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Chambersburg Injured Workers Blog

How to qualify for supplemental security income

People with disabilities in Pennsylvania who are unable to hold gainful employment may qualify for assistance through the Supplemental Security Income program. For those over the age of 65, qualifying may not be very difficult even if their disability isn't debilitating. For those under 65, however, a person must demonstrate that they have a disability that prevents them from working and that they have no other means of gaining financial assistance.

Another requirement for SSI is that the person can not own more than $2,000 in assets as well as insufficient or no income. For people who have worked within the past 10 years, applying for SSDI in addition to SSI may be a good idea. The optimal time to start the application process for either program is as soon as a person realizes they have a disability that is likely to last a year or more. Approval can take a relatively long time.

Workplace injuries come in all shapes and sizes

When most people think of workers’ compensation they think of severe, debilitating injuries that may have permanent or long-term consequences. The fact is that any type of injury, no matter how small, affects an employee’s ability to do his or her job. A pulled muscle or sprained ankle limits productivity and, depending on the work, might mean they remain out of the office until fully healed.

Liberty Mutual Insurance has published a look at workplace injuries in 2018. It slows a small, 1.5 percent, decrease in serious injury claims. While that is good news, it also registers an increase in fall-related injuries. Four of the top ten causes of injury, in fact, come from falls, falling down, or falling items:

Tips to stay safe while in a tractor

According to OSHA, tractor rollovers cause about 130 fatal injuries per year in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. However, the organization has released a guide that is intended to keep tractor drivers safe. For instance, an individual has a greater chance of avoiding injury or death by only riding in tractors that have roll bars or cages. Drivers are also encouraged to wear safety belts and avoid slopes that are too steep.

A tractor should be operated at a constant speed, and drivers should refrain from frequent stopping and starting. The tractor itself should be inspected on a regular basis to ensure that it is working properly. A safety inspection should include a battery check as well as an inspection of all electrical components. It should also involve taking a look for sharp edges that may exist and any oil or other fluid leaks.

Cold weather can be dangerous for employees

When winter weather comes to Pennsylvania, outdoor workers may face hazards that accompany sleet, snow, ice and freezing winds. While many people may be aware of the dangers of heat stress like dehydration or exhaustion, cold stress can also pose significant risks to the human body. Extremely low temperatures can reduce the body's ability to warm itself, leading to a dropping core temperature and the dangerous potential of frostbite, numbness or hypothermia. While these can pose a threat in cold temperatures overall, the risk can be increased by damp air, contact with cold water or escalated wind speed.

When cold stress begins to impact workers, they may first begin to shiver. Many people ignore this symptom, dismissing it as the typical effects of cold temperatures rather than a serious risk of a workplace injury or illness. However, shivering may indicate that the body's temperature is dropping below normal, causing blood to flow away from the fingers and toes. Exposed skin in these areas will cool even further, leaving them at risk of frostbite and hypothermia. As extreme cold advances, workers may suffer severe hypothermia, which can cause brain injuries or even death.

Employees have the right to a safe work area

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 provides workers in Pennsylvania and throughout America with the right to a safe workplace. Under this legislation, workers are protected from retaliation in the event that they make a complaint to OSHA. In fact, the legislation allows workers to accompany OSHA representatives on any inspection that the organization makes. An individual is allowed to receive training and clear instructions on how to avoid hazards at a given job site.

Employers are required to identify and remove as many hazards as possible in the workplace. If a hazard cannot be eliminated, employees are entitled to protection against it. Employees have the right to obtain statistics related to workplace injuries and fatalities. They may also be entitled to learn about any citations that the company has received from OSHA. Employers must keep a record of work-related accidents.

Medical records an examiner deems to be relevant

Pennsylvania residents do not need include medical records when sending in an application for Social Security Disability benefits. However, they can be a useful tool in helping to get it approved. An examiner will look for as much objective evidence as possible that shows a condition makes it impossible to perform even simple tasks. It may be a good idea to seek treatment because a doctor may be able to take notes and include them in an applicant's file.

These notes can speak to how debilitating a physical or mental condition is. Examples of objective information include breathing tests, blood tests and counseling notes. It is important to know that only records from qualified medical sources can be reviewed by an examiner. Generally speaking, a doctor, speech therapist, or podiatrist are considered qualified sources. However, a chiropractor is generally not considered a qualified source. Examiners may review objective evidence from such a source if those records exist.

Receiving disability benefits after getting an award notice

Individuals filing for Social Security disability benefits in Pennsylvania typically go through a long and involved process. Therefore, when an award notice is received, it's understandably a welcome relief for most applicants. As for when benefits will actually start, payouts are often received sooner when individuals get an award notice at the initial disability application or reconsideration appeal level. It normally takes a bit longer to receive benefits when an award notice is granted at the hearing level.

This is because initial and reconsideration claims for Social Security disability are usually evaluated by Disability Determination Services and quickly sent to a filer's local Social Security office. When a claim is back at a local office, a claims representative (CR) typically takes the additional steps necessary to begin payments. For individuals whose claims are handled this way, benefits often begin the month a recipient is entitled to receive them.

How to fight a workers’ compensation claim denial

Many workplace accidents can lead to injury: a fall from ladder, catching your sleeve in machinery or tripping over a box on the floor. Some accidents are more serious than others. You may wind up in the hospital, missing time from work and have mounting medical bills.

When you get injured at work, you can file a workers’ compensation claim to cover medical costs and missed pay. However, an employer may deny your claim. Here are four reasons an employer may try to deny a claim and how you can fight back.

Printing industry poses significant health hazards to workers

The digital age has not removed the need to print large quantities of packages and publications in Pennsylvania. Printing involves many large machines and chemicals, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers it a high-hazard industry. The agency's report for fiscal year 2018 that ended on Sept. 30, highlighted the top workplace safety violations for printing companies. Fines imposed on employers for any of these violations could easily cost $3,000 to $10,000.

Citations for failing to communicate hazards to employees represented the most common violation. Printing companies have a responsibility to inform employees about chemical hazards. Violations typically arise when employers do not train employees about chemical hazards or supply them with safety data sheets for all chemicals.

Tips for submitting a quality disability application

When a Pennsylvania resident files for disability benefits, the claim is sent to a disability determination services (DDS) office in the state. The claim is then sent to an examiner who will evaluate the application and make a decision as to whether a person will receive financial aid. In some cases, it will be necessary to attend a consultative examination (CE). This is usually true if an applicant's medical records are all 90 days or older.

However, the CE is unlikely to lead to an approval on its own. Ideally, a person will seek out the care of a personal physician or anyone else who is familiar with the case before submitting an application. Otherwise, the examiner may have little choice other than to use the limited information the CE provides in approving or denying the application. Furthermore, the examiner may contact the third-party listed on the application.

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