Your employer’s financial trouble could increase your risk of suffering physical harm. That is the finding of a groundbreaking new study that was conducted by Dr. Malcolm Wardlaw of the University of Texas at Dallas.

stockfresh_7472329_work-accident-first-aid-training_sizeS-300x200Dr. Wardlaw has found that there is a statistically significant correlation between an employer’s financial health and the actual health of the firm’s employees. Using years of comprehensive workplace injury data that was provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dr. Wardlaw found that financially distressed employers see more workplace accidents and injuries.

The results of this study are both alarming and unacceptable. We cannot let worker safety become the victim of a business’ financial problems. Worker safety must always come before cost-cutting.

Military service members often suffer injuries while serving our country.  When a medical condition develops that a physician believes will not heal enough in order for the service member to be able to perform his or her military duties within one year, the service member is then referred to the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) for possible out-processing due to the medical condition.

In 2009, the Integrated Disability Evaluation System was established in order to bridge the gap between the Department of stockfresh_4360615_soldier-having-counselling-session_sizeS-1-300x200Defense (DoD) disability, and the Veterans Affairs (VA) disability procedures.   The IDES allows DoD and VA to work together by simplifying the entire military disability process as a whole, and is only utilized for service members who have attained conditions that disallow them to perform their military duties (labelled as “Medically Unfit for Duty”).

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A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 35,092 people died in car accidents in the U.S. last year – a 7.2% spike over 2014, and the biggest increase in 50 years.stockfresh_5997305_exploded-airbag_sizeS-300x200

The increased deaths are not just for passenger vehicles, but across all categories: cars, trucks, motorcycles, pedestrians, etc. According to the National Safety Council, North Carolina had the 5th highest increase in the number of car crash deaths in the United States from 2014 to 2015, a shocking 26% increase.

The sudden increase is surprising, since advances in safety, such as improved airbags, automated braking, backup cameras and blind spot warnings, should theoretically continue to prevent more and more accidents and make injuries less severe when they do happen.

stockfresh_791688_two-semi-trucks-on-the-highway_sizeS-300x200The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) are proposing a rule for heavy-duty vehicles such as trucks to be equipped with speed limiters (also called “speed governors”), preventing the vehicle from exceeding a set maximum speed. The maximum speeds suggested for the final rule are 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour. The government agencies involved say they will consider other speeds after receiving input from the public.

Speed limiters are being recommended in order to save lives and fuel costs. Heavy-duty vehicles inflict much more damage at high speeds than lighter-weight vehicles, so the hope is that capping speeds will reduce truck accident fatalities and serious injuries. According to NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, “This is basic physics…. Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact. Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety and the environment.”

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stockfresh_5487160_person-hand-with-pen-filling-social-security-disability-form_sizeS-300x200Many people wait a really long time to receive disability benefits from Social Security.  However, once your application is approved, your contact with the Social Security Administration is not over.  Besides getting a monthly benefit, you still need to stay in touch with SSA about a number of things that can affect your benefits or even result in the loss of your benefits.

  1. IF YOU WORK: You are required to inform Social Security if you take a job or become self-employed regardless of the amount of money you make.  Social Security will want to know what kind of work you are doing, how many hours you are working, and if you start or stop a new job.  There are limited amounts of earnings a person can make and still be eligible for their benefits, but the type of work and the hours are both important considerations.  You can try to go back to work, and if you notify SSA, your earnings for nine months will not cause your benefits to stop.  The nine months do not have to be consecutive, but each month during a sixty month period that you earn over $810.00 per month (for 2016) will count as a month toward your trial return to work.  If you aren’t able to continue at a job, you can try other jobs, but any month where you make over $810.00 is counted as one of the nine months for the trial return to work.  After the nine-month trial return to work, you can extend your benefits for up to three years if your earnings are not substantial which means $1,130.00 per month (or $1,820 for blind beneficiaries).  If your earnings are substantial during one of the thirty-six months, you won’t be eligible benefits for that month, but your benefits don’t stop completely.  The bottom line is that the Social Security Administration does not want to discourage people who receive benefits from trying to go back to work if they find something they think they may be able to do.  However, the rules about going back to work are complicated, and it is a good idea to talk with an experienced Social Security attorney about going back to work before you start.

