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February 2012 Archives

Social Security Disability, Substantial Gainful Activity, and the self-employed

The Social Security Administration notes that any supervisory, managerial, advisory, or other significant personal services that are performed as a self-employed individual tend to show ability to perform SGA. The claimant's income will not be considered solely, but his activities and their value to the business will be evaluated. The work activity will be evaluated on the value to the business regardless of whether the claimant receives an immediate income. SGA will be found if:

Update: Knoxville cop's firing leads to dismissal of 100 cases

Not long ago we highlighted a story concerning a Knoxville, Tennessee, police officer who drove past a fiery wreck that claimed the life of one man. Now, prosecutors in Knox County have dismissed pending cases against nearly 100 people. The charges in all cases that were handled by the at-fault officer have been dropped. According to an updated news report, the officer still faces a lawsuit on behalf of the car accident victim's family.

Social Security Disability or SSI When Drugs and Alcohol Involved

Eligibility for Social Security Disability and SSI benefits can still be obtained despite issues involving alcoholism and drug addiction. The Senior Citizens Right to Work Act of 1996 changed the way claimants with a history of drug or alcohol abuse are considered for benefits. Ever since 1996, the key question is whether the Social Security Administration (SSA) would still find the claimant disabled despite the cessation of drug or alcohol use. The SSA evaluates which physical or mental limitations would remain after cessation and then whether the limitations would be disabling. If the ALJ, for instance, finds that when alcohol is removed that a claimant's mental impairments are not severe then benefits can and will be denied. If, for example, a claimant had severe limitations arising from a back injury that was disabling, then the ALJ cold find the alcoholism was not a contributing factor material to the determination of disability.

Knoxville car accident involving 6-year-old results in arrest

A Knoxville, Tennessee, woman was recently arrested for striking a 6-year-old boy with her car and then fleeing the scene of the accident. Reportedly, the car accident took place when the young boy, along with several other children, was crossing the street outside a Boys and Girls Club near the 300 block of McConnell Street. The 18-year-old female driver attempted to pass the group instead of waiting for them to cross.

Train hits truck in Knoxville, driver barely escapes

Navigating train tracks can still be a risky proposition, especially if the crossing equipment is faulty or if there are no warning signs at all. But getting stuck on the tracks while a train is coming can be a very scary situation, because there is a huge size disparity between the size and weight of the train and whatever is sitting on the tracks.

Knoxville car wreck prompts wrongful death suit against officer

When we think about a wrongful death suit as it pertains to a car accident case, we typically think of one driver being at fault and facing the repercussions of his or her actions. Very rarely do we consider that those who are sworn to serve and protect may also be found liable in car accident cases where lives are lost. Nonetheless, this is exactly what happened in Knoxville, Tennessee, after the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) concluded their investigation into a deadly car crash.

Evaluating Symptoms in Social Security Disability and SSI Claims

In determining whether a Social Security Disability or SSI claimant is disabled, the Social Security Administration evaluates symptoms, including pain, and the extent to which the symptoms can be accepted as consistent with the objective medical evidence. 20 CFR 404.1529; 20 CFR 416.929. Routinely, the cases are won and lost on the determination of the validity, extent, and effect of a claimant's symptoms, such as pain and fatigue though a case cannot be without verifiable conditions that reasonably could cause such complaints.

Social Security Disability and SSI Claimants To Be Hurt by ODAR Policy

Social Security Disability and SSI claimants (and their representatives) are going to be hamstrung and disadvantaged by a new policy instituted by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) effective December 19, 2011 where the identity of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) assigned to a claimant's case will not be disclosed until the time of the hearing. Apparently, the rationale for this new policy is to stop the alleged practice of some advocates who, ODAR claims, "forum shop" to avoid particular ALJs in video hearings and as a reaction to recent attention about "outlier" ALJs with high allowance rates.

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Tony Farmer & John Dreiser

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