ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY?

November 24, 2014, by

woman in wheelchair.jpgDeciding to apply for Social Security Disability is a hard decision for many people. It means coming to grips with the idea that you may not be able to return to work because of health problems. Almost everyone who applies for Social Security Disability has been out of work for some amount of time. If you have applied for Social Security Disability, or you are considering applying, you should know the requirements to be eligible.

Are you still working?
Lots of people with serious injuries or health conditions ask if they should apply for disability while they are still working. Even if you have a serious injury or health condition that may completely prevent you from working in the future, you won't be eligible if you are still engaged in "substantial gainful activity" (SGA is the phrase Social Security uses for working and earning more than $1,070.00 per month, or $1,800.00 if you are blind. These amounts go up to $1,090 and $1,820 in 2015).

Are you under the age that Social Security calls "full retirement age"? The age to draw full Social Security Retirement benefits is on a sliding scale now, but basically you must be younger than 66. If you have reached full retirement age, and then become disabled, you will get Social Security Retirement, not Social Security Disability.

Have you worked 5 of the last 10 years and paid into the system?
Social Security Disability is a long term disability insurance program, and you must pay into the system to get benefits. If you have not paid into the system, you won't be eligible, but you may still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) based on low income.

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Court Says the VA Should Assist Veterans When it Comes to Locating Evidence for a Claim

November 23, 2014, by

veteran3.jpgThe Court in Wise v. Shinseki, No. 12-2764 (Vet. App. Apr. 16, 2014), held that (1) the VA does not satisfy its duty to assist a claimant if they fail to locate and obtain records when the VA is on notice that records supporting a claim may exist, and (2) the benefit-of-the-doubt-rule applies to secondary medical evidence such as treatises and medical journals.

George W. Wise was a U.S. Army World War II veteran
For his distinguished service from the beaches of Normandy, through the Ardennes, Rhineland, and central Europe, he was awarded the Bronze Star, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. Mr. Wise treated and evacuated soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge and helped liberate several German concentration camps, including Dachau, Buchenwald, and Landsberg.

In 1985, Mr. Wise was granted service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"), at a rating of 10%. The rating was increased to 30% in 1989 and 100% in 2000. He passed away in 2008, survived by his wife, Ouida Wise. His death certificate lists his cause of death as cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. None of these conditions were referred to in his service medical records.

The Case

Mrs. Wise filed a claim for dependency and indemnity compensation ("DIC") benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs ("VA") in December 2008, submitting a letter from her late husband's VA treating physician stating that it was possible that Mr. Wise's death was brought on in part by the stress from his PTSD. The physician's opinion included an article from a 2007 medical journal which discussed that male veterans with PTSD were more likely to develop coronary heart disease. The VA Regional Office ("RO") denied the claim, which Mrs. Wise appealed through the Board for Veterans Appeals ("BVA") up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). During this process, Mrs. Wise submitted numerous articles from journals and off of the Internet which supported to a certain degree the claim that PTSD could increase a man's chances of contracted coronary artery disease. The VA did not obtain any records of Mr. Wise's VA cardiology appointments. The VA's expert, who was a VA medical professional, stated that accepting PTSD as a causal factor for coronary artery disease is speculative and not generally accepted in the scientific community. Relying on its expert, the VA rejected Mrs. Wise's evidence that PTSD could be a causal factor in heart disease.

The Court's Decision

The CAVC held that the VA does not satisfy its duty to assist a claimant if they fail to locate and obtain records when the VA is on notice that records supporting a claim may exist. The Court held that the BVA must "support its determination that VA satisfied its duty to assist with an adequate statement of reasons or bases." In this particular case, the VA did not obtain the medical records for many of Mr. Wise's VA cardiology appointments. This is important because many times the VA denies a claim because the veteran did not submit enough evidence to support either a current diagnosis of a condition or he or she does not submit enough evidence to show that the condition was caused or aggravated while in service. If the claimant put the VA on reasonable notice that the records exist, it is the VA's duty to locate and obtain these records at the expense of the VA. A failure of the VA to do so could result in the VA failing to satisfy its
duty to assist the claimant.

Continue reading "Court Says the VA Should Assist Veterans When it Comes to Locating Evidence for a Claim" »

Can My Employer Terminate Me?

November 19, 2014, by

workersinwarehouse.jpgAlmost all private sector employees in North Carolina are "at will" employees. That means that an employee is hired for an indefinite period of time and may be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice, as long as they are not terminated for an illegal reason that is prohibited by federal or state laws.

