Have Questions About the Disability Claims Process for Social Security or Veterans? Check Out Our FAQs

Dealing with the disability application or appeals process always comes with plenty of questions. Whether your questions are about Social Security or VA Disability, here are some of the questions we hear the most at our Omaha law firm.

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  • How does the VA rate depression and mental illness?

    Veterans who return from duty with a service-connected illness or condition may suffer from more than just a physical injury. They may also suffer from depression as a secondary condition.

    Many veterans don’t realize they can apply for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for a secondary condition, also called a secondary disability. This secondary condition occurs as a result of another service-connected medical condition.

    To qualify for VA benefits for depression as a secondary condition, you must prove that it’s connected to your time in service. VA Ratings for depression vary widely based on how severe your symptoms are and the extent to which they interfere with your daily routine. If you want to apply for disability for depression, it’s best to hire an experienced VA disability attorney to help determine if you qualify for benefits.

    Rating Mental Illness and Depression

    vet_with_depressionPeople diagnosed with depression may share some similar symptoms, but everyone experiences this condition differently.

    Consequently, the VA designated a formula that measures the level of mental disability using the following percentage ratings:

     

    • 0: A zero percent rating means a veteran’s mental condition was diagnosed by a medical professional, but his symptoms don’t interfere with his social or occupational functioning. Additionally, the veteran doesn’t take medication for this condition on a consistent basis. This rating is non-compensable. 
    • 10: For this rating, the veteran shows impairment from mild to inconsistent with symptoms that limit or decrease his work performance during times of stress. Additionally, the symptoms can be controlled with consistent medication.
    • 30: A veteran who receives this percentage rating shows social and occupational impairment because he experiences anxiety, panic attacks at least once every week, sleep problems, memory loss, and depression.
    • 50: For this rating, a veteran shows occupational and social impairment with “reduced reliability and productivity,” with behavior such as impaired judgment, panic attacks more than once a week, and problems with work and social relationships.
    • 70: A veteran with 70 percent secondary disability shows occupational and social impairment with problems with work, family relationships, and judgment due to ongoing panic attacks, depression that affects independent functioning, and the inability to handle relationships.
    • 100: For this rating, a veteran shows total and complete social and occupational impairment due to hallucinations, ongoing danger of self-harm, and disorientation of time and place.

    Contact Cuddigan Law

    If you need help getting VA disability for depression, contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law (402) 933 5405. We will examine your specific case, develop the best strategy, and work with you to submit your claim or file an appeal if it’s been denied.

     

  • What benefits are available with TDIU?

    If you’re a veteran who returned from military duty with a service-connected disability, you may have applied for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Your compensation was determined by the VA’s rating schedule, and if you met the listed requirements for that illness, you received a rating of between 10–100 percent.

    However, some veterans suffer disabilities so severe, they're unable to work. These can include:

    • Mental conditions such as depression or PTSD
    • Physical conditions such as diabetes, traumatic brain injuries, back problems, and heart disease
    • Conditions considered “secondary” to your service-connected medical problem

    unemploymentIf a veteran has 100 percent and can’t sustain gainful employment, he or she may be eligible for a special type of disability known as Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) or IU.

    If you think you’re eligible for TDIU benefits, you need hire an experienced VA disability attorney to help with your claim. Initially, most TDIU claims are denied by the VA and must often go through the appeals process before being approved.

    The Benefits of TDIU

    A VA TDIU rating can affect a veteran’s benefits in a positive way. When the VA approves a claim for TDIU, the rating for the veteran’s service-connected disability is automatically paid at 100 percent. Thus, the payment happens despite the combined rating for each of the veteran’s individual disabilities.

    For example, if a veteran suffers from depression, heart disease, and back pain, and his combined rating is 60 percent, he will be paid at 100 percent if awarded a TDIU rating. This increase significantly boosts the veteran’s monthly benefit, and it can have a major impact on veterans who find it challenging to find or maintain a job because of their service-connected conditions.

