Have Questions About the Disability Claims Process for Social Security or Veterans Benefits? 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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Can I get VA disability for scleritis?
While on active duty, military personnel face dangerous situations that not only put their lives at risk but their future health as well. Although many soldiers survive combat, they may still face serious medical conditions after they return home. These service-connected conditions can include cancers caused by direct exposure to radiation or a lost limb due to an improvised explosive device (IED). Service-connected illnesses, diseases, and medical problems qualify for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); however, you must show proof that your medical condition was caused by an event or incident that took place during active duty, or it was aggravated or worsened by the event.
Sometimes the link between the event and your injury is easy to prove, but it’s possible that your disability is a secondary medical condition that occurs later. This may be the case with such conditions as hypertension, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and some eye disorders, including scleritis—a disease that can cause blindness if not treated.
The white part of the eye is called the sclera. It is a layer of tough, fibrous tissue that protects the eye and gives it its shape. Scleritis is diagnosed when the sclera is swollen and inflamed. Most often, people suffer scleritis due to an autoimmune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus; however, scleritis can also be infectious, and service personnel can contract it from co-workers with whom they share equipment or spend time. It’s also possible for scleritis to be caused by a fungus or parasite or an injury to your eye.
For example, if during service you were treated for an injury after battery acid splashed into your eye, you may be later diagnosed with conjunctival scarring and/or scleritis in that eye. Or, if you suffered a trauma to the head, it’s possible to be diagnosed with scleritis. The effects of an IED or a bomb can be delayed and cause symptoms much later—sometimes months after the incident occurs. After service, soldiers may return to their normal lives, not realizing that a head or eye injury has caused vision trauma.
There are two main types of scleritis: anterior and posterior.
- Anterior. If the anterior is affected, there is inflammation to the front of your sclera. This type of scleritis is the most common.
- Posterior. If the posterior is affected, there is inflammation to the back of your sclera. This type of scleritis is not as common but can lead to glaucoma or other severe eye problems.
Typically, scleritis comes on slowly, so a veteran won’t suddenly “get” this eye disorder. There are signs and symptoms that develop gradually, including:
- Eye ache. This is the most common symptom that can be felt in your jaw or near your brow. Eye movements often will make the pain worse, and the eyeball can be sensitive to the touch.
- Redness. The white of your eye may appear severely inflamed and red.
- Sensitivity to light. You may find that your eyes are more sensitive to light—also known as photophobia.
- Blurry vision. You may find that your vision is blurred and/or notice that you have unexplained tears.
The primary symptoms of scleritis are pain and redness in the sclera, and this redness can become a deep purple color. Often, patients feel pain radiating from the eye to other areas of the face and head, and they may lose some vision.
Obtaining VA Disability for Scleritis: What Benefits Can You Get?
VA disability for scleritits, and eye disorders in general, are rated by the VA based on the number of “incapacitating episodes” and required treatments a veteran has during a 12-month period. They use the 38 CFR § 4.79 rating schedule, as well as the following rating formula:
- 60% rating. You must have “documented incapacitating episodes requiring seven or more treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months.”
- 40% rating. You must have “documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least five but less than seven treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months.”
- 20% rating. You must have “documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least three but less than five treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months.”
- 10% rating. You must have “documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least one but less than three treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months.”
Contact Cuddigan Law for Help Getting VA Disability for Scleritis
If you suffer from a service-connected eye injury or condition, you may qualify for disability benefits. Let Cuddigan Law assist you in determining if you’re eligible. Our attorneys have been supporting veterans for years, and we will help you document your eye injury or eye disorder and work with your treating medical providers to describe the full extent of your limitations. We know exactly how much these disability benefits mean to you. If we accept your case, we will take all steps within the law to help you get them. If an eye injury you received during military service is making it impossible for you to work, contact Cuddigan Law to speak with an intake specialist for free.
What should I do to prepare for my C&P exam for eyes?
A common but less reported combat injury from both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is eye trauma. Often, eye injuries occur because of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or any type of detonating mechanism. From 2001 to 2011, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) saw over 97,500 new veteran eye injuries related to military service in their VA health system—approximately 9,000 were retinal injuries, over 4,800 were burn injuries, and over 1,200 were optic nerve injuries.
