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Social Security Disability Blog

Opioids increasingly prevalent in fatal crashes

A study published in JAMA Network Open indicates that opioid use is a factor in many fatal two-vehicle accidents. Drivers in Tennessee should be aware of the risks posed by others on the road, as increased awareness can improve safety. According to the study, drivers who caused accidents in which one or more people were killed were nearly twice as likely to test positive for the presence of opioids as motorists who were deemed not to be at-fault.

The most common mistake cited for accidents, regardless of the presence of opioids, was a driver veering from his or her lane. The researchers involved with the study relied on data gathered and maintained by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which keeps data on all U.S. crashes that result in fatalities. The researchers looked at data from 18,321 two-vehicle crashes that resulted in at least one death. The most prevalent error in that data was failure to keep in lane.

Distracted driving costs the economy $40 billion each year

At least nine road users in Tennessee and the country are killed each day and a further 100 are seriously injured in accidents caused by distracted drivers according to the National Safety Council. Distracted driving crashes also cost the economy about $40 billion each year. Common driver distractions include conversations with passengers, sophisticated automobile entertainment and navigation systems and eating and drinking behind the wheel, but studies suggest that cellphone use is a particularly thorny problem.

When Harvard Medical School researchers asked 1,211 motorists about their driving habits in 2016, six out of 10 of them admitted to using their cellphones while driving on at least one occasion within the previous 30 days. What concerned researchers even more was how the devices were being used. Almost half of the motorists polled said that they regularly used their cellphones to type or read text messages, visit websites or engage in social media exchanges.

Tips to prepare your vehicle and insurance for winter roads

While Tennessee may not be as far north as the states that get the worst winter weather, that doesn't mean that the seasonal change won't affect your safety on the road. More crashes tend to occur in the winter months, which means you'll need to take extra steps to keep yourself safe on the roads when the temperature outside starts dropping.

Although you won't have any control over how other people drive during the colder months, you can take a proactive approach to your own safety by performing seasonal maintenance on your vehicle and reviewing your insurance policies for ideal levels of liability protection.

Time shifts can result in dangerous driving conditions

The first weekend of November means that clocks will be turned back one hour in most parts of the country. While Tennessee residents may enjoy getting an extra hour of sleep, the change may have negative consequences as well. For instance, it could have an impact on a person's internal body clock, which could lead to an increased risk of drowsy driving. According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are 6,400 deaths caused each year by tired drivers.

A survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that most respondents saw tired or drowsy driving as dangerous. However, 27% said that they had driven when fatigue made it difficult to keep their eyes open. Those who study the issue of sleep deprivation say that individuals should go to bed at the same hour that they normally would on the night of the time shift.

How age and education affect disability benefits

Social Security disability can be an important safeguard for people in Tennessee who are no longer able to work due to physical or mental disabilities. However, the application process can be lengthy, especially as many applicants are denied in the first step of the process. There are a number of factors that the Social Security Administration considers when determining if a person is eligible for disability benefits, and many applicants may wonder how their age or level of education affects the likelihood of a positive outcome. Both factors can be part of a disability determination but are rarely decisive factors that shift the balance of a decision.

In most cases, age is primarily considered in a disability claim when the applicant is older, typically above 50 or 55. In these cases, age itself can become a consideration in terms of the person's ability to develop additional job skills and education. This is particularly important for applicants with greater levels of functional limitation. In some cases, educational level is not considered at all in the disability benefits process, especially if the claimant's case adheres to the listing requirements in the SSA's "blue book" used to define eligibility for benefits.

Higher speed limits causing more US traffic deaths

Higher speed limits are causing more people in Tennessee and across the U.S. to die in traffic accidents, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In fact, researchers found that rising speed limits have led to the deaths of an extra 37,000 people over the last 25 years.

In 1995, the national 55 mph speed limit was scrapped. Since then, seven states have increased their highway speed limits to 80 mph. Another 41 states have increased their speed limits to 70 mph. For the IIHS study, researchers analyzed traffic death statistics between the years of 1993 and 2017, and they controlled for influential factors like youth, unemployment and seat belt use. They found that 36,760 more people died in highway accidents during that period of time than would have died if the speed limits had remained at 55 mph. For reference, that's slightly less than the total number of Americans who have been killed in motor vehicle accidents each of the last three years.

Parents are concerned about distracted driving among teenagers

Tennessee parents are concerned about instilling good habits in their teenage drivers. Young people are more likely to be distracted or lose focus more often while driving than older adults. Researchers are interested in helping both teens and parents to have an open dialogue about the importance of being a good driver and passenger.

One survey included 900 parents who had teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 reporting on the actions and attitudes of parents when it involved their teenagers riding in the car with peers. This is something that occurred once or twice each week for about 30% of the parents. Many parents limited the trips that their teenagers could take with other teenagers, especially when it required their teenagers to drive on the highway.

If your Social Security Disability gets denied, you can appeal

Social Security Disability is an important safety net that protects individuals who get hurt or develop a medical condition from experiencing outright poverty as a result of their medical issues. When a condition is so severe that it prevents someone from working, Social Security Disability provides them with a moderate income stream to cover their expenses, such as their mortgage or rent, their groceries and their utility bills.

Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration is a government organization often plagued with long wait times and bureaucratic red tape that can hinder the people who need the benefits it governs. The Social Security Disability program is notorious for rejecting qualified applicants and making individuals with severe, even terminal illnesses wait months or years to collect the benefits that they need just to survive.

In 2017, red-light running crash deaths saw 10-year high

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that an increasing number of people are dying in crashes due to drivers who run red lights. In 2017, there were 939 such deaths, marking a 10-year high. AAA found that in 65% of these crashes, it's not the offending driver who dies but the innocent victim. Drivers, pedestrians and cyclists in Tennessee and across the U.S. are at risk for becoming the victims of red-light runners, so they should know how to protect themselves.

Defensive driving is key. Drivers stopped at a red light should not dart out the moment it turns green but rather wait a second or two. Then, they should look both ways. As they come upon an intersection, their foot should hover over their brake. They could tap their brake a couple of times, too, to catch the attention of the driver behind them. Though many red-light runners are simply impatient, others can be distracted. Lastly, drivers should watch out for stale green lights and act accordingly.

Ways you can increase your SSD benefits

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that nearly one out of every four Americans has a disability. That amounts to 61 million citizens with a mental or physical impairment affecting their daily lives who could be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSD).

The government designed SSD as financial assistance for impaired individuals who have paid Social Security taxes here in Tennessee and elsewhere. If you qualify, your income and tax history determines the amount you receive.

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