Female coworker with invisible disability

Invisible Disabilities And The Battles Within

Throughout the history of civilization, there have always been things that we did not understand— things that we believed to be real but couldn’t see. Faith, love— even germs all spring to mind though we may not have always had a scientific name for them.

While the human race has come a long way from our earliest beginnings, the simple truth is that science is ever-evolving and new things are discovered every day. Just as today we may laugh at some of the ancestral medical practices of the middle ages, our descendants may one day do the same to us.

The same could also be said for the discovery and further understanding and treatment of ailments previously attributed to an imbalance of the four humors or even demons.

The New Science On Invisible Disabilities

Most recently there has been a renewed focus on debilitating illnesses and diseases that may not always visible to the naked eye or even some advanced diagnostic testing techniques available to doctors and hospitals throughout the world. These ailments have been given the term invisible disabilities.

According to the Invisible Disabilities Association, in simple terms, an invisible disability is considered to be a physical, mental, or neurological condition that limits one’s mobility or senses to the point where the severely impact the individual’s everyday life and activities. Unlike other disabilities, invisible disabilities are imperceptible to onlookers and therefore can sometimes lead to misunderstandings, false perceptions, and judgment.

For example, according to the American Physical Therapy Association, “Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has come a long way since the 1980s when it was widely dismissed as ‘yuppie flu’ and was suspected by many health care providers of being a psychological rather than a physiological condition.” To date, there is no definitive test for CFS and it is instead considered to be diagnosed but exclusion.

Another well-known illness for which there is no definitive test to confirm its existence is fibromyalgia. The reigning Queen of Pop (disagree, if you dare) Lady Gaga, has recently (and very publicly) brought the topic of fibromyalgia front and center in the media. Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, has struggled with the illness for years, and though invisible— she has chosen to bravely document her struggle with its debilitating effects in the recent Netflix documentary Five Foot Two and has even been forced to cancel a number of shows on her most recent Joanne tour due to the incredible debilitating pain associated with the illness.

Mental illnesses such as individuals who struggle with Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Bipolar Disorder, and more are also considered to have an invisible disability (if the symptoms they experience are severe enough); however, in these cases there are often more definitive ways of testing and diagnosing cases.

In addition to those previously listed, below are a number of other known invisible disabilities. Please note that though extensive, this is in no way to be considered a complete list of possible invisible disabilities.

  • Allergies
  • Arachnoiditis
  • Asperger Syndrome
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Brain injuries
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic pain
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders
  • Coeliac Disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
  • Endometriosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
  • Food allergies
  • Fructose malabsorption
  • Hereditary Fructose Intolerance
  • Hyperhidrosis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Lupus
  • Lyme Disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Narcolepsy
  • Personality disorders
  • Primary immunodeficiency
  • Psychiatric disabilities
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Schnitzler’s Syndrome
  • Schizophrenia
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Spinal Disorders
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Transverse Myelitis
  • Ulcerative Colitis

Female smiling engaging in self-care but battling invisible disabilityTesting The Odds

According to Disabled World, it is estimated that approximately ten percent of Americans have been diagnosed with a medical condition that could be labeled as an invisible disability. “Ninety-six percent of people with chronic medical conditions live with a condition that is invisible. These people do not use a cane or any assistive device and act as if they didn’t have a medical condition. About twenty-five percent of them have some type of activity limitation, ranging from mild to severe; the remaining seventy-five percent are not disabled by their chronic conditions.”

It has been estimated by the National Council on Disability that one out of every four Americans will be diagnosed with a long-term disability within their working careers. Could your family afford for you to be out of work for an extended period of time while you recover?

If you wish to receive more information about how you can safeguard your financial future in the event you are diagnosed with a long-term disability, please visit your association page or www.memberbenefits.com/ltd/ to receive an instant quote, to view our complete Long-Term Disability Insurance brochure, download an application, or schedule an appointment with one of our licensed Benefits Counselors.

young female experiencing work-related stress

Could Workplace Stress Become A Workers’ Compensation Claim?

According to a CBS News article, it has been estimated that roughly 8.3 million Americans suffer from some form of psychological distress such as a general hopeless or nervous disposition or even clinically diagnosable depression and anxiety-related disorders such as PTSD. While the cause for the sudden uptick in depression, anxiety, addiction, and general stress has been linked to everything from overzealous doctors, supervisors, and hostile work environments, to politics and the economy, and the concern over the ever-increasing amount of “screen time” Americans spend per day, the truth is that no one is able to one-hundred-percent identify the source.

While psychology experts and the media keep digging into just what is causing the rise in stress-related disorders and situations, many of those suffering are plagued with the maybe more important question of what are we going to do about it?

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elderly man wearing eyeglasses and magnifying glass sitting at work bench tinkering with tools

What Medicare Supplemental Insurance Can Do That Medicare Can Not

Getting older is never any fun passed the age of 21. But oftentimes with age comes maturity, experience, and perspective. And by the time you find yourself approaching the golden age of 65, you’re probably able to look back at your earlier years and note a few things you wish you had done differently—drink less alcohol, quit smoking earlier, save more money and spend it wiser; invest more time with the people you love, and in taking care of yourself.

Don’t put taking good care of yourself on the backburner anymore.

elderly man surrounded by happy family blowing out birthday candlesMaking Sure Your “Golden Years” Are Golden

Throughout our lives, there are a number of birthday milestones that stand out— one, 13, 16, 18, 21, 40, 65, and if you’re lucky, many more beyond that. Each of these years has their own reasons for being special, but few birthdays carry the same significance that turning 65 does.

