Are you unable to work because of a disability? Get the answers you need on Social Security Disability to protect your rights
Keefe Disability Law has compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions in response to the overwhelming number of people who need help with the Social Security Disability process in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. If you are disabled and need help with disability benefits, read on to learn how to protect your legal rights.
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Are proton pump inhibitors safe for kids?
Acid reflux and gastrointestinal reflux diseases (GERD) are uncomfortable and potentially serious medical conditions that require treatment. One potential treatment is with a class of oral medications known as proton pump inhibitors. Proton pump inhibitors reduce the amount of stomach acid that is produced in the body. Some proton pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec and Nexium are available without a prescription, while other proton pump inhibitors such as Prevacid and Dexilant require a prescription.
Proton Pump Inhibitors Are Prescribed for Children
Proton pump inhibitors are one option for treating pediatric acid reflux and GERD. In November 2016, researchers published an article about the use of gastric acid inhibitors in infants in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics. In the abstract for that article, researchers stated, “… proton pump inhibitors are widely and increasingly used, often without objective evidence or investigations to guide treatment.”
Different Studies Find Proton Pump Inhibitor Problems for Children
Despite their widespread use for infants and children, proton pump inhibitors may cause potentially serious side effects for children. These side effects include increased risks of:
- Respiratory infections
- Gastrointestinal tract infections
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Magnesium deficiency
- Bone fractures
- A significant increase in stomach acid once the medication is stopped
In the January 2018 Archives of Disease in Childhood researchers also cautioned that proton pump inhibitors could pose toxicity risks for infants and children that are not yet fully known.
Later in 2018, different researchers published a study in JAMA Otolaryngol Head & Neck Surgery. This study looked at the medical charts of 293 children under the age of two who had abnormal results on videofluoroscopic swallow studies at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2015 with follow-up in 2015 or 2016. According to the study:
- Approximately 53% of the 293 children had aspiration, and the other 47% had isolated laryngeal penetration.
- About half of the 293 children were hospitalized.
- Approximately 51% of the children with swallowing difficulties took proton pump inhibitors.
- Children who took proton pump inhibitors were about twice as likely to be hospitalized and two to three times as likely to spend the night in the hospital as compared with children in the study who did not take proton pump inhibitors.
According to the researchers who conducted the study and wrote the findings, “These results support growing concerns about potential risks of PPIs and suggest the need to reevaluate the use of pharmacologic acid suppression in children with aspiration…”
What to Do If Your Child Is Hurt by a Proton Pump Inhibitor Medication
Proton pump inhibitors have been on the market in the United States for decades. During this time, millions of people, including children, have taken the medication and may have been unaware of the serious side effects that could occur.
Pharmaceutical companies that make proton pump inhibitors have a duty to:
- Design safe medications
- Manufacture safe medications
- Provide reasonable warnings about a medication’s side effects.
If a pharmaceutical company fails to do one of these three things and your child is hurt as a result, then you may have a legal claim against the pharmaceutical company.
Pharmaceutical injury cases can be difficult to bring on your own. You need a lot of information that is in possession of the pharmaceutical company. Safety studies, manufacturing records, and other information may be important to your case.
You shouldn’t have to worry about how to get this information and make a successful claim as you care for your child. Instead, you have the right to work with a mass tort lawyer who can represent your child’s unique interests.
A mass tort case is not the same as a class action case. You may be able to share the costs of litigation and discovery with others who have been similarly hurt, but your lawyer will fight for your child’s personal recovery in a mass tort lawsuit.
To learn more about protecting your child’s rights, please contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Who takes Taxotere?
Taxotere is a type of chemotherapy drug that is used to fight various forms of cancer. It is available only by prescription and only for the treatment of certain illnesses.
Taxotere Treats Different Forms of Cancer
Currently, Taxotere (docetaxel anhydrous) is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of:
- Breast cancer
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Metastatic prostate cancer
- Advanced stomach cancer
- Head and neck cancer
Since Taxotere already has FDA approval, doctors may also prescribe the medication if they think it would be beneficial in the treatment of other conditions such as small cell lung cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, and melanoma.
These types of cancers are not unique to one age group or gender. Therefore, Taxotere may be considered for both men and women.
Taxotere is commonly prescribed with other cancer-fighting medications. It is administered by infusion every few weeks. The dosage and frequency of infusion depend on numerous factors including the type of cancer, the stage of cancer, and the height and weight of the patient.
Taxotere—like other forms of chemotherapy—has significant risks. These risks include stomach upset, mouth sores, temporary hair loss, fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, and an increased risk of infection. Most of these side effects will go away once chemotherapy treatment ends.
However, one major side effect may be permanent. After Taxotere treatment, some women experience permanent alopecia or hair loss. The consequences of permanent hair loss for women can be significant. This type of injury is about much more than physical appearance. A woman who suffers permanent hair loss may always be reminded of her cancer, and she may suffer from low self-esteem. This may impact her ability to get a job, her confidence, her personal relationships, and her quality of life.
Women Have Suffered Permanent Injuries From Taxotere
Sanofi-Aventis, the pharmaceutical company that makes Taxotere, did not warn women about the risk of permanent alopecia until December 2015. The warning came 19 years after the FDA first approved the drug for use in the United States.
During the 19 years between FDA approval and the drug company’s warning, thousands of women used Taxotere not knowing about the risk they faced. During this time, other chemotherapy drugs were available. These other FDA approved chemotherapy drugs were allegedly as effective as Taxotere in the treatment of cancer, but they did not carry the risk of permanent alopecia.
Women were denied the right to make an informed decision about their cancer treatment because of Sanofi-Aventis’s delay in providing an adequate warning about this known risk. Lawsuits filed by women who suffered permanent alopecia from Taxotere indicate that the drug company knew of the risk by 2005. By 2005, the results of a study that began in the late 1990s showed that 9.2% of women who used Taxotere suffered permanent hair loss. Yet, it would take another decade for Sanofi-Aventis to add a warning about permanent alopecia to its drug label.
How to Get Help If You’re Hurt by Taxotere
Women who have suffered permanent hair loss from Taxotere are taking action to protect their legal rights.
Thousands of women have filed Taxotere cases that are currently part of multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDL means that you may hire your own attorney and retain control over your own settlement, but that you may also share in the efficiencies of having the cases heard in the same court. The first Taxotere trials are scheduled for 2019 and 2020.
Don’t wait any longer to find out about your rights. Our Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire mass tort attorneys are here to help you. If you are a woman who took Taxotere or its generic equivalent to treat breast cancer prior to December 2015 and if you have suffered permanent alopecia, then we encourage you to contact our mass tort lawyers today for a free and confidential consultation about your rights and potential recovery.
Who takes Xarelto and who is at risk of being hurt by this medication?
Xarelto was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011. Since then people in the United States have been able to take Xarelto with a doctor’s prescription.
FDA Approved Uses for Xarelto
Currently, Xarelto may be prescribed in the United States to a person who has:
- Atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem. People with atrial fibrillation have hearts that do not beat as expected. This can cause dangerous and potentially life-threatening blood clots to form. Xarelto can reduce the risk of blood clots and strokes for people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve issue.
