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Social Security Disability Blog

Hit and run accident leaves one pedestrian dead

A hit and run accident in Parkway Village in Memphis early last week left one pedestrian dead. The victim was not originally a pedestrian though. The victim, a 54-year-old male, had been involved in a separate, minor accident. When he exited his vehicle to exchange information with the other driver, he was struck by a third vehicle that fled the scene.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The vehicle that fled the scene, which was not involved in the original accident, was described as a black Infinity. The accident occurred around 5:30 in the morning.

What resources are available for my workers' compensation claim?

What are your rights when it comes to being compensated after an injury on the job? Getting your workers' compensation benefits may not be as easy as you might think, especially if your employer or their insurer contests your claim. Make sure that you know your legal rights after a workplace injury to maximize your potential for recovering the benefits you need.

Can you be fired for reporting your workplace injury? A lot of clients worry about losing their job because they were injured. In some instances, the injury results from an incident in which the worker violated safety rules. In others, the workplace injury was not the worker's fault. No matter what, you cannot be fired for simply reporting a workplace injury.

Animal bite injuries not limited to dogs

About 2 to 5 million people in the United States will suffer an injury because of an animal bite every year. Although most animal bites are caused by dogs - about 85 to 90 percent - other domestic animals can also be dangerous and cause personal injuries. The risks associated with a dog bite injury may look different from those that accompany a cat bite injury - but all victims deserve to be compensated for their pain and suffering.

What other types of bites can cause illness or injuries in humans? The second-most common type of animal bite comes from household cats in Tennessee. Cats can wound victims with their claws, but they are also known to bite. The animals' long, slender teeth pose more of a puncture risk than that associated with dog bites, so those deep puncture wounds need to be carefully treated. Without appropriate attention, personal injury from a cat bite can lead to difficult-to-treat infections and other unsavory side effects.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - Evaluating Obesity

Very often, the effects of obesity are often quite severe and interfere with a person's ability to work and perform activities of daily living. The question then becomes is how does obesity play into a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has regulations and rule interpretations regarding the evaluation of obesity. Typically, a person suffering from obesity that is applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or SSI benefits has numerous severe impairments.

However, there are situations where a person's obesity alone can be so significant that it is the main impairment upon which a disability claim is based. In the past, there was a social security disability listing (9.09) that specifically dealt with obesity. In 1999 the obesity listing was deleted in its entirety from the lists of impairments in 20 CFR Subpart P, Appendix 1. The SSA made changes so that obesity is still addressed within the listings, but they are more addressed by the potential effects obesity causes rather than obesity itself. For example, listings in the areas of musculoskeletal respiratory and cardiovascular body systems. The preambles of listings 1.00, 3.00, and 4.00 make it clear that the SSA still considers obesity to be a medically severe condition and remind adjudicators to consider the effects of obesity when evaluating disability in that the combined effects of obesity with other impairments can be greater than the effects of each of the impairments considered separately.

As with any condition, the SSA first determines whether an impairment is a medically determinable impairment (MDI). The SSA generally relies on the judgment of the physician in determining the diagnosis of the impairment and look to body weight or BMI. There is no specific level of weight or BMI that equates with a severe or non-severe impairment rather the SSA supposedly performs an individualized assessment of the impact of obesity on an individual's functioning when deciding whether the impairment is severe.

If the obesity is considered to be a severe MDI, then one follows through to the sequential evaluation to determine if the claimant's obesity meets or equals a listing. As noted by SSR 02-1p, because there is no listing for obesity, the SSA will find that an individual with obesity "meets" the requirements of a listing if he or she has another impairment that meets the requirements of a listing or if in combination with obesity meets the requirements. The SSA may also find that obesity by itself is medically equivalent to a listed impairment. For example, if it resulted in an inability to ambulate effectively as defined in Section 1 of the listings.

Following the sequential evaluation process, if someone does not meet a listing, the SSA determines the level of functioning of the individual for purposes of determining the residual functional capacity (RFC) and its effect on ability to do work. Obesity must be considered in assessing the residual functional capacity (RFC). Although there is a statement in SSR 96-8p, that "body habitus" is not a factor to be considered in assessing RFC, it must be remembered that body habitus is not a medically determinable impairment, but obesity can be. It is very difficult to win a case at Steps 4 or 5 of the sequential evaluation process for obesity alone, but often it can be the needed extra limitation to reduce the RFC below the needed levels. This is true because obesity can affect the RFC in terms of sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, climbing, etc.

Uninsured motorist insurance may help with Tennessee car wrecks

Did you know that different types of auto insurance can protect you in the event of a car crash? Without the right type of car insurance, you put yourself at financial risk when a car wreck occurs. Take the time to learn more about your insurance options - and provide yourself with additional legal protection - with our educational blog post today.

What types of auto insurance exist for Tennessee drivers? You may be familiar with collision insurance and comprehensive insurance. Combined, these protect your vehicle if it is affected by theft, fire, weather damage or collision with another object. Medical payment insurance is also available to provide you with financial assistance if you or your passengers require medical treatment after a crash.

Who handles workers' compensation for federal employees?

If you are a federal employee in Tennessee, you may not know that your workplace protections may be different from people who work for a private company. In fact, workers' compensation for federal employees are handled differently through the federal system, so you need specialized knowledge to make sure your claims are handled properly. The good news is that the feds have been working to streamline the workers' compensation system in an effort to protect those who have suffered workplace injury.

What are the general tenets of the federal workers' compensation program? This government office, called the Division of Federal Employees' Compensation, or DFEC, offers a variety of services to victims who have suffered workplace injury. DFEC is designed to provide payments for medical costs, offer workers' compensation benefits to victims and their surviving kin, and assist with vocational rehabilitation for those who are medically capable of returning to work.