    If you receive TDIU benefits you may be eligible for other benefits.You may eligible for VA Special Monthly Compensations and other benefits. And if you apply in the appropriate timeframe, these benefits might be awarded retroactively to the date you could no longer work.

    Call Cuddigan Law

    If you’re a veteran who is unable to work due to a service-connected disability, you may qualify for TDIU. Contact the VA disability attorneys at Cuddigan Law. We’ll examine your specific case, develop the best strategy, and work with you to submit your claim or file an appeal if it’s been denied. We’ll help you understand the process and work with you on your VA application to increase your chances of getting an approved claim.

     

  • What does it take to qualify for total disability VA benefits?

    When a veteran suffers a service-connected disability, it may be severe enough that he can no longer perform the type of work he or she did in the past, or even work at all. When this happens, a veteran may qualify for a 100 percent disability rating known as Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU).

    The primary factor when determining the eligibility of a TDIU claim is whether or not a veteran is unable to engage in “substantially gainful employment” due to a service-connected condition. This term means a person can hold a job that meets the annual poverty level amount designated by the federal government.

    If you're not able to work because of an impairment suffered during military service, an experienced VA disability attorney can help determine if you qualify for this benefit.

    Meeting the Requirements for TDIU

    To qualify for TDIU benefits, a veteran must meet the following criteria:

    • He or she has a service-connected condition or disability with a scheduler rating of 60 percent or more
    • He or she has two or more service-connected conditions or disabilities, and at least one of them is rated at 40 percent or more, and the combined rating is 70 percent or more
    • In both cases, the service-connected conditions must make the veteran unemployable

    In order for someone to prove unemployability by the TDIU requirements, an individual must provide medical evidence which verifies he or she can’t work. Often, a doctor’s opinion letter is included with the veteran’s application that outlines and explains the veteran’s inability to work.

    Additionally, employment history records are included to show a veteran is now unable to perform past jobs and that shows evidence of unemployment due to his or her condition.

    You Can Still Have a Job and Get TDIU Benefits

    You won’t be disqualified from getting a TDIU award if you have a paying job. However, that job must meet the following requirements:

    • It pays less than the designated poverty level amount
    • It's “protected” from the typical requirements another employee might be required to perform for that position 
    • It's a task or responsibility a friend or family member has hired you to do.

    Contact Cuddigan Law

    We understand that every veteran’s claim is different. The attorneys at Cuddigan Law will examine your specific case, develop the best strategy, and work with you to submit your claim or file an appeal if it’s been denied.

    Contact Cuddigan Law to get help with your VA application to increase your chances of getting an approved claim.

     

  • Cirrhosis: Your Questions Answered

    Cirrhosis is classified as a liver disease. Patients with liver disease rarely exhibit symptoms; thus, this illness is often referred to as a “silent” condition. After someone suffers long-term damage to this critical organ, the liver’s healthy tissue is replaced by scar tissue, and the liver can no longer perform its important functions such as fighting infections, filtering toxins, assisting in the body’s digestion of significant nutrients, and blood clotting.

    If you’re unable to work due to cirrhosis, you may be eligible for disability from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Listed in section 5.05 of the SSA’s Blue Book of Impairments, chronic liver disease can be disabling, but it may be difficult to obtain benefits for this disease. An experienced Social Security (SS) attorney can help ensure you meet the criteria and submit a successful claim.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Cirrhosisdoc_and_patient

    When you’re diagnosed with a serious disease like cirrhosis, you need information about how this condition will affect your life and how to move forward.

    Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about it.

    How is cirrhosis diagnosed?

    Doctors may diagnose cirrhosis by evaluating any symptoms you may have, ordering blood tests, evaluating your medical history, and giving you a physical exam. However, the only way to definitively diagnose this condition is by having a liver biopsy. A doctor performs this biopsy by removing a liver tissue sample and analyzing it under a microscope. This test is the only one that confirms a patient has cirrhosis.

    How does alcohol affect the liver?

