off on claiming Social Security until a later age. They didn’t see any added Part B costs for 2018.

Your claiming age can also have a huge impact on your monthly payout. “…your payout grows by 8% for each year you hold off taking it, beginning at age 62 and ending at age 70.” But, waiting isn’t always the best option. Other factors that “will certainly play a role in your claiming decision” are your health, marital status, and financial well-being.

“Long story short, Social Security’s 2.8% COLA is going to be a positive for more beneficiaries next year than the 2% COLA was in 2018. But the true impact will vary based on the unique situations of each beneficiary.”

The Law Offices of David L. Hood: Representing Social Security Disability Applicants in South Carolina

At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we fight for the rights of the disabled. If you are considering a Social Security disability application or appeal, schedule a free consultation with us today at no risk to you. We handle all SSD cases on a contingent fee basis, which means you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we help you receive benefits.* You can easily contact us by filling out our quick and easy online contact form or by calling (843) 491-6025.

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses

Other online resources used for this article:

The Motley Fool, https://www.fool.com/retirement/2018/06/03/hold-harmless-has-come-back-to-haunt-many-social-s.aspx

The Motley Fool, https://www.fool.com/retirement/2017/10/21/social-securitys-2018-raise-may-not-reach-up-to-70.aspx

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Social Security Disability Lawyer

Here’s What to Do When Your Social Security Disability Claim Is Denied

If you’ve been denied after filing a claim for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you’re far from alone. In fact, most SSD claimants receive a notice of denial after filing a claim. Statistically speaking, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies initial SSD claims at a rate of 65%, and reconsiderations (the initial stage of appeals) have an even higher denial rate of 85%.
After you find out your claim has been denied, you may be feeling frustrated, stressed, and anxious — but one thing you shouldn’t feel is hopeless. Even if the statistics regarding SSD claim denials seem discouraging, it’s important to remember that you’re not a statistic. Your case is unique, and just because some appeals are denied at an 85% rate doesn’t mean that your particular case has an 85% chance of being denied.

However, if you want your Social Security Disability appeal to have the best chance of success, it’s important to understand the next steps you need to take and what you can do differently this time around.

Understanding Your Social Security Disability Denial Notice

The denial notice you received from the SSA should contain a summary of your medical condition and impediments as well as the medical and non-medical records the SSA considered in rendering its decisions. The denial notice should also contain an explanation for your denial.

Some of the most common reasons that the SSA uses to deny Social Security Disability claims include:

  • You don’t meet the basic non-medical requirements (also called a technical denial).
  • Your medical condition won’t last long enough or isn’t severe enough.
  • You failed to follow the treatment plan your doctor prescribed.
  • You refused to cooperate with the SSA, including providing your medical history and attending any exams that they requested you attend.
  • The SSA can’t find you or get in touch with you.
  • Your disability is related to substance abuse issues.
  • There’s not enough medical evidence to support your claim.

Your denial notice may also include a “technical rationale,” which is a detailed explanation of the factors that caused the SSA to deny your claim. If the denial notice you received doesn’t include a rationale, make sure to request your file from the Social Security Administration so you can find out this information. Understanding why your claim was initially denied is crucial if you want your appeal to succeed.

Why You Should Appeal Your SSD Denial

Most SSD claimants who receive a denial notice don’t pursue their claim any further. Some people simply give up on the process, but many others don’t act quickly enough after receiving a notice of denial. Once you’ve received a notice of denial, you only have 60 days (plus five for mailing) to file an appeal before you’ll lose your right to appeal. If this happens, you’ll have to start over from scratch with a new Social Security Disability application if you want to receive any benefits.

RELATED: 5 Reasons to Hire a Lawyer for Your SSD Claim

Because filing an appeal sounds like a lot of work, some people simply start over and try to file a brand-new claim; however, this wastes additional time and almost always ends with a claim being denied for the same reasons as the first attempt. The appeals process, on the other hand, typically offers your best chance of successfully proving your claim and being awarded benefits.

If you’ve received a notice of denial, it’s critical to request an appeal immediately and give yourself plenty of time rather than waiting until the end of the 60-day window. And if you want your appeal to have the best chance, you should strongly consider working with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer who can guide you through the appeals process and make sure your claim has a fighting chance.

Do You Need a Social Security Disability Attorney?

While it’s possible to successfully appeal an SSD denial without help from an attorney, statistics show that a disability claimant who is represented by an attorney at the hearing level is twice as likely to be approved compared to a claimant who represents themselves.

Why do your odds improve so much when you work with an attorney? The fact is that working with the Social Security Administration’s many rules and procedures can be confusing, and most people have no idea how to navigate the process and prepare for a hearing. An experienced attorney, on the other hand, should understand every aspect of the process and be able to draw on past experiences they have had with the system. They should also have a good idea of what the judge in your case is looking for and what questions they need to ask medical experts to make sure that crucial information comes to light.

Even people who successfully appeal an SSD claim without help from an attorney may not obtain the results they could have had if they had worked with an SSD lawyer. For example, an experienced attorney can track down important medical records and test results and work with physicians to obtain and organize detailed statements about your medical conditions. They may also be able to use their knowledge of Social Security Disability law to obtain a more favorable “onset date” (the date your benefits should have begun) in your case, which could increase the overall amount of back pay you receive.

Disability lawyers also work on a contingent-fee basis, which means there’s little risk to you — if you don’t win your appeal, your lawyer doesn’t get paid. While your lawyer will receive a percentage of your back pay if your claim succeeds and the SSA approves your benefits, the law limits their fees to 25% of the past-due benefits you receive, up to a maximum of $6,000.

There’s certainly no requirement that says you must work with an attorney for your Social Security Disability appeal, and working with an attorney doesn’t guarantee a successful outcome.

However, when you consider the risk versus the potential reward, working with an experienced SSD attorney is a statistically smart decision that can pay great dividends and save you a lot of stress and frustration throughout the Social Security Disability filing and appeals process.

The Law Offices of David L. Hood: Representing Social Security Disability Applicants in Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Murrells Inlet, and Throughout Georgetown and Horry Counties

If you’ve received a notice of denial for your Social Security Disability claim, you may be feeling frustrated, but don’t count yourself out. While the process of appealing an SSD claim denial isn’t a simple one, our team at The Law Offices of David L. Hood is here to help. With years of experience representing clients throughout the SSD filing and appeals process, we’ll fight to make sure that your claim receives full and fair consideration and work to ensure that all the appropriate evidence comes to light throughout the process.

To speak with Attorney David L. Hood at no risk to you, call the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or fill out the online contact form on our homepage and we’ll get in touch shortly to schedule your free initial consultation.

References

U.S. Social Security Administration. (2016, October). Annual statistical report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program 2015. Washington, DC: Social Security Administration Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics (SSA Publication No. 13-11826). Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2015/di_asr15.pdf

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.