The Renaissance: Understanding the Developmentally Disabled

Between the 14th and the 17th centuries, the Renaissance, a period that symbolized rebirth and renewal, saw a significant change in people’s perspective towards the developmentally and intellectually disabled. The ill-treatment and disregard towards such individuals by no means ended completely. The disabled were still subjected to forms of abuse, mockery and mental harassment. However, the world was slowly but surely beginning to understand and empathize with the conditions of the developmentally disabled.

The first settlers in American Colonies would prohibit disabled individuals from entering the country, afraid that they would require financial support and would be unable to care for themselves. Even as American colonies shunned the disabled, they could not avoid having disabled babies being born in the colonies. Children who had already settled the colonies would at times to display some form of developmental disability. Ultimately a law was passed that allowed families to provide care and treatment for the disabled within their houses. While a step forward, the individuals were not allowed to be part or interact with their community. The Renaissance was the first time in history that disabled individuals were considered as capable of thinking and learning. Schools and institutions for the disabled were set up throughout America and Europe, and attempts were made to educate and treat them. Laws were passed that allowed disabled individuals to be educated, but in segregated schools, far from the main cities and towns. Almshouses were created to provide shelter and care for beggars, most of whom suffered from some form of disability and the institutionalization of the developmentally disabled, especially those who suffered mental retardation, was encouraged. Most people suffering from intellectual disabilities were sent to such institutes or “correction houses” either for education, treatment or to live their entire lives. The first hospital with a separate section for intellectual disabilities and mental retardation was founded in Philadelphia in the year 1771.

Even as the world was slowly awakening to the plight of the developmentally disabled; an attitude of ignorance, disregard and disrespect was still widely prevalent among the population. Disabled individuals were still not allowed to be a part of the society and the institutions where they were being treated inevitably turned into a place where people could go to stare at them and mock their oddities. At such asylums, institutions and hospitals; the developmentally disabled were kept in cellars and displayed to the public; a shameful act that showcased a blatant disregard towards the plight of such individuals and violated their freedom. During these years, the world was beginning to show compassion towards the developmentally and intellectually disabled, yet there was still a long way to go before such individuals were treated with respect instead of mockery and revulsion.

The One Key Report That Will Win a Social Security Disability Case

After over a 1,000 successful Social Security Disability cases, as a disability lawyer I have found there is one report that can make a difference. What is that report?

First, the agency considers the opinion of the treating doctor to be the most important document in the medical file. However, the critical opinion often does not exist. Why is this? Simply, doctors are involved in treatment. They are not concerned with legal disability issues.

Second, the agency will not allow doctors to make the legal determination in the case. Thus, if the doctor says a claimant is “disabled” the agency will reject this “naked” statement. The agency will say this is a legal determination to be made by the Social Security Judge.

Third, a mere statement that you are “disabled” will not be accepted. However, an opinion (from the treating doctor) stating what impact the claimant’s impairments have on important body functions can be extremely important and may be decisive in a case. For example, the doctor’s opinion on how long the claimant can walk, stand or sit is critical. Also, the doctor’s opinion regarding lifting, bending, etc. is critical.

Fourth, an experienced disability lawyer will have a set of evaluation forms for your doctor. They will be tailored for your individual impairment. For example, for a low back problem, there will be a lumbar spine form. This form will ask the doctor critical questions on how the low back problem impairs important body functions like walking, standing, sitting, lifting, bending, etc.

Fifth, unlike a “naked” statement of disability, this report will elicit what the doctor’s opinion is about the claimant’s ability to perform critical work activities. If the doctor’s opinion in this matter is supported by the doctor’s treatment records over a period of time, then the Social Security Judge may be compelled to give this report “great weight” in the claimant’s case.

Sixth, even if other medical evidence disagrees with the treating doctor’s opinion, the treating doctor’s opinion will prevail if the opinion is well supported by the treating doctor’s records.

