Monthly Archives: June 2012

Watch Out On Social Media: Your Facebook Profile Can Impact Your Disability Benefits

Today’s post comes from guest author Jay Causey from Washington State.

When applying for disability benefits, keep in mind that decision-makers at administrative agencies, insurance carriers or their representatives may look up information about you on the internet and/or they may call you and hear your voice mail recording.

By applying for benefits, you are stating that you are sick/injured and are unable to work or only able to perform part-time or intermittent work. Information available on the internet or your voice mail recording that appears to contradict your application for benefits can result in your being turned down for those benefits. This could be information about your professional or personal accomplishments, a home-based business, or even volunteer activities, which may be no longer current or may not accurately reflect your level of functioning since you applied for benefits. THUS, WE ADVISE OUR CLIENTS TO REMOVE SUCH OUT-DATED INFORMATION FROM THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE, TWITTER PAGE, VOICE MAIL, ETC…

With regard to Facebook and similar social networking sites in particular, pay attention to your privacy settings for both written information and photos. Also, keep in mind that not all of one’s friends and acquaintances may be equally supportive of the notion that one is applying for benefits, especially those who are not entirely familiar with the medical problem or problems that are preventing you from working. We suggest that you think twice before sharing information about your medical condition, application for benefits and/or appeal status in such an internet forum.

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Returning to Work Shouldn’t Be This Hard

Communicate with your doctor and follow a few guidelines to stay safe when you return to work.

Today we have a guest post by our colleague Roger Moore of Nebraska.

In virtually all workers’ compensation cases an injured worker has to return to work in some capacity. Often these are very stressful situations and it is not uncommon for issues to arrise including conflict with an employer over what a safe return to work actually is. Your goal should be to continue to earn a paycheck while at the same time not risking further injury. Many times this is easier said than done.

Whether it’s a supervisor who ignores your restrictions or a human resources department that actively skirts them, issues frequently come up. We see employers do everything from requiring an injured worker to lift or stand more than they should, to pressuring an employee to return to work the day after a surgical procedure.

You can expect that a nurse case manager or HR specialist from your employer is communicating with your doctor’s office about your return to work. Sometimes they may misrepresent the work that they expect you to do upon your return. It is your job to fill in the gaps.

The most important thing an injured worker can do is communicate with his or her treating physician.

  1. Educate your doctor about the job you were doing when you were initially hurt.
  2. When you are assigned to work, educate your doctor about the light duty job you are doing.
  3. If you are assigned to a job that is difficult for you to perform due to your injury, talk to your doctor about what aspects of that job are difficult. The doctor will likely be willing to restrict you from doing that specific activity.
  4. If your employer is Continue reading

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Death On The Job – AFL-CIO’s Releases Its 21st Annual Report

Death on the Job ReportThe AFL-CIO has released its 2012 report on worker fatalities which also examines the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) role in ensuring safe workplaces. The AFL-CIO has been producing this report for 21 years, and we hope they continue to do so.

Since Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, workplace safety and health conditions have improved. But too many workers remain at serious risk of injury, illness or death.

In 2010, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,690 workers were killed on the job—an average of 13 workers every day—and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases. Workers suffer an additional 7.6 million to 11.4 million job injuries and illnesses each year. The cost of job injuries and illnesses is enormous— Continue reading

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Now Available Online (and ONLY Online!)

Today we have a guest post from our friend Lauri Watkins at the Causey Law Firm in Washington.

Many people don’t realize that Social Security stopped mailing out annual Statements in 2011, but indeed they did. Citing budget concerns and a little-used ‘emergency’ ruling stating that it’s okay for the Social Security Administration to stop fulfilling one of its legally-mandated functions if doing so could potentially bankrupt the agency or impair its ability to fulfill its primary function, Social Security stopped sending out individual Social Security Statements. In fact, they also ceased fulfilling requests for statements received by mail or telephone, and disabled their online ordering service. The only way you could obtain your Statement was to go down to your local Social Security Office and tell them you had an ‘urgent need’ for the information!

Now, Social Security has (finally!) rolled out online (and IMMEDIATE) access to your Statement, including your earnings history, estimated benefit amounts, and eligibility information. And fortunately, they have made it incredibly easy!

All you need is:

  • your own personal information (full name, Social Security number, date of birth, mailing address, phone number)
  • and working email address.

Start at Social Security’s website. On the left-hand menu, go to ‘Get Your Social Security Statement Online’, and follow the prompts. Social Security uses a program called Experian to verify your personal data, so be prepared to answer some interesting multiple-choice questions, including

  • phone numbers and addresses that you may have used in the past,
  • dates that you opened specific credit accounts,
  • or where you send your mortgage payment.

You can also choose an added layer of security, by asking Social Security to send a text message to your mobile device anytime you log in to your account.

Note, however, you are actually setting up a ‘my Social Security’ account – – the same type of account that people RECEIVING benefits have – – not just accessing a Statement. Please be prepared to keep track of your login information, as you not only may need to access your Statement again over the years as new earnings are posted, but you may also one day need this account to set up your own Medicare, Retirement, or Disability benefits. Keep this login information in a safe and secure location, and do not share it with others to maintain your security.

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Starrett City and New City Offices Now Open

Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & RomanoToday we are announcing the opening of new offices in Starrett City, Brooklyn and New City, New York. These offices, the firm’s 10th and 11th, will focus on providing legal services to clients in the following practice areas:

  • Personal Injury
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Social Security Disability
  • State/Municipal Disability
  • Occupational Disease
  • Long Term Disability
  • Estate Planning
  • Employment Law
  • Consumer Law
  • Consumer Class Actions
  • FDA & Prescription Drugs

The offices are located at:

Starrett City
Spring Creek Shopping Center
1354 Pennsylvania Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11239

New City
369 South Main Street
New City, New York  10956

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Dystonia Is Often Misunderstood

Dystonia Foundation

Today we have a guest post from our colleague Len Jernigan of North Carolina.

Several years ago I had a client in North Carolina who was an insurance man. While taking some papers out of the back of his car at work he slipped, hit his head and developed a neurological conditon called “Dystonia.” I did some research and discovered that it is a disorder that affects the nervous system, causing muscles to contract involuntarily.

it is a disorder that affects the nervous system, causing muscles to contract involuntarily

Significantly, I also found out it can be caused by trauma, although often dystonia develops without any trauma and may be genetic. The case was denied by the workers’ compensation carrier (and Continue reading

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Beware Part Time Employment

Today’s post comes to us from our colleague Tom Domer of Wisconsin.

This post illustrates some of the differences in the workers’ compensation laws in each state. As Tom mentions below, New York’s law is a little different from Wisconsin’s law. Unlike Wisconsin, New York allows for an injured workers’ average weekly wage to be calculated based upon concurrent employment. That is, the New York workers’ compensation law calculates average weekly wage based on the injured workers’ total compensation from all jobs. For example, if a worker is employed at the Goose Island corporation making $600/week and also has a second job at Troegs Incorporated where he makes $400/week, and the employee is injured at either, New York’s workers’ compensation law calculates his average weekly wage based upon the combined weekly salary from both employers, which is $1,000.

Workers’ Compensation will only cover you for the specific job on which you got hurt.

Wisconsin pays worker’s compensation benefits based only on the job on which an employee works, even if the employee’s injury makes it impossible for him to work in his regular job. In these difficult economic times, many workers are forced to take a second part time job to supplement their incomes. Unfortunately if the worker is hurt at the part time job, only the wages earned from the part time job will be used to calculate worker’s compensation benefits, even if an injury on the part time job means the worker will not be able to return to his full time job.

For example, a cook re-hired at a former wage by the restaurant where he was hurt could not claim a Loss of Earning Capacity based on his inability to return to his second job as a cab driver. Continue reading

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Partner Matthew Funk Joins National Trial Lawyers 40 Under 40

Partner Matthew Funk has been nominated for the membership in The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40.

The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40 is a professional organization of America’s top young trial attorneys. Membership into the association is by invitation only and is extended exclusively to those individuals who exemplify superior qualifications, trial results, and leadership.

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