    Some people believe the type of alcohol consumed is the most critical factor in developing liver disease. However, the biggest risk factor is the amount you drink and the length of time you’ve been drinking. In fact, any amount of consumed alcohol can damage the liver. According to The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, moderate drinking means one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.

    Can liver damage be reversed?

    The liver is the only organ in the body that can regenerate. It can replace damaged tissue with new cells. Even if the patient experiences extreme liver damage and up to 50–60 percent of the cells are killed within a three or four day period, the liver can still repair itself completely if there aren't additional complications.

    But regeneration is impeded or prevented if scar tissue continues to develop. This occurs if the agent that damages the liver such as a drug, a virus, or alcohol continues to attack it. Cirrhosis is the severe scarring of the liver and is usually part of late stage liver disease. Once the patient experiences scar tissue, it’s difficult to reverse the process.

    We Can Help

    If you’ve been diagnosed with cirrhosis, you may qualify for SS disability benefits, but it’s important to work with an experienced SS attorney who can help determine if you meet a listing in the Blue Book. Contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law who can assist you with the process and work with you on your application to increase your chances of getting an approved claim.

     

  • What types of treatment can I expect for my cirrhosis symptoms?

    cirrhosisCirrhosis is categorized as chronic liver disease. This condition develops when the liver has sustained long-term damage, is replaced by scar tissue, and no longer functions the way it’s supposed to. Because the liver is a critical organ that helps fight infections, filter toxins from the blood, digest certain nutrients, and store energy, damage to this organ can be quite serious, sometimes leading to liver cancer.

    Liver disease and cirrhosis are the 7th leading cause of death in American adults between the ages of 25 and 64. 
     

    If your cirrhosis interferes with your ability to work, you may be eligible for disability from the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, because it’s not easy to obtain benefits for this condition, it’s important to hire an experienced Social Security (SS) attorney to ease you through the application process and help ensure a successful claim.

    Symptoms of Liver Cirrhosis

    In the early stages of cirrhosis, many people have no symptoms of the disease. Symptoms are usually caused by the liver’s failure to perform its normal functions and/or scarring that distorts the liver’s shape and size. Patients suffering from cirrhosis often experience the following symptoms:

    • Fatigue and exhaustion
    • Overall weakness
    • Weight loss due to loss of appetite
    • Nausea
    • Loss of sex drive

    These symptoms may not occur until a patient has complications of the condition. These complications include:

    • Fluid retention that causes weight gain
    • Edema—swelling in the legs and angles due to fluid retention
    • Problems breathing due to fluid retention
    • Abdominal pain caused by gallstones or the enlargement of the liver
    • Abdominal bloating or swelling caused by fluid retention
    • Fever, vomiting, and diarrhea
    • Jaundice
    • Easy bruising and bleeding from the nose or gums caused by problems with blood clotting

    Treatment for Cirrhosis

    Because cirrhosis is a disease that can’t be cured, treatment focuses on managing symptoms, dealing with complications, and ensuring the condition doesn’t get worse. Treatment for these things includes:

    • Making lifestyle changes. Avoid alcohol, lose weight, exercise, and ensure good hygiene to reduce infections.
    • Making dietary changes. Because patients with cirrhosis can become malnourished, it’s important that they eat a balanced diet filled with critical nutrients. Additionally, it’s essential to reduce salt intake to help decrease fluid build-up.
    • Taking medications. Depending on the type of damage your liver has sustained, you may need certain prescription medications to help with infections and other complications. Additionally, your doctor may recommend that you take a diuretic to decrease the fluid in your system.

    Cuddigan Law Can Help

    If you’ve been diagnosed with cirrhosis, you may qualify for SS disability benefits. Hiring an experienced SS attorney can help determine if you meet a listing in the SSA Blue Book, or your condition could be evaluated under the agency's residual functional capacity. Contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law who can help you understand the process and work with you on the application to increase your chances of getting an approved claim.

