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October 2012 Archives

Social Security examines Fibromyalgia symptoms in SSR 12-2p

The Social Security Administration issues rulings which govern how administrative law judges (ALJ) handle specific medical conditions and evidence. Fibromyalgia, which our office first began to see diagnosed around fifteen (15) years ago and has been referred to as myofacial pain syndrome, chronic rheumatism, myalgia, muscular rheumatism, fibrositis, myofibrositis, and spinal irritation has finally been addressed by SSR 12-2p. SSR 12-2p implies that the symptoms and signs of fibromyalgia, such as widespread pain and fatigue, vary in intensity over time, so it is important to use longitudinal medical evidence to evaluate the claimant's pain. The stated purpose of the SSR is to give guidance on how we develop evidence to establish that a person has a medically determinable impairment (MDI) of fibromyalgia (FM), and how we evaluate FM in disability claims and continuing disability reviews under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). Per SSR 12-2p, an ALJ must take into account the fact that symptoms and signs of fibromyalgia vary over time and therefore there will be instances in the medical records where a claimant has worse pain than other times. Isolated medical records where the treating physicians indicates the claimant is "doing well" or "better" cannot be used to deny the claim. SSR 06-3p requires that information from nonmedical sources also be used to evaluate the severity and functional effects of a person's FM. This information may help to assess the person's ability to function day-to-day and over time. It may also help when we make findings about the credibility of the person's allegations about symptoms and their effects. Read more about our North Carolina Board Certified Social Security Disability Attorney Susan O'Malley and our social security services at O'Malley Tunstall

North Carolina tainted steroid Fungal Meningitis Outbreak

Our attorneys are looking into the recent multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis from tainted shots provided by the New England Compounding Center (NECC). The NECC has voluntarily expanded its recall to include all products currently in circulation that were compounded at and distributed from its facility in Framingham, Massachusetts. In North Carolina, three clinics have been identified as definitely receiving the recalled product: • High Point Surgery Center - High Point, North Carolina • Surgical Center of Wilson - Wilson, North Carolina • North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic - Durham, North Carolina The FDA is currently looking into all products associated with NECC which could include up to 33 facilities in NC. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Health Advisory (link), which contains updated information and guidance regarding the multi-state outbreak of meningitis and stroke associated with potentially contaminated steroid medication. As of October 26th the FDA announced serious concerns with the safety of the "clean room" of NECC and concerns about contamination going forward. FDA press release. As of 10/9/12, 13,000 people have been exposed to the steroid medication. 119 cases have been identified in 10 states, resulting in 11 deaths associated with this multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis. In North Carolina there have been two (2) cases reported to date. Au of 10/23/2012 the associated press was reporting 308 cases with 23 deaths in 17 different states. If you have had an epidural steroid injection at one of the above facilities and have questions regarding your health, please see your doctor as recommended by the CDC. The CDC advises that "Patients have had symptoms generally starting from 1 to 4 weeks after their injection. Not all patients who received the medicine will become sick. Symptoms that should prompt patients to seek medical care include: fever, new or worsening headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, new weakness or numbness, increasing pain, redness or swelling of the injection site." Our experienced drug recall attorneys would be glad to discuss your potential claim with you from our Eastern NC or Raleigh offices or contact us through our website: O'Malley Tunstall.

What are the different types of Social Security Disability?


Social Security Disability, SSI: Medical Opinions at Hearing

Previous blogs have discussed why you need a physician opinion in your Social Security Disability claim or claim for Supplemental Security Income. One issue that is often asked is if my doctor believes I am disabled, does his opinion control? Medical Treatment for SSD, SSI Hearing It is a long held tenant of disability law that the opinion of a treating physician is entitled to controlling weight when accompanied by clinical and diagnostic techniques. Ward v. Chater, 924 F. Supp. 53, 55 (W.Va. 1996); see also, SSR 96-2p (explaining that a treating source medical opinion is controlling if supported by clinical and diagnostic techniques and not inconsistent with other evidence). The Commissioner has discretion in this matter "only if [the opinion] is not well-supported by clinical evidence or is inconsistent with other substantial evidence." Mastro v. Apfel, 270 F.3d 171, 178 (4th Cir. 2001). "It is well-settled that an ALJ should not substitute his own untrained medical opinion for that of a medical professional." Slen v. Astrue, 1:09-CV-607, 2010 WL 2640297 (E .D. Va. June 30, 2010)(citing Wilson v. Heckler, 743 F.2d 218, 221 (4th Cir. 1984)). The law is clear, the decisions often are not, as your treating physician must explain how over a period of multiple visits his or her examinations and tests have revealed your medical condition. A good opinion also explains how this condition affects your functional capacity (ability to walk, crawl, climb, lift, etc). Good treating physicians rely upon a history of treating a patient to explain their opinion as to their work or vocational abilities. The more detailed the explaination the easier for the ALJ (administrative law judge) to give weight to the treating physician. To learn more about Social Security visit us at : O'Malley TunstallYour browser does not support the video tag

O'Malley Tunstall: Susan O'Malley has become involved with Wags 4 Tags

Susan O'Malley has become involved with a community group that is close to her heart; Wags 4 Tags.  We often represent some of the best of America's armed forces in their Social Security claims and Susan has a special affinity for helping in those cases.  She is also an avid dog owner.  Wags 4 Tags has allowed her to become involved in a group that does both. Wags 4 Tags MISSION STATEMENT: Uniting our psychologically and emotionally impaired Veterans across North Carolina with trained Companion, Emotional Support and Dogs rescued from kill shelters so the two can heal in unconditional love, trust and loyalty. Susan and Maisey at Wags 4 Tags We will post about an upcoming fundraiser at On the Square restaurant in an upcoming blog.

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