Monthly Archives: November 2013

Legally Speaking – Afraid To File A Claim?

As a 25-year attorney in the field of Workers’ Compensation, I have represented thousands of injured workers and heard all kinds of stories — many involving workers who didn’t file a Workers’ Comp claim for one reason or another. Some of the most frequent reasons I’ve heard from workers who get injured on the job and don’t file a claim include fear of getting fired, or intimidation by a system that seems cumbersome and hard to navigate.

First of all, it is against the law for an employer to fire you in retaliation for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim.  You should know that Workers’ Compensation is a no fault system. In exchange for timely payment of medical and indemnity benefits, workers gave up the right to sue their employer.   These laws went into effect in the early 20th Century as a result of social reform and tragedy.  While every state in the nation has some form of Workers’ Compensation laws, they all vary in scope and date of inception.  In New York, the pivotal event that culminated in the passage of Workers’ Compensation legislation occurred in 1911 after the horror of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, where 146 individuals perished — some burned to death while others leapt to their deaths when they tried to escape the fire and found the emergency exits locked.  This was a preventable tragedy caused by unsafe work conditions and was a catalyst for…

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Small Increase Predicted for Social Security COLA

Today’s post comes from guest author Todd Bennett, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Social Security benefits are slated to go up, but not by much. “The cost-of-living adjustment in Social Security for 2014 is likely to be very small, marking the fourth year in the last five that recipients receive little or no increase in benefits,” according to a recent CNNMoney article

The American Institute for Economic Research estimates the increase to be 1.4% to 1.6%.  Last year’s increase was 1.7%, and the 2012 increase of 3.6% was the only “significant rise in benefits in recent years,” according to the article.

If there are questions about your specific legal situation, please contact the firm.

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World Trade Center Registry Reopened and New Protections Accorded to Workers

On November 13, 2013, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed significant protections for World Trade Center workers into the Workers’ Compensation Law under Article 8-A. The legislation extends and enhances workers’ compensation eligibility and benefits for World Trade Center workers. Most notably, the legislation reopens the World Trade Center Registry; extends the deadline period for filing Form WTC-12, Registration of Participation in World Trade Center Rescue, Recovery and/or Clean-up Operations, with a deadline to September 11, 2014; reopens previously time-barred World Trade Center claims and considers them timely; and adds qualifying conditions to the law.

Reopening of Registry and Extension of Filing Period for Form WTC-12

The World Trade Center Registry, which preserves workers’ compensation rights for those who performed rescue, recovery, and clean-up operations after the World Trade Centerattacks, is now reopened and will remain open until September 11, 2014. Previously, any claims for which the associated Form WTC-12 was received after September 13, 2010 were time-barred. Those workers were not entitled to benefits. These claims will now be reopened and considered timely.

Workers who participated in the rescue, recovery, and clean-up operations of the World Trade Center between September 11, 2001 and September 11, 2002, should promptly register their service participation with the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board (Board). This registration will preserve workers’ rights to future benefits, should they ever be needed. Employed and volunteer workers should file a notarized Form WTC-12 prior to September 11, 2014, whether they were injured or not. Eligible work includes duty at Ground Zero, the Fresh Kills Landfill, duty on the barges and piers, and the morgues. Paid workers and volunteers covered under the New York State workers’ compensation system are eligible. The filing of the registration Form WTC-12 does NOT constitute the filing of a claim. The filing of the sworn statement does, however, extend the time to preserve the workers’ right to file a claim. Instructions are provided on the Form WTC-12 regarding the filing of a claim. Specifically, when the time comes to file a claim, an injured worker or volunteer should submit Form C-3, Employee Claim, for compensation or Form WTCVol-3, World Trade Center Volunteer’s Claim for Compensation, to the Board.

A completed Form WTC-12 can be submitted to any Board office. Completed forms must be received at any Board office by September 11, 2014. A postmark by this date is not sufficient. Workers can obtain Form WTC-12 from any Board office or from the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board website.

These changes are included in Workers’ Compensation Law § 162.

Previously Time-barred World Trade Center Claims

As stated earlier, any Form WTC-12 filings that were received after the previous original September 13, 2010 deadline are now considered timely. (The deadline was stated in Article 8-A as September 11, 2010, a Saturday;, however, the Board accepted filings that arrived on Monday, September 13, 2010, as timely.)

The Board will review its files to locate any World Trade Center claims previously disallowed asuntimely under Workers’ Compensation Law §§ 18 or 28, or from failure to file a timely Form WTC-12. The Board will, under its own initiative, now allow those particular World Trade Center claims and consider them timely. Workers whose Form WTC-12 were previously deemed untimely will be notified that their cases are no longer time-barred and instructed on how to obtain benefits should they become injured or ill. While the Board will be pro-actively checking its own files and providing notice to claimants, claimants should feel free to contact the Board, so that the Board may provide specific information regarding the reconsideration process. All parties will be notified that their cases are being reopened as their cases are brought forward for consideration. While it is not necessary for claimants to file reopen or hearing requests, the Board wishes to make workers aware that this process is now being initiated.