Beginning three months prior to your 65th birthday, you become eligible for a seven-month open enrollment period where you can enroll in Medicare benefits. If you miss your initial open enrollment period, you will still become eligible again during the general open enrollment period which begins January 1st and ends March 31st, with coverage beginning July 1st.

According to a Money Crashers article written by Michael Lewis, “There is a direct correlation between healthcare costs and age: The older you are, the more likely it is that you will need medical care. The elderly are more apt to suffer chronic conditions that require treatment for years, and accidents are more common, often requiring complicated treatment. As a consequence of the high healthcare costs for older Americans, private insurers prior to 1965 either did not offer health insurance to the elderly, or charged such high premiums that insurance was not affordable. Medicare was created to solve a human welfare crisis that threatened to unravel the social and economic fabric of the nation.”

The truth is, that while highly beneficial, Medicare Part A and Part B may not necessarily cover everything you may need as you get older. A prime example of this is the often-cited fact that Medicare does not cover basic eye health, most forms of dental care, and hearing aids. And while many may be under the impression that they won’t need something like a Long-Term Care Insurance policy because Medicare will cover the costs, unfortunately, it won’t because while Medicare Part A will cover care in a nursing home, it will not cover custodial care meaning, the activities of daily living such as getting dressed, bathing, eating, etc).

Investing In Your Health With Medicare Supplemental Insurance

A Medicare Supplemental Insurance policy can help you fill in the gaps left behind between the services and care that you need and the services and care that Medicare is willing to pay for.

If you or a loved one is approaching the age of 65, it may be wise to discuss with your doctor if all of your medical needs will be covered by Medicare. Oftentimes, people assume that Medicare will cover them no matter what and ultimately find out otherwise. In order to avoid any surprises, it is always wise to consult with your primary care physician about your individual health needs now and any that you may be at risk of developing in the future.

For more information regarding Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap) and what it can do for you or someone you love, please visit your association page.

young biracial father with daughter on his back smiling with arms outspread

When To Reassess Your Life Insurance Needs

When it comes to Life Insurance, there is no one-size-fits-all. Like Health Insurance, your desired coverage amount can change depending on your unique circumstances. What works for you now, may not work for you five to 10 years from now, and as your life changes, so do your needs.

No One Can Predict The Future

While Life Insurance may be the furthest thing from the minds of most 20-year-olds, those in their 30’s and 40’s may be beginning to take a closer look at the benefits of Life Insurance and just how it could help them.

So when is the right time to start thinking about Life Insurance, if it’s right for you, or if you have enough coverage?

The truth? There is no right answer. There is no single answer that can be applied to everyone because everyone is different, has different needs, and go through different life stages at different times. So, at what point in their lives do the majority of people tend to start considering, or re-considering, their Life Insurance coverage options?

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young male with beard professional in an office wearing glasses working and focusing on laptop

Blue Blocker Lenses: Are They Worth The Hype?

As our bodies continue to age, it is understandable that we begin to experience more changes. And whether we like it or not, doctors and other medical specialists are here to help us make sure that our bodies are operating at the very best levels that they can and when they are not, doctors are the people we visit to find out why.

For example, declining eyesight is one of the most common and most easily diagnosable issues our bodies may encounter throughout our lives. Worsening eyesight is often associated with getting older and while there are a variety of reasons and levels of severity, ultimately poor eyesight is typically very treatable except in certain circumstances.

As a general rule of thumb, it is suggested that you should visit the eye doctor once every one to two years. Even if you don’t feel your eyesight has changed, an optometrist will be able to know for sure and make any adjustments to your eye prescription as necessary.

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Members Health Plan MHP Logo

NEW Members Health Plan Launches on Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange

Member Benefits, the administrator of the Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange, introduces long-awaited Members Health Plan (MHP) for Texas law firms.

Austin, TX— After years of building member participation in the Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange, administrator Member Benefits is introducing a new health plan option for Texas law firms. Different than traditional group health options, the Members Health Plan (MHP) is a multiple employer self-funded health benefits trust exclusively for Lonestar state law firms and their employees. Through the MHP, participating law firms will join together to pool their risk as one large multiple-employer group.

This plan aims to not just lower the cost of healthcare benefits but also reduce administrative fees and grant access to a wider variety of potential health plan benefits.

Member Benefits President and CEO Earl “Chip” Trefry Jr., CLU had this to say about the launch: “This has been over two years in the making and we’re all very excited to see it come to fruition.”

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young African American lawyer with disabilities in wheelchair smiling thoughtfully out the window

Lawyers With Disabilities Battle More Than We Think

Think about it. When was the last time you saw a lawyer with a disability? And no, Netflix’s legally-blind Daredevil “Matt Murdock,” doesn’t count.

For years it has been touted that prior to the age of retirement, one out of every four working-age Americans will become diagnosed with a Long-Term Disability at some point in their career. So, if that is true, how is it that there are so few lawyers with disabilities?

Not All Disabilities Are Visible

When we initially think of a disability, our mind immediately tends to gravitate towards those in wheelchairs or walking with a cane, but there are a number of disabilities that are invisible to the eye but can be every bit as difficult to manage.

According to the 1994-1995 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) roughly 1 out of every 10 Americans is recorded as having a severe disability— in today’s numbers, that translates to 32.57 million people. In the nineties it was found that out of those 1 in 10 Americans with disabilities over 74% of them did not use any assistive devices making their disability invisible to strangers.

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