Thursday, September 29, 2011

Are YOU at risk for SKIN CANCER - Melanoma? CURRENT FACTS

Skin Cancer - MELANOMA - a scary word and thought. However, please remember that KNOWLEDGE is the best way to manage the negative impact of any disease/condition. The more you know, the better you can work with your health care team in eliminating and/or managing the negative impact of a disease/condition of ANY type.

So: here is the link to a website that contains the LATEST FACTS about Skin Cancer.

Next, I've copied from this website the current SKIN CANCER FACTS.

After reading this information and checking out the website, if you believe that you yourself are at risk, please, please, please go see your primary care doctor IMMEDIATELY and get a referral to a Dermatologist for a review.



* One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 62 minutes).2

* One in 55 people will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.14

* Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.15

* The survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early, before the tumor has penetrated the skin, is about 99 percent.16 The survival rate falls to 15 percent for those with advanced disease.2

* The vast majority of mutations found in melanoma are caused by ultraviolet radiation.12

* The incidence of many common cancers is falling, but the incidence of melanoma continues to rise at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers.17 Between 1992 and 2004, melanoma incidence increased 45 percent, or 3.1 percent annually.18

* An estimated 123,590 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the US in 2011 — 53,360 noninvasive (in situ) and 70,230 invasive, with nearly 8,790 resulting in death.19

* Melanoma accounts for less than five percent of skin cancer cases,20 but it causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.21

* Survival with melanoma increased from 49 percent (1950 – 1954) to 92 percent (1996 – 2003).22

* Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer for males and sixth most common for females.2

* Women aged 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.2

* About 65 percent of melanoma cases can be attributed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.23

* One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.24

* A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns at any age.25

* Survivors of melanoma are about nine times as likely as the general population to develop a new melanoma.26

Thursday, February 24, 2011

SSA Chart: SSDI/SSA Claims Approval/Denial and reasons for Denial; 1999 - 2008

Here is an SSA chart of SSDI/SSI Claims Approved/Denied from 1999 - 2008. Of particular importance for those of you in the application process, please note the following:

1) "Initial Awards" (Approval) from a high in1999 of about 38% to what appears a steady 1st approval rate of about 24% from 2006 - 2008 and is probably still consistent in 2011.

2) Denied, awaiting reconsideration: looks to be about 10% back in 1999 and about 2% in 2008.

3) Hearing & Appeals Council awards: High of about 15% in 1999 to about 4% in 2008.

4) "Pending final decision" - probably from # 2 & # 3: Low of about 1% in 1999 to high of about 12% in 2008 and even higher in 2011 with the increased number of folks applying for disability benefits.

5) DENIALS - Medical and Technical: about 45% in 1999 and about 58% in 2008. Of particular importance for folks in the application process now is the 3X INCREASE in claims denial for TECHNICAL reasons from 1999 (about 10%) and up to about 30% in 2008.

Technical denial basically means that YOU - the applicant - haven't DOCUMENTED AND PROVEN that your symptom impairments (SI) on your Activities of Daily Living (ADL/s) reach the level of DISABILITY. AND, YOU haven't DOCUMENTED AND PROVEN that your disability - from WHATEVER source - keeps you from performing the SSA's definition of Significant Gainful Activities (SGA) given your age, level of education, and previous work activity that can earn you a minimum of $1,000/month (for 2011) (about $12-$13/hour for 20 hours/week).

So, please, please, please email me and get the info so that YOU the applicant can begin the documentation and corroboration process and become one of the minority !st time approvals!

REMEMBER: Attorneys are great at the reconsideration and hearing and appeals council levels. BUT - their success is also based on YOUR ability to DOCUMENT AND PROVE that your SI's rise to the level of disability AND that your disability negatively impacts your ADL's such that you cannot perform SGA!! YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON WHO KNOWS WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT DO.

So, get help in documenting this; in getting help from your health care team in corroborating what YOU KNOW to be the truth about you. THEN hire that attorney to assist you in the process!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Do Unemployment Benefits impact your Eligibility for SSDI/SSI?

I get this question a lot. Here is the answer.

