Disability Advocate Sues the City of Minneapolis over Rental Scooters

Posted October 18, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

An advocate for people with disabilities is suing the city of Minneapolis and two electric scooter sharing companies, alleging the vehicles have made sidewalks inaccessible. The suit alleges that Minneapolis officials have failed to “adequately maintain the system of sidewalks, crosswalks, curb ramps, transit stops, pedestrian crossings and other walkways.” While making a hefty profit, the e-scooter companies have transformed public space into “private retail stores, showrooms, highways, and storage facilities,” the suit alleges, all “in abject disregard for the safety and access rights of residents or visitors with disabilities to the City of Minneapolis.”

Noah McCourt, who has autism and a coordination disorder that slows his reaction time, said he’s constantly dodging scooters on the sidewalk, and was left with a large bruise on his leg after tripping over a scooter at a light rail station.

McCourt said the vehicles are also an impediment to people who use wheelchairs. He claims in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday that the city and scooter companies are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Cities always act like this is no big deal,” McCourt said. “They pooh pooh you. But this is a big deal for people with disabilities.”

A Minneapolis spokesperson said the city is not commenting on the lawsuit.

Lime, one of the other defendants, said in a statement that it has “engaged disability advocates,” and is working to “educate riders and the community about proper riding and parking etiquette to ensure scooters are parked in an orderly, respectful way.”

Bird, the other scooter operator named in McCourt’s lawsuit, ended operations in Minneapolis in late 2018.

The electric scooters reach up to 15 mph. They are dockless, meaning users can leave them anywhere — a perennial source of criticism for those who find them unsightly. Riders aren’t supposed to use sidewalks, but many do, and emergency room doctors say they’ve seen an uptick in injuries since the scooters arrived, mostly from people not wearing helmets.

The litigation follows a similar federal suit filed earlier this year in San Diego.

Minnesota law generally prohibits riding electric scooters on sidewalks. There are about 3,000 of the devices in use in the Twin Cities.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

Sources: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/10/16/lawsuit-seeks-to-clear-sidewalks-of-escooters ; http://www.startribune.com/disability-rights-advocate-sues-rental-scooter-companies-alleging-blocked-sidewalks/563240172/

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Cost-of-Living Adjustment for 2020 Announced

Posted October 11, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The Social Security Administration has announced its cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2020. Each year, federal benefit rates increase when the cost of living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W).

The CPI-W rises when inflation increases, making your cost of living go up. This means prices for goods and services, on average, are a little more expensive, so the COLA helps to offset these costs.

As a result, nearly 69 million Americans will see a 1.6 percent increase in their Social Security and SSI benefits in 2020.

January 2020 marks other changes that will happen based on the increase in the national average wage index. For example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security payroll tax, as well as the retirement earnings test exempt amount, will change in 2020. The monthly substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount will be $1,260 for a non-blind individual and $2,110 for a blind individual. The monthly earnings threshold for a trial work period (for those already receiving benefits) will change to $910.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

You can find more information about the 2020 COLA here.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Social Security and OIG Expand Anti-Fraud Program

Posted October 4, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The Social Security Administration and its Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced the expansion of its anti-fraud initiative, the Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) Program. CDI Units identify, investigate, and prevent Social Security disability fraud. Three new statewide offices recently opened in Bismarck, North Dakota; Boise, Idaho; and Helena, Montana. In addition, the Puerto Rico office has expanded their investigative scope to include cases in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The CDI Program seeks to resolve questions of potential fraud before benefits are ever paid. The initiative brings together personnel from Social Security, its OIG, State Disability Determination Services (DDS), and local law enforcement agencies to investigate and analyze suspicious or questionable Social Security disability claims.

The CDI Program consists of 46 units covering 40 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. Social Security and OIG have opened several units in the last few years as they work together to provide CDI coverage for all 50 states by 2022.

Since 1997, when Social Security and OIG established CDI, its efforts have contributed to $4 billion in projected savings to Social Security’s programs, and $3 billion in projected savings to other Federal and State programs. For more information, please visit the OIG website and Social Security’s anti-fraud website at www.socialsecurity.gov/antifraudfacts.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®