Does Having a Contract Protect Me?
Some employees, usually medical or other professionals, actually have employment contracts, verbal or written, for a definite term of employment, or providing that employment can only be terminated "for cause." However, even in some written employment contracts, there are provisions that the contract may be terminated "at will."

North Carolina law has very limited exceptions to employment "at will" created by the courts and the legislature. The North Carolina courts have recognized that an employee cannot be terminated in violation of public policy. For example, an employee cannot be fired for refusing to violate the law at their employer's request, for engaging in legally protected activity, or for opposing their employer's activity that is illegal or contrary to public policy. The North Carolina Court of Appeals has set forth a rule that the public policy cannot be based on federal law, but must be set forth in North Carolina's constitution, statutes, or regulations.

There are some other North Carolina laws which may protect an employee who is being fired depending on the circumstances. For example, an employee cannot be terminated for being absent due to jury service or for being subpoenaed as a witness for court proceedings. The North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) prohibits discrimination or retaliation against an employee who engages in "protected activities" with regard to a wide range of areas, including workers' compensation claims, wage and hour issues, workplace safety rights, mine safety and health, sickle cell and hemoglobin C carriers, genetic testing, National Guard service, juvenile justice system, domestic violence, pesticide exposure, and drug paraphernalia. North Carolina also has a Smokers Rights Act that is not limited to tobacco use and makes it illegal to terminate an employee for "the lawful use of lawful products during nonworking hours."

Are There Special Protections for State Employees?
Employees of the State of North Carolina have protection from termination if they "blow the whistle" on violations of law, fraud, misappropriation, danger, or gross mismanagement, waste, or abuse of authority in or relating to any state programs and operations.

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No Shave November..., or Movember...? It's All Good. Do Something Hairy

November 18, 2014, by

shavebrush.jpgMost of the time, I think any day that ends in "y" is a good day to skip shaving. Sometimes I worry that as a lawyer, I should be clean-shaven and crisp all the time. That isn't me. I think it started when I moved back to Western North Carolina and then I stopped asking for starch in my shirts. I don't work on Wall Street or even at a bank, and as I have gotten older I worry less about how things look, and more about what gets done. This month, my three to five day beard stubble is IN. November is the time for No Shave November and Movember. I didn't know there was a difference until someone asked me the other day if I was participating in No Shave November. I said "not exactly but I do think it is good to have a program about men's health awareness like we do with October and Breast Cancer Awareness." I was told that No Shave November is about fighting cancer, and it is not limited to men's health or prostate cancer. That made me think, and when I realize I am wrong about something, I usually do a little research.
No Shave November is an organization that grows awareness about cancer and raises money for the American Cancer Society. The movement is open to everyone who grows hair or just wants to help fight cancer. Participants should donate the money that they would spend on shaving and other hair grooming during the month to fight cancer. Movember is the organization that I was thinking about. Movember is a foundation based on growing moustaches in November to raise awareness about prostate and testicular cancers and men's physical and mental health issues. Movember is more focused on just moustaches and men's health. Movember has more guidelines and rules. It also requires more planning because you have to start on November 1 with a clean shaved face. You can't just sort of fall into it when someone asks about your lack of shaving on November 4.

Continue reading "No Shave November..., or Movember...? It's All Good. Do Something Hairy" »

REMEMBERING OUR VETERANS

November 10, 2014, by

veteranuniform.jpgGrimes Teich Anderson will be closed on Veterans Day, November 11, in honor of our veterans. For Grimes Teich Anderson, this is not just a day off from the work we do serving our clients. Veterans Day holds a new , more important significance for us because of our own veteran, Tod Leaven. Tod leads our firm's veterans law department, which includes assisting veterans with obtaining service related disability benefits. Who better to help and serve our veterans than an attorney who knows the military life and soldier side of the U.W. Department of Veterans Affairs?

The importance of the date, November 11, often gets lost in the shuffle.
Formerly known as Armistice Day, it is the date the armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany. This ended the hostilities on the Western Front, and took effect at 11:00 a.m. Paris time - the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918." The treaty is known as the Armistice of Compiegne after the location in France where it was signed. Hostilities on the Russian front and with
the Ottoman Empire continued another six months until the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending the war.

