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Knoxville Personal Injury Law Blog

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - Childhood CDRs

I recently discussed the process of Continuing Disability Review (CDR) in my blog. When a child is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as a child, her claim will be reviewed by the Social Security Administration when the child turns eighteen (18). The SSA will determine if the claimant is disabled under the adult regulations. The case is reviewed as if it were a new application for benefits. The SSA will determine if the claimant's impairments meet a listing or whether the physical or mental conditions prevent substantial gainful employment.

A person's receipt of childhood SSI benefits does not guarantee continued receipt as an adult. Even if the claimant's conditions have not improved, benefits will cease if the conditions do not meet the current adult rules.

Additionally, if a person is found to be disabled before age twenty-two (22), he may immediately or at some later point qualify for Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits if a parent is disabled, retired, or deceased.

Important facts on workplace injury claims in Tennessee

Tennessee employees injured at work before July 1, 2014 may benefit from an awareness of the basic rules and requirements governing the workers' compensation system. The first step to take relates to reporting the workplace injury. An injured person has 30 days after the injury occurred, or was confirmed as work-related by a doctor, to report the injury. The injury must be reported to the person's supervisor.

The sooner the workplace injury is reported, the quicker a claim can be considered. It is the duty of the supervisor to complete the relevant forms and to provide the injured person with the names of three medical doctors in the area. These doctors must be willing to provide workers' compensation medical treatment. In cases of back injuries, the names of four doctors must be provided. One of these doctors must be a chiropractor.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - Income and Resources

To qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a person must: 

  • You must earn less than a specified income level;
  • You must have limited resources; and
  • You must meet the definition of disability.

As to the Income Limitation for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the amount of income received in a month cannot exceed the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR).  As some states have a higher allowed income than the FBR.

The SSA does not count all income when deciding whether a person qualifies for SSI. Some examples include:

  • The first $20 a month of most income received;
  • The first $65 a month earned from working and half the amount over $65;
  • Food stamps;
  • Shelter from private nonprofit organizations; and
  • Most home energy assistance.

In order to qualify for SSI, one cannot exceed a set level of resources. A resource is any asset that can be converted to cash for support. Resources counted when deciding whether one qualifies for SSI include real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks and bonds.

A person may be eligible for SSI if her resources are worth no more than $2,000, for an individual, and $3,000 per couple. If someone owns property he is trying to sell, she may be able to get SSI while trying to sell it.

The Social Security Administration does not count everything one owns in deciding whether someone has too many resources to qualify. Some examples of excluded resources include:

  • The home one lives in and the land it is on;
  • Life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or less;
  • A person's car;
  • Burial plots for the Claimant and members of her immediate family;
  • Up to $1,500 in burial funds for the Claimant and up to $1,500 in burial funds for her spouse; and
  • Household goods totaling $2,000 in value.

For other frequently asked questions about SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), click here.

Is there a time limit for claims after a car accident?

In the legal system in our country, a statute of limitations refers to the time limit in which legal action can be taken or claims filed. Any person in Tennessee involved in a car accident will have to file a claim within a specified time frame. The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim differs from state to state.   

Fairness is very important in legal matters, and that is why the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is relatively short. The main reasons are that memories become less clear as time goes by. Eyewitnesses may die, move or just disappear, and evidence tends to get lost over time. By ensuring the case gets to court before too much time has passed, a fair judgment can be made.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - Immediate Action Needed

     If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), please read the following bulletin and contact your Congressman or Congresswoman!

     Proposed House Rules Will Prevent Congressional Debate on Social Security Solvency.

     Congressional Republicans proposed heavy-handed rules that would forbid the House from considering certain legislation about Social Security. These rules would not allow the House to discuss legislation that moves funds from Social Security's Retirement Trust Fund to the Disability Trust Fund, unless those bills also raised taxes or cut Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries. The proposed rules are being debated in the House right now until 4pm Eastern time, and a vote will be taken soon after that. Please call your Representative NOW to voice your opposition to the proposed rules.

     The House's proposed rules put millions of people who receive disability benefits at risk. Unless Congress acts by mid-2016, Social Security will only be able to pay about 80% of disability benefits; this shortfall largely occurred because of changes to America's population and retirement age. The House rules would prohibit "clean reallocation," a solution Congress used 11 times in the past to shift money from one trust fund to the other when shortfalls arose. Clean reallocation protects people with disabilities and does not hurt retirees or survivors. NOSSCR supports clean reallocation, as do dozens of organizations representing millions of people, including the Strengthen Social Security Coalition and the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations.

