Medicinal Marijuana: How the Debate Affects You and Your Disability Claim

The pros and cons of medical marijuana use are a major area of contention in the alternative medicine communities and are beginning to appear on the radar of mainstream politics as well.  In fact, the very mention of the topic seems to cause controversy and raise strong feelings.  Whatever your beliefs, the use of medical marijuana is a topic that deserves examination.

As new studies have shown, medical marijuana may have a place and time in the treatment of many different ailments.  This is not an opinion shared by all medical experts.  There are increasing debates raging in the medical community about the usefulness and effectiveness of many different iterations of  the substance, from smoking the plant to eating marijuana reductions and taking synthetically produced THC medications as Marinol.  We have had several clients who have gotten good results and advocated the use of medical marijuana as well as clients who have questions about how the medication may affect their diseases and the corresponding effect on their disability claims.  Today I’m going to look at several facets of the argument and let you and your doctor decide on the proper course of treatment for your condition. Continue reading

Advances in HIV/AIDS Treatment and the Effect on Disability Claims

Our understanding and treatment of HIV/AIDS has changed dramatically since it appeared in the public consciousness in the 1980’s.  In its early stages, health providers and insurance companies often considered HIV/AIDS a terminal disease, but continuing advances in medications and treatments have changed the outlook to a chronic condition.  In fact, the life expectancy for many patients in treatment continues to increase and is returning to the level of the overall population.  But the disease as well as some treatments can still cause complications that make it impossible for people to continue working in their own occupations or otherwise.  While a thorough study of this topic could fill volumes of books and still not be complete, I want to briefly touch on how the advances in treatment and the changes in popular belief on HIV/AIDS affect those who are trying to obtain their disability benefits.

Both the Social Security Administration and many insurance companies considered HIV/AIDS to be a terminal disease through the early 2000’s.  This definition began to change as the HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) treatment, commonly known as the “AIDS cocktail,” became the prevalent course of action.  A combination of at least three antiretroviral medications, the HAART treatment causes far fewer long-term and short-term side effects than previous treatments.  This improvement has caused a change in the way disability claims resulting from an HIV/AIDS diagnosis were processed.  Previously, these claims were readily approved as the insureds had high mortality rates, and the duration and amount of benefits was not expected to be very high.  With more accurate classifications of disability claims from HIV as more of a chronic condition as opposed to those resulting from an AIDS diagnosis, claims resulting from HIV are beginning to receive much more scrutiny from insurance companies. Continue reading