World War I was significant in terms of the progression of the recognition of service related disabilities.
World War I was the collision of the modern, industrialized world and warfare. The unfortunate result was a quantum leap in the ability of nations to engage in months and months of battle with superior weapons capable of generating previously unimaginable numbers of wounded and dead. As recent as the U.S. Civil War, a battle may last a few hours or perhaps a few days. Total casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg, which occurred July 1-3, 1865, were 51,000. This was the bloodiest of the Civil War. Nations weren't capable of sustaining battles for much longer than that, as it had been since the dawn of time. The Battle of Verdun, however, lasted from February to December, 1916, and casualties for both sides totaled 800,000. The battle was marked by artillery fire at a level previously beyond the industrial capacity of nations.

Continue reading "REMEMBERING OUR VETERANS" »

A Kickball Injury and Other Surprising Workers' Comp Cases

November 4, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Kickball Image.jpgSay you work for a company in South Carolina and your boss asks you to organize an employee kickball game to make the work atmosphere more enjoyable. And say you jump during the game, land awkwardly and fracture your leg.

Are you eligible for South Carolina workers' compensation?

Yes, indeed, according to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which recently approved workers' compensation in just such a scenario. The case involved an employee of a public relations firm who shattered his tibia and fibula during a company kickball game and underwent two surgeries.

The workers' compensation system typically provides coverage for injuries that occur within the course and scope of a worker's employment. But some circumstances are so unusual that hot disputes arise about whether an injury truly was related to work.

In the kickball case, the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission ruled that the employee was not entitled to benefits, concluding that he was not required to attend the kickball event. On appeal, however, the South Carolina Supreme Court disagreed, siding with the injured worker.

"Although the event may have been voluntary for company employees generally, the undisputed facts unequivocally indicate [the injured employee] was expected to attend as part of his professional duties," the court wrote.

According to the ruling, attending an event is not voluntary "If the employee is made to understand that he is to take part in the affair."

The court also stated: "A specific act need not be designated in an employee's job description to be compensable."

Unusual Work Injuries

Workers' compensation provides coverage for medical fees, lost wages, rehabilitation and other costs for injuries occurring on the job. The system also provides death benefits for the family of an employee who dies of work-related injuries. But as the kickball case shows, work-based injuries don't necessarily take place at the main jobsite or workplace, and employers can dispute a workers' comp claim on the grounds that an injury or death was not sustained in the course and scope of employment.

In recent years, courts across the country have addressed many out-of-the-ordinary workers' comp incidents. In some cases the courts favored the employee, while in others they favored the employer -- and the differences are elucidating.

Continue reading "A Kickball Injury and Other Surprising Workers' Comp Cases" »

Confused About Social Security Benefits? You're Not Alone

October 15, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for ssiblogpicture.jpgThe term 'Social Security' is a familiar phrase to all Americans, one that's as well known as "The White House," or "Disney World." The Social Security Administration (SSA) is perhaps the best known United States federal agency, after all - nearly all of us know someone who collects some form of benefits through the Social Security Administration (mostly likely in the form of retirement benefits). What you may not know is that the SSA runs a variety of programs designed to help people who are disabled and can no longer work due to their disability.

You're not alone if you find yourself confused or overwhelmed when applying for Social Security disability benefits

If you're thinking about filing for Social Security disability benefits, having a basic understanding of the different types of programs available is a helpful first step in understanding your options.

In 2013 alone, the Social Security Administration assisted approximately 11 million disabled workers and dependents of disabled workers. Many of us know someone who has applied for Social Security Disability Benefits, but what exactly does that mean? The Social Security Administration runs two important programs which have specific requirements that you should be familiar with to see if you might qualify for assistance. At Grimes Teich and Anderson LLP, we're here to help you navigate all the bureaucracy and red tape that can come with applying for benefits.

To get you started, let's discuss the differences between Social Security's Disability Benefits program and the Social Security Supplemental Security Income program.

The Social Security Administration administers two disability programs - Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

The SSDI program is also referred to as Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) or Title II benefits because the program is governed by Title 2 of the Social Security Disability Act. It is designed to provide both income and healthcare coverage (through the Medicare program) to individuals who have been gainfully employed and paid into the system with Social Security (FICA) taxes that are normally taken out of your paychecks. You must have worked for a certain number of years in a job where you paid social security taxes and earned the required number of work credits and "quarters" of coverage. Eligibility for the program is also dependent on your age at the time you become disabled, when you last worked and contributed to the system through FICA taxes, and the length of time you last worked before becoming disabled. The SSDI program is not an income based program, and the individual's financial circumstances are not considered when determining eligibility. In general, a person who has worked approximately five out of the last ten years will more than likely be eligible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.