- Blood clots in the legs or lungs. Blood clots in the veins of the legs, known as deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots in the lungs, known as pulmonary embolisms, may be treated with Xarelto. Additionally, people who continue to be at risk for developing these types of blood clots after six months of treatment may take Xarelto to try to prevent future blood clots from forming.
- Recent knee or hip surgery. Xarelto can help prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms in people who recently had hip or knee replacement surgery.
- Coronary artery disease or peripheral arterial disease. Xarelto combined with a low dose of aspirin can help reduce the risk of serious heart problems, stroke, or heart attacks in patients with these conditions.
Xarelto is a blood thinner that can prevent dangerous blood clots from forming, but it is not without risks.
Xarelto Users Risk Serious Injuries
As an anticoagulant, Xarelto works by thinning out your blood to prevent clotting. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that makes Xarelto, advertises Xarelto as “a latest-generation blood thinner” because it specifically targets one blood clotting factor as compared to older generation blood thinners such as Warfarin that impact six different blood clotting factors and interfere with the body’s vitamin K.
However, newer drugs are not synonymous with risk-free drugs. Xarelto creates certain risks for patients, such as:
- An increased risk of dangerous bleeding. Uncontrollable bleeding is a risk for people taking Xarelto. Brain bleeds and internal bleeding are risks that can result in death. Retinal bleeding is also a risk and can cause permanent vision damage. If you are coughing up blood, if you are dizzy or faint, if you experience vision changes, if you develop any amount of paralysis, if you have a cut that won’t stop bleeding, or if you experience any other signs of a potential bleed then it is important to get emergency medical attention.
- An increased risk of blood clots once a patient stops taking the medication. The very risk that you were trying to control by taking Xarelto may increase when you stop taking the drug. Do not stop taking Xarelto without speaking to your doctor. Your doctor may want to put you on a different type of blood thinner to prevent a blood clot and monitor you more closely.
Anyone who takes Xarelto may be at risk of suffering from these serious and potentially life-threatening medical complications. These complications may occur during treatment or soon after treatment ends.
What to Do If You Have Been Hurt by Xarelto
Even though the side effects of Xarelto are now known, that does not mean that your recovery for Xarelto-related injuries will be automatic. Xarelto cases can be difficult for injured people to win. Janssen Pharmaceuticals has had some success at trial on claims brought by people injured by Xarelto or their surviving family members.
Thus, before you pursue a Xarelto claim, it is important to know all of your rights and to understand whether you may truly have a legal case that can result in an award of damages. Our New England Xarelto injury lawyers would be happy to review your potential claim for you, free of charge if you have suffered a Xarelto side effect in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire. To find out more, or to schedule your free consultation with us, please fill out our online contact form or call us directly.
Can I still recover damages for Essure-related injuries if it is no longer sold in the United States?
As of December 31, 2018, Essure is no longer sold or distributed in the United States. Bayer, the company that makes and distributes Essure, announced its decision in July 2018. The decision came after several actions by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including an April 2018 order that restricted the sale and distribution of Essure.
On July 20, 2018, the FDA confirmed that Bayer had notified the government that Essure sales would stop at the end of 2018. In the FDA’s press release, the agency mentions explicitly that the postmarket safety of Essure will continue to be a top priority of the FDA and that Bayer will be expected to meet its postmarket obligations with regard to Essure. FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, M.D. specifically included the following language in the press release, “I want to stress that, even when Essure is no longer sold, the FDA will remain vigilant in protecting patients who’ve already had this device implanted. We’ll continue to monitor adverse events reported to our database, as well as other data sources.”
The FDA Revises Essure Postmarket Study Requirements
On December 20, 2018, the FDA issued another press release about Essure. This time FDA Commissioner Gottlieb announced new steps to “…revise and strengthen the manufacturer’s postmarket study…” including:
- Following the women in the study for five years rather than three years.
- Requiring additional blood tests for women involved in the study to learn more about their inflammatory markers.
- Requiring Bayer to continue to enroll women in the study who decided to get Essure before it was fully discontinued in the United States.
- Requiring Bayer to submit more frequent reports to the FDA.
While the FDA is continuing to monitor adverse reports about Essure, the agency cannot provide a financial recovery for women who have been hurt.
Individual Women Hurt by Essure Can Pursue Legal Recoveries
Essure is a form of permanent birth control. The device consists of small flexible coils that were inserted into a woman’s fallopian tubes during a relatively quick and simple office procedure. About three months later, scar tissue should form around the coils and prevent sperm from reaching eggs.
Unfortunately, this form of permanent birth control came with many risks. After receiving Essure, some women experienced:
- Significant pain in the pelvis, abdomen, or back.
- Excessive bleeding.
- Unintended pregnancies.
- Migration of the Essure device into the pelvic or abdominal cavities.
- The uterus or fallopian tubes being perforated by the Essure coils.
- Allergic reactions.
- Significant and long-term mood changes or clinical conditions such as depression.
Thousands of women have pursued legal action against Bayer and against Conceptus, the pharmaceutical manufacturer that made Essure until Bayer bought the company in 2013. These women allege that the pharmaceutical companies failed to warn them about the risks of Essure and instead marketed Essure as a safe product.
Take Action Today If You’ve Had an Essure-Related Injury
If you have suffered a serious complication from Essure, then it is not too late to take action. Your legal rights have not changed just because Bayer decided to discontinue sales of Essure in the U.S.
Instead, if you have suffered a serious long-term complication from this form of birth control, then you may be able to pursue or to join a mass tort lawsuit with other women in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island who have suffered similar injuries.
Essure claims, like other pharmaceutical injury claims, can be complicated. Bayer has the resources to defend itself against your claim and to make it very difficult for you to be successful unless you have an experienced lawyer on your side.
The legal team at Keefe Disability Law will protect your rights and your potential recovery if you have suffered an Essure injury. We want you to recover for the past and future medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, pain, suffering, and other damages that you’ve suffered. Call us or reach out to us via this website today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your rights and about what you can do next to protect your recovery.
How do I know if my knee replacement has been recalled?
It can be confusing and scary to hear about a knee replacement recall. You immediately want to know whether the recalled knee replacement device was used during your surgery and is currently in your body.
Find Out If Your Knee Replacement Was Recalled
You can find out about specific knee replacement recalls by:
- Searching the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website. The FDA maintains a medical device recall database. You can search here to find out if your knee replacement has been subject to a recall.
- Calling your surgeon’s office. You may be notified directly by your doctor’s office if there is an urgent recall that you need to know about. However, if you have any question about whether your knee replacement has been recalled or if you aren’t sure exactly which knee replacement you received, then you can call your doctor’s office for this important information.
If you know that you have a recalled knee replacement device, then it is important to watch for signs and symptoms that it is failing. Generally, this may include physical pain, signs of infection, swelling, or difficulty standing or walking. Your doctor may be able to provide you with more specific symptoms to watch for based on the particular knee replacement device and the reason for its recall.
Take Action If You’re Hurt by a Defective Knee Replacement Device
You do not have a lawsuit simply because the knee replacement device that was implanted in your body has been recalled. However, if the device fails prematurely and you suffer a physical injury or require additional surgery, then you may have a claim against the pharmaceutical company that designed, made, or marketed the knee replacement device.
Our Massachusetts knee replacement lawyers are here to help you if you’ve been hurt. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your rights and about how we may be able to help you get the full and fair recovery that you deserve.
