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October 2014 Archives

Social Security Disability - Hearing times and approval rates

     Unfortunately, the news for Social Security Disability and SSI claimants waiting for a hearing continues to worsen in terms of wait times for hearings and percentage of people awarded disability. Since September of 2014 when I lasted posted on the subject, the situation has not improved in terms of wait times or average approval rates.

Car accidents, legal claims and an out-of-court settlement

Seriously injured victims of car accidents may choose to file a personal injury claim, while the families of deceased victims of accidents have the option to file a wrongful death claim. In order to establish if a claim can be filed in Tennessee, the victim and/or their family typically benefit by getting the right advice from the right people. Car accident claims are complex, and appropriate legal advice may help victims and their families to decide between litigation and an out-of-court settlement.   

Social Security Disability - Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)

     Social Security Disability and SSI recipients will see a 1.7% increase in benefits due to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) starting in January of 2015. Every year in October the government announces the COLA.  The COLA is based on the Consumer Price Index from the third quarter of the current year. The COLA affects many important aspects of the Social Security Disability and SSI program besides the actual amount of benefits paid to claimants.  In 2014, the COLA was 1.5%.  Although the annual adjustment is provided to protect the buying power of Social Security and SSI claimants, beneficiaries might actually see a big disparity between the benefit increases they receive and the increase in costs of needed items. 

Police officer involved in fatal car wreck in Tennessee

Police officers are only human, which means they are prone to make mistakes just like the rest of us. Unfortunately, this can often cause injury or even death. This may have been what happened recently when a police officer was involved in a fatal car wreck in Tennessee.

Zoo may face premises liability claim after jaguar bites child

It is not uncommon to see reports about people who suffered severe personal injury or worse after being attacked by animals. Most of the subsequent personal injury or premises liability lawsuits involve people who were bitten by dogs; however, a recent incident in another state involved jaguars. Tennessee residents may be interested to learn about a family's nightmare visit to the zoo.

Social Security Disability - Severity of Mental Claims

     In Social Security Disability and SSI claims involving mental conditions, the claimant must show that through evidence that the conditions are severe and disabling (click here for information on evaluation of mental claims in general). In its regulations, the Social Security Administration describes various types of evidence it considers when determining these factors. The SSA looks for evidence from:

Workers' Compensation - No Meaningful Return to Work Despite Resigning

     In Tennessee Workers' Compensation claims, whether the injured worker has made a "meaningful return to work" after the injury is often a crucial factor in determining how much disability the workers is entitled to.  When a worker voluntarily resigns, employers and insurance companies want to limit the recovery to 1 and 1/2 times the appropriate medical impairment rating.  However, as pointed out in the recent case of Kyle v. Volunteer Home Care of W. Tenn., Inc., 2014 Tenn. LEXIS 599, 2014 WL 3943101 (Tenn. Workers' Comp. Panel Aug. 7, 2014), a resignation does not always limit the employee's recovery.

Car accidents and personal injury claims -- What are the basics?

The laws and legal principles regarding personal injury claims apply in many different situations. Before, taking a look at the basics of personal injury claims resulting from car accidents, perhaps it is best to consider what personal injury law actually is. In Tennessee, as across the United States, personal injury law provides a legal remedy to an injured victim in a civil court for losses resulting from negligent or intentional conduct. The aim is to provide financial compensation for the harm suffered by the victim because of the negligent or willful actions of another party or parties. 

Social Security Disability - New Rules on Video Hearings

     For several years now, the Social Security Administration has been trying to implement video teleconferencing (VTC) for Social Security Disability and SSI hearings. There are several proffered rationales including decreasing the disparity of wait and approval times between different hearing office. I personally do not like participating in VTC hearings and believe that they are not in the best interest of my claimants. Most of the time, I want the ALJ and claimant in the same room because I believe that is the best way for the ALJ to determine the credibility of the witness. I do not think it is a coincidence that the ALJs out of National Hearing Office out of Falls Church, Virginia where all hearings are conducted via VTC are at or below the national average for fully favorable decisions.

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