Genetics may be cause of autism, study finds

Autism may be caused by genetics, a study found.
Autism may be caused by genetics, a study found.

It is estimated that autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 68 children, but there is still confusion about where and how it originates. One study has found that autism may be caused by genetic mutations.

A study from researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, looked at how gene-disrupting mutations play a role in the development of autism. These disruptions come at the beginning of a child’s life and many have thought they play a role in development of the disorder.

Lead author and CSHL assistant professor Ivan Iossifov found the genes that contribute to autism likely have fewer mutations than most other human genes. This is different from the idea that more genetic mutations are the cause of autism.

The study was able to find a list of 200 of the most likely genes related to autism.

While this data may not help a family who has a child suffering from autism, it is a great step toward future discoveries and future treatments of this disorder.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates have successfully represented numerous children affected by autism.

It is very important to have complete medical records. These help support the diagnosis and witness observations of the daily behavior and functionality of the child in order to successfully claim social security disability benefits from the federal government.

Vitamin D, melatonin may prove fruitful in fight against MS

Multiple sclerosis can be tough on those who suffer from it. At the Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates, we see clients who experience weakness, numbness, thinking problems, urinary problems and more from this terrible disease.

This is why we were glad to see new research from McGill University in Montreal that shows vitamin D, produced by light, and melatonin, produced in response to darkness, may help prevent and ease the symptoms of MS.

Helping reduce symptoms can be important while applying for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

Research from the university, printed in PLOS Medicine in August, shows that a decreased level of vitamin D may lead to an increased risk of MS.

Brent Richards, a genetic epidemiologist at McGill, said those who have family who suffer should start taking more vitamin D as soon as possible via oral supplement.

The research also found that patients with lower levels of melatonin have a greater number of MS relapses. Melatonin can help produce anti-inflammatory immune cells and prevent inflammatory cells from forming, according to the study.

While this may seem like a small step toward solving the riddle that is MS, it is essential for clients applying for disability benefits to educate themselves on the disease and visit doctors. This will go a long way toward proving the case to the SSA.

300,000 veterans die waiting for their benefits, VA reports

Too many veterans die while waiting for their VA benefits.
Too many veterans die while waiting for their VA benefits.

It’s not right.

That’s likely the first thought to come to mind for every American to read a recent report from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ inspector general. The report stated that more than 300,000 American military veterans likely died while waiting for their healthcare.

To add to the pain, the report continues that “nearly twice as many are still waiting” for their veterans benefits.

The inspector general’s report cites severe problems with veterans’ enrollment data, making it difficult to determine how many veterans were looking for healthcare for the VA and how many actively are now. The VA said there are “data limitations” to finding this information.

To make matters worse, the inspector general’s report said there were “thousands” of unprocessed healthcare applications marked as completed. An additional 10,000 electronic transactions, possibly more, were erroneously deleted.

The fact of the matter is this: our troops deserve better. They put their lives on the line on a daily basis while in battle and should be treated well physically, mentally and emotionally upon their return home to the U.S.

It’s no secret that the VA has trouble with proper treatment of our veterans, as it has also had a VA backlog of tens of thousands of cases for years. This can only be called a national shame.

In order to have their claim adjudicated, it is important for veterans with claims to appeal any adverse decisions themselves or through legal counsel. Our office stands ready to help veterans with their claims against the VA for benefits.

Blocking memory pathway may prevent PTSD

A medical breakthrough may help those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the University of Colorado Boulder.

Blocking a memory pathway that encodes traumatic memories in those who are stressed could help prevent PTSD altogether, professors from this school have found.

About 8 million Americans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD affects about one-third of veterans who return home from war, including 11 percent of those returning from Afghanistan.

Michael Baratta, PhD, of the University of Colorado Boulder, researched the amygdala, a part of the brain that encodes painful memories. The research appeared in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

After testing mice, the doctors discovered serotonin promoted memory consolidation, which converted short-term memories into long-term memories stored in the brain. Blocking the amygdala cells interaction with the serotonin meant the mice in this study did not develop PTSD. They believe this could also work in humans suffering with PTSD.