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The VA minimizes large legal hurdles in a disability benefit claim by allowing Veterans to reopen closed claims after the VA has issued a final denial.

stockfresh_182656_veteran-with-crutch_sizeS-199x300Though most Veterans and veteran service organizations put the primary focus of disability benefit claims upon medical evidence, in the end VA claims are legal procedures.  They are specific remedies requested from a federal administrative agency and are governed by federal statutes, federal regulations, and judicial precedence.  As with any legal proceeding, some of the toughest barriers to a remedy sought are the deadlines – often the statutes of limitations or the statutes of repose.  In allowing a Veteran to reopen a claim after the VA has issued a final denial in that very same claim, the VA has made it more possible that no valid claim should ever be uncompensated, even if the Veteran misses every single deadline.

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So, you just received an appointment for a VA Compensation and Pension (C&P) Examination.  Now what?

stockfresh_7295473_vet-concept-wooden-letterpress-type_sizeS-300x200The C&P examination is one of the most important appointments a Veteran should keep when pursuing a claim before the VA.  Although it is not the only factor in deciding a claim, this examination assists the VA in evaluating a Veteran’s condition as to the severity and whether the condition relates to military service.

Most Veterans both look forward to and dread these important examinations for several reasons.  For starters, a C&P examination (or examinations, pending the number and type of disabilities claimed) can take some time to complete.  A doctor will need to examine the Veteran for the conditions, which may include standard medical testing, providing lab specimens, answering specific personal questions, etc.  Some evaluations may require Range of Motion (ROM) testing, repetitive testing, and recording of limitations, flare-ups, and impact of function (or lack thereof) regarding employment.

Upon receiving the notice of examination, it is very important that the Veteran attends on the date and time prescribed.  As the Veteran is the only one who is notified of the examination, it is equally important to notify the Veteran’s representative or attorney of the upcoming appointment.  The representative may want to discuss certain aspects of the examination prior to attending.

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VA Disability Benefits are reserved for ill or injured veterans who served our great nation.  Because of veterans’ sacrifices, special laws and rules give veteran disability benefits certain extra protections that other compensation programs do not enjoy.veteranpic-300x200

VA disability benefits are like no other compensation program in the United States.  Although they share some similarities with other programs such as Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability, VA disability benefits are unique and more secure in many ways.  This security is codified in 38 U.S.C. § 5301, the VA Benefits Nonassignability and Exempt Status Law (hereinafter referred to as the “Shelter Law”).  Additional securities are guaranteed through VA specific rules and regulations. Continue Reading

stockfresh_5819015_soldier-reunited-with-her-son_sizeS-300x200Sometimes a Veteran may be entitled to a higher disability rating than is contemplated in the Schedule for Rating Disabilities when the VA’s schedule does not contemplate the level of symptoms or disability that the Veteran presents.

The VA’s Schedule for Rating Disabilities (hereinafter referred to as “Schedule”) is found in 38 C.F.R. Part 4, §§ 4.40 – 4.150.  Separated into separate sections depending upon body system and condition, the Schedule lists a host of illnesses and injuries, designating particular rating percentages for different levels of symptomatology.  Continue Reading

New research confirms that drivers affected by attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to be involved in serious car crashes. An article in JAMA Psychiatry reports that drivers with ADHD are about 50 percent more likely to be in accidents as compared to the rest of the population.stockfresh_501611_broken-glass_sizeS-300x200

The National Resource Center on ADHD notes that individuals with ADHD are prone to distraction, inattentiveness and impulsive behavior. These three issues also happen to be among the most common causes of car accidents.

To make matters even more challenging for parents of young drivers with ADHD, cell phones have become an increasingly tempting distraction. Parents need to be able to keep their young drivers safe. In the unfortunate event that a serious accident does occur, you need to have an experienced car accident attorney by your side throughout the claims process.

ADHD and Car Accidents: Understanding the Risks

According to a report from Reuters, a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry has found a clear link between ADHD and car accidents. After reviewing the driving history of more than 40,000 young drivers, the researchers determined that people with ADHD are 50 percent more likely to be involved in a serious car accident. This is a very alarming figure.

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