I think my knee replacement is failing. What should I do?
You went through knee replacement surgery with the hope and expectation that your pain would decrease and your quality of life would improve. However, now you are experiencing concerning symptoms such as:
- Fever or signs of infection
- Lack of stability or mobility
These could be signs that your knee replacement is failing.
See Your Doctor for a Diagnosis and Treatment Plan
If you notice any sign that your knee is giving way or that you have developed an infection, then it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will determine whether or not your knee replacement is failing. If your doctor finds that your knee replacement is failing, then revision surgery may be recommended.
Revision surgery can be more complicated and have a more significant impact on your life than your original knee replacement surgery.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Defective Knee Replacement Lawyer
You consented to surgery and expected your DePuy Synthesis Attune knee replacement, Zimmer Persona Knee System, Zimmer High Flex Knee Implant, or other knee replacement device to last you for many years. If the knee replacement was defective, however, then it may fail much sooner than expected and require you to have a complicated and costly surgery.
The manufacturer of the knee replacement device may be responsible for your injury. With the help of an experienced attorney, you may be able to recover damages for your defective knee replacement. These damages may include compensation for past, current, and future medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other losses.
To learn more about your potential recovery and about how to protect your rights, please contact our defective knee replacement lawyers today for a free, no-obligation consultation. You can be confident that the pharmaceutical company is going to try to find a reason not to pay for the damages caused by its defective product. Let us convince the pharmaceutical company of its legal obligation to compensate you while you concentrate on your physical recovery.
Who is at risk of developing cancer from talcum-based baby powder?
The smell of baby powder may conjure peaceful memories of your child’s infancy or the relaxed feeling you have after a shower. You likely used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-based baby powder on your child or yourself without a second thought about its safety.
Now, however, reports have come out, warnings have been issued, and lawsuits have been filed alleging that talcum-based baby powder can cause cancer, and you want to know if you, or a loved one, may be at risk.
The Dangers of Talcum-Based Baby Powder
The primary risk of talcum-based baby powder is that talc is contaminated with asbestos when it is mined. Asbestos is a known carcinogen.
A December 2018 Reuters investigation revealed that Johnson & Johnson has known for decades that asbestos may be in its baby powder. Specifically, Reuters found that from at least 1971 through to the early 2000s, Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder sometimes tested positive for asbestos. Johnson & Johnson allegedly knew about the test results and the dangers of asbestos but failed to tell government regulators or consumers.
According to the World Health Organization, and others, there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the use of any baby powder—whether talc-based or not—because of the potential dangers from inhalation.
While the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet issued a warning about talcum powder and cancer, Health Canada issued a talcum powder warning in December 2018. The Canadian public health agency issued a letter to health care providers advising them to advise their patients to stop using talc in their genital areas because of the risk of ovarian cancer and to avoid breathing in talcum powder to avoid lung problems. The Canadian government is also considering further actions to restrict the use of talc.
Women May Be at Risk for Ovarian Cancer
Some women who have used talcum powder in their genital areas have sued Johnson & Johnson alleging that the talcum powder they used near their vaginas traveled to their ovaries and caused ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages. This allows the disease to progress and becomes more difficult to treat. By the time many women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer it is often a stage III or IV cancer and the five-year survival rate may be 50% or less.
Men and Women May Be at Risk for Mesothelioma and Lung Conditions
Like ovarian cancer, mesothelioma often presents with vague symptoms or is asymptomatic in its early stages. In its later stages, mesothelioma is nearly always fatal.
Lung conditions and mesothelioma may develop if talcum powder fibers that contain asbestos are inhaled. While the American Cancer Society does not yet recognize this risk from cosmetic talcum powders, a New Jersey man convinced a court that his mesothelioma was the result of using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and Health Canada has linked loose talc powder to decreased lung function, breathing difficulties, and fibrosis. These conditions may affect people of any gender.
Know Your Rights If You Develop Cancer After Using Talcum-Based Baby Powder
The potential dangers of talcum-based powder may impact both men and women. Anyone may be hurt, although the specific injuries that are suffered may depend on how the product was used.
If you have developed ovarian cancer or a lung condition that you think might be related to your use of baby powder, then the time to act is now. Our experienced attorneys would be happy to review your case, free of charge, and to advise you about your legal options. If there is a causal connection between your cancer or lung condition and baby powder, then we will fight for your fair and just recovery. To learn more, please contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule your free consultation.
Is my employer required to have workers’ compensation insurance?
State law requires that almost all Massachusetts employers carry workers’ compensation insurance. A Massachusetts employer is defined as an employer who does business in the Commonwealth regardless of whether the employer’s headquarters is located in Massachusetts.
For the vast majority of Massachusetts employers, the requirement to carry workers’ compensation insurance applies regardless of the number of employees or the number of hours that the employees work.
Exceptions to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Requirement
While almost all Massachusetts employers must have workers’ compensation, there are a few exceptions to the law. Specifically:
- Employers of domestic employees only need to carry workers’ compensation insurance if the domestic employee works at least 16 hours a week.
- Members of a limited liability company (LLC) or limited liability partnership (LLP) do not need to have workers’ comp insurance if they are the only ones working for the LLC or LLP and they do not have any other employees.
Additionally, corporate officers may request an exemption for themselves if they own at least a 25 percent interest in the corporation. This exemption would apply only to the qualifying corporate officers and not to any employees of the corporation.
How to Verify Your Employer’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance
As an employee, you likely want to know whether your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance. In Massachusetts, you can do this easily. All you need is the name of your employer’s business, the city or town where it is located, and the zip code. You can then check for workers’ comp insurance:
- Online. You can search for your employer’s insurance coverage online. However, your employer may have insurance, and it may not show up in an online search in some cases. If it does not show up, then you should verify coverage in another way.
- By phone. You can call the Office of Insurance, Department of Accidents at (617) 626-5480 or (617) 626-5481.
- By mail. You can download the insurance inquiry form and mail it to the Office of Insurance, Department of Industrial Accidents, 19 Staniford Street, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02114.
- By fax. You can fax your insurance inquiry form to the Office of Insurance, Department of Accidents at (617) 624-0985.
- In person at the Department of Industrial Accidents in Boston. You will need to do this if you are searching for proof of insurance from 1986 or earlier.
Penalties for Employers Who Do Not Have Workers’ Compensation
Whether or not someone is hurt on the job, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts may impose penalties on any employers who do not have the required workers’ compensation insurance. The Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) Office of Investigations may:
- Issue a stop work order (SWO) to the employer.
- Impose a fine of $100 a day (including weekends and holidays) beginning on the date the SWO was issued and ending on the date that workers’ compensation insurance starts and the fine is paid in full.
Employers who receive an SWO have a choice to make. They may appeal the SWO and remain open during the appeal. However, employers who choose this option will have their fine increased to $250 a day.
Further penalties may include being excluded from consideration for public contracts for three years and criminal penalties that include up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,500.
What to Do If You are Hurt at Work
There are specific steps that you should take if you’ve been injured at work in Massachusetts. In addition to checking to see if your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, you should seek immediate medical attention and you should promptly report your injury to your employer. Your time to report your injury is limited and if you fail to make the report then your claim could be denied.
