2021-8-17

Social Security Expands Compassionate Allowances Program for People with Severe Disabilities

Program Expedites Decisions for Disability Benefits

Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, today announced 12 new Compassionate Allowances conditions:  Charlevoix Saguenay Spastic Ataxia (ARSACS), Choroid Plexus Carcinoma, CIC-rearranged Sarcoma, Congenital Zika Syndrome, Desmoplastic Mesothelioma, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – Adult, Pericardial Mesothelioma, Refractory Hodgkin Lymphoma, Renpenning Syndrome, SCN8A Related Epilepsy with Encephalopathy, SYNGAP1-related NSID, and Taybi-Linder Syndrome. Compassionate Allowances is an initiative that quickly identifies severe medical conditions and diseases that meet Social Security’s standards for disability benefits.

“Everyone who is eligible for benefits under the programs we administer should receive them,” said Acting Commissioner Kijakazi.  “Our Compassionate Allowances program helps us address barriers by helping accelerate the disability application process for people who are likely to get approved for benefits due to the severity of their medical condition.”

The Compassionate Allowances program quickly identifies claims where the applicant’s condition or disease clearly meets Social Security’s statutory standard for disability.  Due to the severe nature of many of these conditions, these claims are often allowed based on medical confirmation of the diagnosis alone; for example, certain cancers, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and a number of rare disorders that affect children.  To date, more than 700,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved through this accelerated, policy-compliant disability process, which has grown to a total of 254 conditions.

When a person applies for disability benefits, Social Security must obtain medical records in order to make an accurate determination.  The agency incorporates leading technology to identify potential Compassionate Allowances cases and make quick decisions.  Social Security’s Health IT brings the speed and efficiency of electronic medical records to the disability determination process.  With electronic records transmission, Social Security is able to quickly obtain a claimant’s medical information, review it, and make a fast determination.

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

To learn more about Social Security’s Health IT program, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/hit.  

People may apply online for disability benefits by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov.

To create a mySocial Securityaccount, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Virginia Department of Health Urges Caution In Advance of Severe Wet Weather

(Richmond, Va.)— Tropical Storm Fred may impact areas of the state this week. This storm, in addition to the storm events across Virginia this week, could create dangerous recreational water conditions in creeks, rivers, and the areas along the coast. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reminds people to take precautions to be prepared for severe weather and once the sun comes out, be aware of potential health risks before you participate in recreational water activities.

Heavy rains can increase the risk of animal waste and the potential release of inadequately treated wastewater from sewage treatment plants. Bacteria, debris, and other pollutants in rainwater runoff end up in rivers, lakes and streams, which can pose risks to human health and safety. Rain events also cause flooding and fast-moving waters, especially in low-lying areas.

The most common illnesses from contaminated water are gastrointestinal illnesses. This may cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or fever. These illnesses result from swallowing water contaminated by disease-causing microbiological organisms. Additionally, contact with contaminated water has the potential to cause upper respiratory (ear, nose, throat) and skin infections.

VDH recommends the following safety tips for people planning to swim, wade, kayak, canoe or go rafting in Virginia natural waters after heavy rain:

  • Avoid getting water in your mouth. Never swallow water from an untreated water source.
  • Don’t swim if you have broken skin. Bacteria, viruses and other organisms can infect wounds causing more serious illness.
  • Shower with soap and water after recreating in natural waters.
  • Don’t swim when you are ill.
  • Avoid swimming if dead fish are present.
  • Use extreme caution and avoid unnecessary risks if you encounter covered roads or fast-moving waters. The water may be deeper and moving faster than you think.

Residents or facilities that provide water to the public, including campgrounds, restaurants, summer camps, or daycares with private wells or septic systems should also take extra precautions in heavy rain and flooding, in case wells or septic systems are submerged by flood waters. Visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-health/responding-to-an-emergency-affecting-your-private-well/ for information and safety tips.

To find the location of local sewer treatment facilities, contact your local public works department.

For more information regarding recreation water safety tips, including the Virginia Department of Health’s “Safely Enjoy Virginia’s Natural Waters” brochure, visit: www.SwimHealthyVA.com.

New Psychiatrist Joins VCU Health CMH Behavioral Health Services in South Hill

South Hill, VA (8/16/21) – With the recent moratorium on new admissions in Virginia’s psychiatric hospitals due to staffing shortages, the need for mental health treatment is now more important than ever. While outpatient services won’t directly relieve this burden, it can help patients seeking care prevent those emergent situations that require inpatient hospitalization.

Enter Alvin Scott Parker, IV, MD, the new psychiatrist at VCU Health CMH Behavioral Health Services, located at 140 East Ferrell Street, in South Hill. Dr. Parker joins Dr. Anees in an already busy practice that just opened in March with dozens of patients scheduled for him to treat. Dr. Anees will continue to see children, adolescents and adults, while Dr. Parker will focus on adults only.

Dr. Parker earned his medical degree from American University of Integrated Sciences in St. Michael, Barbados, where he graduated with honors. He completed a psychiatry residency at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. He is a member of the American Psychiatric Association. 

“I am fascinated by how the mind works,” explained Dr. Parker. “I love studying the brain and how it functions. If I can make practical applications and help improve lives, then we’ll be much better off.”

Dr. Parker takes a holistic approach to patient care and customizes his treatment plans to his patients’ individual needs.

“I treat the individual more than the problem,” he said. “Mental health issues stem from lots of things: stressors, interpersonal relationships, finance, marriage, employment, genetics. If I can help someone identify who or what is contributing to the problem, we can make it better.”

Southside Virginia and northern North Carolina have a reputation for being underserved and there is a great demand for mental health care. Dr. Parker hopes to help everyone out by making a difference in each life he touches.

A resident of Raleigh, North Carolina, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife, children and pet Australian Shepherd. He has a daughter at East Carolina University and a son starting the sixth grade. He likes working out, hiking and playing chess.

To make an appointment at VCU Health CMH Behavioral Health Services, call (434) 584-5400.

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