Unemployment Benefits do NOT affect your application for SSDI/SSI - IN AND OF ITSELF. What is important can be summarized below:

1) To continue to qualify for Unemployment you need to document that you are still job searching. This can be good documentation for your SSDI/SSI case if you keep a log about jobs you CONSIDER along with showing WHY you can't do the job due to your symptom impairments (SI)!!

2) REMEMBER what you are trying to prove: that your "condition(s)" SI's impact your Activities of Daily Living (ADL's) NEGATIVELY to such a degree that your "condition(s)" rise to the level of Social Security's (SSA) definition of disability.

To read more about this, email me and ask me for the free ebooklet about the SSA's "disability" Yardstick!

AND, the SI's netagively impact your ADL's to such a degree that you CAN NOT perform what the SSA calls "Significant Gainful Activities" (SGA) that you can perform given your age, education, and previous job experiences that can earn you each year's "SGA" limit - for 2011 it is $1,000 (or, about $12 or $13/hour for 20 hours/week).

3) I'd time the signing date of my SSA paperwork near the end of my Unemployment benefits. Remember, you need to show that you can't perform SGA work, which means that you can't be LOOKING FOR WORK, thereby negating your eligibility for Unemployment benefits!

Good luck. Email me for the free ebooklets! Get started the RIGHT WAY.

Monday, February 14, 2011

WHAT is Patient-Centered Medicine?

Coming from the Institute for Health care Improvement, this following definition of Patient-Centered Health Care shows just why it is the optimum care process for the patient. Far superior to what is currently practiced in the US - Doctor-centered and/or illness centered Health Care. In this latter process currently practiced, the doctor interrupts within 18 seconds after you arrive and heads to a symptom management for your PRESENTING symptom ONLY.

Patient-Centered Care: General

Care that is truly patient-centered considers patients’ cultural traditions, their personal preferences and values, their family situations, and their lifestyles. It makes the patient and their loved ones an integral part of the care team who collaborate with health care professionals in making clinical decisions. Patient-centered care puts responsibility for important aspects of self-care and monitoring in patients’ hands — along with the tools and support they need to carry out that responsibility.

Patient-centered care ensures that transitions between providers, departments, and health care settings are respectful, coordinated, and efficient. When care is patient centered, unneeded and unwanted services can be reduced.

Advancing patient-centered care is clearly a multi-faceted challenge, and many organizations are working to identify best practices and promising system changes that enable patient-centered care in three areas:

* Involving patients and families in the design of care
* Reliably meeting patient’s needs and preferences
* Informed shared decision-making

Monday, November 15, 2010

ALERT: Congressional Budget Office (COB) 2010 Issue Brief on Disability Insurances (SSDI & SSI)

While listening to TV pundits interview incoming Congressional members, I heard some say that the Social Security Disability Insurance programs - SSDI and SSI - need to be reviewed, 'cause with the # of folks on those programs there must be lots of fraud and/or it must be too easy to get approval! OMG(oodness) - WHAT???

Well, of course this just brought my ire up, so I did some research to come up with some facts.

I found this particular CBO - Congressional Budget Office - Report on Social Security Disability Insurance - SSDI & SSI - their Trends and Fiscal Implications - for the future. I've copied for you the intro to that report. It is 8 pages long, and I need to carefully read it and digest it before I can properly advise all of us on what to do. HOWEVER, based on just this intro, I CAN offer the following advice/recommendations:

1) IF YOU HAVE NOT YET APPLIED, OR ARE IN THE PROCESS - email me and get my PROVEN process for documenting and getting corroboration about your symptom impairments on your ADL's: Activities of Daily Living (work and home). In this way you should be able to comply with any potential future process changes.

2) If YOU ARE ALREADY ON SSDI &/OR SSI - STILL email me for the processes. Do the documentation and corroboration work NOW. They you should be better prepared to comply SUCCESSFULLY with whatever changes might come along.

I'm afraid that absent the careful documentation and corroboration on your part AHEAD of time, you might be in trouble long term.

For example: One recommendation offered is to get folks on Disability Insurance BACK TO WORK. If they - meaning Social Security - change the rules in this manner, then the recommended documentation can GREATLY assist you in showing how you cannot perform "WORK OF ANY KIND" - WHATEVER your past work history was!