Additionally, it is important to consult with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer. Whether or not your employer had the required insurance, an attorney can make sure that all of your rights and your workers’ compensation benefits are protected. Call us or reach out to us via this website today to schedule a free and confidential consultation and to learn more about getting your medical expenses paid and a portion of your lost income reimbursed.
Get the Workers’ Comp Benefits You Deserve After an Auto Accident
You were hurt in a horrific car crash. You think that you were hurt in the course of your employment and that workers’ compensation should pay for your injuries, but your employer and the workers’ comp insurance company disagree. Who is right? When are auto accident injuries covered by workers’ compensation, what can you receive in workers’ comp benefits, and how can you make sure your rights are protected?
Auto Accident Injuries Must Be Work Related
You can only recover workers’ compensation benefits for your car crash injuries if you were in the car for work-related purposes at the time of the accident.
In most cases, commuting to and from work does not count as a work-related purpose and you will not have a valid workers’ compensation claim if you are hurt in a crash on your way to work or after you have left work for the day. There are exceptions to this general rule, however. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation if you were hurt during your commute and:
- You were hurt on your employer’s premises.
- You were hurt in a parking facility owned by your employer.
- You were traveling home after an off-site meeting or work event.
- You were hurt in a vehicle that was owned by your employer.
- Your employer pays you for your commuting time.
- You do not have a fixed office and you begin work as soon as you leave your home.
Additionally, there are many situations where you may be in your car for a work-related reason during your working hours. Some examples of these situations include being a driver or a passenger:
- On the way to or from a meeting.
- On the way to or from a work-related errand.
- Making a delivery.
If you are hurt in any of these situations—or in any other situation where you were in the car for work-related reasons, then you may be able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim if you suffered an injury that kept you out of work. Some common car accident injuries include:
- Broken bones.
- Internal injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Muscle or ligament injuries.
Any one of these injuries will result in medical expenses and likely in time off of work.
Workers’ Comp Benefits for Work-Related Car Crash Injuries
Once it has been determined that you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits because you were hurt in a car crash during the course of your employment, then you will need to know what kinds of benefits you may recover. In Massachusetts, workers’ compensation benefits may include compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Vocational rehabilitation services
- Loss of bodily function or disfigurement
While all of your medical costs should be covered, the amount of other compensation that you receive depends on the unique injuries that you’ve suffered.
Workers’ compensation will not compensate you in the same way that a personal injury lawsuit would after a car crash. For example, you cannot recover for your pain and suffering by making a workers’ compensation claim. In some cases, you may be able to pursue a personal injury case and file a workers’ compensation claim.
How to Get the Workers’ Comp Benefits You Deserve
Whether or not you have a potential third-party personal injury case, it is important to talk with a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand whether you have claim and help you fight for the fair and just benefits that you’ve earned.
Your time for notifying your employer of your injury is limited. If you wait too long, then you may be unable to get workers’ compensation benefits that you might have otherwise been able to receive. Accordingly, our workers’ compensation lawyers encourage you to contact your employer as soon as possible and to call us to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation about your rights and about how to protect your potential workers’ compensation benefits today.
I was hurt at work in Massachusetts. What should workers’ compensation include?
Massachusetts workers’ compensation law covers medical benefits for all injured workers. Beyond that, the answer to your question depends on your specific injury. Massachusetts law provides for different benefits depending on whether your injury is temporary or permanent and whether your injury is partially or totally incapacitating. Additionally, Massachusetts law may provide other benefits if you suffer permanent scarring or disfigurement or if your loved one has died because of a workplace injury or illness.
All Injured Workers Should Receive Medical Benefits
You have the right to receive adequate and reasonable medical care for as long as you require healthcare services. This includes doctors’ appointments, hospitalizations, surgeries, prescription medications, and even mileage reimbursement for travel to and from medical appointments. Your employer may decide which healthcare provider you see for your first appointment. After that, you have the right to decide on your own healthcare providers.
While these benefits may be very important to you, they will not compensate you for your lost income.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Based on Your Injury
Compensation for your lost income will depend on whether your injury was permanent or temporary and whether your injury was complete or partial. Specifically, you may recover the following benefits for a:
- Temporary Total Incapacity Injury. If you are unable to work for six or more days, then you may be eligible to receive 60 percent of your gross average weekly wage for the 52 weeks prior to your injury. The maximum amount you can receive is equal to the state’s average weekly wage. Benefits may continue for up to 156 weeks.
- Temporary Partial Incapacity Injury. If you are able to work, but you can’t earn the same amount that you did prior to your injury, then you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Benefits may equal 75 percent of what you would be eligible for if you had a temporary total incapacity injury. Benefits may continue for up to 260 weeks.
- Permanent Total Incapacity Injury. If you are permanently and completely unable to work, then you may be eligible to receive 66 percent of your gross average weekly wage. The minimum amount you can collect is equal to 20 percent of the state’s average weekly wage and the maximum amount you can collect is equal to the state’s average weekly wage. Benefits may continue for as long as you are disabled.
If you suffer a permanent injury, then you may also be eligible for vocational benefits. Once you are medically stable, you may request a meeting with the Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation to request vocational services so that you can return to meaningful employment.
Additional Workers’ Compensation Benefits May Be Possible for Specific Injuries
In some cases, Massachusetts law allows for the additional recovery of benefits such as when:
- You suffer scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily functions. If the injury occurs on your face, neck, or hands, then you may be able to receive a one-time payment for your injury in addition to the benefits described above. The specific amount of your payment depends on the location and severity of your injury.
- Your loved one has died from a work-related illness or injury. You may be able to recover survivor benefits if your spouse died because of a work-related illness or injury or if your parent died because of a work-related illness or injury and you are under the age of 18, you are a full-time student, or you unable to work because of a disability. Generally, the benefits include up to 66 percent of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage up to the maximum state average weekly wage. Burial costs may also be covered by workers’ compensation. Restrictions on these benefits do apply and it is important to talk to a workers’ comp lawyer about how the benefits apply to you.
Understanding your workers’ comp benefits is only the first step in your recovery.
The Next Step Is to Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Help
The workers’ compensation insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible for your claim. You cannot trust that you will be treated fairly if you negotiate directly with the insurance company. However, if you hire a workers’ compensation lawyer to represent you, then you can be sure that your rights will be protected and that a skilled advocate will be working hard to get you the benefits that you deserve.
We understand that money can be tight while you are out of work due to an injury or illness. Our lawyers do not want this to stand in the way of your benefits. Accordingly, we encourage you to contact our experienced disability lawyers today for a free and confidential consultation about your rights and about how to protect the benefits you’ve earned.
When will my long-term disability benefits end?
You’ve jumped through all the hoops and you’ve done everything that was asked of you. Whether the insurance company relented and granted your request for long-term disability (LTD) benefits or you won benefits after a hard-fought appeal, you got the benefits that you deserved.
Now You Want to Know When LTD Benefits May End
There are a number of reasons that an insurance company can justifiably stop your long-term disability benefits. These reasons include:
- A change in the definition of disability after 24 months. Many employer-sponsored group long-term disability insurance contracts change the definition of disability after 24 months. For the first 24 months you may be considered to be disabled if you are unable to work in your “own occupation.” After 24 months you may only be considered disabled if you are unable to work in “any occupation.”
