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North Carolina Law Blog

Social Security Disability benefits to rise 2 percent next year

There is good news today from the Social Security Administration. The federal agency announced that Social Security Disability benefits recipients are to receive a 2 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA). The increase means the average SSDI beneficiary will see their monthly check rise from $1,173 to $1,197.

The maximum SSDI monthly payment will go from $2,011 before the COLA to $2,051, starting January 1 of next year.

Take care of yourself if you care for others

Early this year, the Charlotte Business Journal listed the top 10 fastest growing jobs in North Carolina. Five of the 10 were in the health care industry. While health care workers care for others, they are often at risk of contracting illness or sustaining a workplace injury in the course of their demanding jobs.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) says that doctors, nurses and others who work in hospitals are all at risk of workplace violence. When violence happens where people work, it can have a variety of impacts on a person's health, including psychological issues, physical injuries and in worst-case scenarios, even death.

North Carolina tragedy highlights dangers of teen drivers

It's a little more than an hour's drive northeast of Charlotte to get to the small North Carolina town of Advance. The community is grieving the recent tragic loss of three teenagers killed in a car accident. The 16-year-old boy who was driving tried to pass a pick-up truck on a Davie County road, but crashed into an SUV coming from the opposite direction.

All three teens inside the vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene of the violent collision. Though several news stories about the crash noted the deep sorrow in the boys' hometown, they failed to mention the driver of the SUV. We were able to track down a bit of information on him, however: he was hospitalized with unspecified injuries.

October 10 is World Mental Health Day

No matter where you go on planet Earth -- from Charlotte to Cherbourg or from Cape Town to Caracas, October 10th will be World Mental Health Day. Regardless of geography, the objective of the day's observation will be raising awareness of mental illness and the ways in which people can get support.

No who you are or where you are, you know someone struggling with mental health issues. Depression is the most common, with 300 million people worldwide struggling with this leading cause of disability.

Flying high over North Carolina highway crashes

Drones can be used to take spectacular aerial video of your vacation spot, wedding or family reunion. The miniature copters have a wide variety of uses in warfare, as flying "scarecrows" used to chase birds from crops, for surveillance of cheating spouses (and others) and much more.

Now North Carolina state troopers say they have a new use for drones: accident reconstruction. The state's Department of Transportation has six of the mini-choppers that can be used by troopers to fly above the scenes of highway motor vehicle crashes and other accidents.

Spinal cord injuries: A quick primer on a devastating injury

Many things can lead to a spinal cord injury. Regardless of how the injury occurs, the results can be devastating. It is imperative for all victims, as well as their loved ones, to know some of the basics of this type of injury.

Not all spinal cord injuries are the same. Many different factors impact the manner in which a person will be affected. Here are some points to remember about spinal cord injuries:

Shifts in teen behavior could reduce drunk driving crashes

Since the dawn of time, older people have bemoaned younger generations. They're irresponsible and reckless, the older folks will complain, and simply not up to the standards set by their elders. That time-honored tradition might not be passed on if results from a new study are accurate.

The research published in the journal Child Development indicates that the percentage of U.S. adolescents who drive and who drink alcohol has been on the decline since 1976, with the biggest decreases coming in the past decade. The study might well be cause for celebrating the dawn of a new era in which fewer people drive drunk and cause motor vehicle accidents.

Life without paid sick leave has added stress

As you probably know, North Carolina law does not require employers to grant to their employees paid sick leave. A recent study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry shows that workers who do not get receive paid sick leave experience significant stress worrying that if they get sick, they could lose their jobs.

Hopefully, those workers without sick leave understand that if they are injured on the job, they are typically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits that replace a portion of their wages and provide medical care as well.

Part two of SSDI backlog: another side of the story

Regular readers know that we shared the first half of a story about the SSDI backlog that has gotten so much attention in the press lately. We are going to pick up this story again; a tale that revolves around a locksmith who lost his job due to a back injury that diminished his productivity. He found himself out of work, disabled by his back pain and forced to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.

But the approval process was slow. The savings he and his wife had put together were eaten up while she continued trying to keep her new hair-styling business afloat and he waited and waited to hear about his SSDI claim.

SSDI backlog: another side of the story

Residents of North Carolina are known for working hard and playing hard. Many of us identify with the work we do; it's a part of who we are and how we present ourselves to the world. When an injury or illness prevents a person from working, there is often a difficult period of adjustment.

Adding to the stress of a disability that prevents a person from working is the backlog at the Social Security Administration in processing SSDI appeals. Last week, news outlets reported that the backlog now exceeds a million Americans and that some people with serious medical conditions do not live long enough to see their disability claims approved.

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