If you suffered a service-connected eye injury or have a secondary eye condition or disease that resulted from your time in the military and are seeking disability benefits from the VA, you’ll likely need to first complete a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam. This is a medical exam ordered by the VA to evaluate the severity of your eye condition and help determine a VA rating.
Why a C&P Exam Is Required?
Although many veterans who file a claim for VA disability benefits may be required to complete a C&P exam for eyes, not all will need to take one. If you and your doctor have supplied enough evidence in your medical record to prove your disability, the VA may not ask you to take this exam. However, if there is missing or incomplete information, the C&P exam for eyes will help fill in gaps to ensure that there’s enough evidence for your claim to be processed. In general, the VA might require you to have a C&P exam for one of the following reasons:
- Your medical evaluation was performed by an independent doctor.
- The VA needs to diagnose or confirm that you have a disability.
- The VA needs to establish a timeframe for the onset of your symptoms.
- The VA wants to determine the severity of your symptoms.
- The VA wants to determine if you are being honest about your disability.
What Happens at a C&P Exam for Eyes?
The C&P exam is not like a physical or exam with your regular doctor. No treatment or medication will be prescribed by the examiner, and the appointment may be much shorter. At the C&P exam, the examiner will review your medical records and ask you questions about what’s in your file, as well as:
- Ask you direct questions about your health and symptoms
- Observe your behavior, attitude, and demeanor as they relate to your disability
- Perform a partial, less extensive physical exam
How to Prepare for a C&P Eye Exam
Once you’ve been scheduled for a C&P exam, there are some important steps to take to prepare for the exam to help ensure you receive all the compensation you deserve. These steps include:
- Document your symptoms in a daily journal. You should describe all the pain you feel, the symptoms you experience, and how the injury impacts your life. For example, if your eye injury has made it difficult for you to drive or you experience blurry vision that interferes with your ability to work, you should record these in detail. Be sure to bring this information to your exam.
- Ask a spouse or a close friend to accompany you. It’s helpful to have a person who knows you well attend the exam. Because they witness the difficulty you face, they can provide clarity about your situation, add details about what you deal with because of your eye injury, and discuss the daily suffering you experience. You will likely need the examiner’s approval to allow this person to be with you during the exam.
- Bring new documents or updated medical evidence. If you have new documents, updated medical test results, or other reports you haven’t yet sent to the VA, it’s important to bring them with you. Because they likely won’t be in your claims folder, having copies of them can help your disability claim.
- Prepare for the questions you may be asked. During the exam, the objective is to ensure that the examiner understands the full extent of your eye condition. Because you want to detail all your symptoms and explain how they impact your life, consider bringing a copy of your disability benefits questionnaire (DBQ) to the exam. The DBQ can be used as a guide to help you remember details and aspects of your condition that may not immediately come to mind during the exam.
Call Our VA Disability Lawyers for Service-Connected Eye Conditions
If you suffer from a service-connected eye injury or believe yours is a secondary eye condition brought on by a service-connected disease or illness, you may qualify for disability benefits. Let our VA disability lawyers assist you in determining if you’re eligible. Our VA disability lawyers have been supporting veterans for years, and we will help you document your eye injury or eye disorder and work with your treating medical providers to describe the full extent of your limitations. We know exactly how much these disability benefits mean to you. If we accept your case, we will take all steps within the law to help you get them. If your eye injury is making it impossible for you to work, contact our VA disability law firm to speak with an intake specialist for free.
How will the VA rate my eye injury?
In the fourth quarter of 2018, the military reported nearly 3,000 eye injuries. According to a Military Medicine article cited in ProQuest, military personnel are especially vulnerable to eye injuries due to changes in combat warfare, and there has been an increase in eye injuries compared to injuries to other body parts. This increase was caused by improved battlefield weaponry and advances in technology. Many eye injuries were a result of projectile and blast fragments.
If you’re a veteran and can connect your eye injury to your military service, you may qualify for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Having an experienced VA disability benefits lawyer help with your claim will increase your chances of obtaining fair compensation.
