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Allsup “Disability Community” is Full of Information

2014 August 27

LW-blogBy Leia of Allsup

You can do just about anything online nowadays. You can take a picture of a check and deposit it right into your bank account, pay bills, buy anything you can imagine or even talk to someone around the world.

Allsup wants to make it easy for you to access the services we provide. That’s why we developed our online community with 24/7 access called, Allsup Place®. Allsup Place® is available to everyone, not just our customers.

Here you can:

  • check the status of your claim, if you’re a customer
  • schedule appointments
  • post on the forum
  • submit medical updates or information changes, if you’re a customer

Check the status of your claim

Anytime you want to know what’s going on with your claim, you just login to our secure website and see what stage you’re at in the process. We tell you what the next steps are and thoroughly explain the SSDI process.

Schedule appointments

Anyone registered on Allsup Place® can use the calendar feature to keep track of their doctor appointments, family birthdays or medication.

Post to the forum

Anyone registered can post comments to our forum on various topics. You also can read what others are talking about in our online community.

Submit medical or information changes

You can submit secure medical updates any time you have an appointment or if a medicine changes. If your address or phone number changes, you can inform us on Allsup Place® whenever it’s convenient for you.

Register today and be a part of our online community. If you are looking for more information about Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, call (800) 678-3276 for a free SSDI evaluation.

How Long Can You Wait To Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits?

2014 August 20

Swierczek-colorBy Ed of Allsup

A frequent question Allsup hears at workshops on Social Security Disability Insurance is: How long can I wait to apply for SSDI?

This is an important question because there is a time limit for benefits based on when someone stopped working, as well as the date of their disability. Sometimes the date of the disability is not the same as the date someone stopped working. These are two important dates that will impact an SSDI claim, and the situations for each person can be diverse.

For example, I’ve been asked what it means if a person experienced a disability five years ago, and then quit working in the past year? Other people have asked if they can still apply for Social Security disability benefits if they quit working several years ago.

There are a number of things to keep in mind about SSDI benefits when it comes to how long you can or should wait to apply.

Work History and Social Security Disability Insurance

To be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must be “currently insured,” which means that you have been working and paying payroll (FICA) taxes. More specifically, you must have paid for 20 quarters in the past 10 years to qualify. Each year, you can buy up to four quarters—which is why we say it’s critical to have worked five of the past 10 years.

You can “buy a quarter” of coverage by earning a certain amount during a specific calendar year. In 2014, workers buy a quarter if they earn $1,200. So earning $4,800 places someone at the maximum quarters earned for the year and provides them with four quarters of coverage. Those who experience disability and must quit working before age 31 have fewer requirements. You can contact an SSDI expert at (800) 678-3276 to learn more about applying for SSDI at younger ages.

In addition to being currently insured, you must be “fully insured.” This also is based on having a certain amount of coverage—40 quarters of coverage is needed to be fully insured. Again, younger workers have fewer requirements.

Thousands of people each year are denied benefits because they simply haven’t worked long enough or recently enough to receive SSDI benefits. Yes, you can wait too long to apply for SSDI benefits after a disability.

In a future blog, I’ll discuss the importance of a person’s date of disability. Keep in mind: These are just a couple of areas related to your claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. For example, you also must have a disability that will keep you from working for 12 months or longer, or is terminal.

For more information or to see if you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, call (800) 678-3276, or go to Expert.Allsup.com for a free SSDI evaluation.

If Mental Illness Were Easy To Understand

2014 August 14

RW-starBy Rebecca of Allsup

A lot of discussions are taking place in the wake of  Robin Williams’ tragic suicide on Aug. 11, which is being attributed to his struggles with depression. It’s understandably difficult to make sense of why someone with so much to offer and live for would do something like this.

As much as people would like clear and simple answers, the truth is that mental illness is not easy to understand. We know this is true because of the way society continues to struggle with how to address the repercussions of mental illness, including suicide and disability.

If mental illness were easy to understand, more family doctors would be comfortable talking to their patients about it and screening for it. If mental illness were easy to understand, there wouldn’t be the stigma and huge burden for individuals and families dealing with it.

If mental illness were easy to understand, there wouldn’t be so many fields and professions—psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health counselors, physicians and neurologists—who spend their life’s work researching it, attacking it and trying to successfully treat it.

If mental illness were easy to understand, the American Psychiatric Association wouldn’t have released the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—with 947 pages and about 300 disorders listed last year.

If mental illness were easy to understand, many things would be different today. If mental illness were easy to understand, treatments would be better. If mental illness were easy to understand, fewer people would receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for mental disorders because more people would receive effective treatment.

If mental illness were easy to understand, more people would realize why Robin Williams did what he did, or realize that he needed to get help, or understand that there might have been other options but that he did not see what those might have been.