Continue reading "Confused About Social Security Benefits? You're Not Alone" »

South Carolina Was Just Ranked Third in Pedestrian Accidents - and You Won't Like Why!

September 29, 2014, by

pedestriansforblog.jpgWhy does South Carolina have such a high occurrence of pedestrian accidents? Although the state has managed to reduce the overall number of vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents have continued to rise and South Carolina now ranks third in the nation. The underlying problem is that many of the state's busiest intersections are completely unsafe for pedestrian crossing.

A recent article in USA Today notes that the number of pedestrian injuries and deaths is affected by the high number of commuters, with 41% of the state's workforce spending 15 - 30 minutes commuting to work - a far higher percentage than in many other states. During the morning and end-of-work hours, the streets are filled to capacity with rushing commuter traffic.

The state's dismal rate of pedestrian accidents is further impacted by the fact that a large number of busy intersections are unmarked. These streets lack signs, signals or crosswalks that can alert drivers and provide a higher level of protection to pedestrians who are crossing against moving traffic. This lack of infrastructure forces pedestrians to face congested streets filled with fast-moving vehicles with absolutely no safety measures in place.

It is clear that South Carolina now ranks so poorly for pedestrian accidents due to a fundamental lack of investment in the infrastructure necessary to keep pedestrians safe. State, county and city leaders have failed to take effective action.

Cities each have a "walk score" which rates the area for its "walkability," and the majority of urban centers in South Carolina each rank extremely low, as most errands in these cities will require the use of a vehicle. This adds to the existing problem of traffic congestion. States that have successfully reduced numbers of pedestrian accidents have worked hard to make streets safer by investing in crucial safety measures such as installing crossing lights, marked crosswalks, and clearly posted signs. South Carolina lags far behind, and innocent people are paying the price.

Continue reading "South Carolina Was Just Ranked Third in Pedestrian Accidents - and You Won't Like Why!" »

What's Behind the High Rate of Motorcycle Accidents?

September 22, 2014, by

motorcycle1.jpgFor those who love to ride motorcycles, there's not much good news in the latest accident figures, released in June 2014.

The newly released traffic safety facts, which cover calendar year 2012, show that motorcycle riders were 26 times more likely to die in traffic accidents than passenger car occupants, and 5 times more likely to be injured. That's based on vehicle miles traveled.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publication, Traffic Safety Facts, 2012 Data, the occupant fatality rate per 100,000 registered vehicles in 2012 was 58.63 for motorcycles, as compared to 9.66 for passenger cars.

The data show that 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents, and 93,000 were injured. More than half (52%) of all fatal motorcycle crashes involved collisions with another type of motor vehicle, and 75% of those collisions with other vehicles occurred when motorcycles collided with cars in front of them - only 7% were rear ended. In 22% of all fatal motorcycle crashes, the motorcycle crashed into a fixed object.

Circumstances and Contributing Factors in Motorcycle Crashes
So what's behind the high rate of crashes? A few observations are in order:

  • Turning vehicles. Of the 2,317 fatal crashes involving motorcycles and other types of vehicles in 2012, 953 (41%) occurred when the other vehicle was turning left and the motorcycle was either going straight or passing or overtaking another vehicle.
  • Speed a factor? In 34% of the 2012 motorcycle fatalities, the motorcyclist was speeding.
  • More training needed? Of the motorcyclists killed in crashes in 2012, 24% were riding without a valid license. That may mean they didn't have the training that is needed to safely ride a motorcycle.
  • Driving records. Motorcycle riders had a higher percentage of previous convictions on their driving records than drivers of other types of vehicles involved in traffic fatalities.

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Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim in South Carolina?

September 9, 2014, by

workerinjury1.jpgIf you have been injured on the job, you may be wondering about your rights under South Carolina's workers' compensation laws. You may be scared to file a workers' compensation claim because you fear that your employer will fire you, demote you or cut your pay for doing so. This is called retaliation and is a very serious issue.

Under South Carolina law, employers are not allowed to fire or demote any employee because the employee has filed a workers' compensation claim or has testified or is going to testify in a workers' compensation hearing. It is illegal for employers to do so.
I believe this law is good public policy. It helps ensure that hurt workers are not afraid to report injuries so that they can receive the medical help and treatment they need.
Our law firm handles workers' compensation claims, and we are ready to discuss your case and protect your rights. Please call us today if you have a workers' compensation case or if you feel that you have been retaliated against for filing a workers' compensation claim.

