Helping a Loved One Apply for Social Security Disability


Today we welcome guest blogger Bryan MacMurry from the  Disability Benefits Help. Disability Benefits Help provides information about disability benefits and the application process.

Helping a Loved One Apply for Social Security Disability

As a caregiver, you’ve probably helped your loved one with various types of paperwork related to their medical condition. If they have become so debilitated due to a mental or physical ailment that they are no longer able to work, they will probably require your assistance in applying for Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits.

Here are some things you should know about SSA benefits. These insights will help you determine which program your loved one is eligible for as well as the steps that need to be taken to complete the application process.

What Disability Benefits Are Available?

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, a person must be completely disabled, which means that they must be unable to perform any kind of substantial gainful activity and their disability is expected to last for at least a year or to end in their death.

The SSA has two support programs intended to help people with diagnosed disability support themselves financially and have access to the medical treatment they need. Each program is meant for a different type of applicant but both of them will pay monthly cash benefits to those reswho meet the medical criteria required for eligibility.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): This program pays benefits to disabled workers based on their past earnings. To be eligible for SSDI, your loved one must have worked a certain number of years prior to becoming disabled and paid into Social Security. Once approved, he or she will be eligible for Medicare coverage after two years.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): This program is “means-tested,” meaning that it is intended for those in financial need. Applicants must have less than $2,000 in assets and a highly limited income, which makes SSI a program geared more toward children and the elderly. SSI recipients can also receive Medicaid in their state.

Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits

When your loved one applies for disability, the SSA will evaluate his or her eligibility by consulting the Blue Book, which is its official publication of disabling conditions. The Blue Book, which has one section for children and another for adults, requires an applicant to meet the listed criteria of a disabling condition in order to qualify for benefits.

When you help your loved one apply, you will also have to collect and submit medical documentation that confirms his or her diagnosis and outlines their treatment history. Their treating physician will fill out a residual functional capacity (RFC) form, which the SSA will use to evaluate how the applicant’s illness has affected their ability to maintain gainful employment. SSI applicants will have to be interviewed by a SSA representative, so prepare to be present to provide any necessary support.

The Compassionate Allowances Program

Applicants with certain disabilities can be automatically qualified as disabled and have their applications fast-tracked via the Compassionate Allowances program. These conditions include breast cancer, acute leukemia, heart transplant graft failure, and mixed dementias.

Qualifying for Benefits With a Medical-Vocational Allowance

If your loved one does not meet any Blue Book listing but his or her RFC analysis indicates that they are unable to maintain gainful employment, they may still qualify for SSD benefits under a medical vocational allowance system. The SSA will review all medical documentation to evaluate how the illness has hindered their ability to perform daily activities as well as functions related to jobs they are trained and qualified for. If the SSA concludes that their symptoms leave them significantly impaired, they may be granted disability benefits under a medical-vocational allowance. This program is intended for those who are genuinely unable to work but could not meet a Blue Book listing.

For more information about applying for SSA disability benefits on behalf of a disabled loved one, please visit the SSA website at https://www.ssa.gov/, schedule an appointment at your closest SSA office, or call 1-800-772-1213. Monthly disability payments will make it easier for your loved one to meet his or her medical and financial needs, which will give both of you peace of mind.

Disability Benefit Help is responsible for the content written in this article.

“This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at http://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org or by contacting them at help@ssd-help.org.”

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December 23, 2016 · 12:20 pm

Having a Dementia Friendly Holiday


Christmas is the day that holds all time together. Alexander Smith

The Holiday Season and can be both fun and stressful.  But how does a family approach the Holiday Season when caring for someone who has Dementia or Alzheimer?

2016-12-22-2Deborah Shouse is a dementia advocate and the author of Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together .  Through her own personal experience of caring for her Mother, Deborah has a keen understanding of the importance of preparing for a dementia-friendly holiday  so that everyone can be safe and secure while enjoying the holidays.