What is the Compassionate Allowance program for SSD?

The Compassionate Allowance program is designed to provide applicants with benefits in a prompt fashion. In order to qualify for this program, applicants must suffer from conditions that are so severe they clearly qualify for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits.

Critics argue the program is not as efficient as it should be and that it is used to "wait out" applicants that are suffering from fatal diseases.

How long does it take for an application for the Compassionate Allowance program to get processed? The Social Security Administration (SSA) notes that the amount of time it takes the agency to make a decision on an application for this program depends on a number of factors. These factors can include the amount of time it takes for medical professionals to provide documentation and whether or not the agency decides a medical examination is necessary to support the claim.

A car wreck can affect non-motorized traffic, too

When we think about motor vehicle accidents, we most often think of single- or multiple-car crashes - we may not think about the other vehicles that occupy the road. In many Tennessee counties, though, car accidents can affect agricultural equipment, bicyclists and even horse buggies. Sharing the road in a rural area can mean being aware of a variety of vehicles.

Take, for instance, the Amish family's buggy that was demolished in a car crash in mid-March in Michigan. Although this incident did not occur in Tennessee, it still demonstrates the dangers that speeding and other violations can have on non-motorized road traffic. Authorities say that a pickup truck driver crashed into the buggy during the morning hours on March 17. The driver's windshield was apparently obscured by frost, and he experienced difficulty seeing the road because of the angle of the sun.

Woman undergoes rabies treatments for dog attack injuries

A woman on the East Coast is just one of many dog bite victims that are going through painful rabies treatments after being harmed by a domestic animal attack. The woman, who was attacked by a dog that burst out of a store while she and her dogs were outside, said that she was having difficulty paying for the costly treatments for her injuries, which are also exceptionally painful. She is undergoing the thorough rabies treatment, like many Tennessee residents, because of uncertainty about the dog's immunization status.

The victim in this case was harmed by a pit bull that smashed through the door of a store in Philadelphia. The dog was apparently acting with territoriality because the woman was walking down the sidewalk in front of the store. Reports show that the woman's dogs were also injured in the attack.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - Childhood SSI Benefits for Muscular Dystrophy

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be available for a child who has suffers from muscular dystrophy. If the family income falls below certain levels and the child meets the medical requirements, he or she may be entitled to monthly monetary benefits and Medicaid (or state variant) health insurance.

Childhood SSI claims are evaluated differently than adult claims for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The requirements are actually more stringent. If the child is not working and has "severe" impairments, the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines whether the claimant has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the criteria of a listing, or that functionally equals the listings. If the claimant has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets, medically equals or functionally equals the listings, and it has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months, he is presumed to be disabled. If not, the claimant is not disabled. There is no further question of vocational steps as with an adult disability claim. Please click here for more information on Childhood SSI claims.

For a child with a muscular dystrophy, the SSA looks first at the listing.

111.13 Muscular dystrophy, characterized by disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.

Disorganization of motor function means interference, due to your neurological disorder, with movement of two extremities; i.e., the lower extremities, or upper extremities (including fingers, wrists, hands, arms, and shoulders). Two extremities mean both lower extremities or both upper extremities, or one upper extremity and one lower extremity. The criteria for disorganization of motor function include limitation in abililty to:

· Stand up from a seated position; or

· Balance while standing or walking; or

· Use the upper extremities (e.g., fingers, wrists, hands, arms, and shoulders).

Extreme limitation means the inability to stand up from a seated position, maintain balance in a standing position and while walking, or use upper extremities to independently initiate, sustain, and complete age-appropriate activities. The assessment of motor function depends on the degree of interference with standing up; balancing while standing or walking; or using the upper extremities (including fingers, hands, arms, and shoulders).

· Inability to stand up from a seated position means that once seated you are unable to stand and maintain an upright position without the assistance of another person or the use of an assistive device, such as a walker, two crutches, or two canes.

· Inability to maintain balance in a standing position means inability to maintain an upright position while standing or walking without the assistance of another person or an assistive device, such as a walker, two crutches, or two canes.

· Inability to use upper extremities means a loss of function of both upper extremities (e.g., fingers, wrists, hands, arms, and shoulders) that very seriously limits ability to independently initiate, sustain, and complete age- appropriate activities involving fine and gross motor movements. Inability to perform fine and gross motor movements could include not being able to pinch, manipulate, and use fingers; or not being able to use hands, arms, and shoulders to perform gross motor movements, such as handling, gripping, grasping, holding, turning, and reaching; or not being able to engage in exertional movements such a lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling.

· For children who are not yet able to balance, stand up, or walk independently, their function based on assessments of limitations in the ability to perform comparable age-appropriate activities with the lower and upper extremities, given normal developmental milestones. For such children, an extreme level of limitation means developmental milestones at less than one-half of the child's chronological age.

If the Listing cannot be proven, the claim can still be won if an impairment or combination of impairments functionally equals the listings and one must assess the claimant's functioning in terms of six domains: (1) acquiring and using information; (2) attending and completing tasks; (3) interacting and relating with others; (4) moving about and manipulating objects; (5) caring for yourself; and (6) health and physical well-being. In making this assessment, one must compare how appropriately, effectively and independently the claimant performs activities compared to the performance of other children of the same age who do not have impairments. To functionally equal the listings, the claimant's impairment or combination of impairments must result in "marked" limitations in two domains of functioning or an "extreme" limitation in one domain.

Whether it is winning through the Listing or functionally equaling a Listing, the claimant must prove the case through supporting documentation. Commonly, medical records, medical opinions, teacher questionnaires, letters from caregivers are all used to support a Childhood SSI claim.

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Tony Farmer & John Dreiser

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Knoxville, TN 37909

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