     

  • Pancreatitis: Answering Your Questions

    Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas—the flat, long gland located between the stomach and the duodenum, which is the first section of the small intestine. The body needs the pancreas to digest carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and does so by sending digestive enzymes into the small intestine. The pancreas also releases insulin and glucagon into the blood to help control blood sugar levels.

    In patients experiencing pancreatitis, their digestive enzymes have been activated too soon and start to attack the pancreas.

    pancreasIf you suffer from chronic pancreatitis, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Because obtaining disability benefits can be challenging, it’s helpful to hire an experienced Social Security (SS) disability attorney to help you file your claim.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Frequently asked questions about pancreatitis include why it happens, if there are dietary restrictions, and if there are further
    complications as a result of the disease.

    If you’ve been diagnosed with pancreatitis, here's what you should know.

    Why does someone develop chronic pancreatitis?

    The progressive inflammatory process in the pancreas can cause chronic pancreatitis. This type of pancreatitis will cause scar tissue, calcifications or stones due to calcium deposits, and a dilated pancreatic duct.

    When patients experience frequent bouts of pancreatitis, drink alcohol, and/or have high calcium levels in the blood, they can develop chronic pancreatitis. It’s also a hereditary condition and one that’s common if there are high fat levels in the blood. People with chronic pancreatitis are more likely to develop diabetes.

    What type of diet should I follow if I have pancreatitis?

    If you’ve experienced acute or chronic pancreatitis, your pancreas needs time to rest and get healthy again. Immediately, you should stop drinking alcohol and eat a diet low in fat. Staying hydrated is also important. Certain foods can help protect your digestive organs and provide a better diet for those suffering from pancreatitis.

    These include:

    • Blueberries, whole grains, cherries, and spinach
    • Lean meats and clear soups—foods easier for your pancreas to process
    • Fruits instead of sugary sweets, because patients with pancreatitis are at a high risk to develop diabetes
    • Cherry tomatoes, hummus, and cucumbers
    • Wild Alaskan salmon, sardines

    Foods to limit or avoid:

    • Fried foods
    • Chips and fries
    • Margarine, butter, and mayonnaise
    • Drinks with added sugar
    • Red meat and organ meat

    Can pancreatitis be fatal?

    Yes. Pancreatitis can create many health complications that may affect other organs. If these complications aren’t treated, they can be fatal. These complications include:

    • Kidney failure
    • Diabetes
    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Pseudocyst
    • Internal infections
    • Malnutrition

    We Can Help

    If you’ve been diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, you may qualify for SS disability benefits. Hiring an experienced SS attorney can help determine if you meet a listing in the SSA's Blue Book of Impairments.

    Contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law who can help you understand the process and work with you on your application to increase your chances of getting an approved claim.

     

  • What type of treatment can I expect for my HD symptoms?

    Patients who suffer from Huntington disease, also known as Huntington chorea and Huntington’s disease, experience a variety of symptoms that can initially be unsettling but manageable. Then eventually, they interfere with daily life and the ability to work. This inherited disease causes the progressive degeneration of the brain’s nerve cells due to a gene mutation.

    When you’ve been diagnosed with HD, it’s possible you’ll qualify for disability from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Because the SSA lists HD as a neurological disorder in section 11.17 of its Blue Book, submitting a winning claim may be easier for this disease than for others. However, because filing for disability can be complicated and sometimes frustrating, it’s important to hire an experienced Social Security (SS) disability attorney to help you with your claim.

    consult_with_doctorHD Symptoms

    The symptoms of HD typically come on in stages. At each stage, patients tend to lose physical and cognitive skills they once had.

    Here's a brief overview of the symptoms HD patients may experience:


    Early-Stage Symptoms

    When people begin to experience early signs of HD, their symptoms may include some of the following:

    • Fidgeting, restlessness, and minor twitching in the toes and fingers
    • Occasional clumsiness
    • Minor changes in handwriting
    • Small difficulties in managing daily activities such as driving

    Physical signs of HD may not be the only symptoms. Ambiguous and indistinct emotional and intellectual changes may occur as well, including:

    • Reduced ability to handle new situations or stay organized
    • Small periods of depression, irritability, or indifference
    • Moments of impulsiveness
    • Short-term loss of memory

    It’s important to note that just because a person feels depressed or can’t remember a name or number doesn’t mean he has HD. These symptoms can happen to anyone for any reason, and it doesn’t mean that the person has the mutated HD gene. 