In summary, a single report can win a Social Security Disability case. However, it has to fit the above criteria: (1) the doctor must be a treating doctor; (2) the opinion must indicate how critical body functions are affected by the impairment; (3) the opinion cannot just say the claimant is disabled; and (4) the doctor’s opinion must be grounded in the doctor’s treatment records. An experienced Social Security lawyer can work with the claimant’s to develop this winning report.

Nick Vujicic

Nick Vujicic isn’t your ordinary person– he is an extraordinary person. Extraordinary because he has a difficult battle each and every day, as he was born without arms or legs. The condition is called Phocomelia and it is a very rare disorder, one that can manifest in many different ways. For Vujicic it meant bullying and depression when he was a young boy, but he overcame all of that and became a motivational speaker, but not before he completed a double major in college and won many awards.

When Nick Vujicic was young he taught himself to stand up. He has two small deformed feet which, after surgery to un-fuse the toes of one he can use it to pick things up, turn pages in a book, use a phone and many other everyday things we all take for granted. The point is, even at an early age he didn’t give in to his disability, he came up with ways to work with what he had and didn’t think of his limitations. What limitations? He can do whatever he wants to do and do it well.

His motivational speaking has a message and is also deeply rooted in Christianity. He doesn’t just tell people to get over it and keep a positive attitude, but instead supplies a message of hope that also extends to a personal relationship with God. The thinking here is that if He made you a certain way, then He has a use for you in this world. He also urges people to learn to accept that the gift of life is a great one and something that should be cherished, not thrown away because of a disability. His speaking also covers the aspect of hope where obstacles can be turned into opportunities. Like he did as a young boy, you have to take your obstacles and find a way around them. Who better than Nick Vujicic to teach youngsters who are going through emotional or physical things that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel?

When he isn’t speaking, and he has done so more than 3,000 times in more than fifty seven countries, he lives in Southern California where he enjoys fishing and swimming as well as painting. Nick Vujicic is married with two sons and loving life, because, after all life is the gift we should all be thankful for!

Appealing Your VA Disability Claim at the CAVC

As a disabled veteran, did you know that you have the right to fight back if the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denies your disability claim at the final level of your appeal? You can take your case to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) in Washington, D.C.

What is the CAVC?

The CAVC is not part of the VA. It is a national court created to give disabled veterans the opportunity to seek an unbiased review of their case after they have been denied at the Board of Veterans Appeals. This is the place to go to if you want to present your reasons for why you deserve the disability compensation that has been denied to you.

Likewise, if you take your case to the CAVC, you can expect that the VA will defend their decision to deny you the disability benefits you believe you deserve.

It is strongly advised that if you choose to take your case to the CAVC, you should get legal representation to help you. Why? Because a VA disability attorney, or non-attorney representative, has experience in appealing claims at the CAVA, and know how to formulate the best possible arguments to help you win.

Who Should Legally Represent You?

You will want to make sure that you get a legal representative who is not only savvy about veterans disability and VA law, but is also someone who really cares about veterans and understands what they are going through.. The person you choose can be either an attorney or a non-attorney who has been admitted to the bar and has an attorney present while arguing your case at the CAVC.

You should know that there is no cost for representation services at the CAVC. This is because of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), which requires that the federal government take responsibility for paying your legal fees.

Once you find your legal representative, it will be his or her task to develop a convincing argument in your defense. You can expect that the VA attorneys will be doing the same.

When to File For A Review

You have 120 days after the Board of Veterans Appeals has made their final decision about your case to file a Notice of Appeal with the CAVC.

What Could Happen at Court

After arguments from both sides have been heard, the CAVC will decide your appeal. The CAVC could reverse the Board of Veterans Appeals’ decision, in which case you’ll get your benefits. Or they could request that your claim be sent back to the Board of Veterans Appeals for reconsideration.

The important thing to know is you don’t have to settle for a VA disability claim decision that you do not agree with. As a disabled veteran you have rights.

Appealing your claim at the Court of Veterans Appeals is recourse available to you. The CAVC has been in existence since 1988 for the purpose of ensuring that disabled veterans,are getting their fair share from the VA.