Mental illness is not easy to understand, but it does deserve understanding. Nearly 60 million people in the U.S. experience mental illness every year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). So, from a group of 10 people, it’s likely two of them have experienced a mental issue within the past year.

In California, the state Robin Williams called home—there are many people spreading the word that “Each Mind Matters.” This is a compelling message for some who may take for granted that their mind works just fine. There are other ways to try to understand mental illness, including checking out NAMI or MentalHealth.gov.

If you have a favorite memory of Robin Williams on your mind, you can share it by visiting Allsup on Facebook.

The P Is Silent, But We Don’t Have to Be During Psoriasis Awareness Month

2014 August 13

Psoriasis-Awareness-MonthBy Tai of Allsup

Can a “skin disease” be disabling? If it is the chronic, autoimmune skin disease psoriasis, the answer is “ Yes!” Psoriasis speeds up the growth cycle of skin cells, creating patches of thick, red skin and silvery scales, also called plaques. Plaques can be found on the elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, face, palms and soles.

Disability Impact From Psoriasis

In severe cases, movement or pressure may cause skin to painfully split open and bleed. For patients with psoriasis on their feet, it’s often hard to walk. Plaque on the hands makes even simple tasks impossible or extremely painful.

Up to one-third of people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis, which affects the joints, restricting mobility and gross and fine motor skills, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF). Patients with psoriatic arthritis also may have trouble sleeping and sitting, standing or walking for long periods.

Given these painful and visible physical symptoms, it is not surprising to learn that psoriasis exacts an emotional and psychological toll as well.

Data gathered from surveys conducted by the NPF from 2003 to 2011 revealed psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis affected overall emotional well-being in 88 percent of patients, and interfered with enjoyment of life in 82 percent.

Most patients reported experiencing anger (89 percent), frustration (89 percent), helplessness (87 percent), embarrassment (87 percent), and self-consciousness (89 percent). These emotions can lead some people to withdraw socially, and become isolated.

Help With Psoriasis Awareness In August

I recently read a blog written by a woman with psoriasis. She had found a diary entry from her teens, in which she called herself ugly and her greatest wish was to simply sleep through the night. She wrote that while she could not go back and hug that teenage girl and tell her she was beautiful—she could do something for others who feel this way now.

If you have psoriasis or know someone who does, Psoriasis Awareness Month held in August can be a time to show your support. If you are an employer, consider ways to accommodate employees by creating ergonomic work spaces and considering flexible dress codes that allow for physical comfort. If you have psoriasis and are working, visit this NPF link.

For those cannot keep working, determining eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance could be the first step in reclaiming some control over finances and healthcare choices. For more information or a free SSDI evaluation, call (800) 678-3276.

Thank You To Community Centers During National Health Center Week

2014 August 6

NationalHealthCenterWeek_logoBy Tai of Allsup

My personal thanks go to the thousands of caring people working at community health centers. For nearly 50 years, you have provided affordable, quality, cost-effective healthcare to medically vulnerable and underserved people throughout the U.S.

National Health Center Week is observed Aug. 10-14 and celebrates the successes of helping about 1 in 15 people living in the U.S. to access much needed medical treatment.

Nationwide, there are 1,000-plus federally qualified health centers, or FQHC, that qualify for federal grants.

These nonprofit organizations could not exist without dedicated physicians, nurses, aides, social workers, case managers, health educators, administrators, support staff and volunteers. They care for more than 22 million Americans, regardless oftheir insurance status or ability to pay.

Thank you.

They also offer services that help patients access care, such as transportation, case management, health education, and home visitation. They focus on the special needs and priorities of their communities with culturally and linguistically appropriate services.

Barriers To Good Health

Professionals serving in community health centers across the country are aware that people with disabilities face many barriers to good health. They are more likely to report:

  • Poorer overall health.
  • Less access to adequate health care.
  • No access to health insurance.

When serving people with disabilities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages providers to:

  • Address the medical needs of the whole person, not just the disability.
  • Be as attentive to concerns of pain, depression, job pressures, smoking and alcohol use as you are with all patients.
  • Be aware and patient of the extra time it might take a person with a disability to speak or act.
  • Know that the facilities you refer patients to for preventive screenings, such as mammograms, are accessible.
  • Ask the person with a disability if they need help. Do not assume help is needed.
  • Seek training on disability competence for health professionals.

Here are a couple more suggestions:

  • Seek information on disability resources, such as Social Security Disability Insurance, so you can answer basic questions from patients concerned about not being able to continue working.
  • Take advantage of the disability-related provider resources available at AllsupCares.com.

Lastly, I hope everyone celebrating National Health Center Week has a great week.

 

The Right To Surf: American With Disabilities Act

2014 July 24

taiBy Tai of Allsup

The landmark civil rights legislation known as the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law on July 26, 1990. It bars discrimination and promotes equal access for individuals with disabilities to all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

Given the technological advances of the last two decades, if the Act was being drafted today, I think it would specifically mention the Internet. I believe people with disabilities should be able to surf the Web, too.

