Schott Mauss & Associates, PLLC
Helping Iowans Who Are Injured And Disabled Obtain The Benefit They Deserve

Des Moines Disability And Injury Legal Blog

Fire fighters can take steps to limit occupational diseases

Fire fighters do not have the option of picking and choosing the calls they respond to, whether here in Iowa or elsewhere. When they receive a call, they go and heroically put their lives in jeopardy to save others. They can see many of the risks they face but not all of them. Some fire fighters end up suffering from occupational diseases from exposure to chemicals and substances they cannot see.

It may be possible to limit the exposure. Fire fighters wear protective gear, including respiratory gear to keep them safe as they rush into burning buildings. However, what happens to their gear after the fact could make the biggest difference. Dust, fibers and other debris can settle on their turnout gear. If not properly cleaned after a fire, those particles can end up being inhaled or otherwise ingested.

Forklift operations 101: Avoiding injuries

Whether you work in construction, retail or a warehouse, chances are good that your duties may include operating a forklift. Even if that is not within your job description, you probably work around those who do operate these smaller versions of heavy machinery.

But even though forklifts are small in comparison to cranes or bulldozers, make no mistake — they can still cause injuries and fatalities to the hapless operators and their co-workers. Below are some safety tips for working with and around forklifts.

Can victims of work-related hearing loss obtain SSDI benefits?

Many Iowa residents work in atmospheres with consistent loud noises such as construction sites, manufacturing plants and more. The decibel levels in some of these work environments could lead to debilitating hearing loss over time. When the victims of work-related hearing loss can no longer work because of it, they may want to attempt to obtain Social Security Disability Income -- SSDI -- benefits to help make ends meet.

Hearing loss is a condition for which individuals can receive benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance program. However, each applicant must meet certain financial and medical criteria first. The first requirement is that the patient paid Social Security taxes from working at least part time for several years.

With work-related injuries, can I get a workers' comp settlement?

When an Iowa worker suffers workplace injuries, workers' compensation benefits can help them with their medical expenses, lost wages and more. These injuries can happen in any kind of job and have a negative effect of the person's life for an extended period. While workers who have been injured will want to maximize their benefits, there are cases in which there might be a disagreement as to the extent of the injuries, how much treatment the person needs and how long they will be off the job. In such instances, a settlement may be a wise step.

Understanding the types of settlements available is essential toward making that decision. A full commutation means that the person will receive a lump sum for any benefits he or she might have gotten in the future. When there is a full commutation, the employee can no longer get any other benefits for that injury. The employer must show that there is a specific need for it, and it serves the worker's best interests. A partial commutation pays part of the future benefits the worker is entitled to, but it does not stop any future rights to benefits.

Proposed rule could threaten SSD benefits for some

Everyday, individuals are diagnosed with illnesses and suffer injuries that leave them disabled. In addition to limiting their ability to conduct what were once routine activities, these disabling conditions can leave individuals unable to work. Without income, those who suffer from a disability can struggle to make ends meet while obtaining the medical care they need and deserve. Fortunately, those who are able to meet federal requirements may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

New rules proposed by the Trump administration may make retaining SSD benefits tougher, though. According to reports, the new rules, if implemented, would require SSD benefits recipients to undergo more frequent continuing disability reviews. These reviews are meant to gauge the improvement of an individual's medical condition, which can say a lot about his or her ability to return to the workforce. They also assess an individual's income and asset holdings to determine if he or she makes too much to continue to qualify for SSD benefits. If the new standards were to go into affect, more than 4 million additional reviews would be conducted each year.

Farm-related injuries are significantly underreported

Previously on this blog we discussed how those who have been injured while carrying out farm-related work may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits can be crucial to injured workers, regardless of their occupation, given that the funds provided can be used to offset lost wages, medical expenses, and rehabilitation costs. While that sort of protection can serve as a financial lifesaver to some, these benefits are not automatically handed out. Instead, injured workers need to take certain steps, including filing a formal claim. But before they even get to that point they need to report their injuries to their employer.

Sadly, recent research shows that only about 20% of all farm-related injuries are fully reported. This is no small omission, especially given the fact that many farm-related injuries are quite severe. Farm workers can be crushed or pinched by heavy machinery, they can fall from great heights, and livestock can trample them. Injuries suffered in any of these accidents may be covered by workers' compensation, yet only about 18% of the 20% of reported injuries were covered by workers' compensation. Not because the injuries in question didn't qualify, but rather injured workers more often turned to personal insurance and Medicaid.

How the SSA reassesses disability benefits

It can be emotionally challenging to confront the reality that a medical condition leaves you unable to work. Fortunately, if you meet certain federal requirements, many of which are specific to your particular medical condition, then you may qualify to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Applying for these benefits can be a grueling process, though, resulting in many initial claims being denied. Many disabled individuals wind up having to appeal their denials before they can obtain the benefits they deserve.

Do you need to apply for disability for your minor child?

Even in the best circumstances, having a child and raising them to adulthood is both difficult and incredibly expensive. Families invest tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in the shelter, food, clothing, health care and education of their children. For some families, the costs associated with the care of a child can be far more than what the average family will incur.

A child born with significant disabilities, whether the product of a birth injury or a genetic anomaly, will require more medical care, more expensive childcare and possibly even the full-time assistance of one of the parents. Your family may have to find a way to survive on a single income, regardless of how many children you already have.

State cited for safety violations at psychiatric hospitals

There are a number of dangerous professions here in Iowa. Many of the workers in these occupations could suffer an injury that could drastically affect their lives. A workplace injury can result in extensive medical expenses at a time when an individual is unable to earn a paycheck. These lost wages can exacerbate one's financial troubles, leaving them on unsteady footing.

Sadly, employers who fail to implement proper safety precautions often put employees at risk. This may be the case for many workers at state-run psychiatric hospitals. According to reports, the Iowa Department of Human Services, which is in charge of operating these institutions, was recently slapped with nearly $73,000 in fines due to a number of workplace safety violations.

How symptoms are assessed in an SSD claim

Social Security disability benefits can only be obtained after certain federal requirements are met. While some of these requirements apply to all medical conditions, such as work requirements, others are specific to the medical condition in question. Therefore, those who have been disabled by a medical condition need to seek out an individualized approach when applying for Social Security disability benefits.

A lot of the requirements that must be met to obtain SSD benefits are not clear-cut. Instead, the Social Security Administration relies on a number of factors to make a determination. This is the case when the SSA assesses symptoms stemming from a medical condition. The final determination on the symptoms is critical because it is often indicative of an applicant's severity. Thus, a finding that the symptoms are relatively minor may lead to a denied SSD claim because the condition is not debilitating enough to justify approval.

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