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New Ruling on Interstitial Cystitis – Social Security Disability

byron david, conway, scSSA has issued Social Security Ruling (SSR) 15- 1p, which became effective immediately upon publication. 80 Fed. Reg. 14215 (Mar. 18, 2015). This SSR rescinds and replaces SSR 02-2p, which was issued in 2002.

In Section I of SSR 15-1p, SSA describes interstitial cystitis (IC) as “a complex genitourinary disorder involving recurring pain or discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region.” Some medical providers and organizations, including the American Urological Association, consider the disease synonymous with “painful bladder syndrome” and “bladder pain syndrome.” The SSR states that although it uses the term IC, it is designed to address all three disorders. IC occurs more often in women than men, and can co-occur with disorders including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, vulvodynia, chronic headaches, Sjögren’s syndrome, endometriosis, or systemic lupus erythematosus. It is diagnosed in part by ruling out other disorders with similar symptoms. Tests used to perform this rule-out diagnosis include urinalysis, urine culture, cystoscopy, biopsy of the bladder wall and urethra, distention of the bladder under anesthesia, and culture of prostate secretions. Treatment is generally for the purpose of symptom control, and may not work for everyone.

The new SSR explains in Section II that IC can be a medically determinable impairment (MDI), and describes how adjudicators should evaluate it. It lists specific signs and findings that establish IC as an MDI, despite noting: “There are some signs and findings that could indicate IC, but there are no specific signs or findings that are universally
accepted.” The only acceptable medical sources that can provide information about IC as an MDI are licensed physicians (MD or DO), and they must do so after physical exam, review of medical records, and using testing and the patient’s report
of symptoms to rule out other disorders. Some of the symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of IC are urinary frequency and urgency; pain in the bladder, pelvis, genitals, thighs, or back; tenderness on physical examination; sexual dysfunction; and sleep problems, including chronic fatigue or tiredness. If a cystoscopy with bladder distention (a procedure, performed under anesthesia, that fills the bladder with fluid) is performed, doctor can use medical signs like stiffening, pinpoint bleeding, or patches of broken skin on the bladder wall to diagnose IC and determine whether it is an MDI. A urinalysis that
shows sterile cultures while symptoms persist, a positive potassium sensitivity test, or accumulation of antiproliferative factor in the urine can also be signs of IC. Anxiety or depression related to IC symptoms, if properly documented, can also help establish IC as an MDI. The SSR notes that its list of signs and symptoms is not intended to be exhaustive, and will likely change as new diagnostic techniques are developed.

Section III of the SSR addresses how IC should be documented, especially since its symptoms often wax and wane over time. Clinical records from medical sources that show evaluation and treatment over time are deemed “extremely helpful.” The SSR also states that evidence from medical sources who are not considered “acceptable medical sources” may also be used, along with third parties like the claimant’s friends, family, employers, clergy, case workers, and SSA staff who interacted with the claimant. Much of the SSR applies existing SSA policy to IC. For example, it states that when adjudication occurs less than 12 months before a claimant’s alleged onset date, SSA will use “information about the person’s treatment and response to treatment, including any medical source opinions about the person’s prognosis at the end of 12 months, helps us decide whether to expect an MDI of IC to be of disabling severity for at least 12 consecutive months.” Also, once an individual is found to have an MDI of IC, the adjudicator must proceed through the sequential evaluation process, determining whether the MDI is “severe,” whether the claimant meets or equals a listing (there is no listing for IC itself), and if not, what the claimant’s residual functional capacity is and whether is allows a return to past or other work. Some of the language in the SSR’s discussion of steps 4 and 5 of the sequential evaluation process in an IC case could be useful when claimants have other impairments or side effects from medication:

[W]e must consider all of the person’s impairment-related symptoms in deciding how such symptoms may affect functional capacity. For example, many people with IC have chronic pelvic pain, which can affect the ability to focus and sustain attention on the task at hand. Nocturia may disrupt sleeping patterns and lead to drowsiness and lack of mental clarity during the day. Urinary frequency can necessitate trips to the bathroom as often as every 10 to 15 minutes, day and night. Consequently, some individuals with IC essentially may confine themselves to their homes….Pain and other symptoms associated with IC may result in exertional limitations that prevent a person from doing a full range of unskilled work in one or more of the exertional categories in appendix 2 of subpart P of part 404 (appendix 2).People with IC may also have nonexertional physical or mental limitations because of their pain or other symptoms. Some may have environmental restrictions, which are also nonexertional….Adjudicators must be alert to the possibility that there may be exertional or nonexertional (for example, postural or environmental) limitations that erode a person’s occupational base sufficiently to preclude the use of a rule in appendix 2 to direct a decision. In such cases, adjudicators must use the rules in appendix
2 as a framework for decision-making and may need to consult a vocational resource.

