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Social Security Disability Blog

Work quickly to preserve the black box in a truck crash

One thing you may not have been aware of is that commercial vehicles contain black boxes similar to those used in airplanes. These boxes have a few functions including identifying important operational data such as the speed of the vehicle, highest speed driven, the time driven, the amount of time spent driving over a certain speed, often 65 mph, and other data that could help following a collision.

The black box, more formally known as an Electronic Control Module, is integrated in with the engine of the truck. Since the vehicle may be taken back by the trucking company following a collision, you and your attorney do need to seek the ECM's data from the company before there is a potential for it to be destroyed.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - Update on Hearing Office Average Processing Times and Approval Rates

One of the toughest things I have to do when explaining to people applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or whose application has been denied is the length of the process. I try to regularly provide an update on processing times and approval rates for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims at some hearing offices (ODAR). However, it has been since February of 2018.

Please remember that these statistics are only for claims pending at the hearing level or Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. The claims at a hearing office have already been through the Application and Reconsideration steps (typically 6-12 months of waiting already).

Nationally:

  • Average processing time: 577 days (down from 582 in February of 2018, but still up from 573 in July of 2017, 525 days in January of 2017 and up from 444 in May of 2015)
  • 43% of cases approved (down from 45% of cases approved in February of 2018)

Asheville, North Carolina - Kingsport, TN hearing office

  • Average processing time: 573 days (up from 540 days in February of 2018, 532 days in July of 2017, 512 days in January of 2017, 454 days in October of 2016 and 339 days in April of 2015)
  • 62% of cases approved (up from 60% in February of 2018, but down from 64% of case approved in January of 2017)

Chattanooga, Tennessee:

  • Average processing time: 493 days (down from 556 days in February of 2018, 553 in July of 2017 and 535 days in January of 2017)
  • 54% of cases approved (up from 50% in February of 2018 and slightly from July of 2017, but down from 60% in January of 2017)

Charleston, South Carolina

  • Average processing time: 688 days (up from 675 days in February of 2018, 656 in July of 2017 and 617 days in January of 2017)
  • 36% of cases approved (down from 39% in February of 2018, 40% in July of 2017 and 49% in January of 2017)

Columbia, South Carolina

  • Average processing time: 604 days (down from 655 days in February of 2018, 654 days in July of 2017 and 664 days in January of 2017)
  • 54% of cases approved (up from 49% in February of 2018)

Franklin, Tennessee

  • Average processing time: 581 days (up from 567 days in February of 2018, 552 days in July of 2017, 521 days in January of 2017 and 475 days in December of 2015)
  • 46% of cases approved (down from 53% of cases approved in February of 2018, 55% in July of 2017 and down from 62% of cases approved in January of 2017)

Kingsport, Tennessee:

  • Average processing time: 573 days (up from 540 days in February of 2018, 532 days in July of 2017, 512 days in January of 2017, 454 days in October of 2016 and 339 days in April of 2015)
  • 62% of cases approved (up from 60% in February of 2018, but down from 64% of case approved in January of 2017)

Knoxville, Tennessee:

  • Average processing time: 540 days (down from 576 days in February of 2018 and 565 days in July of 2017, but still up from 521 days in January of 2017)
  • 47% of cases approved (down from 51% in February of 2018)

Memphis, Tennessee

  • Average processing time: 639 days (up from 600 days in February of 2018, 591 days in July of 2017, 578 days in January of 2017)
  • 47% of cases approved (up from 45% in February of 2018, but down from 52% of cases approved in January of 2017)

Nashville, Tennessee

  • Average processing time: 456 days (down from 509 days in February of 2018, 508 days in July of 2017, 491 days in January of 2017, 484 days in October of 2016 and 465 days in December of 2015)
  • 51% of cases approved (up from 49% of cases approved in July of 2017)

Lexington, Kentucky

· Average processing time: 639 days

· 45% of cases approved

Middlesboro, Kentucky

  • Average processing time: 436 days (down from 458 days in February of 2018)
  • 41% of cases approved (down from 46% in February of 2018 and 45% in July of 2017)

The hearing office staff work hard and understand the frustrations of the claimants and representatives, but they are hamstrung by the workload and budgetary restraints.

