Open Enrollment For Medicare ends December 7, 2014

If you are eligible for Medicare, make sure to choose your plan before December 7, 2014 when the open enrollment period ends.  If you are already enrolled, you may change your health care plan and your prescription drug coverage.  For additional information please check the following websites:


News for Those Experiencing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A new study reveals that those who have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome actually have similar changes in the brain.  The study revealed those with CFS have less white matter  in the brain and, using DTI, a relatively recent study, abnormalities are found in the frontal and temporal lobe as well.  This study is important to those who are filing for Social Security Disability benefits as objective medical evidence is required in order to prove that a disabling condition exists.    For additional information please visit:

If you have any questions regarding a social security disability and/or a supplemental security income matter, please contact us at Sims & Stakenborg for a free consulation at 352-629-4080.

The Social Security Administration Adds 25 New Compassionate Allowances Conditions

On January 15, 2014, acting Social Security Adminstration commissioner, Carol Colvin, announced the addition of 25 new compassionate allowances conditions.  The list includes 12 cancer conditions.  The Compassionate Allowance program is designed to help expedite the disability approval process for those social security disability applicants with the most serious disabilities.  The program identifies conditions and diseases which meet the agency’s criteria for disability allowing a decision to be made more quickly for those applicants.  The normal processing time from the date a person files for Social Security Disability benefits until the date of approval is often 18-24 months.  The Compassionate Allowances program is designed to significantly reduce that processing time.  For a complete list of all Compassionate Allowance conditions, please visit:

New Compassionate Allowances Conditions

  1. Angiosarcoma
  2. Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor
  3. Chronic Idiopathic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction
  4. Coffin- Lowry Syndrome
  5. Esthesioneuroblastoma
  6. Giant Axonal Neuropathy
  7. Hoyeaal-Hreidarsson Syndrome
  8. Intracranial Hemangiopericytoma
  9. Joubert Syndrome
  10. Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis
  11. Liposarcoma- metastatic or recurrent
  12. Malignant Ectomesenchymoma
  13. Malignant Renal Rhabdoid Tumor
  14. Marshall-Smith Syndrome
  15. Oligodendroglioma Brain Tumor- Grade III
  16. Pallister-Killian Syndrome
  17. Progressive Bulbar Palsy
  18. Prostate Cancer – Hormone Refractory Disease – or with visceral metastases
  19. Revesz Syndrome
  20. Seckel Syndrome
  21. Sjogren-Larsson Syndrome
  22. Small Cell Cancer of the Thymus
  23. Soft Tissue Sarcoma- with distant metastases or recurrent
  24. X-Linked Lymphoproliferative Disease
  25. X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy

If you have any questions about a Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income claim, please feel free to contact us at 352-629-0480 for a free consultation.

6 Ways to Lose Your Social Security Disability Claim

#1 Exaggerating your impairments. If your complaints are not supported by the evidence in your claim, this will most often result in a denial of your claim. It is very important to be as straightforward as possible about how your impairments affect your every day activities. Sometimes it is difficult to remember how long you are able to do an activity before you need to stop due to pain, medication side affects, fatigue, etc. We suggest that you keep a diary (which you can find on our website) so that you are able to let your physician know how you are limited. In this way, hopefully your complaints will be documented in your medical records. If you can perform an activity, admit it, do not deny it.

#2 Failing to submit your medical records. It is extremely important that your medical records be submitted as evidence in your claim. It is important to check with the Social Security Administration to ensure that all of the relevant information has been submitted by your treating doctors. Occasionally, the Administration will request records from your physician and we will review the file only to find that the records were not submitted. Medical records cannot be hidden or altered and can result in criminal charges if you misrepresent your condition.

#3 Failing to obtain opinions from your treating physician regarding your physical and mental limitations. Your treating physicians opinion is given great weight in the Social Security proceedings as long as that opinion is supported by the medical records and objective medical findings. Your Social Security file will contain opinions from physicians who have not met or spoken with you regarding your limitations. It is very important for the Judge to know what your own physicians thinks you are capable of doing based upon your complaints and the treatment that you have received.

#4 Failing to mention side affects you may have from your medication. It is very important to remember that sometimes the side affects you may have from the medications being recommended by your treating physician, can be as disabling as the medical condition itself. Unfortunately, these medications are essential in providing the treatment that is necessary in your claim. Often the medications that are being prescribed can even adversely interact with each other. It is a good idea to speak with your doctor and pharmacist regarding the adverse affects your medications may have on each other that could result in those medications not being effective.

#5 Failing to address drug and alcohol addiction issues. If you have a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse, your claim will be denied if that abuse is a material factor in your disability. Often people with depression and chronic pain will alcohol and/or drugs to help them cope with these conditions. Many times, the substances themselves actually contribute to the problem. It is important to seek treatment for any substance abuse issues that you may have, address these issues with your physician and make every attempt possible to seek treatment to help with the abuse. If your medical records indicate an abuse problem, it is your burden to prove that you would be disabled regardless of the substance abuse and this can be very difficult to do.

