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Knox County Law Blog

Are terminally ill people being forced to wait too long for SSDI benefits?

Back in January, our blog discussed how the Social Security Administration has created the Compassionate Allowances initiative in recognition of the fact that some applicants for disability benefits are suffering from conditions that are so grave that they will very clearly have no problem satisfying the agency's criteria for assistance.

To recap, the CAL initiative provides those diagnosed with one of 225 designated diseases with eligibility for fast-tracked processing, meaning a decision on their application for SSDI benefits in weeks, as opposed to months or even years.

Is it time to revisit how the state treats juveniles given life sentences?

Without question, one of the more controversial issues in the area of criminal law is juvenile sentencing, particularly the appropriateness of sentencing people to life in prison for crimes committed while they were teens, a timeframe in which research has long shown that the human brain is still developing.   

The Supreme Court of the United States took a rather definitive stance on this issue via a series of rulings handed down in 2010 and 2012, effectively banning the states from giving juveniles life sentences without the possibility of parole. Indeed, in response to the rulings, as many as 24 states passed laws establishing mandatory review of juvenile life sentences after the passage of a set amount of years.

A closer look at how the SSA determines disability - III

In a series of ongoing posts, we've been discussing how those who've suffered some type of life-altering injury or been diagnosed with a serious illness that has left them unable to work understandably become anxious about their ability to make ends meet going forward.

We've also been discussing how they can derive some comfort from the Social Security Administration's disability insurance program, which provides much-needed financial relief to individuals whose condition meets the agency's definition of disability and are able to pass the earnings test. We'll conclude our efforts in today's post, examining the five-step process relied upon by the SSA to determine if someone is indeed disabled. 

Committed to helping young people fight DUI charges

In a matter of weeks, colleges and universities throughout Tennessee will be going on spring break, giving students a much-needed reprieve from their academic pursuits and associated responsibilities. While many of these younger people will be flocking to popular beachfront destinations in Florida, Texas and even Mexico, others will be staying closer to home, perhaps remaining on campus or heading home for the holiday.

Those college students who remain here in Tennessee may not be able to enjoy the sandy beaches, but this doesn't mean they won’t be able to blow off some steam. Indeed, many of those 21 years old and up will undoubtedly be spending their evenings in area bars and nightclubs.

Co-parenting: is it right for your Tennessee family?

Tennessee parents know that divorce is often most difficult for the youngest members of the family. In order to reduce the amount of complication and stress felt by the children when their parents divorce, some choose to co-parent. While this is not the optimal choice for every family, it could be the most beneficial solution for you and your kids.

Co-parenting requires the cooperation of both parents. This type of parenting plan will not work if one party is not completely committed, and it does require that both parents set aside emotions for the benefit of the children. If this is the right path for your family, an experienced family law attorney can help you draft a plan that is beneficial and sustainable.

IRS' new passport restrictions scheduled to take effect next month -- II

A few weeks back, our blog began discussing how the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act of 2015 contained a little known provision calling upon the IRS to begin working with the State Department to revoke, deny or otherwise limit the ability of individuals with "seriously delinquent tax debt" to use passports.

Indeed, this interagency initiative is scheduled to take effect next month, affecting those individuals possessing passports or looking to secure passports who have a legally enforceable tax debt of more than $50,000, and who have seen either a levy issued or a lien filed by the IRS.

How can I avoid dangerous driving behaviors?

If you regularly travel on Knoxville roads, you’ve no doubt encountered hazardous drivers during your treks. While you can’t control the actions of others, you can refrain from partaking in unnecessarily risky behaviors yourself. Accordingly, it’s important for all drivers to be aware of the most common dangerous driving behaviors and take the right steps to avoid causing serious harm to themselves or others.

As illustrated by Road and Track, there are numerous risky driving behaviors that can lead to significant accidents and injury. Inclement weather can certainly play a role in your overall safety behind the wheel, with poor weather being implicated in 24 percent of all vehicular accidents that occur. To this end, you are urged to decrease your speed when faced with snowy or rain-soaked streets. Your vehicle’s braking power will be greatly limited in this case, which can make stopping in time exceedingly difficult.

Tennessee's sexting laws are poised for legislative overhaul

When many parents stop and reflect on their teenage years, they may simply chuckle to themselves and shake their head. More than anything, this simple action serves as a sort of tacit recognition that they engaged in antics when they were younger that were puerile at best and illegal at worst.

While things certainly have not changed in terms of high school students being more prone to engaging in certain risky or even unlawful behavior -- speeding, underage consumption, etc. -- it's also important to understand that this risky or unlawful behavior has evolved and expanded. Indeed, one needn't look any further than the smartphones found in the pockets and purses of most teens for proof.

IRS' new passport restrictions scheduled to take effect next month

Six years ago, the Government Accountability Office, the independent congressional watchdog tasked with helping "improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government," released a rather eye-opening report examining the feasibility of leveraging passports as a tax collection tool.

Specifically, this GAO report determined that in 2008 alone, passports were issued to 224,000 people who collectively owed over $5.8 billion in outstanding federal taxes. Based on these findings, it urged the Internal Revenue Service and the State Department to begin collaboration on the matter as soon as possible.

Why is the IRS so adamant for people with disabilities to file tax returns?

It may seem impossible to believe, but the 2017 tax filing season officially began last Monday, meaning the countdown to Tuesday, April 18, 2017, this year's deadline for filing 2016 tax returns, has officially begun.

Interestingly enough, the Internal Revenue Service is now urging both taxpayers with disabilities and the parents of children with disabilities to make sure they complete this typically tedious task over the next several months. However, its motivation in doing so isn't to secure more tax revenue, but rather to ensure that these individuals take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, or the EITC.

Experienced. Committed. Respected.

Mr. McKellar was voted by his peers as a “Top Attorney” by Knoxville’s CityView magazine in its 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 editions. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, Mr. McKellar was selected as a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the National Trial Lawyers.

Ms. Easter was voted by her peers as a “Top Attorney” in Cityview Magazine for Family Law / Divorce / Child Support in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

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