What can I do if my employer fires or retaliates against me?
In South Carolina, any employer who violates the law by retaliating against an employee for filing a worker's compensation claim or for testifying in a hearing is "liable in a civil action for lost wages suffered by an employee." If the employee is demoted to a lower position, then he or she is "entitled to be reinstated to his former position."
In other words, you can bring a lawsuit against your employer for lost wages, and you have the right to get your old job back if you are demoted. It may be awkward for you to return to your position after you filed a lawsuit against your employer, but this is the remedy under the law.

Keep in mind that the burden is on you, as the employee, to prove the retaliation. Therefore, it is important for you to keep documents and other evidence that your employer wrongfully punished you for exercising your legal right to workers' compensation.

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The Amount of Disability Benefits a Veteran Receives Depends on How the Disability is Rated

August 11, 2014, by

veteran.jpgThe United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit says that a veteran must demonstrate the particular symptoms, or symptoms similar to, the symptoms listed in the rating schedule and with similar severity, frequency, and duration, in order to obtain a rating for a disability. It is not enough to simply present evidence that the veteran suffers from any requisite occupational and social impairment which might be included in the pertinent rating schedule.

For Example
A Vietnam veteran suffering from service-connected PTSD filed a claim, seeking a 70% disability rating. The VA denied his claim for a 70% rating and assigned him a rating of 50% instead. In giving the veteran this lower rating, the VA cited the fact that the veteran did not present the particular symptoms, or even similar symptoms, listed for the 70% rating. The applicable rating schedule lists the following criteria for 70%:
Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a worklike setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.

The applicable rating schedule lists the follow criteria for 50%:
Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.

Continue reading "The Amount of Disability Benefits a Veteran Receives Depends on How the Disability is Rated" »

Who Should I Notify If I Get Hurt On The Job in South Carolina?

August 8, 2014, by

workerinjury.jpgIf you have been injured on the job, it is critically important that you notify your employer and take certain steps so that you can pursue your Workers' Compensation benefits in South Carolina.

As a Workers' Compensation Attorney, here are the two most common questions I get regarding notice:

Who do I need to notify of my work injury?

Giving notice to your employer of your job accident is the first step in obtaining the medical or compensation benefits you deserve. South Carolina requires that an injured worker must notify his or her employer of the accident. The employer representative that you give notice to should be one of your supervisors or managers rather than a co-worker.

Failure to notify your employer of your work injury could keep you from the medical care and compensation that you deserve. It important that every accident on the job, regardless of how insignificant it may seem at that time, is reported to your employer immediately. Sometimes, injuries that seem insignificant at first develop into serious injuries over time.

Ideally, notice of the accident should be given in writing and should specifically state how you were injured and should request that your employer send you for medical care and treatment. It is very important that you ensure that an accident report is filled out, that it correctly states how you were injured, and that you get a copy of the accident report. Too often, claimants are denied the benefits they deserve because their employer never documented the accident; don't let this happen to you.

How long do I have to give notice of my work injury?

Other than some exceptions, the rule is that you have 90 days from the date of your accident to report your on-the-job injury. Practically though, it is best to notify your employer as soon as possible after your work injury. The sooner you report the injury to your employer, get an accurate accident report filled out, and request medical care the better.

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Army Knew of Problems With Soldier But Is Not Responsible After He Rapes Woman

August 7, 2014, by

woodengavel.jpgThe United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has ruled that the United States had no duty to protect a woman, against a soldier who raped a woman in her house even though the soldier was in the process of being administratively separated by the Army for prior burglaries and sexual assaults.

What Happened
The victim was living on an Army Base in December, 2009, when United States Army Specialist Aaron Pernell unlawfully entered her home and raped her in front of her children. Earlier in March of 2009, Pernell had expressed to his supervising Non-Commissioned Officer that he could not control his alcohol and drug abuse that he desired to kill himself and other un-specified members of his unit. Despite this warning, this supervisor discouraged Pernell from seeking mental health treatment because of possible negative repercussions for Pernell. Pernell repeated this warning to his supervisors and was again discouraged from seeking any mental health treatment in September, 2009. Later in September of that same year, Pernell advised a fellow lower enlisted soldier that he wanted to kill himself and other un-specified soldiers he currently served with. This fellow soldier also advised Pernell not to seek mental health treatment. That same September, 2009, Pernell was convicted and jailed off base in the local county jail for over thirty days for burglarizing a home near the base and assaulting all of the home's occupants. In January, 2010, shortly after Pernell raped the Plaintiff, it came to light that Pernell was also involved in numerous other burglaries and sexual assaults throughout the area.