Deborah offers some sage advice on how to choose holiday activities; explaining the needs of the person living with dementia to family and guest, creating a quite space available for down time while in the midst of the festivities.  My personal favorite is Deborah’s suggestion that a family member or friend take turns being around the family member with dementia in order to answer a quick question or to just make them feel comfortable a large gathering of people.

When memory loss is first detected in a loved one or friend, it can be troubling for the person affected, but also for the entire family and friends.   Too often, people living with dementia are entertained instead of engaged.  Connecting in the Land of Dementia shows us how to engage and connect with people who are living with memory loss and dementia.

On this version of  Healing Ties,  Deborah provides us with some timely tips to help caregivers and their caree’s have a dementia friendly holiday season.

Listen in and learn how Deborah Shouse is creating Healing Ties all around us!

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December 22, 2016 · 1:31 pm

Sharing The Light


Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection. Winston Churchill

Richard and I  had a Christmas Eve tradition where he would make a reservation at one 20161219_220258of his favorite restaurants for Christmas Eve dinner and then we would take a ride down A1A in Palm Beach and Broward Counties to look at the spectacular Christmas lights adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean.   We would always marvel at the tremendous configurations of lights as we motored down the road.   A palm tree wrapped in Christmas lights is something you just don’t see in Brooklyn or St. Louis.  I’ve made the same trip down memory lane the last two Christmas Eve’s and plan to do the ride again this Saturday on Christmas eve 2016.

It is amazing to me that I am approaching my third Holiday Season without Richard. (I use Holiday only because Richard was Jewish and I am Catholic)  My,  how time does fly!

The first Christmas without Richard was difficult.  One of the events that got me through the ride was Caregiving.com 36-Hour Christmas Care Chat.  While chats are available just about 24/7 on Caregiving.com, this chat was special, at least to me.  I will never forgot the kindness of the volunteer, @RoaringMouse,  that Christmas Eve in 2014.   We chatted for I guess almost an hour, we laughed, we cried, we reminisced… we were just there for each other.   Thanks to my chat with @RoaringMouse  I understood that while this ride would be different, the ride  would be just as meaningful as it was the year before when Richard was sitting next to me in the passengers seat. @RoaringMouse helped me  realized that I really was not alone on that first Christmas without Richard.

Caregiving.com 36-Hour chat starts this Saturday at noon and will continue on through midnight on Christmas night.  “Volunteers who understand” just like @RoaringMouse, will be there to lend support,  and be there for you, no matter where you are on your caregiving journey.   I know I will never ever forget, and will be forever grateful, for my time with @RoaringMouse on Christmas Eve 2014.

wpid-wp-1419525603576.jpegSure,  that old cliche’ is true, time heals all wounds, but wounds heal in their own time.  Each one of us adjusts differently when the one we love makes their life transition.  My mind tells me that he is forever pain free, my faith tells me that I will see him again, my heart tells me he will be sitting right next to me on our drive on Saturday night.

Sometimes in order to move forward,  we just have to look back on our past. 

Visit Caregiving.com to learn more about the 36-Hour CareGiving Chat and how you might be able to participate.

No matter where you are on your caregiving journey, you’ll be glad that you stopped by for a cup of comfort.

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When Hope Loves Company


Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. John F. Kennedy

When it comes to caregivers, we often think about caregiving for a spouse, partner, parent or grandparent. But what if you happen to be a kid who is caring for a parent with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)?

Through the loss of her husband Kevin to ALS, Jodi O’Donnell-Ames created Hope Loves Company where kids and families dealing with ALS can find strength, comfort and compassion.

Hope Loves Company (HLC) is the only non-profit in the U.S. with the mission of providing educational and emotional support to children and young adults who had or have a loved one battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Listen in and learn about Hope Love’s Company’s camps for kids, where kids can go and just be kids and “not have to explain ALS to anyone.”

Like many caregivers who turn their caregiving experience in to advocacy,  Jodi O’Donnell-Ames has a beautiful mission to ensure families and kids receive the hope, love and encouragement they need while in the midst of ALS.  Jodi O’Donnell-Ames is someone who is  creating Healing Ties all around us!