Researchers believe the drug agomelatine, an antidepressant, may be able to help those with PTSD. While this may be an exciting discovery, it is imperative that veterans who believe they are suffering with PTSD get treatment as soon as possible.

While many receive veterans benefits, the mental anguish is not worth it. For many, a cure or treatment would be considered a miracle.

The law offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates, Ltd. are experts in presenting evidence of PTSD and stand ready and able to assist veterans in pursuit of their benefits.

Disabled veterans will receive cost-of-living increase

Veterans will get a cost of living increase for 2016.
Veterans will get a cost of living increase for 2016.

Those who were wounded while serving our country truly deserve the best. It appears Congress may be making a move toward this, as the MilitaryTimes reported that there will likely be a cost-of-living increase for disabled veterans in 2016.

However, this veterans benefits increase will be tied to Social Security Administration disability benefits. The increase her will not be known until October, so veterans and their families will have to wait to hear about the increase in their benefits.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives passed the cost of living adjustment for disabled veterans, calling it a “commonsense adjustment,” according to the MilitaryTimes. The Senate still has to approve this veterans benefits increase, but there is almost no chance that any politician will choose to vote against this increase in payment.

The increase may not be huge, as the adjustment was an increase of 1.7 percent for the SSA and veterans benefits last year.

MilitaryTimes reports that this new legislation also deems it necessary for VA to pay accrued benefits to a decreased veteran’s estate, even if the veteran passes away without family to receive the payout. This change was passed in an effort to make sure VA does not withhold or cancel payments before every eligible beneficiary is identified

In an era where veterans are often caught in a benefits backlog, it is good to see the U.S. government attempting to do the right thing for those who nobly served our country.

Depression, anxiety more heavily affects management, study shows

Managers and supervisors at work have a greater chance of suffering from depression and anxiety, according to a recent report from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Those who find themselves suffering from depression and anxiety to the point of not being able to work should get professional medical help and apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

According to the study, the results of which were printed in the journal Sociology of Health and Illness, approximately twice the number of supervisors and managers suffered from mental health issues than than workers. For example, 18 percent of supervisors and managers suffered from depression, whereas 12 percent of workers said they did.

The study said this may be due to the added stresses of being in a position of power. Katherine Keyes, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology, said they chose to focus on these two mental illnesses due to the fact that the age of onset is usually older.

Typically, the stress of having less money and power is thought of as something that causes depression and anxiety. This study shows that may not necessarily be the case; people across all walks of life should be sure they are being attentive to their mental healthcare needs.

Depression and anxiety symptoms are, far and away, the primary reason people are unable to perform in competitive employment. The combination of depression and anxiety symptoms disables them from seeking employment and from performing work activities. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates are experts in securing and presenting evidence to win Social Security benefits for it’s clients.

More than 50 million Americans live with disability

In the midst of politicized talk of funding versus de-funding the Social Security Administration, it may become lost that those taking disability benefits are real people with serious problems. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that one in every five people, or 50 million Americans, live with a disability.

50 million Americans live with a disability (photo By Nicolai Berntsen)
50 million Americans live with a disability (photo By Nicolai Berntsen)

“This report is a snapshot of the percent of adults with disabilities in the U.S., so we can get a better understanding of who people with disabilities are,” said researcher Elizabeth Courtney-Long, a health scientist at the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

The most common disabilities include:

  • Mobility limitations which make it hard to climb stairs or walk
  • Trouble thinking or remembering
  • Inability to live independently
  • Sight
  • Self-care

The majority of those with disability tend to be 65 years or older and poor. Approximately 47 percent of people who suffered from disability made less than $15,000 annually. To compare, the median U.S. household income is about $50,500, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

For those who cannot work, it is important that they file for disability benefits as soon as possible. There is a large backlog of cases pending before the SSA and it often takes more than a year to either obtain an approval on the record or set a hearing.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates are experts in obtaining disability benefits for clients. We are available to effectively represent clients before the SSA. Initial consultations with our firm are free of charge.

Veterans benefits extended to same-sex married couples

Gay veterans who are legally married will now have the ability to apply for and receive veterans benefits, according to The Hill.

