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How Does the RFC form Impact Your Disability Claim?

Anyone who has even considered applying for Social Security Disability will tell you that there are a lot of acronyms. An individual pursuing Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income will quickly learn that DDS is an abbreviation for Disability Determination Section. They also quickly find out that ALJ means Administrative Law Judge, and DE is short for Disability Examiner. Even Social Security Administration is typically abbreviated to SSA. But one acronym that many Social Security applicants may not be aware of is RFC.

RFC is short for residual functional capacity. Now that you know what the letters stand for, you’ll likely want to know what it means. Here is how the SSA explains RFC:

“Residual functional capacity assessment. Your impairment(s), and any related symptoms, such as pain, may cause physical and mental limitations that affect what you can do in a work setting. Your residual functional capacity is the most you can still do despite your limitations. We will assess your residual functional capacity based on all the relevant evidence in your case record.”

Essentially, SSA is determining what limitations you may have due to your conditions. For instance, back pain may limit your ability to stand for longer than 4 hours out of an 8 hour day or social anxiety may limit your ability to work with the general public.  SSA will be looking to see if there are still jobs within the national economy that you can do despite the limitations defined within your RFC.

If you have multiple disabilities, SSA will consider the combined limitations established for all of them to determine your ability to work. For instance, your back pain may limit you to only performing sedentary type jobs but your mental health diagnosis also limits your ability to concentrate for longer than 30 minutes at a time.  The physical & mental limitations combined would further reduce the jobs you could perform than only one limitation by itself. That’s why it’s important to list ALL of your disabilities when you apply for benefits. Or, if you’re working with an attorney, you’ll want to make sure they’re aware of all of your disabilities, as well as the ways in which they limit you.

Now that you understand the basics of RFC, you may be curious as to who determines your RFC. Actually, it’s a combination of people. Disability Determination Services is a state agency, and is the first level of determining disability benefits. DDS has individuals called Disability Examiners who work with a medical consultant to determine your RFC. These individuals consider limitations your doctor has assigned you, such as the inability to stand more than 10 minutes or lift more than 10 pounds. This is why it is extremely important to have your doctor document the limitations along with your symptoms within your medical records.

The RFC is first used to determine if you can do the type of work that you’ve done for the past 15 years. If you’ve done sedentary work for the past 15 years and your RFC states that you can do light work, which is above sedentary work, they will likely suggest that you return to your previous type of work. If the Disability Examiner determines you can’t do your prior job, they will then determine whether, given your RFC, your age, your education, and your skills, you should be able to learn another job.

This can be a difficult process to understand and navigate. That’s why so many people turn to the team at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law to help them get the benefits they deserve. If you’d like to know more about the services we offer, or if you’d like a free consultation, give us a call today. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk to us now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

What Everyone Needs To Know About Talcum Powder Lawsuits

For over 130 years people have trusted the brand name, Johnson & Johnson. The company is actually a conglomerate of multiple companies, including Baby Powdermany  well-known brands like Aveeno and Neutrogena, which are among the most recognized in the skin care community. However, the most well-known product Johnson & Johnson produces is also one of their oldest: baby powder. In recent months, there’s been a lot of coverage of lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and the fact that their baby powder has been linked as an alleged cause of ovarian cancer.

One of the first lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson based on baby powder emerged in 2009. Diane Berg, a woman from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006, when she was only 49 years old. She claimed to have used the powder every day for most of her life. According to the Huffington Post, the pharmaceutical company offered a $1.3 million settlement to Berg in 2013. She declined and was eventually awarded nothing in the way of monetary compensation. However, a South Dakota jury confirmed the association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Soon after, two St. Louis judges awarded two families $127 million in similar cases. The Huffington Post went on to report one of these two sentences found the “Big Pharma” company guilty of negligence, conspiracy, and failure to warn women of the increased cancer risk linked to the use of cosmetic talc in the genital area.

More recently, the New York Times reported the story of another ovarian cancer lawsuit involving Johnson & Johnson. Eva Echeverria, 63, of east Los Angeles, was recently awarded $417 million by a jury. Many cases that go to the jury are successful. However, not all of the cases are favorable. In March of 2017, a St. Louis jury rejected a Tennessee woman’s claim that Johnson & Johnson’s powder caused her ovarian cancer, and a New Jersey judge dismissed two talcum powder lawsuits against the company.

The American Cancer Society states that talcum powder comes from talc. In its natural form, talc contains asbestos. In response to the question “does talcum powder cause ovarian cancer?”, the American Cancer states the following:

Many studies in women have looked at the possible link between talcum powder and cancer of the ovary. Findings have been mixed, with some studies reporting a slightly increased risk and some reporting no increase. Many case-control studies have found a small increase in risk. But these types of studies can be biased because they often rely on a person’s memory of talc use many years earlier. Two prospective cohort studies, which would not have the same type of potential bias, have not found an increased risk.

For any individual woman, if there is an increased risk, the overall increase is likely to very be small. Still, talc is widely used in many products, so it is important to determine if the increased risk is real. Research in this area continues.

There are a lot of people offering opinions on this subject, and there are thousands of lawsuits pending currently. Cornstarch-based powder is often recommended as an alternative, as there is no current evidence that cornstarch-based powder causes cancer.

To learn more about this subject, or to set up a Free consultation, call the team from Jan Dils Attorneys at Law today. Our toll-free number is 1-977-526-3457. For individuals who’d rather receive a call at a later time, fill out this form now and we will return your call when it is convenient to you.

How Age Impacts A Social Security Claim

We’ve all heard the saying “age is just a number” and, in many cases, it’s true. But, when it comes to Social Security claims, age can be a very important number.

It’s important to note that age is not the only consideration used to determine if a person is disabled. There are several other factors considered, too. Age is just a part of the equation. It plays a part just like work history, education, and the type of work an individual has performed throughout their life. But age is still an important consideration.

The general rule for age is that the younger an individual is, the more difficult it is for them to get approved.  SSA assumes that it is more difficult for a person age 50 or over to learn a new job or a new skill.

You may have heard the term “grid” used in Social Security. Social Security generally uses the grid rules (commonly referred to as the “grids”) only after it has determined that you can’t do the jobs you’ve done in the past. While it would take days to explain in detail how the grids work in a Social Security case, the important thing to remember is that age isn’t the only consideration. Once again, age, education, work history, and your residual functional capacity all play a part.

While an individual who is older may be more likely to get approved, it’s still possible for a younger person to be approved, too. For instance, a person who is 25 with several physical and mental disabilities and a lot of evidence/medical treatment is more likely to get approved for a claim than a person who is 45 with no medical treatment and little to no disabilities.

Getting approved for Social Security Disability often takes a combination of several factors. That’s partially why it takes so long to get a claim approved. Every aspect of a person’s health, age, education, work history must be taken into consideration.

If you feel overwhelmed by the Social Security process, and would like guidance through the maze, call our office today for a Free Consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we can call you at a better time.

Everything You Need to Know About Medical Professionals

In working with Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, you’ll quickly find that, above all else, we believe that treatment is the most important aspect of any Social SecurityMedical Professional Disability (SSD) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Without proper medical treatment, you likely won’t receive a favorable decision on your claim—it’s that simple. After all, medical evidence is how we prove that you have a disability. With that in mind, we wanted to provide an overview of different types of medical treatment and explain the differences.

Licensed Medical Doctors

At the very top of the list of medical providers are licensed, medical doctors. A medical doctor has years of training and education specializing in the medical field. Some doctors specialize in certain disciplines and can be considered experts or specialists in a specific medical field. Being diagnosed and treated by a doctor can help you get your claim approved.

Licensed Psychologists and Psychiatrists

Psychologists and Psychiatrists are licensed doctors, too, but they specialize in mental disorders. If you’re claiming that your disability is a result of a psychological condition, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar or another mental health condition, you should be treated and diagnosed by a licensed Psychologist or Psychiatrist.

Nurse Practitioners

A Nurse Practitioner is a nurse with an advanced degree in nursing. A Nurse Practitioner can treat and diagnose acute illnesses. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does accept the diagnosis made by a Nurse Practitioner for SSD/SSI, but a Licensed Medical Doctor is preferred. Regardless, continuous treatment will likely help your claim. Keep in mind that if you’ve only been diagnosed by a Nurse Practitioner, SSA may have you seek another opinion from a Licensed Medical Doctor.

Chiropractors

 A Chiropractor is a healthcare professional focused on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders, with an emphasis on treatment through manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine.

Most Chiropractors seek to reduce pain and improve the functionality of patients as well as educate them on how they can improve their own health via exercise, ergonomics and other therapies to treat back pain. Just like with a Nurse Practitioner, a Chiropractor’s diagnosis alone may not be sufficient for SSA. A secondary opinion may be necessary from a Licensed Medical Doctor for a favorable decision.