How Will the VA Rate My Eye Injury?
The VA rates eye conditions using the VA Schedule of Ratings Disabilities under Section 4.79 and uses the following three primary measurements:
Central Visual Acuity
Central visual acuity is the eye’s ability to discern details and shapes of objects at certain distances. The VA wants to know how blurry or focused an object is when you look at it from different ranges. A doctor tests for central visual acuity by performing a basic eye chart exam and may use the terms near-sighted or far-sighted to characterize a veteran’s central visual acuity. The doctor will assign a rating based on the veteran’s corrected vision—how much better their vision is with glasses or contacts. It’s important to note that the VA rates both eyes together, so a veteran receives a combined rating even if both eyes are impaired.
Testing a patient’s visual field tells the doctor how much a veteran can see when looking at a fixed point. It tests the range of vision a veteran has without moving the eye. A normal visual field equals 500 degrees, and a disability rating will be given for vision loss if their visual field doesn’t match the required measurements.
Testing for muscle dysfunction tells the doctor how well or poorly the eye moves. Using another type of visual chart divided into four quadrants, the doctor measures for a decrease in muscle function. Even if muscle dysfunction exists in both eyes, the VA will only give one disability rating.
You May Qualify for VA Eye Disability
As a VA disability benefits lawyer at Cuddigan Law, we have been supporting veterans for years, and we can help you if you need VA disability benefits due to a service-connected eye condition. Call us today to speak to an intake specialist for free.
What Are the Causes of Multiple Sclerosis and How is it Treated?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is considered an unpredictable and debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system. The body's own immune system attacks the myelin coating that protects the nerve fibers and interrupts the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. But, what are the causes of multiple sclerosis and how is it treated? Keep reading to find out.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the severity of MS and lists it in the Neurological section of its Blue Book. But even though this disease is included in the listing of impairments, getting a disability claim approved for MS isn't always easy. That's why it's helpful to hire a Social Security Disability lawyer to step you through the claims process and advocate on your behalf.
What Are the Causes of Multiple Sclerosis?
The exact causes of multiple sclerosis are unknown. However, researchers believe there are four main factors that may influence the development of MS:
- Genetic factors. Researchers believe that several genes factor into MS. You may be at an increased risk of developing MS if you have a close relative with the disease. Additionally, if one parent has MS, there is a two to five percent chance that any children will get the disease.
- Infectious factors. Researchers are studying the possibility that bacteria and viruses cause MS, and they're looking specifically at the measles virus, human herpes virus, and the Epstein-Barr virus. Viruses can cause inflammation and demyelination—the breakdown of myelin that protects nerve fibers. Researchers think it's possible that a virus could be an underlying cause of MS.
- Environmental factors. Vitamin D is believed to play a role in protecting against MS. The farther away you live from the equator, the greater your risk of developing this disease. Because sunlight is a primary source of vitamin D for the body, researchers think there's a link between exposure to sunlight and a reduced risk of getting MS. For example, people who live in northern states are twice as likely to develop MS as those who live in Texas or Louisiana.
- Immunologic factors. When people suffer from MS, their immune system fails, and it attacks the body's central nervous system. Researchers don't know why the immune system targets and attacks the myelin coating of the nerve fibers.
Types and Symptoms of MS
MS is considered a progressive disease. The symptoms of MS worsen over time and become increasingly disabling. Ultimately, a patient will suffer the loss of many body functions even if they have few symptoms. Each person experiences the symptoms of MS differently, and while some people face ongoing functional deterioration, others live for long periods of time without serious symptoms. The following highlights some of the different types of MS:
- Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS). RRMS is considered the most common form of MS, and approximately 85 percent of people who suffer from MS are first diagnosed with it. When new symptoms occur, patients with RRMS have flare-ups, relapses, or exacerbations. Following acute attacks, patients usually have a partial or complete recovery called remissions.
- Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS). For patients suffering from SPMS, the symptoms will get worse over time whether or not they experience relapses or remissions. Most patients who are initially diagnosed with RRMS will ultimately develop SPMS.
- Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS). Only about 10 percent of people who suffer from MS will develop PPMS. It presents initially as slowly worsening symptoms and reduced neurologic function with no remissions or relapses.
- Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS). This is a rare form of MS, and only about five percent of individuals suffering from the condition have PRMS. Patients with PRMS see steadily worsening symptoms from the very beginning with acute relapses, with or without recovery.
Patients who suffer from MS cope with a variety of symptoms that can be both challenging and disabling. These symptoms, which can impact many parts of the body, include:
- Loss of hearing
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Problems swallowing and chewing food
- Problems with speech or slurred speech
- Issues with memory and concentration
- Issues with depression
- Problems with coordination and walking
- Problems with bladder and bowels
- Problems with double vision and/or loss of vision
- Problems with tremors
- Problems with cognition
Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis
The main goal in treating MS is to slow down the progression of the disease, minimize symptoms during a flare-up, and improve functionality. Drugs that help slow the advancement of the disease are called disease-modifying medications. One drug approved in 2012 for people suffering from MS was Teriflunomide (Aubagio). One study found that people with relapsing MS who took Teriflunomide showed decreased progression of the disease and had fewer relapses.
In 2013, another disease-modifying drug was approved for those suffering from MS. Designed for those with RRMS, Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera) helps stop the body's immune system from attacking itself and destroying the myelin coating on the nerve fibers. Additionally, because myelin destruction impacts the communication between the nerves, a body's ability to move is often affected. Studies found that the drug Dalfampridine (Ampyra) increased walking speed in people with MS.
Contact Cuddigan Law for MS Disability Benefits
If you've been diagnosed with MS and the SSA determines that your condition severely limits your physical and mental ability to do routine, typical activities and prevents you from holding a job, it may grant disability benefits. Cuddigan Law handles Social Security Disability claims for clients who need assistance with their applications or the appeals process if their claim was denied. Contact Cuddigan Law to speak with an intake specialist for free about your situation.
Can I Keep Working With Multiple Sclerosis?
While MS patients may continue working with multiple sclerosis for years after their diagnosis, the disease is often aggravated by stress. Both mental and physical labor can bring on physical symptoms, making it nearly impossible to tell when the benefits of working outweigh the problems caused by your job.
Cognitive Conditions Make Working With Multiple Sclerosis More Difficult
In addition to pain, immobility, and other physical symptoms, MS sufferers commonly experience mental changes caused by chronic illness, side effects of medications, frustration with their limitations, or even the condition itself, making it harder to keep working with multiple sclerosis. Patients may suffer mood changes, confusion, irritability, and forgetfulness. In addition, many people struggle with extreme fatigue and the need to rest for long periods.
If you are experiencing cognitive or emotional changes as a result of MS, you may be eligible for Social Security disability payments. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate your ability to keep working with multiple sclerosis despite your condition. This is called your residual functional capacity (RFC). Your RFC for mental side effects may include your:
- Cognitive capacity. Memory loss and lack of concentration are common in MS patients, so you should outline any limitations you have experienced in your ability to remember, understand, and carry out instructions. If you have difficulty sleeping or are so tired that you have difficulty finishing tasks, your sleep disturbances and fatigue may qualify you for benefits.
- Social capacity. Extreme mental or emotional changes may make it difficult to get along with others or conform to social conventions in the workplace. Also, anxiety about your condition can make going into your workplace unnecessarily stressful. Additionally, depression is a common symptom of MS, and it's important that this be documented in your claim.
- Learning capacity. The SSA will consider if there are any other jobs you could do before they approve you for benefits.
Call Cuddigan Law for Help Getting MS Disability Benefits
Many people are denied SSDI the first time they apply. Usually, this is because they don't provide all the necessary documentation to support their diagnosis. Let Cuddigan Law help you. We'll assist in documenting your condition, and we'll work with your treating medical providers to describe the full extent of your limitations. We know exactly how much these disability benefits mean to you. If we accept your case, we will take all steps within the law to help you get them. Learn more in our free booklet, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim. If MS is making it impossible for you to work, contact Cuddigan Law to speak with an intake specialist for free.