So, read the following. If you want a copy of the whole paper EMAIL ME - DO NOT SEND ME A PM; I CAN ONLY GET IT TO YOU AS AN EMAIL ATTACHMENT.

THEN, email me and get started on your documentation and corroboration. We cannot fight what may come to pass; but we can be READY to successfully qualify for whatever "rules" are concocted.

Social Security Disability Insurance: Participation Trends and Their Fiscal Implications
July 22, 2010

The Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program pays cash benefits to nonelderly adults (those younger than age 66) who are judged to be unable to perform “substantial” work because of a disability but who have worked in the past; the program also pays benefits to some of those adults’ dependents. In 2009, the Disability Insurance program paid benefits to almost 8 million disabled beneficiaries and about 2 million of those beneficiaries’ spouses and children.

Between 1970 and 2009, the number of people receiving DI benefits more than tripled, from 2.7 million to 9.7 million (unless otherwise specified, all years are calendar years). That jump, which significantly outpaced the increase in the working-age population during that period, is attributable to several changes—in characteristics of that population, in federal policy, and in opportunities for employment. In addition, during those years, the average inflation-adjusted cost per person receiving DI benefits rose from about $6,900 to about $12,800 (in 2010 dollars). As a result, inflation-adjusted expenditures for the DI program, including administrative costs, increased nearly sevenfold between 1970 and 2009, climbing from $18 billion to $124 billion (in 2010 dollars). Most DI beneficiaries, after a two-year waiting period, are also eligible for Medicare; the cost of those benefits in fiscal year 2009 totaled about $70 billion.

Under current law, the DI program is not financially sustainable. Its expenditures are drawn from the Disability Insurance Trust Fund, which is financed primarily through a payroll tax of 1.8 percent; the fund had a balance of $204 billion at the end of 2009. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that by 2015, the number of people receiving DI benefits will increase to 11.4 million and total expenditures will climb to $147 billion (in 2010 dollars; see Figure 1). However, tax receipts credited to the DI trust fund will be about 20 percent less than those expenditures, and three years later, in 2018, the trust fund will be exhausted, according to CBO’s estimates. Without legislative action to reduce the DI program’s outlays, increase its dedicated federal revenues, or transfer other federal funds to it, the Social Security Administration will not have the legal authority to pay full DI benefits beyond that point.

A number of changes could be implemented to address the trust fund’s projected exhaustion. Some would increase revenues dedicated to the program; others would reduce outlays. One approach to reducing expenditures on DI benefits would be to establish policies that would make work a more viable option for people with disabilities. However, little evidence is available on the effectiveness of such policies, and their costs might more than offset any savings from reductions in DI benefits.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SSA 's length of time for Denied SSDI claimants to wait for a Hearing is 15 months now; they are PROUD?

The Social Security Administration is PROUD of the following statement: "The average processing time for hearing decisions has decreased to 442 days, down from a high of 514 days at the end of fiscal year (FY) 2008."

Seriously - PROUD that it takes 15 MONTHS to wait for a Disability claim HEARING? the DisabilityKey process brings (followed AND qualified) APPROVAL averages 3 months!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Patient Self-Advocacy - WHAT is it; HOW to do it?

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND self-advocacy for EVERYONE, but especially for people with disabilities!! Stanford Univ. in the US came up with a program entitled: Chronic Disease Self-Management - see this link: for more information.

Canada, Australia, and the UK have a very similar program called "Expert Patient"; see this link: or this site:

Here is the BEST website that I've found that explains the concept in general and has TONS of info; from New Zealand:

Finally, I've personally written about this concept in my own blogs on my website: - the archived blog way back in 2005 or so. Here's a link to that archived Blog; scroll down about 1/3 of the way to the AUGUST 16, 2005 entry:

I've taken the Stanford course and am a Certified Chronic Disease Self-Manager Trainer. With this knowledge, I've created a FREE ebooklet about how best to become a Self-Advocate. For a copy, please email me:

Finally, I find that most people have problems getting their doctors to actually LISTEN to them - let alone partner with them. It's more prevalent in the US and is called "Doctor (or illness)-Centered" medicine, versus PATIENT-CENTERED medicine. Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand are MILES ahead of the US when it comes to patient-centered medicine.

Here's a current study: