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The Pain Scale: Think Twice About Saying 10

“On a pain scale of 0-10, how bad is your pain?” This is a familiar question that is usually asked whenever you see a medical provider for an injury or illness. It’s important to answer accurately because it can affect how medical providers treat you and your credibility in your workers’ compensation or disability claim.

Rating pain on a 0-10 pain scale can be difficult because pain is a subjective experience: one person’s 7 can be another person’s 2. Pain can also change over time or when you engage in a different activity.

Vermont Leads Nation in Young Adults on Disability

Although this article seems alarming at first, a close reading shows that higher disability rates in Vermont may be related to our low number of uninsured individuals. Vermonters are seeing their healthcare providers, getting a diagnosis, and being connected to programs that can help them at a higher rate than in many other states. This is a testament to the strong social services that we are fortunate to have here.

From Vermont is perennially ranked as one of the healthiest states in the country, but new research has uncovered findings that seem to fly in the face of that distinction. And young adults are leaving the workforce at an alarming rate due to mental and physical disabilities. Read more.

What Will My Monthly Social Security Disability Benefits Be?

iStock_000000732114MediumDisability paralegal Tasha Turner replies: “Understandably, this is a very common question but we usually can’t estimate the amount until further on in the case when we review your earnings reports. People are usually surprised to learn that the monthly disability payment is a lot lower than they think. At the beginning of 2015, the average monthly benefit was $1,165, which is not far above the 2015 poverty level of $11,770 annually. The maximum disability benefit in 2015 is $2,663 per month. “Everyone’s Social Security disability benefits are different because they are calculated from your covered earnings (the wages you paid Social Security taxes on) before you became disabled. Getting other disability payments, like workers’ compensation, can reduce your Social Security disability benefits. You should call us to see if we can help to minimize your offset. Having us review your situation may also result in a higher benefit. “For many disability beneficiaries, that monthly check is often their only source of income. The popular perception in some circles that people on Social Security have it easy is really not supported by the facts.” For more facts about Social Security disability, visit the Social Security Administration’s web site at

Tax Q&A: Are Your Social Security Disability Benefits Taxable?

ssitThe short answer is that they are taxable, but not in the same way as most other income. Several things can affect your taxes in this case: whether you have other taxable income, whether your benefits cover more than one tax year, and whether you also received workers’ compensation benefits.

Do you have other sources of income?

  • As a general rule, if Social Security is your only source of income then it is not taxable and you probably do not need to file a federal income tax return.
  • If you have other income a portion of your Social Security benefits may be taxable if half of your benefits plus your other taxable income exceeds $25,000 for a person filing individually or $32,000 for a couple filing jointly. For more information, view the Social Security Administration’s Benefits Planner.

Student Grants and Loans May Affect Your Eligibility for Social Security Benefits

If you are a student on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you may know that the Social Security Administration (SSA) excludes student loans, grants, scholarships, fellowships, and monetary gifts received within a 9-month period from your income calculation. But if you don’t use this money exclusively to pay the cost of tuition, fees, or other necessary educational expenses, it can go from being excluded to being counted as income.


Edward Shattuck, St. Johnsbury, VT

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