- Limited benefits for mental or psychological disabilities. Some group long-term disability contracts limit benefits for mental or psychological disabilities to 24 months. That means that if your claimed disability is for something like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder then you likely have 24 months worth of benefits. In some cases, these benefits may be extended if you are hospitalized. Additionally, some disorders such as schizophrenia may be specifically excluded from the 24-month limitation.
- Medical improvement to the point where you are no longer disabled. If the medical evidence or video surveillance indicates that your health has improved to the point where you can return to work, then the insurance company may find that you are no longer disabled and it may terminate your benefits.
- Failure to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Most long-term disability plans will require you to apply for Social Security disability benefits and will offset your long-term disability benefits by the amount of Social Security disability benefits that you receive. The failure to apply for Social Security disability benefits may give the insurance company a reason to stop paying your long-term disability benefits.
- Failure to continue getting medical care. The terms of your long-term disability contract will likely require you to get continued medical care and to provide the insurance company with medical evidence of your continued disability at regular intervals. The failure to do so can jeopardize your benefits.
- Reaching retirement age. Retirement age should be defined in your contract. It is often found in the maximum benefit period section or chart. Once you reach that age, it is assumed that you would no longer be working and, therefore, your long-term disability benefits will end.
- Going back to work. Different long-term disability contracts address going back to work in different ways. Your contract may say that your benefits end if you do any work at all or only if you work a certain number of hours or if you earn a certain amount of money, for example.
If the language in your insurance contract supports ending benefits for any one of these reasons and the facts of your case support the termination of benefits then there may be little that you can do to keep receiving benefits.
But You Can Protect Yourself From Wrongful Termination of LTD Benefits
While there are legitimate reasons to end long-term disability benefits, insurance companies may try to end your benefits prematurely. If you have received notice of the insurance company’s intent to terminate your benefits or if you have any suspicion that your benefits may end, then it is important to familiarize yourself with the terms of your long-term disability contract and to contact an experienced long-term disability insurance lawyer today.
Our attorneys are committed to helping people with disabilities get the long-term disability benefits that they have earned through their employers. Please contact us today via this website or by phone if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced disability lawyer to learn more about protecting your right to receive all of the long-term disability benefits you should pursuant to your insurance contract.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit if I was hurt by a dangerous drug?
Prescription drug injury lawsuits—like all lawsuits—are subject to laws known as statutes of limitations. Each state has its own statute of limitation laws. These laws provide a certain time by which a person must file a lawsuit in court or forego a claim. The time varies depending on the type of case that you are filing. For example, a personal injury statute of limitations may be different from the statute of limitations for a breach of contract.
Drug injury cases are subject to state statutes of limitation. However, statutes of limitations issues can be complicated in these types of cases because it isn’t always possible to know that you were hurt immediately after taking a medication. Accordingly, it is important to understand the general statute of limitation law, how to comply with the law in a prescription drug injury case, and why you can’t let the statute of limitations expire without filing a case in court.
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island Prescription Drug Injury Statutes of Limitations
The following statutes of limitations apply if you were hurt by a defective drug:
- The Massachusetts Statute of Limitations provides you with three years to file a lawsuit.
- The New Hampshire Statute of Limitations provides you with three years to file a lawsuit.
- The Rhode Island Statute of Limitations provides you with three years to file a lawsuit.
Typically, this means that you must file a formal complaint with the court before the three-year statute of limitations expires. While statutes of limitations typically start running on the date that the action took place that caused your injury, that is not always possible to determine in a defective drug case. Furthermore, your injury may not develop or may not be diagnosed for some time after you take the medication. For this reason, the statute of limitations will begin to run when you knew that you were hurt or when you should have reasonably discovered your injury.
How to Make Sure You Don’t Miss the Statute of Limitations
While every case is different, there are important things that you can do to make sure that you don’t miss the statute of limitations. Specifically, you can:
- See your doctor as soon as you begin to exhibit any symptoms of illness or injury. When you see your doctor, it is important to report all of the medications that you have used, your dosage, and the date that you began and stopped the medications.
- Follow your doctor’s treatment plan. This is important both to your health and to your potential legal case if there is a connection between your symptoms and the medication that you took. It can help create a medical record showing causation and show that you took the recommended medical steps to get better.
- Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can determine both whether you have a potential case and when the statute of limitations began to run.
These steps will help you file your case on time and make a fair recovery.
What Happens If You Miss the Statute of Limitations in Your Drug Injury Case
If you miss the statute of limitations and you file a complaint in court after the statute of limitations has expired, then you can expect the pharmaceutical company to motion the court to dismiss your case. If the court agrees that the statute of limitations has expired, then your case will be dismissed without you recovering anything. The pharmaceutical company will not negotiate a settlement with you because they know that you have no recourse in court.
Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, contact a mass tort lawyer as soon as you think that you might have suffered a prescription drug injury. Our lawyers would be pleased to provide you with a free, no-obligation initial consultation so that you can learn more about your rights and about how to protect them. Simply call us or reach out to us via this website to schedule your meeting.
Is it financially beneficial for me to pursue a mass tort lawsuit after being hurt by a defective medical device?
We understand your question. Filing or joining a mass tort lawsuit is an important decision. Like all of life’s important decisions, it is important to consider the pros and cons, or benefits and costs, before you decide what course of action to take. Even if you were hurt by a medical device and your injury was caused by the pharmaceutical company that made the medical device, it only makes sense to pursue legal action if the potential benefits of a legal action outweigh the costs.
Possible Damages in a Defective Medical Device Mass Tort Lawsuit
The benefits of a medical device injury case are the damages that you may recover if your case is successfully settled or if the court returns a verdict in your favor. We can’t tell you the value of your potential damages in the answer to a frequently asked question—and you should be wary of any lawyer who claims to be able to give you a fast online quote. The simple reason for this is that each recovery is based on unique circumstances such as:
- The extent of your injury.
- The quality of the evidence that you have that links the design, marketing, or manufacturing of the medical device to your injury.
- The strength of the arguments that you make to the insurance company or the court.
These factors will impact the dollar value of your recovery. In general, however, you should be able to recover for your past, current, and future:
- Medical expenses. All of your health care costs including, but not limited to, hospitalizations, surgeries, doctors’ appointments, medications, physical therapy, and other rehabilitation therapies should be part of your recovery.
- Lost income. If you are unable to work because of your medical device injury, then you should be able to recover for the income that you were or will be unable to earn. This may include wages, benefits, bonuses, and income from self-employment, for example.
- Out-of-pocket costs. Any bills that you have that you would not have had but for your medical device injury should be part of your recovery. Depending on your unique circumstances, this could include things like modifications to your home or help around the house.
- Physical pain and emotional suffering. The physical pain and emotional suffering that you experience from your medical device injury may be your most significant damages. While it is impossible to put a precise price tag on these damages, an attorney can help you value them based on your unique injuries and the impact of those injuries on your life.
- Other damages. In some cases, for example, punitive damages that are designed to punish the pharmaceutical company may also be possible.
Additionally, you may feel a moral obligation and a sense that justice has been done by holding the pharmaceutical company accountable for its negligence. Your action will hopefully prevent the pharmaceutical company, and other pharmaceutical companies, from acting without due care for patient safety in the future.
What About the Costs of a Mass Tort Lawsuit?