    Middle-Stage Symptoms

    When HD patients move into the middle stage of their condition, they might lose the ability to work and drive entirely. It may become difficult, if not impossible, to manage a daily routine and perform household chores. Additionally, they may experience:

    • Challenges when swallowing and eating
    • Slurred speech
    • Staggered walking
    • More severe motor symptoms

    At this point, patients are often still able to dress and care for themselves with some assistance. With the help of physical therapists, patients are still able to control body movements, and speech pathologists can help them with their speech and swallowing issues. Patients may also see an occupational therapist to help handle thought changes.

    Late-Stage Symptoms

    When patients reach the later stage of HD, they typically need assistance in all areas of their life. Because they're usually bedridden and unable to speak, they often need to be in a care facility because the progressiveness of the disease makes it difficult for family members to care for them.

    Symptoms can include:

    • Choking, as it becomes difficult for patients to swallow
    • Inability to eat, which requires that many patients have a feeding tube
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Auditory and visual hallucinations in 3–11 percent of HD patients

    Treatment for HD

    Because HD is an incurable condition, medication and treatment focus on reducing the symptoms of the disease. Here's a brief look at the types of treatment for HD:

    • Movement disorders. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2008, tetrabenazine (xenazine) is used to reduce the jerky body movements—also known as chorea—associated with HD. However, this drug can trigger depression or make it worse. Other side effects include nausea and drowsiness. Other antipsychotic drugs, such as chlorpromazine and haloperidol, can also suppress the choreic movements and may be helpful in treating and managing chorea. However, they may increase muscle contractions and rigidity. Additionally, amantadine and clonazepam can help suppress chorea; however, if amantadine is used in high doses, it can cause skin discoloration and leg swelling.
    • Psychiatric disorders. Antidepressants such as citalopram, fluoxetine, and sertraline may be helpful for HD patients experiencing depression. For individuals who experience mood disorders or psychosis or have violent outbursts, antipsychotic drugs may be used such as quetiapine and risperidone. And some patients may be given mood stabilizers.
    • Speech therapy. Because HD interferes with muscle control of the throat and mouth, it’s often difficult for patients to speak, eat, and swallow. A speech therapist can help patients speak more clearly or provide communication devices to help with conversation.
    • Physical therapy. Because balance and coordination can be challenging for HD patients, a physical therapist can show them exercises to improve their strength and flexibility, help them stay mobile as long as they can, and decrease the risk of falling. If a patient needs a wheelchair or other assistive device, a physical therapist can provide instruction for how to use it.
    • Occupational therapy. An occupational therapist can provide caregivers with information on appropriate assistive devices and strategies for patient care such as home handrails and helpful devices for eating and drinking.

    Call Cuddigan Law

    If you’ve been diagnosed with HD, you may qualify for SS disability benefits. However, an experienced SS attorney can help determine if you meet the SSA Blue Book Listing for this condition, or qualify for the Compassionate Allowance Program.

    Contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law who can help you understand the process and work with you on your application to increase your chances of getting an approved claim. We also handle disability claims for those whose applications have been denied and need help with the appeals process.  

     

  • Huntington Disease: Your Questions Answered

    A fatal genetic disorder, Huntington disease (HD), also called Huntington chorea and Huntington’s disease, causes the nerve cells in the brain to progressively break down and die. HD affects the caudate, the putamen, and ultimately, the cerebral cortex.

    As the brain cells in these areas die, patients suffering from HD are less able to control their emotions and movements, and they have more difficulty making decisions and remembering recent events.

