Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a tick borne bacterial infection. You can be infected by the bite of a deer tick. One of Lyme disease’s telltale signs is a rash, called an Erythema migrans rash. This rash typically occurs within the first 2 weeks of infection, and it looks like a bullseye target. Although most prevalent in New England and some of the Midwestern states, you can be infected anytime you are outdoors. Lyme disease has been reported in 49 states (Hawaii has not had a confirmed case of Lyme Disease), and in every continent, except Antarctica.

Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. Oftentimes, people either do not get a rash. Some people get flu-like symptoms within the first 2 weeks from the infection. Bell’s Palsy can often occur. That is where you lose muscle control on one side of your face, and it appears to droop. Other symptoms can be fatigue, joint pain and swelling, eye inflammation, and swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms usually occur in the first 2 weeks of the infection. However, these are such general symptoms, they can be diagnosed incorrectly.

Some people have “chronic Lyme disease”. This is officially called Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. This can occur if you are diagnosed months, or even years after the original tick bite. When this happens, Lyme disease can attack your nervous system, cardiovascular system and can often lead to other diseases, such as Hepatitis B, Guillian-Barre Syndrome and even Meningitis. These are auto-immune responses that your body creates as it tries to fight the infection.

Testing for Lyme disease is a 2 step process. The first step is to test the blood to look for Lyme disease enzymes. If this first test is positive, then an immunoblot test is done, typically called a “Western blot” test. If that is also positive, the diagnosis is complete.

Treatment of Lyme disease is the same, whether it is immediately after the tick bite, or months later. Since Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, it is treated with a 2 to 4 week trial of antibiotics.

There is still much more research to be done on Lyme disease. The use of ongoing antibiotics for Post Lyme Disease Syndrome can cause serious complications, such as liver function abnormalities and infection and blood clots at the site of a catheter used to administer antibiotics. If you suspect you may have been bitten by a deer tick, consult your doctor immediately. If you have been treated for Lyme disease, but are still experiencing symptoms, see your doctor. Your doctor may be able to treat your symptoms.

There are ways of preventing Lyme disease. Reducing exposure to ticks is the best way. If you are outside, apply tick repellant that contains DEET. There are also natural remedies of repelling ticks. Using essential oils, such as garlic, peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass, cedar, thyme and geraniol. These natural treatments, however, have not been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, since essential oils are not regulated by the EPA.  There used to be a Lyme disease vaccination, but production was discontinued in 2002, due to low demand. Experts say the protection provided by the vaccination diminishes over time, so if you received the vaccine in the past, it would most likely not be effective by now.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition in which high levels of nerve impulses are sent to an affected site. Experts believe it occurs as a result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous system. This condition most often affects women, and people who are ages 20-35. It is also more common in people with some other inflammatory or autoimmune disorders, such as asthma.

Diagnosing this condition is difficult. In some cases it may take years to get a correct diagnosis. Some doctors think that pain receptors in the affected body part become to catecholamines. These are simply nervous system messengers. In other words these messengers carry a pain message from the brain to the affected area. In 90% of cases, CRPS is be caused by some sort of injury, and this triggers an immune response, such as swelling, warmth, or redness of the affected area. Occasionally CRPS can develop without a known injury. However, there may have been an internal injury caused by infection, a blood vessel problem or entrapment of the nerves.

Some symptoms can include pain, swelling, warmth and redness in a localized area. These symptoms can be caused by so many disorders, and that is why CRPS is so difficult to diagnose. Oftentimes doctors will make a diagnosis by ruling out other disorders, such as arthritis, Lyme disease, generalized muscle diseases, clotted veins, or small nerve fiber polyneuropathies (such as from diabetes). The distinguishing feature to CRPS is a history of an injury to the area.

Some treatments for CRPS include: physical therapy, psychotherapy, medication, sympathetic nerve blocks (injections into the nerves to numb pain), surgical sympathectomy (removing the nerve cluster thought to be causing pain), spinal cord stimulation (electrodes implanted into the spine near the spinal cord) and intrathecal drug pumps (a device that pumps pain relieving medication to the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord). There are also some emerging experimental treatments, such as intravenous immunoglobulin, ketamine (a powerful anesthetic given in low doses over a period of days), or hyperbaric oxygen (pressurized air that delivers more oxygen to the body’s tissue and organs).

The prognosis for CRPS varies. Typically children and teens have good recovery. Some people are left with unremitting pain and crippling, which can be permanent. It is thought by some doctors that early treatment, particularly physical therapy, is helpful in limiting the disorder. This is just a theory right now, because more research needs to be done on the condition. There is, however no known cure for CRPS. If you believe you could be suffering from this condition, you should consult your physician. You are your own best advocate for treatment and diagnosis.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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What Medical Evidence Can Win Social Security Disability Benefits?