Answers to Some of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About MS
Whenever a person is diagnosed with a disease or disorder that will change the way they live life, they likely have many questions about the issues and challenges they'll face and how to best manage life moving forward. Here are some clarifying answers to frequently asked questions about MS.
What Are the Warning Signs of MS?
The warning signs of MS aren't always obvious, and they're different for every patient. Symptoms can be intermittent in the early stages of this disease—and a person may experience one symptom for a while and then no symptoms for months or years. However, here's a brief look at some symptoms that are the most common first signs of the disease:
- Weakness and fatigue. Approximately 80 percent of people diagnosed with MS have unexpected muscle weakness in the early stages of the disease. This weakness usually begins in the legs, and the patient may feel numbness or tingling in the limbs. They may experience severe exhaustion that goes on for a long period of time.
- Vision problems. An early sign of MS is a problem with eyesight—in fact, it's often the very first symptom of someone developing MS. This disease can cause inflammation of the optic nerve, and a person may experience blurry vision or double vision at the onset of MS. Additionally, there may be lesions in the area that controls eye movement, and a patient may have blindness in one eye.
- Memory complications. It's common for a person with MS to have cognitive problems because this disease impacts the brain. Patients may have a shorter attention span, memory issues, and trouble being organized. However, fewer than ten percent of people with an MS diagnosis suffer from cognitive issues severe enough to impact their daily routine.
- Bladder problems. A person with MS may experience frequent urination, strong urges to go to the bathroom, or incontinence.
Is There a Special Diet That Can Improve MS Symptoms?
There isn't a special diet recommended for people suffering from MS. However, certain foods and approaches to eating have been shown to help improve some of the symptoms of MS. Here's a brief look at some of the findings regarding diet and MS:
- A diet that incorporates very few vegetables but is high in sugar, salt, and fat has been linked to an increased risk of developing MS. Additionally, those who are obese have a higher risk. Thus, there may be indications that diet could play a role in developing this disease.
- While researchers haven't discovered a diet to cure MS or slow or reverse the damage of this disease, some dietary regimens have been helpful for managing symptoms. More specifically, those diets that were found to be helpful did so in reducing fatigue. Researchers have found that a nutritional plan low in fat, sugar, and processed foods but high in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits is considered a "common-sense approach" for people dealing with MS. This type of diet helps reduce fatigue, and if a patient adheres to this diet for an extended period of time, it can help improve some of the other symptoms of MS, including bowel and bladder problems. Additionally, eating within these parameters can help improve mental and emotional health.
Can Women With MS Still Have Children?
Having MS doesn't prevent a woman from becoming pregnant or having a safe, normal pregnancy. And researchers have no evidence that MS interferes with fertility. In fact, pregnancy is linked to an MS remission—especially when the mother is in the second and third trimesters. Pregnancy seems to have a slightly protective effect on a woman's MS symptoms; however, about six months after the birth of the child, there's a slightly higher risk of an MS relapse.
Will People With MS End Up in a Wheelchair?
It's not true that people who suffer from MS will rely on a wheelchair for mobility. In fact, for a great majority of MS patients, this won't be the case. Many people with this disease are able to walk without help and even engage in moderate exercise. Because there are disease-modifying drugs and treatments available, more patients stay mobile for longer periods of time. However, patients with advanced conditions who can still walk may choose to use a cane, scooter, or wheelchair to prevent falling or to conserve energy.
Cuddigan Law Can Help
If your MS makes it difficult for you to sustain gainful employment and you need disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), the attorneys at Cuddigan Law can help. We offer skilled legal advice to step you through the application process to help you get the benefits you need and deserve. If your claim is denied, we can help you file an appeal. We know exactly how much these disability benefits mean to you. If we accept your case, we will take all steps within the law to help you get them. Learn more in our free booklet, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim. If MS is making it impossible for you to work, contact Cuddigan Law to speak with an intake specialist for free.
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What do I need to qualify for MS disability benefits?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is considered a qualifying disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, a diagnosis of MS is not enough to show that you are disabled. Read on to learn what you need to qualify for MS disability benefits in Nebraska.
MS is a progressive disease, and patients with early-stage MS may have few symptoms. They are usually able to continue working for years or even decades after the diagnosis. However, the symptoms progress with time. In some patients, MS becomes completely debilitating and prevents any type of work activity.
How the SSA Evaluates MS Applicants
When evaluating an MS applicant for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the SSA will first look to see if the applicant meets the impairment criteria listing 11.09 (multiple sclerosis) in the Blue Book. An applicant who meets a listing is automatically approved for SSDI.
To qualify, you must provide evidence that you experience disorganization of motor function in two extremities that limit your ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities. However, if you don't meet the MS criteria in the Blue Book listing, the SSA will consider your age, education, and work experience and will assign you a residual functional capacity (RFC) level—a medical assessment of the type of work you can do. They will look at marked functional limitation in the following areas:
- Interacting with others
- Concentrating or maintaining pace
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information
- Adapting or managing yourself
The evidence you provide must show how these limitations interfere with your ability to work or prevent you from working at all. If the SSA determines that you can't do any of the work you've done in the past or any other type of work, you will be approved for disability benefits.
Contact Cuddigan Law for MS Disability Benefits in Nebraska
If you've been diagnosed with MS, it's still up to you to prove how this disease affects your ability to work. Many people who are unable to work are denied SSDI because they haven't provided adequate documentation about their disability. Obtaining legal representation from a skilled and experienced Social Security disability attorney is your best chance of submitting a successful claim and receiving MS disability benefits in Nebraska.
Contact Cuddigan Law to get help filing your claim. Our disability attorneys can help you document your condition, and we'll file your application in our office. If you've been denied SSDI for MS, don't give up. You have sixty days to appeal, and our attorneys can assist you. If you're seeking help with your disability claim, contact Cuddigan Law to speak with an intake specialist for free.
Is it possible to get Social Security disability benefits for migraines?
Yes, it is. However, it’s not easy. Migraine headaches are not included in the Social Security Administration (SSA) Blue Book listing of impairments, but you can get Social Security (SS) disability for migraines if you can provide documentation that your migraines are severe and frequent enough to prevent you from holding a job and are diagnosed as primary headache disorder.
Evidence Needed for Migraine Disability
The SSA wants proof that you need disability for your migraines. This proof comes in many forms, including a doctor’s medical report diagnosing the condition, lab test results, and exams that exclude other conditions that could cause the headaches.
At a minimum, the SSA needs:
- Documentation from your doctor verifying your diagnosis of primary headache disorder
- Notes from your doctor detailing the frequency and severity of your migraines
- Medical records showing you've tried treatment and still suffer disabling effects from your migraines
- A headache journal with specific details about your migraine attacks
Information to Include in Your Headache Journal
A headache journal supplements your medical records and gives the SSA information about how migraines affect your ability to function. Making notes about your symptoms, the duration of the migraine, the intensity of the pain, the medication you take, and if you made a trip to the doctor or emergency room for medical attention supports the diagnosis that your migraines are a medically determinable impairment of a primary headache disorder.
Every time you get a migraine, you should write down the following details:
- The date the migraine occurred and the duration
- What you believe triggered the migraine
- Any medications you took and how they affected you
- The severity of the pain
- Any symptoms other than a headache
- What you did during the headache
- What you were not able to do because of the migraine
- Any effects before or after the headache
- How long it took to recover from the episode
The more detail you can give about symptoms, including if you were nauseous, dizzy, or couldn’t get out of bed, the more information you give your doctor to support the diagnosis. Bring the journal with you to each appointment, and make sure the doctor enters the information into your medical records.
Cuddigan Law for Your Migraine Disability Claim
If you suffer from migraine headaches that make it difficult to work, you may want to apply for SS disability benefits. However, submitting a successful claim can be a difficult and frustrating process. Hiring a disability attorney can be the best way to help ensure a successful outcome for your claim.
The trusted attorneys at Cuddigan Law are skilled and experienced in SS disability law and have handled disability claims for over 25 years. If you need help with your application or a denied claim, contact Cuddigan Law by filling out the form on our website or by calling our Omaha or Lincoln office to speak with an intake specialist for free. For more tips, request a free copy of our booklet, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case.
When is alcoholism a VA disability?
Many veterans believe they can’t service-connect alcoholism or drug abuse to receive disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, that’s a common myth. The critical component for this type of disability claim is whether a veteran’s alcoholism, also referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is related to a secondary illness or condition that can be service-connected to time spent in the military.
While it’s true that the VA refuses to consider some disorders as service-connected—those that clearly aren't related to a veteran’s time in the military—if the veteran can prove that his AUD disability is secondary to a service-connected disorder or aggravated by one, it’s possible for the veteran to receive compensation for it.
When Is Alcoholism a Disability?
The VA recognizes alcoholism as a disability when it can be service-connected to other conditions that developed during time spent in the military.
For example, if a veteran developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while in service, and he abuses alcohol to self-medicate as a way to cope with his PTSD, he may be eligible for VA disability benefits.
Additionally, if the veteran had a history of AUD prior to service and can prove that his condition was “aggravated” by another service-connected health issue, he may also qualify.
However, making this connection isn’t easy, and it’s important that an individual has all the necessary evidence, including lay statements and a medical opinion, to support the claim. The VA may not recognize your claim if you’ve abused alcohol out of habit, out of a need to be social, or as a way to de-stress. These actions can be viewed as “willful misconduct”—a reckless disregard of the probable consequences of engaging in harmful and dangerous behavior. So it’s important to hire a VA disability attorney to help file a convincing and successful claim.
Discover the Cuddigan Law Advantage
Submitting a successful VA disability claim for alcohol use disorder can be a difficult process. A VA determination of willful misconduct can stand in the way of an individual receiving benefits for an acknowledged medical concern.
At Cuddigan Law, we understand that veterans who suffer from PTSD can face many types of other medical conditions, including alcoholism. Our attorneys have supported veterans for years, and we can help you if you need VA disability benefits following a diagnosis of PTSD or any other health condition. Call us today, and you’ll speak to an intake specialist for free.
What are the signs that a veteran may suffer from alcoholism?
Heavy alcohol use is firmly rooted in military culture. In many environments, personnel on active duty use alcohol for recreation, to relieve stress, and as a way to socialize and connect with others. However, despite the policies and programs in place to moderate alcohol consumption in the military, alcoholism remains a continuing problem for veterans and service members.
Signs a Veteran May Be Abusing Alcohol
It’s not easy for service members to return stateside after being deployed and resume a normal life. Many veterans develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can lead to alcohol abuse and alcoholism, also diagnosed as alcohol use disorder (AUD). Family members may have concerns about a veteran’s reliance on alcohol but not be sure if there’s a serious problem.
Here are signs that a veteran or active military member may have AUD:
- Appears that drinking, being sick, and/or hangovers interfere with a person's job, taking care of family, or other responsibilities
- Cares more about drinking than spending time pursuing activities they once enjoyed
- Exhibits withdrawal symptoms when trying to cut back or quit drinking such as anxiety, nausea, sweating, insomnia, and shaking
- Puts themselves in dangerous situations while drinking
- Attempts to stop drinking or cut back but is unsuccessful
- Appears paranoid, fearful, and/or nervous
- Acts in a secretive way
- Continues to drink even after harming relationships
- Exhibits a change in sleeping and eating habits
- Has unexpected mood changes, erratic behavior, and/or angry outbursts
- Lacks motivation or enthusiasm but can appear unusually happy and energetic at times
- Stops taking care of appearance and hygiene
- Shows a significant decrease or increase in weight
- Smells of alcohol on a regular basis
- Slurs speech and appears to have poor motor coordination
- Lacks an ability to maintain responsibilities at work, at home, or with friends and family
Our Nebraska-Based VA Disability Lawyers Help Veterans Nationwide Get The Disability Benefits They Deserve
At Cuddigan Law, we understand that veterans may have problems with alcohol after developing PTSD. We also know that PTSD is a debilitating mental condition that can severely and negatively impact your life. Our attorneys have supported veterans for years, and we’ll carefully examine your case and advise you on how best to move forward. If you’d like a free evaluation of your disability case, call Cuddigan Law, and speak to an intake specialist for free.