The Internet has become a “public place” where people hang out, chat with friends, shop, get and share news, work and play. However, only 54 percent of adults living with a disability use the Internet, compared with 81 percent of adults who report none of the disabilities listed in a 2010 Pew Research survey.

Studies show that, as a group, people with disabilities have the lowest rates of technology use. The problem, researchers often conclude, is barriers to access due to cost or design.

Surfing Can Be Costly

Americans living with disabilities are more likely than other adults to live in lower income households.

Computers and high-speed Internet access cost money. Add the expense of specialized software or other adaptive technology, and the cost to surf the Internet is often prohibitive, limiting access.

Some websites can only be navigated using a mouse, making it inaccessible to those who can’t manipulate one. Most Internet video or multimedia content is not captioned, so it is inaccessible to those with hearing impairments.

Custom Boards Offer The Best Ride

Just as real wave surfers maximize their thrills and performance when using custom surfboards designed specifically for them, individuals with disabilities can get more out of their Internet experience when they use products and services designed with their abilities in mind.

Inclusive product design—accommodating a wide range of user abilities and disabilities—allows people to better interact with technology in ways that work best for them. Enhancements to existing products, or assistive technology, can make it easier for people with vision, hearing, speech and other impairments to use currently available hardware and software.

As we mark the 24th anniversary of the ADA, I believe that ensuring people with disabilities have full and equal access to technology is critical to fulfilling the spirit and promise of the Act.

Is there something you appreciate about the ADA? Help us celebrate its birthday on Facebook.

Click here to visit Allsup on Facebook for your ADA shout-out.

World Sjögren’s Day Is July 23

2014 July 22

SSF-Logo-2014By Elizabeth Trocchio, director of marketing, Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation

World Sjögren’s Day was created to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Henrik Sjögren, the Swedish ophthalmologist who discovered Sjögren’s in 1933, which has helped all patients find answers to their health questions.

This July 23rd, the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation (SSF) joins with other Sjögren’s organizations around the world to celebrate the 5th annual World Sjögren’s Day and what would have been have been Dr. Sjögren’s 115th birthday.

World Sjögren’s Day also allows us to recognize advancements made in Sjögren’s this past year and the incredible progress the SSF has made on behalf of Sjögren’s patients.

This includes our current development of clinical practice guidelines for Sjögren’s that will help standardize patient care by giving physicians a roadmap of how to treat, monitor and manage their patients with the disease.

Sjögren’s (pronounced SHOW-grins) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease in which people’s white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands.

The four hallmark symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, dry eye and dry mouth. But Sjögren’s also may cause dysfunction of other organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas and the central nervous system.

With upwards of 4 million Americans suffering from Sjögren’s, it is one of the most prevalent but less known autoimmune disorders. This is because Sjögren’s is not a “cookie-cutter” disease, often being overlooked or misdiagnosed since symptoms can manifest in various ways and affect every patient differently.

Currently, there is no cure for Sjögren’s. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are important for preventing the more serious complications of the disease, while also helping to improve a patient’s quality of life.

On average, it takes 4.7 years from the time a patient seeks treatment for their symptoms to receiving a formal diagnosis.

This is why in 2012 the SSF launched a bold “5-Year Breakthrough Goal: To shorten the time to diagnose Sjögren’s by 50% in five years!”

We hope you remember four hallmark symptoms of Sjögren’s: fatigue, joint pain, dry eye and dry mouth.

Please visit www.sjogrens.org to learn more and share this post to help raise awareness of Sjögren’s this World Sjögren’s Day.

How Does My Doctor Help My Social Security Disability Claim?

2014 July 15

Swierczek-colorBy Ed of Allsup

This is a common question for people who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. You want to know what your doctor can do to help your claim for SSDI benefits.

I typically tell SSDI claimants that there are a couple of things to keep in mind when working with your doctor. First, if you are only just starting to think about applying for Social Security disability benefits, then you want to make sure that your doctor supports your decision.

Often, many of our customers have put off this decision—even though their doctor has been encouraging them for some time to apply for SSDI benefits.

This is a good sign that you have medical support for your impairment.

To receive SSDI benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must see evidence that you have a medical condition and that this condition prevents you from working, and that it is severe enough to last at least 12 months or longer. If you are under age 50, SSA requires you to be unable to engage in any work activity (substantial gainful activity). If you are age 50 or older, other rules apply to your ability to work.

Second, it’s important that your doctor keeps an extensive record of the impact of your disability, including the limitations you have in your activities of daily living.

Medical evidence can include specific tests, such as CAT scans, MRIs and others, as well as assessments of your ability to function, such as your range of motion, balance and strength tests. It also helps if your doctor notes in the record the recommendation that you apply for Social Security disability benefits.