The new SSR is available on SSA’s website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/rulings/di/01/SSR2015-01-di-01.html. The Federal Register notice is at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-03-18/pdf/2015-05680.pdf.

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Attorney Byron P. David Asked to Speak at the South Carolina Association for Justice Auto Torts Advanced Trial Lawyers College

Byron David

Attorney Byron P. David of Conway, has been asked to speak at the South Carolina Association for Justice’s (SCAJ) Advanced Trial Lawyer College this December in Atlanta.  David will be on the panel with esteemed colleagues, Attorneys John S. Nichols, Allison P. Sullivan and Bert G. “Skip” Utsey.  David’s segment is noted under the Expert College – Learning from the Experts and is titled “The Devil is in the Details: Settlement Agreements, Indemnity Liens”.

“I am truly humbled to be speaking at the conference with such respected and accomplished attorneys.  The Auto Torts conference is always informative and insightful; I look forward to being on the other side this year,” says David.

 The Auto Torts Advanced Trial Lawyer College will be at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, Atlanta the first weekend in December. Often described as “the best seminar in the region, if not the country,” the SCAJ Auto Torts seminar is enjoyed by trial lawyers from across the south.  It will include a variety of presentations on subjects ranging from technology and toxicology to neuropsychology and ethics.  Speakers will include well-known AAJ members and experts in their fields.

The David Law Firm Sponsors Wreaths for Wreaths Across America

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The David Law Firm has sponsored 10 wreaths for Wreaths Across America Day.  Wreaths Across America’s mission, “Remember, Honor, Teach”, is carried out in part by coordinating wreath laying ceremonies a specified Saturday in December at Arlington, as well as veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.  They also organize a week of events including international veteran’s tributes, ceremonies at State Houses and a week-long “Veteran’s Parade” between Maine and Virginia where we stop along the way to spread our message about the importance of remembering our fallen heroes, honoring those who serve, and teaching our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedoms.

The David Law Firm’s wreaths will be placed in the Florence National Cemetery on Saturday, December 13, 2014.  Florence National Cemetery was originally created on land appropriated, and later purchased, by the federal government. The land was first owned by James H. Jarrott and was a quarter of a mile from the Florence Stockade. It became a National Cemetery in 1865, and remains from nearby Civil Aare battlefield cemeteries were transferred and reinterred there.

Florence National Cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

 

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Four Time Finalist for “Best Attorney”

Byron David - The David Law Firm

Thank you again for voting Attorney Byron David “Best Attorney” for the fourth consecutive year!  We love our clients!

Attorney Byron David to Read to Children for Read Across America Day

Byron DavidAttorney Byron David has been asked to read a book to the students of Bridgewater Academy for the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day.  On the morning of February 28, 2014, David will read a book of the school’s choosing and also speak about being a lawyer.  “Read Across America is a terrific program and I am overjoyed to be a part of it this year,” says David. “Reading is an imperative skill; anything I can do to promote it to our youth is time well spent.”

Read Across America is an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association. One part of the project is National Read Across America Day, an observance in the United States held on the school day closest to March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Bridgewater Academy Charter School proudly serves students of the Grand Strand area from Kindergarten to 8th Grade. All courses and grade levels at Bridgewater Academy follow rigorous academic standards based on South Carolina State Standards and Horry County Standards.

Attorney Byron P. David Finalist for Best Attorney in the 2014 Horry Independent’s Reader’s Choice Awards

Byron David, Conway

We are proud to announce Attorney Byron P. David has been chosen by The Horry Independent readers as the finalist for Best Attorney.  This is the fourth consecutive year Attorney David has been a winner under the Best Attorney category.