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Holiday Blog Party with Caregiving.com


The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it. Hubert H. Humphrey

For those of you who have read my blog since its inception, you’ll know that I always like to start a new blog post with a quote that (hopefully) matches the topic of the blog post.  As I think about this year’s Holiday Blog party with Caregiving.com, I am reminded about all the wonderful friendships that I have acquired while being a caregiver for my decease partner Richard.  Many of these friendships have come about because of the great community of Caregivers at Caregiving.com.  Denise has created an extended family for all of us through this vast network of Caregivers.  This vast network of friendships was even more on display while attending the first national Caregiving Conference in Chicago last weekend.  What a terrific experience; what a terrific event!

If you are reading this post on my old faithful website, “The Purple Jacket”…great!!!  If you are finding this post on our new site “Whole Care Network”…that is great too!   I don’t think I will ever be able to turn off  The Purple Jacket website as this has been my blogging home for so many years.  Sure, technology changes, and I can migrate all my data and resources to our new site, Whole Care Network, but there is something about being home where our story began that brings comfort.   And we know that two things Caregivers need are validation and comfort.  I found my comfort in caregiving through writing and I found my validation in caregiving through our extended family at Caregiving.com

Just like when caregiving ends, we are moving on to a new website called Whole Care Network in 2017.  While the Whole Care Network will have more technological capabilities, our Caregiving story will always be associated with The Purple Jacket and our extended family at Caregiving.com.   Feel free to leave a comment on The Purple Jacket or if you’re visiting on Whole Care Network site, use the comment section to the far right of the tab and I will be happy to receive your message.  I’m looking forward to this years Holiday Blog Party!

Happy Holiday Blog Party and a Happy Thanks Care-Giving!

 

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How Single Mothers Should Ideally Spend Their Daily Life


We welcome guest blogger Andrea Bell back to The Purple Jacket

According to U.S. Census Bureau, out of about 12 million single parent families in 2015, more than 80% were headed by single mothers. Today, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 — a total of about 17.4 million — are being raised without a father.

For whatever reason, whether they chose to not get married, their husband left or died, the bottom line is – single mothers have their work cut out for them. Single mothers are usually labelled ‘super moms’ for going the extra mile every time for their children. The label is justified, since a single mother spends every waking moment trying to make her child’s life fulfilling and memorable.

A single mother puts her children above everything else.

The day-to-day responsibilities of a single mother are no different than that of married women; coping with sleeplessness, finding child care, paying bills and more. All with the added burden of no one else to rely on.

Still, single mothers agree, that even when overcome with their duties, there’s usually a way to work the issues out.

Here are some tips on how to overcome the struggles of being a single mother.

  1. Build a support system

As a single working parent, you might need a helping hand every now and then, while taking care of your child. It is very important to form a healthy social network of caring individuals around you. Go on day trips with your close friends and family and help your children get acquainted with them. This helps the children form a trustworthy bond with them. Make them believe that they can rely on their relatives for constant support regarding big decisions.

It is important to develop adult relationships as a single mother since it will prevent you from depending too much on your children for emotional support.

  1. Maintain a civil relationship with your Ex

Whether you are separated or divorced, work on maintaining a mature relationship with your ex-partner. On-going conflicts between the two of you can have a negative impact on your children, making them feel frustrated, stressed out and bitter. Make sure your children never become a part of your battles.

Avoid making your children decide on who is the best parent between you and your ex. If the ex is critical of you to your kids, avoid indulging in an argument and instead respond by saying that you’re doing the best you can and children are comfortable with how you are handling things around the house.

Children want to have a healthy relationship with both parents and the freedom to feel, however they want to, about them. They will appreciate your efforts to remain civil about the relationship, giving them a chance to experience strong parenthood.

  1. Spend quality time with your kids

By every means, try to spend quality time with your children, even if it is just 20 minutes a day. It is important to know about the people that influence their lives; teachers, friends, coaches. Go on a holiday and family trips if you think it’ll be an honest opportunity to get to know your kids more. Forming a strong bond with your children, while they are young, is crucial. Talk to them about their daily activities, their interests and most importantly their problems.