    If you’ve been diagnosed with HD, obtaining disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) may be easier than for other conditions. The SSA categories HD as a neurological disorder in section 11.17 in its Listing of Impairments, and includes HD in its Compassionate Allowance Program that expedites terminal illnesses. However Social Secuirty often fails to recognize the severity of the symptoms and initially denies individuals 

    However, it’s still helpful to hire an experienced Social Security (SS) disability attorney to help you file your claim or appeal.all_about_huntington

    Frequently Asked Questions

    If you’ve been diagnosed with HD, it’s likely that you have many questions about how this condition will affect your life and what you can do to manage it. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about HD.

    What kind of symptoms will I have if I’m diagnosed with HD?

    Each person with the disease experiences symptoms differently. However, doctors find the earlier the symptoms appear in a patient, the more quickly the disease will progress. In the early phase of HD, friends and family members may first see mood swings, irritability, apathy, depression, or anger in an individual suffering from the condition. It’s possible these symptoms will continue, but some patients see them decrease with progression of the disease. Additionally, a patient may experience trouble driving, answering questions, making decisions, or learning something new.

    For some people, the disease begins with uncontrolled movements in the face, fingers, trunk, or feet, which is a sign of chorea, and can increase if the patient feels anxiety. Also, HD can start by a patient experiencing problems with balance and may display a level of clumsiness. With the progression of the disease, a patient may have trouble concentrating on intellectual tasks; may stumble or act uncoordinated; may have difficulty walking; and may be more likely to fall. Eventually, HD can cause slurred speech and the decline of important body functions such as speaking, eating, and swallowing.

    Is there a test to determine if I have HD?

    In the past, genetic testing was used to diagnose HD. However, in 1993, a blood test was developed to determine if people at-risk for the disease or who have HD-like symptoms have the gene that causes HD. Because there is no treatment that can prevent the development of HD if the gene is present, many of those at risk for the disease choose not to have the blood test.

    Other at-risk patients who want to plan ahead for their careers and families make the choice to be tested. Many doctors advise that a patient who considers taking the blood test undergo genetic counseling to ensure he understands the possible results and to discuss if taking the test is the right move.

    What kind of treatment is available for HD?

    While there is no cure for HD or a way to reverse the disease, there are a variety of medications that doctors use to help control the movement problems patients experience, as well as their emotional issues.

    In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first U.S. drug to treat HD—tetrabenazine. Additionally, haloperidol—an antipsychotic drug—and other drugs such as clonazepam may be prescribed to help decrease choreic movements, hallucinations, and violent outbursts.

    If a patient experiences depression, doctors may prescribe nortriptyline, fluoxetine, or sertraline. And tranquilizers can be used to help manage anxiety. But it’s important to note that many of these drugs used to treat HD symptoms have side effects that make it difficult to determine if a symptom is being caused by the disease or is a result of the medication.

    We Can Help

    If you have HD, it’s possible that you qualify for disability benefits from the SSA. If you were previously denied benefits for this disease, it’s important that you file an appeal.

    Hiring an experienced SS attorney who can help you understand the process and work with you on your application is the best way to increase your chances of getting an approved claim. Contact Cuddigan Law at (402) 933-5405 to help you get the disability support you need and deserve to address this debilitating disease. 

     

  • What type of symptoms and treatment can I expect after being diagnosed with pancreatitis?

    Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas—a long, flat gland located deep in the abdomen. Part of the pancreas is wedged between the stomach and spine, and the other part is near the curve of the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine.

    The pancreas is an important organ in the body and part of the digestive system that helps it to digest carbohydrates, fats, and proteins by secreting digestive enzymes into the small intestine. It also releases insulin and glucagon into the body’s bloodstream to help control blood sugar levels.

    When a patient suffers from pancreatitis, the pancreas is inflamed because the digestive enzymes are activated too soon and start to attack the organ. If the pancreatitis is severe, there can be bleeding, serious tissue damage, infection, and fluid buildup. Serious cases can result in damage to other important organs such as the kidneys, lungs, and heart.

    pancreatitisAccording to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, over 500,000 people were hospitalized due to pancreatitis in 2010, and nearly 3,500 people died. The most common causes of pancreatitis are gallstones and extreme alcohol use. Sometimes, however, the cause of this condition can’t be determined.

