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July 2015 Archives

Several workers’ comp violations reported in North Carolina

If you’ve picked up a newspaper or watched the news recently in North Carolina, you have likely seen reports of several ongoing investigations into violations of workers’ compensation laws by area employers. These probes are in progress while the North Carolina House of Representatives is holding hearings on fraudulent employee classifications that cheat workers out of legitimate benefits and also cheat the state out of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.

Substantial Gainful Activity From Self-Employment

Social Security Ruling 83-33 provides that work will be considered substantial gainful activity if it meets one of three tests: 1) Rendering significant services to or receiving substantial income from a business; 2) Comparing the work to perform to that unimpaired people in similar business or occupations; 3) What is the value or worth of the activity being performed.

Steps in Determining Disability

In evaluating whether an individual is disabled, the Social Security Administration applies what is called a sequential evaluation process. The first step is to determine whether the person is engaging in substantial gainful activity. Simply stated, this means earning too much money. If so, the claim is denied. If not, the second step is to determine whether an individual has a severe impairment, one that significantly limits the ability to do basic work activities. If one or more severe impairments are present, the third step is to determine whether any impairment meets some very specific requirements in the social security regulations. If so, the claim is approved at that point; however, if not, this is not the end of the case, which moves to step four. At the fourth step, the Social Security Administration determines whether the person has a condition or conditions that prevent the performance of their past relevant work. If they cannot, the inquiry moves to the fifth step and a determination whether the combined effect of a person's impairments prevent the performance of any work, considering the remaining capabilities, physical/mental capacity, age, education and work experience. Most social security cases are won at the fifth step under the evaluation process. A skilled advocate's involvement can be critical.

Social Security Disability in cases of permanent disability

People normally associate an on-the-job injury with workers’ compensation benefits. Social Security Disability is another government benefit program that is available to someone prevented from working due to an injury or medical condition.

May I choose my own doctor when receiving workers' compensation?

Most employees in North Carolina are covered by workers’ compensation insurance for workplace injuries and work-related occupational disease. Workers’ compensation benefits for medical expenses, lost wages and disability are payable without the necessity of a lawsuit against an employer. One of the tradeoffs associated with workers’ compensation is limitations it places on your choice of medical provider.

OSHA woefully deficient in preventing toxic exposure to chemicals

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created to protect workers from hazardous conditions in their jobs. But due to numerous changes in the workplace since the agency was created in 1970, as well as pressures from special interest groups, OSHA is failing to protect many workers from common workplace hazards.

The top workplace hazards

Workplaces, from a high-rise construction site to a cubicle office, are meant to be safe for workers. While some jobs may require a harness and hardhat to ensure protection, no employee should have to deal with an unsafe working environment. In fact, that’s why OSHA exists: to make sure every workplace is up to safety standards. But there are some hazards that are common in different environments, even when following strict procedure.

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