The John Ritter Foundation (JRF) is an official charity of the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon which takes place on Sunday, February  14, 2016.  This event offers opportunities for marathoners AND half-marathoners. Come on over to sunny LA and share Valentine’s Day with us. A very special Ritter Sitter is planned for this event!

Full marathon slots and relay slots are available.  Relay teams are made up of 2 people – one person runs 12.9 miles, and the other person runs 13.3 miles.  If you are interested in applying for a spot on the team, please fill out an application here.  Have questions?  Please send an email to

If you are not a runner but would like to support Team Ritter, please send an email describing your skills or interests and how you would like to help to  Donations to the JRF can also be made through our website.  Thank you for your support!

The John Ritter Foundation (JRF) is proud to announce it has been selected as an official charity of the TCS New York City Marathon to take place on Sunday, November 1, 2015.  We are honored to have been chosen once again.

We are looking for a team of people who are passionate about increasing awareness of aortic dissection and its risk factors, committed to raising money to support our mission, and who want to train for and run the marathon.  Here is what some past Team Ritter runners had to say about the experience:

“You have to do it!  Great race. Great Team.”

“Hands down — absolutely go for it!!!  It is a fabulous experience running the NYC marathon and working with the JRF team is great.  It’s a rewarding experience and if you have a passion for aortic disease, raising awareness and other aspects of aortic health and education, this is the organization you want to be part of!!”

“…You will have an experience of a lifetime.  You will meet a group of amazing people.  You will leave the experience with not only a finisher’s medal, but a support system of people who have the same passion as you do!  You will make an impact on other people’s lives by sharing your story…You will feed off the enthusiasm of others on the team and will finish your marathon journey a changed person.  I can honestly say the past four plus months have been the most amazing months in my life.  More people then I could have ever imagined have been touched by the knowledge that has been shared by Team Ritter members.”

If you are interested in applying for a spot on the team, please fill out an application here. Have questions?  Please send an email to

If you are not a runner but would like to support Team Ritter, please send an email describing your skills or interests and how you would like to help to  Donations to the JRF can also be made through our website.  Thank you for your support!


ACTA2 mutations are responsible for disease in approximately 20% of families with thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections(TAAD).  Dr. Milewicz directs the John Ritter Research Program and her research group identified ACTA2 as a gene that causes TAAD in 2009. The Milewicz group has now published an analysis of clinical data collected from a large group of people (close to 300) who have ACTA2 mutations. This information is important  in medical management of patients with ACTA2 mutations. The publication can be accessed by clicking on the article “Aortic Disease Presentation and Outcome Associated with ACTA2 Mutations” available here.

Questions? Email us at or

We are proud of the research being performed at the John Ritter Research Program. Check out the research group’s 21 publications for 2014 and acknowledgement of your support here.

Your philanthropic contributions and participation make a difference. When everyone gets involved, we can do more.

To learn more about getting involved by participating in research, visit the Resources page or visit

Download a copy of the research study brochure here.

To help by donating to the John Ritter Foundation click here.

