Business 40 to Close on November 17, 2018

Business 40

The NC Department of Transportation (DOT) is closing Business 40 on Saturday, November 17 at 6 am between Peters Creek Parkway and U.S. 52 as part of the Business 40 improvement project. Our office is located at the Baptist Hospital exit on Business 40 so if you have an appointment with us and live east of Winston-Salem, you should plan for a slight delay in getting to our office.

Here are some tips to help you get here as easily as possible:

  1. Check the Business 40 Construction Project website for alternate routes. This is the best source of information regarding the status of the project and maps.

  2. Use the Waze app or Google Maps on your iPhone or Android device to share and view real-time traffic info.

  3. Allow extra travel time for your visit.

  4. Slow down. Give the traffic and construction workers plenty of room.

  5. Watch for detour signs.

  6. Status information is also available by calling 336-716-ROAD.

Please don't hesitate to call us if you have any questions!

Social Security Administration Proposes New Musculoskeletal Listings

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In today's Federal Register, the Social Security Administration has proposed a massive rewrite of the listings for musculoskeletal impairments used in the evaluation of disability. These listings were last revised in November 2001.

Interestingly, Social Security did not consult with experts outside the Administration in developing the proposed listings. From the preamble:

"As medicine and medical treatment are continuously evolving, we utilized well-known references such as the Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment from the American Medical Association, Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Orthopedics, and Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics as a starting point to develop the proposed changes to these rules. We also requested extensive input from our medical consultants (physicians employed by or who contract with us) who have years of experience practicing in relevant fields of medicine and who have intimate knowledge of our disability programs to develop our proposed changes to the musculoskeletal disorders listings. We rely on our medical consultants and their professional opinions based on their clinical experience and research to help us develop what criteria correspond with listing-level severity.

In developing our proposed rule changes, we used the resources above, our programmatic knowledge, our adjudicative experience, and the medical literature, such as Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and Hand Clinics. These resources informed us of the most recent best practices and medical advancements and either support, or are consistent with, our proposed rule changes."

Comments to the proposed listings must be submitted by July 6, 2018.

Social Security to Create New Record System to Combat Fraud

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The Social Security Administration has published a notice in today's Federal Register of its intent to establish a new records system that will collect information designed to identify fraud:

"In accordance with the Privacy Act, we are issuing public notice of our intent to establish a new system of records entitled, Anti-Fraud Enterprise Solution (AFES) (60–0388), hereinafter called the AFES Record System."

This is called a System of Records Notice (SORN) and the public is invited to submit comments by June 4, 2018. 

The new records system is designed to "protect the public’s data, provide secure online services, and increase payment accuracy." Social Security will collect information from multiple sources, including enumeration information, earnings information, Social Security benefit information, Representative Payee information, information related to people conducting business with Social Security, and information about Social Security employees, contractors, and agents. The information can be shared with the Department of Justice (DOJ), the President of the United States and other entities in certain defined circumstances.

There appears to be an omission in paragraph 4 of the disclosure section of the notice. Subsection (d) reads that information may be disclosed to the DOJ when  "the United States or any agency thereof where SSA determines the litigation is likely to [???] SSA or any of its components," is a party to the litigation or has an interest in litigation. I suspect "affect" was intended.

27 Google Chrome Tips (and Alfred3)

Fast Company has a good article up about how to use Chrome.

These days, a browser is more than just a basic navigator for the web. It’s effectively a second desktop—a gateway to countless apps, sites, and services. And optimizing that environment can go a long way in increasing your efficiency.

Google’s Chrome in particular is full of hidden shortcuts, features, and power-user possibilities. Take the time to learn these tips, and watch your productivity soar.

(Note that most of the tips here are specific to the desktop versions of Chrome for Windows PCs and Macs and may not apply to the browser’s mobile variants.)
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Many of the tips relate to searching with Chrome.

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Another option to consider if you're using a Mac is the amazing Alfred3 by Running with Crayons. A great app that effectively replaces Spotlight. For the Social Security disability attorney, you can create custom searches of the POMS, HALLEX, the Federal Register, the SCO and cases within your particular federal circuit or district courts.

Alfred3 does a lot more than that, and it's well worth the effort to master its many features. 

Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, but not to talk . . .

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If you need assistance with a Social Security disability claim, you'd think you'd be able to call your local Social Security office and speak to a human being. But you can't. Social Security does not publish it's local field office numbers.

So you can try the 800 number listed on Social Security's website. The website tells you that one of the recorded messages you can listen to will give you information about the "best times to call our 800 number." 

If you think to yourself, "well, I'll just hold until they connect me to a real person," you'll need to adjust your expectations. Many times (most times?) the automated voice will explain to you that Social Security's people are busy right now so please call back another time. 

Once upon a time, the Social Security Administration aspired to provide "World Class Service." Given the budget cuts and the general animosity towards Social Security from many in Congress, we now have a system that keeps Americans from speaking to real live people in a timely manner. The help they need is denied them until they luck out on the next call . . . or the one after that. (Once you get through, you often speak to someone trying to do the best they can.) This is not the kind of automated "efficiency" people really want. People prefer talking to people. 

This is nothing new, but it's still a shame. With all the chaos in Washington, the everyday frustrations of people trying to navigate a complex system like Social Security are forgotten, if they were ever appreciated to begin with. What does it say about the things Americans value that after navigating a battery of voice menus, all you get for your effort is "We can't help you. Maybe later?" 

Here's hoping the next Commissioner will think this is a problem worth solving.

White House Announces Nominee for Commissioner of Social Security

The White House issued a press release yesterday announcing that Donald Trump intends to nominate Andrew M. Saul as the next Commissioner of Social Security to fill the currently vacant position. 

Mr. Saul is currently a partner with Saul Partners, L.P. His previous business positions include: Chairman of the Board of Cache, Inc., President of Brooks Fashion Stores, Inc., and President of BR Investors. His previous public service includes tenures as Chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board and Vice Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
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Presently, he is a Commissioner for Westchester County, New York. Mr. Saul’s philanthropic involvement includes serving as Vice Chairman of the Mt. Sinai Health System in New York City, Vice Chairman of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, a Trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a Trustee for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. He is a former board member of the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York. Mr. Saul is a graduate of the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, and serves on its Board of Overseers.

Wikipedia has more about Mr. Saul.