“I am honored and overwhelmed to be a finalist for this award again.  The Reader’s Choice Award is one of my favorites to receive, as the people of Horry County are the judges.” says David.  “It is reassurance that we are doing a great job and people are pleased with our service.”

The annual poll is opened to Horry Independent readers and only allowed one vote per person, making this contest a true representation of their opinions collectively.  Over the years, The Reader’s Choice Awards has become one of the most popular and well-read special editions The Horry Independent has ever published.

Congratulations to Attorney David for being The Horry Independent’s 2014 Reader’s Choice Finalist for Best Attorney!

Attorney Byron David Speaking at Injured Workers’ Advocates Seminar

Byron David

Attorney Byron David with The David Law Firm has been chosen to speak at the Injured Workers’ Advocates Paralegal and Legal Assistant Seminar on Saturday, January 25, 2014.  Attorney David plans to discuss what types of cases must be mediated and how paralegals can prepare their attorney and files for mediation.  The seminar has been designed to assist paralegals and legal assistants of all levels.

Injured Workers’ Advocates is a nonprofit association of attorneys who are dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights and legal remedies for South Carolina workers who are victims of occupational injury or disease. Injured Workers’ Advocates works to achieve these goals by advocating for the rights of the injured worker through education, litigation, and communicating with others concerning goals and issues important to the protection of workers’ rights in the state of South Carolina.  Their mission is to protect the rights of injured workers and their families in South Carolina.

Social Security Announces New Compassionate Allowances Conditions

byron david, conway, scCarolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, today announced 25 new Compassionate Allowances conditions, including a dozen cancers, bringing the total number of conditions to 225.  The Compassionate Allowances program expedites disability decisions for Americans with the most serious disabilities to ensure that they receive their benefit decisions within days instead of months or years. The new conditions also include disorders that affect the digestive, neurological, immune, and multiple body systems.

“We are dedicated to providing vulnerable Americans with faster access to disability benefits through our Compassionate Allowances program,” said Acting Commissioner Colvin. “Social Security disability benefits are a vital lifeline for individuals who are facing severe diseases and we must ensure that they receive the benefits they rightly deserve.”

The Compassionate Allowances program identifies claims where the applicant’s disease or condition clearly meets Social Security’s statutory standard for disability. By incorporating cutting-edge technology, the agency can easily identify potential Compassionate Allowances and quickly make decisions. To date, almost 200,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved through this fast-track disability process.

The Compassionate Allowances program is a significant initiative that highlights collaboration between government, medical experts, advocacy groups, and members of the public. Social Security has conducted public outreach hearings and gathered feedback from various stakeholders to identify conditions that are most likely to meet the agency’s definition of disability.

“I am extremely pleased that the SSA has included Prostate Cancer in its Compassionate Allowance list – a decision that will save lives, and give more patients access to treatment options,” said Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD). “Working with constituents fighting this disease, I know just how life altering it can be, as well as how many will benefit from this change in policy.”

For more information on the program, including a list of all Compassionate Allowances conditions, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

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 would like a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability Claim, please call The David Law Firm at (843) 488-1415.

New Mileage Reimbursement Rate – Workers’ Compensation

byron david, conway, florenceRegulation 67-1601 A (1) provides the expenses incurred for travel to receive
medical attention which shall be reimbursed to the claimant are mileage to and
from a place of medical attention which is more than five miles away from home in
accordance with the amount allowed state employees for mileage.

The state employee mileage rate is based upon the standard business mileage rate
established by the Internal Revenue Service. Effective January 1, 2014 the
reimbursement rate for state employee mileage is 56 cents per mile. Therefore,
effective January 1, 2014, the new mileage reimbursement rate to and from a place
of medical attention is 56 cents per mile.

2014 Maximum Weekly Compensation Rate – Workers’ Compensation

Byron David, Conway, FlorenceAt the [South Carolina WCC] Business Meeting on December 16, 2013, the Commission approved the maximum weekly compensation rate at $752.16 for injuries arising on and after January 1, 2014. The South
Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce certified the average weekly wage July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013.

As provided in Title 42 of the SC Code of Laws, 1976 the maximum weekly compensation rate equals 66⅔% of an individual’s average weekly wage, not to exceed the average weekly wage in this State for the preceding fiscal year as determined by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.