Dianna M. Milewicz, MD, PhD and Frank R. Arko III, MD talk about raising awareness for aortic disease and the future of research on this disease. They reiterate the goals of the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health and discuss the diagnosis of aortic disease in both non-emergency and emergency settings. Read this insightful article here.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two different disability programs to those who suffer from long-term or permanent disabilities, such as aortic disease. These programs include the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Each program has its own technical requirements in order to be eligible, but for either program you must meet the medical requirements that have been set forth by the SSA.
Meeting the SSA’s Medical Requirements
When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA compares your condition to a listing of conditions known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book contains all of the conditions that may qualify an individual for benefits from the SSA, along with the criteria that must be met under each condition.
Within the Blue Book, each condition is given its own section. When applying for disability benefits due to aortic disease, your condition will be compared to the criteria set forth in Section 4.10 of the Blue Book, which covers aneurysm and/or dissection of an aorta or major branches, due to any cause.
To qualify for benefits under this section of the Blue Book, you must have a diagnosis of the condition that has been demonstrated by appropriate medically acceptable imaging, with dissection not controlled by prescribed treatment. Learn more here.
The Technical Requirements of the Disability Programs
If you meet the medical eligibility requirements of the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book, you must then also meet the criteria of the different Social Security Disability programs. As mentioned above, the SSA disability programs each have their own criteria. To qualify for one or both programs, you must be able to prove that you meet the program’s criteria.
SSDI Benefits Eligibility
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have earned a certain number of work credits prior to becoming disabled. As a general rule, you must have earned a total of 40 work credits through prior work activity with 20 of those credits being earned within the last 10 years. The exact number of credits needed depends on your age, and younger applicants need fewer credits to qualify for SSDI benefits.
SSI Benefits Eligibility
Unlike SSDI benefits, you don’t need any work history to qualify for SSI benefits. The SSI program is a needs-based program. To qualify for this program you must meet the SSA’s financial requirements. As of 2014, this means that you cannot have a household income that exceeds $721 per month as an individual or $1,082 as a couple. Your household assets must also not exceed $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 as a couple, excluding your home and one vehicle. Learn more about social security programs here.
The Social Security Disability Application Process
When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, it’s your job to prove to the SSA that you are completely unable to maintain gainful employment due to your disability. That means gathering the medical evidence to prove that your condition meets the Blue Book criteria and submitting that evidence along with the forms that the SSA requires you to fill out. When filling out these forms, make sure you leave no sections blank and answer each question with as much detail as possible to help the SSA understand how you qualify for benefits.
After the SSA receives your application, they may ask you to go for a consultative exam. The purpose of this exam is to determine the extent of your disability. It’s important to remember that your own medical records and written statements from your treating physicians are likely to weigh more heavily in a decision than the determination of this exam.
About two to four months after the date of your application, you can expect to receive a decision from the Social Security Administration. If you are awarded benefits, you will be notified as to when benefits will begin, what benefits you are entitled to and how much you will be receiving each month. If you are denied benefits, you have 60 days from the date of the denial notice to appeal the SSA’s decision.
Appealing a Denial of Benefits
If you need to appeal a denial, you may want to consider retaining the services of a disability attorney. Oftentimes applications are denied due to a lack of medical evidence or mistakes made on the claim forms. A disability attorney can help you determine the weak areas of your claim and begin to gather the evidence necessary to strengthen your appeal. He or she can also represent you before an administrative law judge at your disability hearing, which is when you have the greatest chance of overturning the SSA’s decision to deny benefits.
It’s important to note that you should never be discouraged if your initial application for benefits is initially denied. Many current Social Security Disability recipients who receive benefits obtained those benefits through the process of a disability appeal. With the right planning and the help of a disability attorney, you can increase your chances of receiving the benefits you deserve.

Author: Lisa Giorgetti, Community Liaison, Social Security Disability Help

The John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health is one of Amazon’s charity partners. The Amazon smile program allows Amazon customers to choose a charity that will receive 0.5% of the total price on all eligible purchases. You can go to to shop and choose The John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health from the drop down menu of charities or use this link to shop on Amazon to donate to the JRF.

The Milewicz group is dedicated to research focused on improving vascular and aortic health. Recent publications from Dr. Milewicz and her colleagues led to an invitation to be “Lab of the Month” from the North American Vascular Biology Organization (NAVBO). Read more about them here.

Amy Yasbeck is the recipient of the 2014 Aortic Disease Advocacy Award for her work in establishing the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health. The University of Kentucky Aortic Program presents this award to individuals who have raised awareness of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of aortic diseases. Awardees will be honored at the University of Kentucky 2014 Aortic Symposium Dinner on September 5, 2014.

It can be difficult to find others to talk to who understand what aortic disease is like.  The John Ritter Foundation is pleased to pass along information about a support group meeting organized by a survivor of aortic dissection in Michigan.  Everyone that has been affected by aortic disease is welcome to attend and support each other.  Here are the details: Read more