 

Overall, medical treatment is important for any Social Security claim. If you have questions about the Social Security process, give us a call for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

Exploring a new trend in automotive safety

If you are in the market for a new car, there’s a good chance that safety is at the top of your list of priorities. The auto industry is now offering more advanced safety technology than ever before, and most vehicles offer options like automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and more airbags. But one new feature, in particular, has generated interest in the industry. Airbag equipped seatbelts may not be as common as some safety features, but they can offer additional protection for vehicle occupants.

Most consumers haven’t heard of airbag equipped seatbelts, in part because they are currently only offered by two manufacturers. Ford Motor Company offers them in Ford and Lincoln models, and Mercedes-Benz currently offers their own version of the inflatable seatbelt in a few of their cars. They are more readily available from Ford, and it’s important to note that they are offered as an added, optional feature in some but not all Ford models, and aren’t currently included as a standard safety feature on new vehicles.

Ford’s Edge, Flex, Fusion and F-150 as well as Lincoln’s MKT, MKX and MKZ are the only ones that offer the enhanced seatbelts as an option. Per Ford’s website, the feature is a $650 upcharge. It’s also worth noting that these seatbelts are for the rear seat, and are not offered on the front seat of any vehicle.

So why would anyone consider a seatbelt with an airbag? The inflatable belt is meant to reduce the force on the head, chest, and neck in a collision. Generally, children ride in the back seat, and their bones are not fully developed yet. The inflatable seatbelt could possibly keep a child from having broken bones from the seatbelt as the result of a crash. According to the Ford website, the benefits of the seatbelts are as follows:

During a crash, the inflatable belt helps distribute crash forces across more of a passenger’s torso than a traditional belt – up to five times more. Spreading the pressure over a larger area helps reduce pressure on the passenger’s chest, and helps control head and neck motion.

If your little ones are still in car seats, then you should do some research. Not all car seats work with the inflatable seatbelts. The belt is thicker than the standard belts that most cars use, and also a little less flexible. If you purchase a car equipped with inflatable seatbelts and have children in child seats, simply search online to see if your seat is compatible. Ford dealers should have up-to-date lists of compatible seats, but if you purchase your vehicle used, you will likely have to do your own research.

There is not a lot of research or testing to back up the claims made by Ford Motor Company. Ford has offered to sell the technology to other automakers, but it is unclear if any manufacturers have expressed interest. Ford has been using it since 2011, and it does not appear that anyone else is introducing the technology in the coming model year.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, call us for a FREE consultation. Our Toll-Free Number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we can call you at a better time.

How College Impacts Your Social Security Claim

Do you know how your education impacts your social security case?

Sometimes I get too involved in the subject I am writing about for a blog. On occasion, I’ll hear a coworker say something and it will spark a bit of inspiration. Both of these things happened when I heard case manager Kelly Fritz talking to a client recently. She was advising the client about college and how it impacts an individual who is trying to get approved for disability. I immediately thought of myself. Granted, most people who know me will tell you that I immediately think of myself in most situations. Kidding aside, I really hadn’t thought about how education plays a part in the disability process. So, I decided to look into it further.

I think it’s obvious that the purpose of social security disability is to determine if you can work or not. That is somewhat of a generalized version of how Social Security works. Unfortunately, it’s not that black and white. However, for this blog, let’s keep things simple. When looking at everyone applying for social security as a whole, we see a diverse group of people with one thing in common; a disability is keeping them from working. Social Security has two ways to determine if a person is disabled; The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates applicants for disability in two ways:

  • whether an individual’s impairment(s) meets or equals the criteria of an official disability listing in the Social Security disability handbook (often referred to as the listing of impairments, or the blue book), or
  • whether the individual’s medical and vocational factors, when considered together, prevents he or she from performing any of their old jobs and any other job in the national economy (disability examiners refer to this as a medical-vocational allowance).

To keep things simple, we will just be focusing on the 2nd option. In this case, yes, your education level can make it more difficult to get approved. If an applicant’s disability or impairment doesn’t meet or equal a listing, and the applicant can’t return to his or her former work, the applicant’s age, work history, and educational background are evaluated to determine if an individual has the capacity to perform less demanding work in a competitive workforce.