Make your children feel more ‘involved’ in household activities. Have a fun-Sunday kitchen routine where you can ask your children to help you cook. Give them small jobs like getting stuff from the pantry or chopping vegetables with a plastic knife. Help them communicate effectively with an adult.

  1. Keep an eye on what you eat

As an active, single mother, you need to have a healthy diet in order to keep your immune system strong. It’s hard to find fitting food when you are balancing two things at once; home and work, but it is essential to have a well-balanced diet.

You might end up eating too much on some stressful days. Try to cut back on junk and binge on healthy snacks instead. Fruits, nuts and vegetables are excellent choices to boost your immunity.

From my personal experience, herbal teas often act as de-stressors while also working on your immune system activity. Detox your body and you will feel lighter and charged up to take on your daily routine.

  1. Sweat it out and get some sleep

As an individual doing a two-person job, getting some sound sleep and having me-time can help you unwind from the challenges of your daily routine. It is normal to feel frustrated and bitter. These feelings linger within your mind because of the stressful lifestyle you must follow as a single working mother.

Your children solely depend on you for protection. You cannot afford to go beyond your limits where you start feeling emotionally and physically drained.

Recharge your batteries, even if you have to temporarily switch your child care provider or simply get a family member to help you out. Spend that time doing activities you like such as meditation, Yoga, exercise or just good old-fashioned sleep. It is important to take a breather every now and then, to remain healthy.

In order to maintain your strength and resilience, you must incorporate these strategies in your daily life. Don’t rule out emotions altogether and do the best that you can. Your kids will love you no matter what. You will soon realize that your single parent family can truly survive all odds.

Author Bio:

Andrea Bell is freelance writer by day and sports fan by night.  Andrea writes about tech education and health related issues (but not at the same time). Live simply, give generously, watch football and a technology lover. Find Andrea  on twitter @IM_AndreaBell.

 

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Creating A Memory Cafe Directory


Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.  Thomas Huxley

The month of November is always an exciting time as we look ahead to Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season.   November is also significant for family caregivers as November is designated as National Family Caregivers month.  November is also designated as Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.  Family Caregiving  and Alzheimer’s disease  go hand in hand, it is proper that they both share a month together.

Our caregiving journey did not include the insidious disease of Alzheimer or dementia. However thousands upon thousands of family caregivers care for a family member or friend  who struggle with memory loss.   The common denominator for all family caregivers is to find safe places where you and caree can enjoy life as much as a day in caregiving will allow.

As I have come to learn, those who suffer from memory loss often find it difficult to  go to loud and unfamiliar places.  We know isolation starts to occur when we feel there 2016-11-01-2is no viable option, rather, it’s just easier to stay home  than to do deal with the obstacles of the unknown.

But what if there was a safe place for those incurring memory loss and their caregivers?

KalendarKards is creating a Memory Cafe Directory where people can socialize, listen to music, play games and other activities. They can simply enjoy the company of those with these things in common.  A Memory Cafe is a safe and comfortable space and great place for individuals with Alzheimer’s or any of the dementia’s. But it’s not just for them, the memory café for their caregivers as well.

The Memory Cafe Directory was started by KalendarKards and is operated by KalendarKards, LLC .  Memory Cafe’s are not everywhere, but they are growing quickly.

On this episode of Healing Ties, Dave Wiederrich CEO and Co-Founder at KalendarKards provides us with a detailed description of the Memory Cafe Directory and how you can start one of your own.

 Listen in and learn how Dave Wiederrich and KalendarKards are creating Healing Ties all round us!

By creating a comprehensive national directory for Memory Cafe’s, KalendarKards believe they can help raise awareness of the value Memory Cafe’s bring to families.  I happen to agree!

 Join us in Chicago for the First National Caregiving Conference on December 2nd & 3rd.  Visit Caregiving.com for further details “

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Chris MacLellan is the host of Healing Ties Radio and the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving?”  ©WholeCareNetwork. 