3 common types of car accident injuries

A car accident involves violent gravitational forces that throw passengers and drivers against the insides of their vehicles. Accidents also create the possibility for ejection from the car, and for catastrophic crushing injuries. As a quick review, let's take a look at three of the most common types of car accident injuries that vehicle drivers and their passengers commonly suffer from after a serious collision:

1. Head injuries

John Dreiser and Tony Farmer Voted Top Attorneys

John Dreiser and Tony Farmer were elected by their peers to be "Top Attorneys" in several areas of practice. CityView Magazine's July/August 2018 issue contained the annual listing of attorneys voted as the best in different practice areas by other attorneys in East Tennessee. Tony and John have been honored in every year since 2007 when the magazine began publishing the list. This year Tony was named as one of the top attorneys practicing workers' compensation. John was named as one of the top attorneys in the following areas:

You don't need your doctor's permission to file for disability

A lot of people who are too sick to continue working agonize over the idea of talking to their doctor and asking his or her permission to file for disability. They're often afraid of being rejected or being told that the doctor won't lend their support.

Fortunately, that's a conversation most people don't actually have to have. The rules about how Social Security regards the "treating physician" have changed in response to the fact that most people don't really have a close, personal relationship with their primary care physicians these days.

Uninsured motorist coverage can help cover accident-related costs

Although many jurisdictions require that motorists maintain auto insurance, many individuals don't. Then there are also those cases in which motorists aren't licensed or insured. In an effort to avoid prosecution, these motorists often leave the scene of crashes. If you've suffered injuries after having been struck by someone who left the scene of the crash or didn't have insurance, then you may be wondering what options you have for recovering compensation in your case.

Enter in uninsured or uninsured motorist (UM or UIM) coverage. In some states, having this type of insurance is optional. One of the greatest benefits in having UM coverage added to your insurance policy is that is that it can protect you from being left on the hook paying your medical bills and other costs resulting from a wreck that you didn't cause.

The dangers of burns

Most people have had a burn at some point in their lives, whether from being out in the sun too long or touching a hot surface. If you have suffered this type of burn, you know firsthand that even a mild, first-degree burn can be extremely painful, but did you know that a burn can be fatal?

Skin layers

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - SSA Adopts New Rules on Representative Conduct

The Social Security Administration ("SSA") recently adopted final rules revising the Rules of Conduct and Standards of Responsibility for Appointed Representatives for representation of claimants in Social Security Disability Insurance ("SSDI") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") claims. The SSA announced the rule revisions are to update and clarify procedures for bringing charges against a representative for violating the rules and standards and that they are necessary to better protect the integrity of the administrative process.

One interesting inclusion in the rules is a requirement the representative provide potential dates for hearings and that the SSA will inform the representative how many potential dates and times are required to coordinate the hearing schedule. This will lead to difficult situations for many attorneys who represent claimants before different hearing offices or practice other types of law. One, the hearing offices do not communicate regarding hearing dates. Overall, if dates are left open on attorneys' calendars, it will lead to inefficient scheduling and conflicts.

Additionally, the rules added that a representative can only withdraw at a "time and in a manner that does not disrupt the processing or adjudication of a claim and that provides the claimant adequate time to find new representation, if desired." A representative should not withdraw after a hearing has been set, unless the representative can show that a withdrawal is necessary due to extraordinary circumstances as the SSA determines on a case-by-case basis. This rule change is problematic for several reasons and can actually potentially lead to violations of the attorney-client privilege. For instance, if an attorney does not believe that the claimant has a good case or for some reason needs to withdraw because of certain evidence in the attorney's possession that would have to be turned over, this potential rule change might tie the attorney's hands in withdrawing from the case. In the end, the harm will most likely fall on the client if having to necessarily proceed with the case or by requiring the attorney to reveal to the Court the reasons for the withdrawal may potentially disadvantage the claimant's possibility of success in the case.

65-year-old man killed in Tennessee car crash

A 65-year-old man was killed in a recent multivehicle crash in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He became the fourth victim of a fatal accident in the park this year.

The man, from Talking Rock, Georgia, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which occurred on Newfound Gap Road near mile marker 25, according to a news release issued by park officials.

Study finds that roadside advertising distracts drivers

Roadside advertising, often in the form of billboards, is a staple in America. High-traffic areas mean that thousands of people are potentially exposed to advertising every hour, making it a fundamental part of many business' strategies.

However, one study has found that this advertising is very distracting to drivers. With all of the focus recently on distracted driving -- texting and driving, for the most part -- this is a very important development.

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Tony Farmer & John Dreiser

1356 Papermill Pointe Way
Knoxville, TN 37909

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