Q & A with 25-year Social Security Disability Attorney Andrew Kinney

 

Q:  How does Social Security look at medical evidence?

A:  Social Security requires medical evidence to prove that you have medical problems that limit your ability to work.  That means you must regularly treat for your physical and mental health issues.

Q:  What kind of medical treatment is important?

A:   You need to get medical treatment that helps you get better or, at a minimum, keeps you as healthy as possible.  It is an error to see doctors only to prove something to someone else.  While Social Security lawyers may know what medical treatment you should pursue based on the law, remember:  Your doctors know best.  It is a grave mistake to take medical advice from any attorney.

“It is a grave mistake to take medical advice from any attorney.”

At Hoglund Law Offices, we encourage our Social Security disability clients to regularly get the right medical treatment from doctors they trust.  We also encourage our clients to ask about specialist treatment when their primary physicians determine it is necessary.  Communication with doctors is key.  Failure to treat properly is leading cause of lost Social Security claims.

“Failure to treat properly is leading cause of lost Social Security claims.”

Q:  What specialist medical treatment is best?

A:  This depends on your medical issues.  Ask your primary care physician if a specialist can help you best.  For example, your primary care physician may recommend a particular rheumatologist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist, neurosurgeon, or some other specialist to diagnose and treat your specific medical problems.  Also, do your own research about the choices you have.  Your primary care physician may later supplement that treatment.

Q:  What medical treatment does Social Security expect?

A:   Social Security requires examinations and testing that confirm your medical diagnoses.  Social Security also requires medical evidence that proves how you are limited by your medical problems.  At Hoglund Law Offices, we regularly seek opinions about our clients’ medical limitations from treating providers.  A medical opinion can be the most important evidence in a Social Security disability claim.  For questions, call our law offices at 855-780-4357.

Andrew W. Kinney, Esq.

Written by Andrew Kinney

Andrew Kinney is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Marquette Law School. He is in his 25th year of practice in Social Security Disability law. He speaks nationally on Social Security Disability practice, founded the Minnesota State Bar "Social Security Disability Section," and is an editor of the Social Security Pratice Guide, a five-volume legal guide published by LexisNexis.

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4 Key Factors to Win your Social Security Disability Hearing (Part 2)

Q & A with 25-year Social Security Disability Attorney Andrew Kinney

 

Q: What are the main factors to help me win my Social Security Disability hearing?

A:  There are 4:  Your judge, your facts, your testimony, and your lawyer.  The first two factors were discussed in a previous blog.  The last two factors are discussed below.

Q:  Can my hearing testimony affect whether a Social Security judge approves me for Social Security Disability benefits?

A:  Yes.  There are two aspects to this question:  (1) Telling the truth, and (2) helping the judge learn about your limitations.  First, tell the truth at your Social Security hearing.  Do so in a simple and straightforward manner.  Your frankness about yourself is crucially important at your Social Security hearing.  The judge is trained as a lawyer.  Lawyers identify inconsistencies in facts.  You may relax, though, at this thought.  Your truth can never be wrong.  You know yourself better than anyone.  This leads to the second part—how your medical problems limit you.

Second, you can only help the judge learn about your limitations when you have insight into your medical problems.  You do not need to be a doctor.  But you do need to understand how your medical problems limit you more now than before you had them.  For example, you need to think about how your left shoulder issues limit your ability to reach forward at the grocery store.  Or, you need to think about how often you have trouble getting out of bed since your diagnosis of depression.  Some people have more insight than others about how their medical conditions limit them.  You need to learn how to explain your medical limitations to a judge.  This is where an experienced Social Security lawyer can help.

Q:  Is my lawyer a key factor in winning my Social Security claim?

A:  Yes.  I have seen it all.  Sometimes law is overlooked or misapplied at hearings.  Sometimes experts need pointed cross-examination.  Your Social Security lawyer will be with you at your hearing to argue how the law and facts support your claim for Social Security disability benefits.  An experienced lawyer, however, will also help you organize your thoughts and explain yourself at your hearing.  Some hearings turn on specific limitations, such as your ability to handle objects or be around people.  An experienced lawyer will know how your own words can make your day-to-day life come alive at your hearing.  If you would like to ask about having a Hoglund Law Offices attorney at your Social Security disability hearing, call us now at 855-780-4357.

Andrew W. Kinney, Esq.

Written by Andrew Kinney

Andrew Kinney is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Marquette Law School. He is in his 25th year of practice in Social Security Disability law. He speaks nationally on Social Security Disability practice, founded the Minnesota State Bar "Social Security Disability Section," and is an editor of the Social Security Pratice Guide, a five-volume legal guide published by LexisNexis.