How can your education level impact your claim? Well, your ability to perform other types of work sometimes comes down to something called transferable skills. Transferable skills are skills that you have acquired through your past jobs or through schooling that you can use in other areas of the work force that are less demanding. Therefore, if you return to school, you may have additional skills that can be used in other jobs even if you are unable to perform your old jobs.

So, yes, college can impact your claim for social security disability. Just keep in mind that this is not the only factor that impacts your claim and we certainly do not discourage you from furthering your education. You also have your age, health, and many more factors to consider. Let us know if you like to learn more about social security. Call us today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

 

What are the signs of Nursing Home Neglect?

At the age of 14, when other teens were hanging out at the mall, going to dances, and being social, I was visiting my father in a nursing home. When most people

The signs of nursing home neglect aren’t always obvious.

realize that I was only 14 and had a parent in a nursing home, they assume that my father was one of those new age senior citizens who have children well into their sixties. Unfortunately, that was not the case with my dad. He was only 41. His body was weak from two years of battling brain cancer and having multiple surgeries. We tried taking care of him in-house, but it became too much for us. We decided that a nursing home was our best bet to give him proper care. It turns out we might have been wrong. I recall going to the nursing home one day to visit my father and I saw what would eventually be the beginning of the end.

Due to my father’s chemo, and the fact that had tumors in his brain, he was weak. He could not get in and out of bed on his own. One day in August we were visiting him. The nursing staff was helping my father back into bed when they didn’t give him proper care. Instead of laying him in the bed gently they let go early, and his head went crashing into the headboard. I was sitting next to the bed and saw it all happen. My father’s head hit on an edge of the headboard, near where he had surgery recently. Granted, this was 18 years ago, and I am no Doogie Houser, but I believe this impact caused my father’s shunt to quit working. Five months later we were planning his funeral.

Sudden weight Loss is a sign of neglect.

What I described was a not typical case of Nursing Home Neglect, but it’s too painful for me to discuss some of the other things I witnessed. At the time, nursing home neglect was not as mainstream as it is now, and we were not the type of family to sue anyone. We had just lost the patriarch of our family after a very long and stressful two year battle with a terrible disease. Now, in 2017, the Statute of Limitations has passed, and all I can really do is educate other people about the subject, and tell you what to look for with your loved ones.

Nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect are broad terms used to define a variety of offenses within the nursing home abuse. They can refer to something as simple as not attending to patients on a regular basis, to sexual abuse and rape. The subject is truly disturbing to talk about too.

Instead of examining specific cases of nursing home abuse, let’s look at things in a little more general fashion today. What are some signs of Nursing Home/Elder Abuse you should be on the look out for with your loved ones?

–      Emotional or social neglect, where the elder person is repeatedly ignored, left alone, or accidentally snapped at by an overstressed nursing home staff

–      Personal hygiene neglect, where patients do not receive adequate help with laundry, cleaning, bathing, brushing their teeth, or other forms of hygienic practices

–      Basic needs neglect, where the nursing home neglects to provide reasonable food, water, or a safe and clean environment

–      Medical neglect, where the nursing home fails to provide adequate attention, prevention, or medication for concerns such as bed sores, infections, cuts, diabetes, cognitive diseases, and mobility concerns

Warning signs of nursing home neglect include:

–      Sudden weight loss

–      Bedsores, or pressure ulcers

–      Injuries from nursing home falls

–      Dehydration

–      Malnutrition

–      Withdrawn elder behavior, or unusual changes in behavior

–      Changes in personal hygiene or appearance efforts

–      A growing lack of friendly interaction with the nursing home staff

–      A growing lack of friendly interaction with the other nursing home residents

–      Environmental hazards, such as poor lighting, slippery floors, unsafe mobility equipment, or unsafe furniture in the nursing home patient’s room

If you suspect a loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect or elder abuse, report it to the proper authorities. If you’d like to know more about your legal options, give us a call today for a FREE consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we will get back to you.

Jan Dils Participates in Huntington Beautification Project

At Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, we take pride in the communities that we call home. In addition to our headquarters in Parkersburg, WV, we also have offices in Logan, Charleston, Beckley, and Huntington here in West Virginia, and we have an additional office in Charlotte, NC. Recently our Huntington, WV office had the privilege to participate in “Huntington in Bloom.” This initiative places colorful plants around the city to brighten the community. Our firm sponsored two of the plants for the project.

 

It gives us great pride to participate in programs that make communities better. Thanks to Huntington In Bloom for allowing us to participate in this program. The flowers were beautiful.

How Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, Uses Facebook Live to Help Clients

Have you been using Facebook Live? The Social Media giant estimates that there will be 64 million live views by next month. So, that means that there is a good chance that you have at least watched one live video. It’s obvious that the Live video broadcasting service is growing, but it’s not just for individuals. Many corporations and small businesses have also been creating live videos. Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law is no exception.

We experimented with Live broadcasting on Facebook a few months ago, and we were overwhelmed with how popular our videos have been. The first time we went live our Training Manager, Lauren Ward, discussed Social Security disability. We had over 120 Live viewers. Once the video was posted for individuals to watch who couldn’t make it to the live broadcast, it received over 500 views in a matter of hours. Facebook claims that their users watch live videos 3 times longer than traditional pre-recorded content.

After our first run with Lauren, we performed another live video discussing social security disability with our Social Security Operations Manager, Missy Parsons. It was even more popular than our first run. We then followed that up with a video focusing our VA line of business with Lead, and it too was very popular. We’ve decided to make our live broadcasts a part of our regular rotation. We generally try to go live every 2 weeks if schedules allow. As a part of our expansion, we plan on incorporating the personal injury line of business into the rotation as well.

Some may wonder why our videos, or why Facebook Live for that matter, are so popular. The formula is simple. We use an iPad with an external microphone and light source. One of our senior employees sits in front of the “camera” while Jon Corra, our Social Media Specialist, reads questions from behind the camera. “I believe it works well because we’re really just having a conversation. We’re talking to our audience, talking to each other, and just having a simple conversation about the topic at hand.” Claimed Corra.

We usually answer between 8-10 questions. Some of the questions are prepared ahead of time, but most are a result of submissions from Viewers. We also like to compile a list each time of popular topics our clients ask. The topics are usually diverse. The greatest part of this involves the interaction from Veterans. This service allows us to interact directly with Vets who have concerns about VA Disability. The ability to answer live follow up questions has really set this feature apart from other video services.

It’s reasonable that some people may be concerned with confidentiality. We keep the conversation general. We never talk about anyone’s personal case. If someone has a question about their specific case, we suggest that they call in directly. A lot can still be learned though. For instance, in a recent broadcast we discussed PTSD ratings and how the VA determines each percentage. It was very informative.

If you’re interested in being a part of our next live broadcast, be sure to like us on Facebook. To learn more about Social Security, VA Disability, or Personal Injury, give us a call. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457.

How Does Incarceration Impact Your Social Security Benefits?

It’s funny how pop-culture can impact the types of questions we are asked at the office. Since the popular Netflix original series Orange is the New Black has returned, we have received quite a few questions about individuals curious about what would happen to their benefits if they went to prison. Before we get too deep into this subject, the people asking us about this are not criminals. I am willing to bet most haven’t even taken a pen from a bank. Rather, they are just curious. Or, they like to be prepared because you never know what may happen in your future. Thankfully, the SSA makes this info relatively easy to obtain.

One of the first things to keep in mind is that the length of time you are incarcerated is important. For instance, if you are arrested one evening and held overnight for a small crime, your benefits likely will not be impacted. In fact, according to regulations, you must be incarcerated or at least 30 days before your benefits will be discontinued. Your benefits may be reinstated after your release.

The SSA goes on to state: Although you can’t receive monthly Social Security benefits while you’re incarcerated, benefits to your spouse or children will continue as long as they remain eligible. If you’re receiving SSI, your payments are suspended while you’re in prison. Your payments can be reinstated in the month you’re released. However, if your confinement lasts for 12 consecutive months or longer, your eligibility for SSI benefits will terminate and you must file a new application for benefits.

If you haven’t filed for Social Security benefits before, you can while you are in prison with a few rules. If your institution has a prerelease agreement with the local Social Security office, it will notify the SSA if you’re likely to meet the requirements for SSI or disability benefits. The SSA will get an application from you several months before your anticipated release. That way, they can begin processing your application and your benefits can start as soon as possible after your release. If you’re filing for benefits based on disability, the SSA will gather medical evidence from your doctors to help them decide whether you still meet Social Security’s definition of disability. Family members or a social worker can help you by contacting Social Security to let the SSA know about your upcoming release. A family member also may be willing to serve as your representative payee if your medical condition prevents you from handling your own finances.

If you’ve been released from prison, and have questions about filing for benefits, give us a call for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you don’t have time to talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.