 

 

 

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Preventing One Million Falls


The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless. Jean-Jacques Rousseau

According to the Centers for Disease Control: “each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.

Falls Are Serious and Costly

But what if there was a way to encourage those 65 and older (well, everyone for that matter) to exercise and create better balance?  Well now, you’ve come to the right place!

Dr. Sheryl Flynn is the founder and CEO of Blue Marble Health, a software company that specializes in developing tools that support healthy aging and chronic disease management.  Dr. Flynn founded Blue Marble Health because she wanted to develop tools that could directly impact older adults while supporting their care team.  I just love that!

2016-10-28-4Dr. Flynn’s Health in Motion platform offers older adults and those with chronic disease to screen their fall risk while offering exercises to help improve balance and coördination.  And best of all, the App is user-friendly along with the ability to send information to your care team.   Having your health care information readily available at a moment’s notice helps mitigate emergencies when we have to interact with healthcare professionals who are not regularly on our health-care team.

Dr. Flynn has a goal to prevent one million falls within the next five years.  This is a lofty, but attainable goal with the Health in Motion App.  Don’t just take it from me!  Listen in and learn how Dr. Flynn and the staff are preventing falls and creating Healing Ties all around us!

As an added bonus, enter the code “Healing Ties” and receive 20% off your order!

Chris MacLellan is the host of “Healing Ties” and the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving”  ©WholeCareNetwork

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Preserving Our Legacy


The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Bertrand Russell

2016-10-27-3I am often inspired by family caregivers who share their story; I find story sharing to be healing.  One of the reasons I started to blog about our Caregiving experience was to have an outlet to share our story.   When we share our story, there is a sense of relief that you have been heard, that your experience might be of help to someone.

Mike Stith from One Legacy has a passion for sharing inspirational stories.  Mike has helped families preserve their family legacy through story telling that he captures in a variety of ways.    Mike believes that in sharing stories, On Legacy is adding a special piece of history for future generations.  I think he is right on target with that assessment.

I did not have the opportunity to meet three of my four grandparents, however I do remember my five older siblings talking about all four of our grandparents with fond memories.  How I wish we would have been able to capture my grandparents legacy so that I would have had a better sense of my grandparents.  One Legacy is preserving family stories for future generations in a way will capture the hearts of future family generations.

Don’t just take it from me, listen in and learn how Mike Stith from One Legacy is creating Healing Ties all around us!

To learn more about One Legacy visit them on-line at http://onelegacy.com/

You can reach Mike Stith via email at mstith@onelegacy.com   Twitter https://twitter.com/one_legacy_com  Facebook https://www.facebook.com/onelegacyllc

Chris MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving” and the Host of  Healing Ties Radio

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Open Enrollment and the Affordable Care Act


Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. Confucius

Working family caregivers often struggle balancing work and caregiving duties.  Many caregivers who work full-time worry, about losing their benefits because of the amount of time they have to take off of work because of their role as a family caregiver.

The Affordable Care Act when into effect in 2015 and much as been written about the pros and cons of the Affordable Care Act.  As an self employed individual myself, I am grateful for the Affordable Care Act as, like 90% of today’s American’s, I am fully covered.

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Photo Credit: Wage Works

 I have not experienced some of the trials and stipulations that I read about in regards to the Affordable Care Act as I was able to stick with the same physician and my level of care has not changed one bit.  I know that is not the same for everyone!

Open enrollment is upon us and sometimes understanding the Affordable Care Act and  how it best works for  you is a daunting task.   Not today!   On this episode of Healing Ties, Independent Insurance Broker Sam Chalfant breaks down the Affordable Care Act in simplistic terms in preparation for open enrollment on November 1st.

Listen in and learn how Sam Chalfant is creating Healing Ties all around us!

Sam Chalfant is an Independent Insurance Broker in the state of Florida. Sam welcomes your call at 954.257.8788.  Visit Sam on line at Chalfant Insurance Services

See our video podcast!

Join us in Chicago for the First Annual National Caregiving Conference.  For more details on this exciting event, visit Caregiving.com by clicking here! 

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