    If you suffer from chronic pancreatitis, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

    However, it’s not easy to prove your condition makes it impossible for you to work, or has disabled you completely. Because obtaining disability benefits can be challenging, it’s helpful to hire an experienced Social Security (SS) disability attorney to help you file your claim.

    Symptoms of Pancreatitis

    There are two types of pancreatitis—acute and chronic. The symptoms can be different for each type. Here's a brief look at the symptoms for both acute and chronic pancreatitis:

    Acute Pancreatitis

    When patients suffer acute pancreatitis, their pancreas is inflamed, and there can be tissue damage, swelling, and also:

    • Severe upper abdominal pain. This pain radiates into the back, and can occur suddenly, or patients may experience a gradual pain that gets worse over time. Typically, the pain continues for several days, and the pain may increase after the patient eats, especially if he eats foods high in fat, or if he lies flat on his back.
    • Fever and nausea. Patients with acute pancreatitis may experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, and nausea. And while some patients may vomit, it won't relieve the pain they feel.
    • Swollen abdomen. Many patients experience a swollen abdomen that is tender when touched.
    • Rapid pulse. This may be caused by the patient’s fever, dehydration because the patient isn’t able to eat, or internal bleeding.

    Chronic Pancreatitis

    Chronic pancreatitis is a long-term condition that interferes with your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and digest food. This condition doesn’t improve with time. The damage chronic pancreatitis causes is most often permanent, and the pancreas stops functioning. However, the symptoms and pain can usually be managed with the right kind of treatment.

    Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis include:

    • Upper abdomen pain
    • Weight loss for no apparent reason
    • Extreme exhaustion and thirst
    • Diarrhea
    • Fatty, loose stools
    • Shortness of breath

    As chronic pancreatitis progresses, the patient may experience more extreme symptoms, including:

    • Jaundice, which can present as yellowish eye discoloration
    • Blockage in the intestine
    • Internal bleeding
    • Pancreatic fluids inside the abdomen

    Patients with chronic pancreatitis may suffer painful episodes that go on for hours or days, and some find that any type of liquid or food increases the pain. It’s possible for the pain to be ongoing.

    Treatment for Pancreatitis

    When you’re admitted to the hospital for pancreatitis, doctors will have you fast for a few days to allow your pancreas some time to recover. After the swelling and inflammation have decreased, you may be allowed to eat bland food and clear liquids before getting back to a regular diet.

    However, if the pain continues when you eat, a physician may recommend a feeding tube to allow your body to get the nutrients it needs until you feel better.

    Other treatment includes:

    • Intravenous fluids. It’s possible to become dehydrated when you have pancreatitis. So, your doctor will likely give you additional fluids intravenously.
    • Medication for pain. Because pancreatitis is an extremely painful condition, your doctor will provide medication until your pain is under control.

    After doctors have your pancreatitis controlled, they’ll treat the cause of your condition, which can include procedures to remove obstructions in the bile duct, pancreas surgery, gallbladder surgery, or treatment for alcohol dependence.

    Contact Cuddigan Law

    If you’ve been diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, you may qualify for SS disability benefits, and it’s important to hire an experienced SS attorney to help determine if your condition meets a listing in the SSA Blue Book or if your condition prevents you from performing your past work or any other work.

    Contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law who can help you understand the process and work with you on your application to increase your chances of getting an approved claim. 

     

  • Ataxia: Your Questions Answered

    Ataxia is not a specific disease or diagnosis; rather, it’s a sign of an underlying serious medical issue. The primary symptom of patients who suffer ataxia is a lack of muscle coordination, and this can impact any type of mobility that requires your muscles to cooperate when attempting to accomplish a function.

    If your ataxia has left you unable perform daily tasks and/or work, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Certain types of ataxia qualify and are listed in the SSA Blue Book listing of impairments, section 11.17. However, it’s still helpful to hire an experienced Social Security (SS) disability attorney to assist you with your claim.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Ataxia

    ataxia_faqPatients diagnosed with this ataxia often have many questions about how the condition will affect their lives and how to move forward. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this condition.

    What’s the difference between hereditary ataxias and acquired ataxias?

    Hereditary ataxias occur because of a gene mutation passed along through families. Acquired ataxias can have a variety of possible causes, including:

    • Conditions that disrupt the blood supply to the brain, such as a stroke or hemorrhage
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Bacterial brain infection, including encephalitis or meningitis
    • Viral infections that spread to the brain, including measles or chickenpox—although this is rare
    • Cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis
    • Long-term misuse of alcohol

    Are there dietary changes I can make to improve my ataxia?

    There are dietary guidelines developed to help reduce the severity of ataxia symptoms; increase the patient’s feeling of control and management of the condition; and reduce reliance on medications that can be difficult to tolerate.

    However, it’s important to discuss any changes you make to your diet with your neurologist and nutritionist. These guidelines aren't a cure for ataxia and don't resolve individual symptoms, nor have they been proven to help all types of ataxia. But sound nutrition can promote a healthier lifestyle and a healthy body weight, which can help lower the stress on the joints and improve mobility. Good nutrition can also increase a patient’s energy and reduce fatigue, as well as increase his spirit and mood.

    Here's a brief look at some diet tips that might be helpful for ataxia patients:

    • Patients who suffer from ataxia often crave sugar and carbohydrates to help them with depression and exhaustion. But they may find it beneficial to avoid foods with sugar and simple carbohydrates all together. Foods containing these ingredients, including cookies, cakes, fruit juices, and pastries, can actually cause fatigue and depression instead of relieve them. Eating foods with protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates and avoiding diet sodas and drinks with sugar and artificial sweeteners is recommended.
    • Foods with extra fiber can be beneficial for patients who suffer from ataxia.
    • Avoiding certain foods may help ataxia patients with dizziness and an improved sense of balance. While each patient is different and may not experience a positive result, here are some foods that, if avoided, might reduce patient dizziness and balance:
      • Foods containing aspartame
      • Chocolate
      • Foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG)
      • Raw onions, although the patient might tolerate cooked onions
      • Foods with sulfites, such as figs, dates, and dried foods, including raisins
      • Foods with nitrates and nitrites, including hot dogs, ham, and sausage/bacon

    How is ataxia diagnosed?

    When you’re diagnosed with ataxia, your doctor will look for the cause of your condition. He will likely perform both a physical and neurological exam, and check your vision, hearing, balance, reflexes, and concentration. He might also request the following tests:

    • Genetic testing. If your doctor recommends genetic testing, it may help determine whether you have the mutated gene that causes certain hereditary ataxias. These genetic tests are available for some but not all of these types of ataxias.
    • Imaging. Your doctor might order an MRI or a CT scan to help learn a potential cause. For patients with ataxia, an MRI can sometimes show that the cerebellum and other parts of the brain are shrinking. This type of test can also show pressure on the cerebellum due to a benign tumor or blood clot.
    • Spinal tap. A doctor may remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid through a lumbar puncture—also known as a spinal tap. This fluid protects your spinal cord and brain, and will be sent to a lab to help with a diagnosis.

    Additionally, a doctor may look at whether there are neurological problems in your family history, if you’ve been exposed to toxins, and perform blood tests. Finding the cause is important in patients with ataxia because it may show a reversible cause of cerebellar disorder such as a deficiency in vitamin E. 

    We Can Help

    If you’ve been diagnosed with ataxia, you may qualify for SS disability benefits. Hiring an experienced SS attorney can help determine if you meet the SS Blue Book Listing for this condition or qualify on the basis of not being able to perform your past work or any other work in the national economy.

    Contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law who can help you understand the process and work with you on your application to increase your chances of getting an approved claim.