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4 Key Factors to Win your Social Security Disability Hearing (Part 1)

Q & A with 25-year Social Security Disability Attorney Andrew Kinney

 

Q: What are the main factors to help me win my Social Security Disability hearing?

A:  There are 4:  Your judge, your facts, your testimony, and your lawyer.  The first two factors are discussed below.

Q:  What can I do about my judge (ALJ) for my Social Security Disability claim?

A:  Nothing.  Once a judge in your region is randomly assigned to your Social Security hearing, even if you move, you must work with the one you have.  You can, however, ask your Social Security lawyer about the tendencies your judge has based on the kind of facts your claim presents.  Good legal argument aligns with your judge’s tendencies.

Q:  What can I do about the facts of my Social Security claim?

A:  The facts of your medical conditions are only as supportive as how much they limit you and how well your providers document them.  Follow your doctor’s advice, but if your medical problems allow you to keep working part-time or more, you may wish to delay an application for Social Security Disability and keep working (you should also speak with a Social Security lawyer about this decision depending on your monthly gross income).

If, however, your medical problems prevent you from working part-time or more, the quality of your treatment counts.  Here are some guidelines:

(1) Treat with physicians regularly, and with specialists when necessary.

(2) Add treatment from a licensed psychologist to your mental health treatment.

(3) Make sure your providers spend adequate time listening to you at your appointments (the sign of a good provider).

(4) Track that your providers perform physical examinations (or mental status examinations) at each appointment when necessary.

(5) Check your medical records from time to time (perhaps every 6 months) to make sure your symptoms and your doctor’s findings have detailed information that is accurate about your problems.

(6) Ask your providers if any imaging or testing would help them better understand and treat your medical problems.

(7) Keep track of your medical treatment in writing and make sure to tell your Social Security lawyers about all places you have treated (so they can request copies of your treatment records for the relevant timeframes at least two months before your Social Security hearing).

(8) Ask your doctor and/or psychologist who knows you best if you should work part-time or more.  If not, ask that your doctor or psychologist to be clear in their treatment notes about how you are limited.  Also, ask if he or she would be willing to complete an opinion form about your ability to work in the future.  Contact your Social Security lawyer about those willing to do so immediately.

 

Your testimony and lawyer, the other two key factors to win your Social Security Disability claim, are discussed in Part 2 of this series.

If you would like to ask about having a Hoglund Law Offices attorney at your Social Security disability hearing, call us now at 855-780-4357.

 

Andrew W. Kinney, Esq.

Written by Andrew Kinney

Andrew Kinney is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Marquette Law School. He is in his 25th year of practice in Social Security Disability law. He speaks nationally on Social Security Disability practice, founded the Minnesota State Bar "Social Security Disability Section," and is an editor of the Social Security Pratice Guide, a five-volume legal guide published by LexisNexis.

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The Necessity of Medical Records for Social Security

In the Social Security Disability process medical support of a claim is paramount. Barring medical records documenting a claimant’s condition, there is no hope of success. Unfortunately, one cannot walk into a hearing before an administrative law judge claiming to suffer from maladies and expect success absent doctors’ notes. While it is common for state disability determination agencies to ask claimants to attend one-time examinations by doctors employed by the agency for that purpose, doctors who regularly treat the conditions of a given claimant can provide the most helpful information.

In the disability adjudication process, state agencies and Social Security Disability attorneys gather medical evidence from claimant’s health care providers. Unfortunately, these records gatherers are only able to gather the evidence they know exists. It is the responsibility of the claimant to inform necessary parties of this information. Further, the sooner records-gatherers are informed of the evidence, the sooner it can be submitted and evaluated by disability adjudicators.

In fact, it is more important than ever that disability claimants notify their attorneys of new medical evidence quickly, whether a new appointment, scan, or treating source. This is due to a new rule the Social Security Administration has put into effect requiring evidence be submitted within five business days of a disability hearing, absent good cause. Without delving into specifics (if claimants have questions about this, it is strongly advised they speak with counsel), the sooner a claimant advises attorneys of the records source, the sooner the records may be requested after a hearing has been scheduled. That way, both the attorneys presenting the case on behalf of the claimant as well as the administrative law judge hearing the case can better evaluate the claim.

Medical records, more than anything else, make or break a Social Security Disability claim. Providing documentation of ample treatment gives adjudicators a more complete picture of a claimant’s health, increasing the chances of success.

 

By Adam Kachelski

Written by Jennifer Mrozik

Jennifer is a partner in the firm and practices exclusively in the area of Social Security disability law. She continues to lead efforts to find solutions for clients in the sometimes difficult Social Security claims process.

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