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St. Louis Legal Issues Blog

Understanding a denial letter for SSD benefits

When people in Missouri apply for Social Security Disability benefits, they often face a denial at the early stages of the process, even when they have an excellent claim. They may learn of this denial through a notice of disapproved claim received in the mail from the Social Security Administration. This type of letter will generally begin with a statement telling the applicant that he or she is not disabled under the guidelines for SSD or SSI benefits.

The letter will list medical treatment sources used in the decision to deny the SSD benefits claim. In most cases, the list comes from the one the applicant submitted with his or her initial application. It may include additional providers, however, or exclude some that the applicant provided. If the case moves forward to a disability hearing, a disability attorney may review which records were actually obtained by the Social Security Administration. At this later stage, an attorney may also submit additional materials that bolster the applicant's claim.

Crash risk for teens goes up after they get their license

The National Institutes for Health conducted a study with Virginia Tech University, the results of which should be of interest to teens in Missouri. Researchers observed the driving behaviors of 90 teens from the time they obtained their learner's permit and began to drive with parental supervision to the time when they became licensed. The study ended one year after drivers received their license.

After analyzing software records of speed and braking times as well as dashcam footage of both drivers and the road, researchers found that the teens were eight times more likely to get in a crash or near-miss in their first three months as licensed drivers than in the previous three months. Though teens engaged in unsafe driving practices like severe turning, harsh braking and quick acceleration, these actions went down once they became licensed.

Evaluating workplace hazards according to OSHA guidance

OSHA first published its guide "Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs" in 1988 with the goal of improving workplace safety in companies across the United States. In the 30 years that has passed since then, a lot of information about the health and safety of employees has changed, and those changes are reflected in the latest update to the guide.

A wide range of factors affect the changes made to workplace safety standards. A large shift of employment from manufacturing to the service sector has created a more mobile workforce. Increased use of computers, robotics and other automated technologies have introduced new hazards. More sedentary types of jobs have increased the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and other health related issues. In addition, more contract employment in the gig economy has transformed many of the relationships between workers and their employers.

FMCSA report outlines plan to improve CSA

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a report outlining its plan to reform its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. The reforms were made necessary by a 2015 congressional order designed to make travel safer on Missouri and U.S. roadways. This report has been referred to by Congress and the FMCSA as a corrective action plan. Among its key reforms is an effort to make it easier for trucking companies and motor carriers to understand the CSA scoring system and calculate their own scores.

Other major reforms outlined in the report include improving the quality of the data the CSA uses to score motor carriers. The CSA Safety Measurement System will be replaced with a new system for scoring carriers. It will be based on an absolute system for scoring, rather than the system of relative scores that compares carriers to other carriers on the road.

Injury risks faced by restaurant workers

Suffering a workplace injury can prove tremendously challenging, both because of the physical and financial hardships it can present, and because it may affect your ability to continue to earn a living. Virtually all workers across all industries face at least some degree of injury risk, although workers in some fields are far more likely to suffer an injury on the job than those in others.

As someone who makes a living working in a restaurant or food service setting, you face considerable on-the-job risks that can affect your health and negatively impact your quality of life. More specifically, as a restaurant worker, know that you run the risk of experiencing or suffering from the following:

CMV and work vehicle safety ranked by state

The fleet management systems provider Verizon Connect has recently analyzed driving behaviors from more than 6,200 of its fleet customers between October 2015 and September 2017. After considering factors like the number of fatalities per mile driven and speeding events per day, it has been able to rank the safest, as well as the least safe, states for commercial motor vehicle and work vehicle drivers. Missouri residents may be intrigued by the results.

The fleet customers analyzed were comprised mostly of small and midsize businesses with anywhere from two to 200 trucks, including big rigs, light vans and pickups. The safest states were all located on the East Coast. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New York formed the top five. The most dangerous states were in the upper Midwest and the South: Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Kentucky, Mississippi and so on.

CVSA anounces dates for annual truck brake safety blitz

Police officers on highway patrol in Missouri and around the country will be paying especially close attention to semi-tractor trailers during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Brake Safety Week. During the seven-day initiative, which begins of Sept. 16, safety inspectors will be looking for worn or defective brake components and checking air lines for leaks during extremely thorough North American Standard Level I inspections. The functionality of electronic systems designed to warn truck drivers about possible brake problems will also be put to the test.

Dependable brakes are of crucial importance when they are expected to safely control vehicles that can weigh as much as 40 tons. Despite this, trucks with dangerously worn, poorly maintained or inadequately repaired braking systems remain common on the nation's roads. When researchers from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration inspected trucks that had been involved in accidents over a three-year period, they discovered that almost a third of them had brake-related safety violations. Dangerous braking problems were even more common on tractor-trailers that had been involved in brake-crucial accidents.

Two midsize SUVs receive poor front passenger safety scores

Due to family needs, many Missouri residents are driving larger vehicles, such as crossovers and SUVs. These vehicles can fit more people and allow passengers to haul more in one trip. While all crossovers and SUVs are thought to be safer than sedans, this is not always the case.

In testing the safety of eight different SUVs, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety destroyed the vehicles in order to raise awareness for the safety of front passengers. To determine just how safe the vehicles are, IIHS utilizes four ratings that range from good to poor. The test that was conducted was the passenger-side small overlap test, which is where the test vehicle's front passenger side hits an immobile barrier. Essentially, the test mimics hitting a post or a tree at speeds of 40 miles per hour.

Summer heat can be a danger on the job

Many Missouri workers face danger from heat stress in the summer months. There is no formal regulation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that refers to heat stress, but the agency has been conducting an ongoing awareness campaign that aims to reduce the threat of workplace injuries and illnesses caused by hot temperatures. Even in states where regulations exist about temperature control for outdoor workers, those are some of the most frequently violated workplace safety rules.

Nevertheless, heat can have a significant impact on health. For example, heat can change the way workers' bodies react to substances. There are a number of animal studies that indicate that chemical exposure can become toxic or dangerous far more quickly in hot weather. In addition, heat directly causes multiple types of illnesses and injuries, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dizziness and cramps. Sometimes these conditions can be so severe that heat exposure leads to death. In fact, in 2017, 24 workers died on the job due to heat stress according to OSHA, although the number could be higher.

What to know when applying for SSDI benefits

If you have an injury or medical condition that is so debilitating that it prevents you from securing and maintaining gainful employment, you may be thinking about applying for Social Security disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. Reserved for those who have particularly severe, long-term disabilities, SSDI benefits can help those who are unable to make their own living provide for themselves and secure the essentials they need to navigate their day-to-day lives.

Developing a better understanding of the SSDI benefits system and application process can help you avoid making errors that could potentially result in an SSDI claim denial, so learning to separate SSDI myths from reality is important before applying. So, before you apply for SSDI benefits, recognize the following:

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