Sometimes people who apply for SSDI benefits have their doctor’s support, but there is not the medical evidence that the SSA requires to show that your disability is severe enough to prevent you from working. So it’s important to discuss this with your doctor.

There are a number of other criteria required in order for Social Security to determine that you qualify for SSDI benefits. For example, you must have a work history to document that you are insured for SSDI benefits.

If you have questions, call our Disability Evaluation Center and get a free SSDI evaluation at (800) 678-3276.

Mental Illness Doesn’t Discriminate, But People Do

2014 July 8

By Tai of Allsup

Because July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s time to remind people that mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It affects people from all walks of life―rich and poor, black and white, male and female, gay and straight.

People, however, do discriminate. Our societal norms define good and bad, normal and strange, desirable and shameful. Norms and perceptions are influenced by our ethnic identities and cultural experiences. The stigma around mental illness is a huge barrier to acceptance and treatment. Add the institutional and personal biases inherent in our healthcare system and society at large, and discrimination, both on the part of patients and healthcare providers, becomes a factor.

Mental illness is a leading cause of disability, yet nearly two-thirds of people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment. Racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. are even less likely to get help, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The result, according to NAMI, is that American Indians, Alaska Natives, African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Hispanic Americans bear a disproportionately high burden of disability from mental disorders.

According to the 2001 Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health: Culture, Race and Ethnicity, disparities in mental health were found in:

  • Access to services. Barriers include lack of health insurance and stigma.
  • Accuracy of diagnoses. Minority patients tend to receive a lower quality of care, and they are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for mental illness.
  • Level of cultural competency, proficiency and recovery/type of treatment. One-size fits all does not apply when it comes to culturally appropriate and effective treatment.
  • Comparative effectiveness. Treatments that work well for one group may not work well for another. More research on the effectiveness of treatments for different ethnic and racial groups is needed.
  • Location of services. Minority communities often have fewer sources of healthcare than non-Hispanic white communities or none at all (Institute of Medicine, 2003).

Another key finding of the Surgeon General’s report is that living in poverty has the most measurable effect on the rates of mental illness. The U.S. Census Bureau reports the highest national poverty rates are for American Indians and Alaska Natives (27 percent), African Americans (26 percent), Hispanics (23 percent) and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (18 percent). This is compared to a 14 percent rate for the U.S. population overall.

Mental illness may not discriminate, but discrimination is certainly a factor when it comes to addressing and treating it in minority populations.

If you or a friend or family member has stopped working because of the impact of a mental health disorder, contact Allsup for a free disability evaluation for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits at (800) 678-3276.

Awareness, Support And Hope For Those With Brain Injury

2014 June 30

WalkRunRollBy Jessica Giordano, MA, CIRS, Washington TBI Resource Center Operations Manager, Brain Injury Alliance of Washington

Did you know?*

  • A concussion is a brain injury?
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the signature injury of our military members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan?
  • Every nine seconds someone in America sustains a TBI?
  • 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually?
  • There are more incidents of TBI than all cancers combined?
  • Approximately 2 percent of the U.S. population currently has a long-term or lifelong need for help with everyday activities due to TBI?

*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Protection.

TBI is the leading cause of death and disability in almost every state for our young people ages 15-24, and it is the No. 1 killer of children in the U.S. While the deaths are a tragic loss, the disabilities resulting from TBI can be lifelong and life-changing, involving physical, emotional, behavioral and cognitive impairments.

In the state of Washington, only one nonprofit is working to prevent, support, educate and provide advocacy for all brain injury survivors, family members and caregivers: the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington (BIAWA).

The BIAWA provides the statewide TBI Resource Line, in-person resource management, support groups, outreach and training, social activities, academic scholarships and much more. We serve individuals of all ages affected by brain injury, all at no cost.

BIAWA is a small nonprofit organization that has exhibited the capability to accomplish great things. We continuously strive to carry out our mission to increase public awareness, support and hope for those affected by brain injury.

We are proud to have supported the first youth concussion legislation in the U.S., which now has been adopted by all 50 states. We are excited and extremely proud to have been part of the nationwide paradigm shift in how we think about and treat concussions.

On July 27, the BIAWA invites you to become part of the difference we make in the community by participating in our 4th Annual Walk, Run & Roll for Thought! This event is a joint effort between BIAWA and Seattle BrainWorks, a clubhouse for adults living with brain injury, to increase awareness and improve the quality of life for individuals and families impacted by brain injury.

For more information, to register, or to make a donation, please click here. The BIAWA and Seattle BrainWorks give heartfelt thanks to Allsup for supporting our community and our Walk, Run & Roll for Thought!

Editor’s note: For information on TBI and Social Security Disability Insurance, visit Allsup.com.