While every lawsuit has costs—such as court costs, discovery expenses, and lawyer fees—mass tort actions are typically more financially efficient than individual lawsuits. You will be able to share in the costs with other people who join you in the mass tort action. At the same time, you retain control of your own individual claim, and you won’t have to divide or share the settlement or verdict with other plaintiffs the way you would have to do in a class action case.
Call a Mass Tort Lawyer for a Free Personal Case Evaluation
Since every medical device injury case is unique, it is important to understand what you have at stake so that you can weigh your own benefits and costs and decide whether or not to pursue a mass tort action.
Our experienced lawyers can help you with that. We can review your claim and your injuries and advise you of your rights so that you can make an educated decision. Call us or contact us via this website at any time to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with us.
What is a prescription medication manufacturing defect?
Pharmaceutical companies have a duty to design, manufacture, and market safe medications. If something goes wrong at any of these three stages, then the consequences can be devastating for many people who take the medication.
What Can Go Wrong During the Manufacturing Stage of a Prescription Medication?
A manufacturing defect happens after the medication has already been safely designed. If the medication had been made according to the specifications of the design and then marketed accordingly, then the prescription drug would not be defective.
In the case of a manufacturing defect, something went wrong while the medication was being made. In other words, the medication was not made according to the specifications in the design. This could happen if, for example:
- An ingredient that was included in the design was left out of the drug during the manufacturing process.
- An ingredient that was not included in the design was added to the product during the manufacturing process.
- The right ingredients were used but at the wrong dosages. This will result in a mediation that is stronger or weaker than expected.
- There were unsanitary or contaminated conditions that tainted one or more batches of the medication.
- The wrong label was attached to the medication.
Since the medication that was created was more dangerous than consumers expected it to be given its design and marketing, it is considered to be defective.
Evidence of a Manufacturing Defect
In order to win a defective manufacturing claim, you will need to prove that:
- The medication was defective and became defective during the manufacturing stage.
- You suffered injuries that occurred because of the medication’s defect.
This will require evidence. Much of the evidence that you need will be in the control of the pharmaceutical company that is trying to defend itself. This may include:
- Design plans for the medication. In order to know if the medication was manufactured incorrectly, you need to know if it was made according to the approved design.
- Samples of the medication. The samples can be tested to determine what is in them.
- Quality assurance reports or witness testimony. This can help you determine if anything happened during the manufacturing process that should not have happened.
Obviously, the pharmaceutical company is not going to hand this evidence over to you unless they are legally required to do so. An experienced mass tort lawyer can help you get the evidence you need through the legal discovery process. This may include requests for production of documents, interrogatories, depositions, and other requests that the pharmaceutical company is legally bound to answer.
Get the Damages You Deserve If You Have Been Hurt by a Manufacturing Defect
When a mistake is made in the manufacturing of a medication, serious injuries or death can result. Many people who took the medication, or a batch of the medication, may suffer similar side effects. Together, the injured parties or the loved ones of those who have died may join together in a mass tort action to hold the pharmaceutical company accountable for its negligence.
The pharmaceutical company may aggressively defend itself against your allegations. If you are alone in your attempt to make a legal recovery, then the pharmaceutical company may overwhelm you with its defense.
However, in a mass tort case you and other similarly affected plaintiffs can join forces in discovery and in seeking justice. While you will work together on the legal case, your recovery will be unique. You may recover financial damages for the specific injuries that you suffered.
To learn more about your rights, your recovery, and how a mass tort case works, please contact our mass tort drug injury lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation today. We would be pleased to review the facts of your case, to provide you with our honest opinions, and, if appropriate, to fight for your full and just legal and financial recovery.
The pharmaceutical company did not warn me about the potential side effects of my medication. Is the pharmaceutical company liable for the injuries I suffered?
The pharmaceutical company may be legally responsible for the injuries that you suffered if it knew, or should have known, about the potential injuries and if it failed to warn you about those injuries.
Two Ways a Pharmaceutical Company May Fail to Warn
A pharmaceutical company may have failed to warn you about potential injuries if it:
- Did not mention potential side effects while advertising or marketing the medication. Pharmaceutical companies are not required to advertise their products. However, if they choose to advertise by sending representatives to doctor’s offices, by promoting their medication on social media, or by running television, radio, internet, or print ads, then they must be truthful in their advertisements or marketing efforts. This means that they must disclose the risks of the medication along with the benefits of the medication.
- Did not include information about side effects in the warnings or instructions that accompanied the medication. Pharmaceutical companies have a duty to include known side effects in the prescribing information that accompanies a prescription drug.
Copies of advertisements, information about marketing strategies, copies of drug inserts, information about what the drug company knew about potential side effects, and other information that may be important to your claim.
You Deserve to Make a Fair Recovery If the Pharmaceutical Company’s Failure to Warn Resulted in Your Injury
You can only rely on the information that you are given. If the pharmaceutical company fails to provide you with complete or accurate information, then you are forced to make a decision about using a medication without the facts that you need.
This can cause you to make a decision about using a drug that you would not have otherwise made and it can cause you to suffer significant injuries. The failure to warn about a potential side effect can be as dangerous as designing a defective drug or manufacturing a defective drug.
You may not be the only one who was hurt by the pharmaceutical company’s failure to warn. Other people may have suffered similar injuries and together you may be able to join in a mass tort action against the pharmaceutical company—so that you can recover the individual damages that you deserve. To learn more, please contact our prescription drug injury lawyers directly via this website or by phone to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation about your rights and possible recovery.
What should I do if I’ve been injured by a medical device?
Many of the actions that you take after suffering a defective medical device injury can impact your potential recovery. Some of the actions may help your recovery while other actions may hurt your recovery. You need to know about both the actions that can help you and the actions that can hurt you so that you can make sure your rights and potential financial damages are protected.
Four Things You Should Do If You Suffer a Defective Medical Device Injury
As soon as you notice a symptom, side effect, or medical condition that could be related to your medical device it is important to take action. Your actions may include:
- Seeing a doctor as soon as possible. The primary purpose of seeing a doctor whom you trust is to get an accurate diagnosis and to begin medical treatment. However, seeing a doctor may also have a significant impact on your potential recovery because it will document your injury and your attempts to recover from your injury.
- Documenting your symptoms and how they impact your life. Right now you might think that you will remember every bit of pain and every way in which your injury impacts your everyday life. However, as time goes on, the details may become fuzzy. Accordingly, it is important to keep a journal or calendar that documents how you are feeling and how your injury impacted your daily activities.
- Doing a little research. A simple internet search with the name of your medical device and the word injury may reveal whether or not other people are suffering similar injuries because of the same device and whether a mass tort action has been filed.
- Contacting a medical device injury lawyer. An attorney can review your claim with you and advise you of all of your legal options so that you can make an informed decision about protecting your rights.
These actions can help you better understand what happened to you, manage your medical condition, and protect your financial recovery.
Four Things You Should Not Do If You Suffer a Defective Medical Device Injury
The actions that you don’t take are just as important as the actions that you take. Accordingly, it is important that you do not:
- Try to treat your symptoms yourself. This can interfere with both your physical recovery and your legal recovery. You may end up making your injury worse or failing to make it better. Likewise, you may complicate issues of liability if you do make your physical condition worse by failing to get medical care.
- Negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical company or its lawyers. The pharmaceutical companies do not want to accept liability nor do they want to pay you for your injuries. Accordingly, they may try to deny or minimize your claim to protect themselves. Anything that you say to the pharmaceutical company may be misconstrued and may make your fair recovery more difficult.
- Post on social media. Anything that you put on social media may also be misunderstood and used against you when you pursue a recovery. For example, if you post a picture of yourself at a party, then it may be interpreted to mean that you are not as hurt as you claim.
- Wait too long to do anything. You only have a set amount of time to pursue a legal claim. If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitation expires then you should expect the pharmaceutical company to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Any of these mistakes could interfere with the recovery that you deserve.
Let a Defective Medical Device Injury Lawyer Advise You on Your Next Steps
You shouldn’t have to guess about what to do, or not to do, after you suffer an injury. The potential consequences of your actions are complicated, and the potential impacts of your actions are serious.
Our experienced medical device injury lawyers can advise you every step of the way. We can weigh the pros and cons of each action you might take with you and provide you with valuable advice about protecting your rights after a defective medical device injury. To learn more about whether you may have a claim, please contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
How long will it take to get long-term disability benefits after I become disabled?
Your disability is keeping you from working. Without an income, you are likely eager to start receiving the long-term disability benefits from the insurance policy that was part of your employment compensation package. Unfortunately, those benefits may not start immediately.
The Waiting Period for LTD ERISA Benefits
The majority of group long-term disability plans have something known as an “elimination period” or a waiting period. Typically, the elimination period lasts 90 or 180 days. During this time you may not receive long-term disability benefits.
However, you may still be receiving some kind of income. That income may include:
- Sick days. You may be eligible for sick time benefits and you may be able to take the sick days that you accrued.
- Short-term disability insurance benefits. Most long-term disability elimination periods are the same length as your short-term disability coverage. Therefore, you may be receiving short-term disability benefits while you wait for your long-term disability coverage to take effect.
Generally, long-term disability insurance plans are written to require you to exhaust your sick days and short-term disability insurance benefits before your long-term disability insurance benefits take effect.
Waiting for the benefits that you’ve earned can be frustrating. However, the wait is not unique to long-term disability plans. For example:
- Other programs that provide benefits to people with disabilities also have waiting periods. For example, Social Security disability benefits only start after you’ve been disabled for at least five months.
- Other types of insurance plans have deductibles. Your home and auto insurance likely have deductibles that you pay out of pocket. Your health insurance may also have a deductible, co-pays, or both. The wait for long-term disability benefits is similar to the concept of a deductible in that you are not compensated immediately and must wait until the elimination period is completed to receive benefits.
While the waiting period is required and may be expected, you can still take action to make sure that it is no longer than necessary and that you get your benefits as soon as possible.
How to Avoid Unnecessary Delays of Your Long-Term Disability Benefits
Insurance companies maximize their profits by paying out as little as possible in claims. One way an insurance policy may try to pay you as little as possible is to delay the approval of your claim. This may be happening to you if:
- The insurance company is repeatedly requesting small amounts of information from you. Each time the insurance company sends a letter requesting information, the clock stops on the insurance company’s deadline to decide your claim. Therefore, if you are repeatedly getting letters that ask for one or two non-critical pieces of information then the insurance company may be attempting to draw out the time that it has to make a decision.
- The insurance company denies getting the information that you sent. Make sure you keep copies of everything that you send so that you can quickly get a second copy to an insurance company that claims not to receive your mail, email, or faxes.
Insurance companies have a duty to act in good faith in deciding claims. Typically, the insurance company should make a decision about your claim within 45 days and your payments should begin within 90 or 180 days, as stated in your plan. While these deadlines may be extended in certain circumstances, they may not be extended because of unnecessary delays.
Our experienced ERISA attorneys are here to help you recover the long-term disability benefits that you’ve earned in a fair and timely manner. We will not let the insurance company violate the terms of your policy or violate ERISA law without facing legal consequences. To find out more about how we can help you get the benefits that you’ve earned, please contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Can I get Social Security disability benefits if I’ve been diagnosed with an affective disorder?
Yes, if you suffer from an affective disorder and you can prove that you meet the eligibility criteria for Social Security disability then you may be able to recover monthly benefits.
The First Question Is Whether You Have an Affective Disorder
An affective disorder is not one specific disease. Instead, it is a term used to describe a set of psychiatric diseases that can range from mild to severe, with symptoms varying between individuals. Affective disorders are also sometimes referred to as mood disorders. There are three main types of affective disorders, including the following:
- Depression. Also known as major depressive disorder, this condition typically causes people to feel extreme sadness and hopelessness. Episodes can last for several days or can continue for weeks or months.
- Bipolar disorder. This condition results in people experiencing periods of depression followed by periods of mania. Mania occurs when you feel extremely positive and active. Unfortunately, mania is not always good. Instead, it can make you feel irritable, aggressive, impulsive, and even delusional. Bipolar disorders can be further broken down into different classes of the disease according to the severity of the depression and mania, as well as how often the swing between the two moods occurs.
- Anxiety disorders. Like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders come in many different forms. These include social anxiety caused by social situations, post-traumatic stress disorder caused by a traumatic event, generalized anxiety disorder which does not have one particular cause, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
While anxiety is a type of affective disorder, the Social Security Administration categorizes anxiety disorders differently than depression and bipolar disorders. If you are applying for benefits then it is important to know which Social Security disability listing of impairment may be relevant to your claim.
The Next Question Is Whether You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits Because of Your Affective Disorder
Unfortunately, when affective disorders are severe enough, it can become difficult or impossible for a person to carry out activities of daily living and to work. Social Security disability benefits may be available to provide some relief from this financial burden—if you qualify.
Just as there are different types of affective disorders, there are different ways to qualify for Social Security disability if you are diagnosed with an affective disorder. For example, you may qualify for disability benefits if:
You Meet the Requirements in the Blue Book Listing of Impairments
Affective disorders are included in Section 12.00 of the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book Listing of Impairments which covers mental disorders. You may satisfy the requirements for an affective disorder pursuant to a specific listing if one of the following is true:
- You have depressive disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.04A(1). To do this, you must have medical documentation that shows that you experience five or more of the following symptoms: depressed mood, diminished interest in almost all activities, appetite disturbance with a change in your weight, sleep disturbance, observable psychomotor agitation or retardation, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating or thinking, and thoughts of suicide or death.
- You have bipolar disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.04A(2). To meet this requirement, you must have medical documentation that proves that you experience three or more of the following symptoms: pressured speech, flight of ideas, inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, distractibility, involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences that are not recognized, or an increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation.
- You have anxiety disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.06A(1). To qualify pursuant to this listing, you must have medical documentation that proves that you have at least three of the following symptoms: restlessness, tiring easily, having difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, or sleep disturbance.
- You have panic disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.06A(2). To qualify for benefits under this listing, you must have medical documentation that one of the following is true: you have panic attacks followed by a persistent concern or worry about having more panic attacks or the consequences of panic attacks, or you have a disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations.
- You have obsessive-compulsive disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.06A(3). You will qualify for benefits under this listing if you have medical documentation to prove that one of the following is true: you have an involuntary, time-consuming preoccupation with intrusive, unwanted thoughts or you have repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety.