In the wake of the ruling from Obergefell v. Hodges, a ruling which gave homosexual couples the right to marry, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced all federal agencies will be required to give benefits to married couples.

Lynch said this will include the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Before July, the SSA and VA were still prohibited by a federal statute from fully adopting rules that would allow SSA and VA benefits to extend to same-sex couples, the Hill reported.

“Today I am proud to announce that the critical programs for veterans and elderly and disabled Americans, which previously could not give effect to the marriages of couples living in states that did not recognize those marriages, will now provide federal recognition for all marriages nationwide,” Lynch said. “The agencies are currently working towards providing guidance to implement this change in law.”

The extra costs are not yet known by either agency, but it is invaluable to be able to extend veterans benefits to those who bravely served our country, no matter their orientation.

Schizophrenia may make memory a challenge

Suffering from schizophrenia can be extremely challenging, as hallucinations, delusions, trouble speaking and other physical mental health issues can make it difficult to work and live. A recent study from UC Davis School of Medicine said the disease may also impact memory, an awful side effect that likely makes it far more difficult to hold a job and carry on with life.

Schizophrenia can impact how memory works (Photo by Jordan Sanchez)
Schizophrenia can impact how memory works (Photo by Jordan Sanchez)

“People with schizophrenia have difficulty retrieving associations within a context, and this creates a pervasive loss of memory that makes everyday life a challenge,” says J. Daniel Ragland, professor of psychiatry in the UC Davis School of Medicine, according to the school’s website. “You can’t work if you can’t remember the next step in what your boss told you to do.”

Dysfunction of the frontal and temporal lobe regions of the brain may be at the heart of these medical issues, according to the researchers. Trouble will often arise when trying to form relationships between items or facts, such as putting together ingredients for a meal or trying to form an anecdote.

For those suffering from schizophrenia, it is a good idea to get treatment as early as possible and apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. While this cannot make up for the loss of normalcy in life, the extra money from SSA benefits may help reduce a bit of stress and make it easier to exist.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates have been highly successful over the past 30 years in obtaining Social Security disability benefits for clients who are disabled from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Contact us today for your free consultation.

The problem with the Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration must fix the disability program.
The Social Security Administration must fix the disability program.

Anyone who has been following the Social Security Administration over the past few years can tell you how much financial trouble it is in, but few have answers to how it can be fixed.

Bloomberg’s Matthew Philips took the institute’s pending insolvency to task in a recent article, first citing President Dwight Eisenhower’s desire to have the SSA be run efficiency and effectively to help “rehabilitate the disabled so that they may return to useful employment.” These days, the SSA is a far cry from Eisenhower’s desire.

One problem the SSA has is its lack of ability to return the disabled to work. Philips noted that economists say it does more to keep some capable out of the labor force than it doe to help them back in.

There are currently 11 million people on disability, with less than 1 percent reentering the workforce in 2013. While the lack of incentive to return to work hurts, what may hurt even more is the 1 million rejected disability benefit applications waiting for appeal, causing a gigantic backlog spanning the entire United States.

Social Security disability benefits are necessary for millions across the country who cannot work, but does the current system work as it is laid out? Economically, it doesn’t seem to be working very well, as millions wait for benefits, more millions are on benefits with no incentive to get off of them, all the while the SSA is trying to figure out how it can be funded into the future.

“What is especially problematic is that [SSDI] absorbs people who might otherwise work when economic conditions improve,” Stanford economist Mark Duggan told Philips.

What can be done to help the SSA avoid disaster and insolvency? The most likely scenario is diverting part of Social Security’s payroll tax revenues to avoid disability benefit cuts, but this is not a permanent solution in and of itself. Duggan said it often takes a crisis before Congress makes meaningful reform; SSA has all the making of a crisis coming to light one day.

With case hearing dates taking far longer come to fruition and political pressure to deny claims, it is more critical than ever for a claimant to hire competent attorney to represent them as they seek SSA disability benefits. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates has more than 30 years of experience in successfully representing clients obtain their disability benefits.