Victim Files Suit Claiming Negligence
The victim filed a claim under the Federal Torts Claim Act for negligence on behalf of the United States for breaching the duty to protect her from Pernell. She claimed in the suit that, at the time of her rape, the Army knew Pernell had a history of burglarizing and assaulting, that he was a threat to women who lived on base and in the vicinity of the base, and that the Army had a duty to protect the individuals living on base from Pernell. She also contended that Pernell was restricted to his quarters, a restriction which was negligently not enforced.

Continue reading "Army Knew of Problems With Soldier But Is Not Responsible After He Rapes Woman " »

Ten Questions You MUST Ask When Choosing a Nursing Home

August 4, 2014, by

nursinghomeabuse.jpgChoosing a nursing home isn't always easy. Many South Carolina families who need to find nursing home care for a loved one are launching the search for the first time. They love their family member, but they've never had to choose a nursing home before. They don't know what questions to ask or how to determine if the nursing homes will provide the care and dignity their loved one deserves. They desperately want to protect their loved one from nursing home abuse or neglect - but where to start?
If this sounds like your situation, start by asking friends and co-workers about their experiences with nursing homes - but then, launch your own investigation. Visit each nursing home on your list and ask these crucial 10 questions:

1. Are you accepting new residents? This question helps you cross potential nursing homes off your list quickly: if they have no space for new residents, they can't help your loved one. If they are accepting new residents, ask about the application and acceptance process and schedule a tour.

2. Does the nursing home use hospitals and specialists where my loved one's doctor practices? If the nursing home needs to rush your loved one to the hospital, it's best to go to a hospital at which your loved one's doctor has admitting privileges. This allows your loved one's medical care to be coordinated more effectively.

3. Does the nursing home provide the services my loved one needs? Does your loved one need specialized medical care for conditions like diabetes, breathing problems, or wound treatment? Make sure the nursing home has the trained and certified staff it needs to care for your loved one properly.

4. Do the nursing home residents appear clean, well-groomed, and content? Residents who seem unkempt or uncomfortable may not be getting the daily care they need. Talk to a few residents about their experiences - out of the presence of staff, if you can.

5. Is the nursing home itself clean and comfortable? Check for dirt, clutter, debris, broken lights or floor tiles, and odors. If you can't wait to leave, don't make your loved one stay.

Continue reading "Ten Questions You MUST Ask When Choosing a Nursing Home" »

Can You Pass South Carolina's Motorcycle Skills Test?

July 25, 2014, by

Beginning June 3, 2013, motorcyclists in South Carolina who wanted to renew their beginner permit had to make a bona fide attempt to pass the state's motorcycle skills test.

You may be one of the motorcycle riders who is up for renewal. Are you up to the challenge?

Thumbnail image for motorcycle.jpgHere are a few questions based on the South Carolina Driver's Manual, which explains the motorcycle maneuvers you will be required to perform during the skills test and the knowledge you'll need to have in order to pass.

Test your own skills in a safe area of clean, dry pavement to prepare yourself and reduce your chances of a motorcycle accident. (The answers are at the bottom.)

1. Sharp Turns and U-Turns: The test requires you to perform sharp turns and U-turns to both the left and the right. Which maneuver will cause you to lose points on your skills test?
a. Keeping the motorcycle inside the boundaries marked by the yellow lines
b. Stopping after completing the U-turn
c. Putting a foot down while making either of the turns or completing the loop
d. Riding faster than 15 mph

2. Cone Weave: Which of the following mistakes will cost you points?
a. Hitting or skipping a cone
b. Putting a foot down during the maneuver
c. Stopping with your front tire outside the box or touching any painted lines
d. All of the above

3. Sudden Stops: Which of these "mistakes" is actually okay to make during the sudden-stop test?
a. Using only one of your brakes
b. Accelerating to less than 12 mph
c. Skidding during the stop
d. Taking as much distance as you need to stop

Continue reading "Can You Pass South Carolina's Motorcycle Skills Test?" »