In order to qualify for benefits pursuant to any of these listings, you must also prove that one of the following is true:
- You have an extreme limitation in one, or a marked limitation in two, of the following four areas of mental functioning: (1) understanding, remembering, or applying information; (2) interacting with others; (3) concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; and (4) adapting or managing yourself.
- Your affective disorder is serious and persistent. That means that you have a medically documented history of the disorder for a period of at least two years and there is evidence—that despite ongoing medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support, and a highly structured setting that diminishes your symptoms—you still have a minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or demands that are not part of your daily life.
These are tough requirements to meet and you may be unable to work because of your disability—even if you do not meet the technical requirements in the Listing of Impairments.
You May Qualify for Benefits Because of the Severity of Your Affective Disorder
Even if you do not meet the requirements in one of the listings described above, you may still qualify for benefits if your symptoms are equal in severity to another listing or if you are unable to work because of the significant way that your condition impacts your ability to work.
Get the Help You Need Before You Apply for Benefits
Obtaining Social Security disability benefits is important for many people suffering from affective disorders. You may need these benefits if you are unable to earn a living. Our experienced Social Security disability lawyers are here to help you through this process. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation and to download our free report, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process, to learn more.
I got a call from Texas Disability Determination Services asking me to see a doctor before a decision is made on my Social Security disability application. Do I have to attend this appointment?
Generally, yes, if you want your application for Social Security disability benefits to be approved then you need to comply with the Disability Determination Services (DDS) request that you attend a consultative medical exam. This exam will not cost you any money, but before you see any doctor for any reason, it is important to understand the purpose of the appointment and your rights.
Who Performs a Consultative Exam?
The doctor who you usually see may be the one who performs your consultative exam. It is the Social Security Administration’s policy that the treating source (or your regular doctor) perform the consultative exam if the doctor is:
- Qualified and able to perform the exam or tests requested.
- Willing to do the exam or tests for the fee schedule payment provided by the Social Security Administration.
- One who generally furnishes complete and timely reports.
However, in some cases DDS may request that an independent medical provider conduct the consultative exam or test. This may occur if one of the following things is true:
- Your regular doctor does not want to perform the exam.
- There are conflicts or inconsistencies in your file that can’t be resolved by your regular doctor.
- You prefer to have someone else perform the exam and you have a good reason for having this preference.
- Prior experience indicates that your regular doctor may not be a productive source for getting the information sought in the consultative exam.
If a doctor other than your own is selected to perform your consultative exam, then that selection should be based on the doctor’s ability to perform the requested tests or specific exam, the doctor’s appointment availability, and the distance you must travel to get to the doctor.
What Happens at a Consultative Exam
DDS must be clear about the additional medical evidence that it needs to make a determination about your eligibility. In some cases a full exam may be needed. However, in other cases one test (such as an X-ray or EKG) may be all that is needed. You should understand the scope of the consultative exam before you attend your scheduled appointment.
Even though the scope of the consultative exam may be limited, the consultative exam report must contain specific information. Specifically, the Social Security Administration requires the report to include:
- Your claim number and a physical description of you.
- Your medical history.
- The results of your physical examination and laboratory findings.
- The examiner’s medical conclusions.
The report must be complete enough to allow a reviewer to determine what your disability is, how severe it is, how long it is expected to last, and how it impacts your ability to work. Additionally, it must be consistent. However, it should not include an opinion as to whether you are disabled as that term is defined by Social Security disability law. If the report is found to be incomplete or inconsistent then it will be sent back to the doctor and a determination about your Social Security disability claim may be delayed.
What to Know Before You Go to a Consultative Exam
The failure to attend a consultative exam may result in your Social Security disability claim being denied. While you need to attend the appointment, you also deserve to understand what is happening with your claim before, during, and after a consultative exam.
During the exam, all of your questions should be answered. The doctor treating you should explain what he is doing and why. If you do not speak English then an interpreter will be provided to you during your exam. You will not have to pay for the interpreter’s services.
Before you attend the consultative exam, and afterward, your Social Security disability lawyer will be available to help you with your application for benefits. The consultative exam is just one part of the application process. We will use the information from your exam, and all other applicable information, to help you get the benefits that you deserve. Please contact us today via this website or by phone to learn more about protecting your rights.
What is the Activities of Daily Living questionnaire?
The Social Security Administration wants to know if your disability prevents you from working. In order to make this critical assessment that will significantly impact your Social Security disability eligibility, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may ask that you fill out an Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire.
The purpose of the questionnaire is to better assess how your physical and mental impairments impact your daily life. While your medical records allow the SSA to evaluate your medical diagnoses, this questionnaire allows them to assess how the diagnoses impact your life on a day-to-day basis. Your answers will help determine whether you have functional limitations that impact your ability to engage in substantial gainful activity. Learn more about substantial gainful activity in our other article.
What Is Included in the Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire?
The Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire is more formally known as Function Report – Adult – Form SSA-3373-BK. This form asks about your abilities and limitations in performing tasks such as caring for yourself and your household.
Some of the questions that you can expect on the form include:
- Do you live alone or with other people?
- How does your disability limit your ability to work?
- What do you do on a typical day, starting from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed?
- Do you take care of other people—such as children, a spouse, parents, other relatives, or pets? What do you do for them? Do you have any help from anyone else?
- What were you able to do before you became disabled that you cannot do now?
- Does your disability affect your sleep?
- Does your disability affect your ability to get dressed, bathe yourself, shave, use the toilet, or otherwise take care of yourself?
- Do you need help or reminders to take medication?
- Do you prepare your own meals?
- Are you able to do household chores? Are there any household chores that you need help with?
- How often do you go outside?
- Do you drive?
- Can you go out alone?
- Can you shop? Can you do it independently?
- Are you able to pay your own bills and manage your own money?
- Do you have hobbies, interests, and activities that you enjoy on a regular basis?
- Do you spend time with others? In what situations? Do you have trouble getting along with people?
- What abilities does your disability impact? Examples include lifting, walking, concentrating, using hands, talking, sitting, and other important abilities.
- How far can you walk before you need to rest?
- How long can you pay attention?
- Do you finish what you start?
- Can you follow verbal or written instructions?
- Do you get along with authority figures?
- Have you ever been fired because you had trouble getting along with others?
- How well do you handle stress and changes in routine?
- Do you use any assistive devices (such as hearing aids or crutches, for example)?
- Do you take any medications? What are the side effects of those medications?
If you answer yes, or in such a way as to indicate that you are disabled, then you will be asked to further explain your limitations or condition in a short answer format. Additionally, there is space at the bottom of the questionnaire for you to add in information that was not included in the routine questions.
Tips for Completing the Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire
The good news is that you are the person in the best position to answer questions about what you do on a typical day. When you complete the form it is important to:
- Be honest. You do not want to exaggerate or understate your limitations and abilities.
- Give as many details as you can so that the person reading the questionnaire gets an accurate idea of what your life is like on a daily basis.
Technically, this form is voluntary. However, if you fail to fill it out, then the SSA may not be able to find you eligible for Social Security disability benefits. While you are the one who must fill out the form, it should be done in consultation with your Social Security disability lawyer who can help you complete your entire Social Security disability application.
For more information, or to get started with your own Social Security disability claim, please contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule your initial consultation. Additionally, we encourage you to download a FREE copy of our book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process, to learn more today.