     Social Security disability benefits are a lifeline for millions of Americans who worked hard and paid into the system. There are many ideas of how to preserve these benefits beyond 2016, and they deserve full discussion in the public and in Congress-not House rules that keep solutions off the table.

     Find your Representative's phone number here and call NOW to tell him or her "Please vote against the proposed House rules--I want Congress to have an open discussion about the Social Security Disability Trust Fund."

     For more information about current approval rates in Tennessee, click here.

Sad start to 2015 after Tennessee car wreck leaves 1 dead

For many people, the start of a new year is a time of resolutions, planning and even experiencing new beginnings. Sadly, the family of a victim fatally injured in a car wreck in Tennessee has to deal with his death instead. The accident, which happened on an early morning during the first week of January also left the driver of the second vehicle injured.     

It is reported that a four-door sedan and a pickup truck were involved in the accident. The two-vehicle car wreck happened just after 7 a.m., creating havoc for commuters on their way to work. Traffic was jammed in both directions.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - Continuing Disability Reviews

     After a Claimant has been approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SS)), the Social Security Administration (SSA) will periodically review the Claimant's case for continued eligibility. This review is called a Continuing Disability Review (CDR).

     How often a case is reviewed varies. The SSA sets a date for performing the next review. Most dates are based on the expectation of recovery and are set for three (3) or seven (7) years, but they can be sooner:

  • If medical improvement is expected, a case will normally be reviewed within six (6) to eighteen (18) months;
  • If medical improvement is possible, a case will normally be reviewed in no sooner than three (3) years;
  • If medical improvement is not expected, a case will normally be reviewed in no sooner than seven (7) years.

    The CDR is a medical review. SSA decides if the impairments have improved to the point that the Claimant is able to return to work. The evidence SSA uses for the CDR is similar to that required for the initial claim.

    SSA will send forms to the Claimant to learn about his/her current condition and list all the places where medical treatment has been received. SSA will also obtain copies of all recent medical records. The SSA may schedule a Consultative Exam.

    If the Claimant's condition has not improved, then the Social Security benefits will continue. If the Claimant's condition has improved, the SSA will look to see if the impairments meet current disability requirements, but the SSA will most likely deny further benefits.

    If the Claimant's receives notice that his/her benefits are being terminated, the Claimant is entitled to an interview with the person making the final decision. If benefits are still terminated, the Claimant can appeal the decision to an Administrative Law Judge.  For recent local hearing statistics, click here.

Dollywood parking attendant suffers workplace injury

Workers in any industry in Tennessee face personal injury hazards whenever they are on duty. The general assumption that only workers in construction or industrial work need to be concerned with safety regulations provides a false sense of security to many business owners. A workplace injury can occur in circumstances where accidents are not anticipated.

A 76-year-old employee of the Dollywood amusement center recently suffered injuries while working in the parking lot of the facility. A Dollywood spokesperson explained that the worker was directing traffic around a stationary passenger tram when he was knocked over by a second tram. The injured worker was reportedly airlifted to a medical center with non-life-threatening injuries.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - Less Favorable Decisions

     I periodically report on the increasing processing times for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants waiting for hearings. One of the reasons for these increases is the dramatic decrease in on-the-record (OTR) decisions issued by Senior Attorney Adjudicators (SAAs). SAAs can issue fully favorable OTRs usually in cases where the claimant meets a grid rule or listing. In 2010, SAAs issued fully favorable decisions in 54,000 cases while in 2013 the number was down to 18,625. In 2014, SAAs issued only 1,872 fully favorable decisions.

The drastic reduction in SAA decisions stems from the Social Security Administration's change in identifying proper claims for SSA decisions. Now, SAAs may only review and issue fully favorable decisions in cases selected by the "National Screening Unit" or other cases directed by hearing office management though cases directed by hearing office management are only to identify or assist in OTRs for ALJs to complete.

Tennessee evening out ends tragically after car wreck

The Tennessee family of a young woman, who has been in a coma since the middle of December, is still hoping for a miracle. The 20-year-old girl went to a concert with some of her friends. On their way home that evening, they were involved in a car wreck.

According to the young woman's mother, the driver of the car crashed into the barrier of a roadway after falling asleep. The young woman has been in a coma since the accident due to a brain injury. Although there has been some improvement as she started to respond to pain, the doctors are apparently not very hopeful of a recovery as the MRIs do not show an improvement.

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