#6 Not complying with the Social Security Administration’s request for information. If the Social Security Administration asks you to complete forms (I know, there are sooo many forms), it is because additional information is necessary prior to a determination being made on your claim. Failure to complete the forms or to attend a consultative examination, will almost always result in a denial of your claim.

As always, if you have any questions about your social security disability or supplemental security income claim, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 352-629-0480 


Social Security Disability and Medication Compliance

If you are not taking your medications in accordance with your physician’s instructions, this could beome an issue in your claim for Social Security Disability and Supplementl Security Income claims.  Why?  Because, if the Administrative Law Judge assigned to your case or the disability examiner who reviews your claim sees that you are not taking your medications, there could be a question as to whether your disabling conditions are severe.

Physicians prescribe medications in order to help keep various conditions under control. If you fail to take such medications, your condition is unlikely to improve.   The Social Security Administration may look at whether your medications effectively control your condition (such as a seizure disorder) before approving your claim.

There are other conditions for which compliance is relevant as well. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one. Although the ADHD listing criteria does not require certain signs and symptoms to exist in spite of prescribed treatment, the ALJ will take into consideration whether the symptoms exist because the medication is not being taken.  If the Judge determines that medication non-compliance is an issue, the claim could be denied.

Claimants who are filing for Social Security Disability should take care to comply with their treating physician’s instructions when it comes to taking medication.  Failure to do so not only interferes with the physician’s ability to provide effective treatment, it can also make it impossible for a disability claim decision-maker to approve the claim.

If you have any questions about your claim for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income, please call us at 352-629-0480 for a free consultation!



Herbal Remedy to Help Treat Depression

If you are suffering from depression, you know how difficult it can be to find treatment that helps.  According to WebMD Sam E is an herbal supplement that has been found to help depression.  Of course, you should always speak with a medical professional before you try a new supplement.  It is very important to make sure that you are a candidate for the supplement and that it will not adversely interact with other medications which you may be taking.  Please click on the link below for additional information.

If you have any questions regarding a Social Security Disability and/or Supplemental Security Income claim, please give us a call at 352-629-0480 for a free consultation or visit our website at


Don’t Forget to “Spring Ahead” on March 10

It’s that time of year again, when daylight savings time begins and we get that extra hour of sunlight!  This year make sure to go to bed early on Saturday, March 9 and set your clocks forward one hour.  Officially, daylight savings time begins at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 10.  Many of your devices will automatically reset with the correct time.  Although you will lose that extra hour of sleep, just keep in mind that spring is just around the corner on March 20!  This is also a good idea to check the batteries in your smoke detectors and your carbon monoxide detectors.

Federal Student Loans May be Discharged Based upon Permanent and Total Disability

The U.S. Department of Education has issued final regulations which would allow a borrower’s student loan to be discharged based upon a Notice of Award for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits.  Under these regulations the borrower may qualify for discharge of a student loan of the Notice of Award indicates that “medical improvement is not expected.”  If you have a student loan and have been approved for disability benefits, you may wish to review your award letter in order to determine whether you may be eligible to have your loan discharged.  Please note, however, the regulations will not be in effect until July 1, 2013.

Social Security Disability’s Compassionate Allowances Expanded

The Social Security Administration is expanding its Compassionate Allowances program.  This program is designed to help expedite decisions (sometimes within days) for people with a select group of diseases or conditions.  This expansion should help with the growing backlog of disability claims.  The Compassionate Allowances program will be expanded to include a total of 200 diseases and conditions, many of which are rare and all of which are so serious that the people who suffer from them meet the Agency’s definition of disability.  Those who qualify under this program will not be required to wait for a hearing which takes 354 on average.  If you would like to see a complete list of conditions, please go to

If you have any questions regarding a social security disability or supplemental security income claim, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 352-629-0480.  You may also visit our website at


Pain Medication Contaminated with Meningitis In Central Florida

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified a rare form of fungal meningitis that has been found in some shipments of steroid medications commonly used to treat back pain.  The CDC says the exposure most likely occurred between July 1 and September 28 of this year.  It appears that the outbreak, which has killed 7 and sickened more than 60 people in 9 states appears to have been caused by a steroid made in a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts.  The Florida Department of Health has identified 8 facilities in Florida that received the contaminated pain medications.  Three of these facilities are located in Ocala.  they are the Florida Pain Clinic; Marion Pain Management Cetner and The Surgery Center of Ocala.  Symptoms include a splitting headache, fever, stiff neck, difficulty walking or worsening back pain.  If you were treated at any of these facilities and begin experiencing any of these symptoms it is important that you contact your physician immediately.