Student loan payments can be a heavy burden for many people, but for those who rely on Social Security disability benefits to get by, the burden is especially heavy.

With many returning to college at later ages for a change in career, and others co-signing on student loans for family members, there are more older Americans than ever who still have outstanding student loan bills to pay.stockfresh_1091672_mature-woman-in-college_sizeS-300x167

According to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office, the government garnished Social Security benefits of 114,000 people ages 50 and over during the last year to recoup student loan debt – and more than half of those were on Social Security disability instead of retirement income.

Although debt collectors cannot take more than 15% of the benefits check, wage garnishment is leaving people who rely on their Social Security benefits below the poverty guideline.

Continue Reading

stockfresh_7295473_vet-concept-wooden-letterpress-type_sizeS-300x200By regulation, the VA has a duty to grant “every benefit that can be supported in law.”[1]  However, the same regulation also states, in the same sentence, that the VA must also protect the interests of the Government.[2]  This competing interest necessitated the courts to continually refine the VA’s duty to maximize a Veteran’s benefits.  As it stands so far, this duty is robust and even includes inferring claims for individual unemployability (“TDIU”) and special monthly compensation.

The VA must assume that the claimant is always seeking the maximum benefit allowed under law.[3]  This includes assigning the most favorable diagnostic code (“DC”) if more than one equally applies.  In Vogan v. Shinseki, the Court held that the failure of the Board of Veterans Appeals (“BVA”) to consider any other DC under which the Veteran may be entitled to additional benefits establishes prejudice.[4]  This especially comes into play when the VA is rating by analogy.  For example, when rating for an undiagnosed illness due to presumptive service connection for qualifying Persian Gulf War veterans, there will be no precise DC for the undiagnosed condition – this is because the rating tables only list conditions with diagnoses.  The VA must look for a closely related injury or illness, preferably one that affects similar functions in similar body parts and have similar symptoms.[5]  To show that the VA is considering the highest rating within any given DC, in its decision the VA must discuss the next highest rating and why the current rating is the most appropriate.

Continue Reading

stockfresh_2633961_burning-candles_sizeS-300x300During Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve, many people use candles to commemorate the holidays and decorate for the season. Lighting candles is fun a tradition and sets the mood for your holiday festivities, but it is important that certain precautions are taken so that your holidays do not end in injury or tragedy.

Home Fires

 According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), from 2009 to 2013, fire departments in the U.S. responded to 9,300 home structure fires started by candles. Those fires resulted in the deaths of 86 people, numerous injuries, and hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage.

stockfresh_158432_buck-whitetail-deer-odocoileus-virginianus_sizeS-300x214A new report released by State Farm Insurance has found that both North Carolina and South Carolina are “high risk” states for deer accidents. South Carolina ranks 12th in the country, with 1 in 93 drivers filing a deer damage claim each year. North Carolina is close behind, with one annual deer damage claim for every 112 drivers.

These can be expensive accidents. The average deer damage claim in 2016 totaled nearly $4,000. They can also cause serious injuries and even death.

It is especially important that area motorists are on the lookout for deer during the fall driving season. Deer are most active and aggressive during the months of November and December. If you are driving this fall in rural areas of Upstate South Carolina or Western North Carolina, please keep your eyes open for deer.

Three Tips to Help You Avoid Deer Collisions

  1. Watch for the Deer Crossing Signs

Those deer crossing signs are important. They are put up in areas where deer activity is known to be especially common. While deer accidents can certainly occur outside of those marked zones, you should remain especially vigilant when driving through a deer crossing area.

Continue Reading

The fact that a Veteran may have broken the law since he or she has left the military does not take away the fact that that Veteran has served our Country with honor.  However, the fact that the Veteran ended up incarcerated does mean that the federal, state, or municipal government will be footing the bill for a lot of the Veteran’s care and therefore the VA is relieved of some of its duty to provide.  Contrary to popular belief, Veterans still can apply for and receive VA benefits while incarcerated.  What follows is a summary of some of the benefits a Veteran may receive and the special rules surrounding them.  Because there is a reduction of benefits to some incarcerated Veterans and some Veterans may be tempted to avoid incarceration by becoming a fugitive, Congress has enacted strict penalties for Veterans who the VA designates as fugitive felons.stockfresh_1964096_jail-cell-with-open-door_sizeS-300x162

Disability Compensation and DIC (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation) are significantly limited while in the big house under certain circumstances.  38 U.S.C. § 5313(a) states that

Continue Reading

Serious questions have been raised about the safety of talc. The latest scientific research strongly suggests a link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer.

stockfresh_4762637_plastic-bottles-of-talcum-powder_sizeS-200x300If you believe that you or a family member has been a victim of talc-related ovarian cancer, you need to contact an experienced drug and product injury lawyer at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP as soon as possible. Our lawyers can comprehensively review your case and help you determine what to do next.

Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer: Recent Developments

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”).

Continue Reading

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.”

Continue Reading

Contact Information