These changes are in Workers’ Compensation Law §§ 165 and 168.

Qualifying Conditions

Article 8-A now contains a new list of qualifying health conditions resulting from hazardous exposure for World Trade Center workers who participated in rescue, recovery, or clean-up operations. The categories are:

  • Diseases of the upper respiratory tract and mucosae, including conditions such as conjunctivitis, rhinitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, vocal cord disease, upper airway hyper-reactivity, and tracheo-bronchitis, or a combination;
  • Diseases of the lower respiratory tract, including but not limited to, bronchitis, asthma, reactive airway dysfunction syndrome, and different types of pneumonitis, such as hypersensitivity, granulomatous, or eosinophilic;
  • Diseases of the gastroesophageal tract, including esophagitis and reflux disease, either acute or chronic, caused by exposure or aggravated by exposure;
  • any combination of such conditions; and
  • New onset diseases that develop in the future or result from exposure in the future, including cancer, COPD, asbestos-related diseases, heavy metal poisoning, musculoskeletal disease and chronic psychological disease.

These changes are in Workers’ Compensation Law § 161(3).


The Board is committed to ensuring all World Trade Center workers receive the benefits and protections they are accorded under the law. To help achieve this, the Board is in the process of expanding our communication and outreach to World Trade Center workers. Our initiatives include:

  • Translating Form WTC-12 into the seven common languages other than English, designated by the Board’s Language Access Plan;
  • Reopening a dedicated phone line for World Trade Center workers, 1-855-WTC-2014 (1-855-982-2014);
  • Adding a dedicated page to the Board website for World Trade Center workers,;
  • Using traditional and social media to reach World Trade Center workers;
  • Planning outreach to workers and groups representing World Trade Center workers; and
  • Mailing letters to previous untimely filers.

The Board’s dedicated World Trade Center work groups and hearing parts have functioned continuously since September, 2001

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FEMA: No extensions to file superstorm Sandy insurance suits

Originally published: November 21, 2013 6:27 PM
Updated: November 21, 2013 7:13 PM

Greg Snow attempts to clear debris from superstorm

Greg Snow attempts to clear debris from superstorm…

Photo credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara | Greg Snow attempts to clear debris from superstorm Sandy from his yard on Atlantic Street in Lindenhurst. (Nov. 1, 2012)

The National Flood Insurance Program Thursday rejected requests from Sen. Charles Schumer and others to extend the deadline for homeowners to file lawsuits arguing for more money to cover damage from superstorm Sandy.

The government insurer, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, issued a memo to private companies that administer flood policies, saying the 12-month statute of limitations is dictated by federal law and cannot be moved.

“FEMA lacks the authority to extend the time limit to file a lawsuit established by statute,” wrote James Sadler, director of claims for the flood insurance program.

PHOTOS:LI damage | Then and now | Aerial views
VIDEOS:Recovery still in progress | Desperate for buyout
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MORE:Year after Sandy interactive | Complete coverage

According to FEMA, homeowners must sue within one year of having any portion of their flood insurance claim denied in writing.

Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and others have argued that the deadline doesn’t give Sandy victims enough time. They asked…

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Condé Nast Ends Its Internship Program

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from

Condé Nast has decided to discontinue its internship program following a class-action lawsuit filed by two former interns saying that they were paid less than $1 dollar an hour, Women’s Wear Daily reported on Wednesday.

Condé Nast, which houses magazine powerhouses like Vanity Fair, GQ and Vogue, was sued in June by former W Magazine intern Lauren Ballinger and former New Yorker intern Matthew Leib, both who claimed their employers had violated federal labor laws.

Interns currently employed with Condé Nast will not be affected by the decision and are allowed to keep their internships until the previously determined date, Women’s Wear Daily also reported.

The decision for Condé Nast to end their internship program comes while the lawsuit against them is still pending. However, this is not the first case of media interns taking legal action against their employers. The same law firm handling the Condé Nast case is also representing an intern with Harper’s Bazaar who sued Hearst Corporation in 2012 for being made to work up to 55 hours per week with no pay. In June, intern Eric Glatt won his lawsuit against Fox Searchlight Pictures for using unpaid interns in the production of the 2010 film, “Black Swan.”

Also on HuffPost:

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BreathableBaby Recalls Wearable Blanket Due to Choking Hazard

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from

BreathableSack wearable blanket for infants

BreathableSack wearable blanket for infants

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Consumers should stop using this product unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.


Recall Summary

Name of Product:  BreathableSack wearable blanket for infants

Hazard: The zipper pull tabs and sliders can detach posing a choking hazard to infants.

Remedy:  Replace

Consumer Contact:  BreathableBaby toll-free at (877) 827-4442 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT Monday through Thursday or online at and click on Recall Information.

Photos are available at

Recall Details

Units: About 15,000

Description:  The BreathableBaby BreathableSacks are sleeveless, wearable blankets. They come in two sizes: small (10-18 pounds) and medium (16-24 pounds) and come in three colors: kiwi Whoo, pink Hip, and blue Splash. There is one animal stitched on the left chest of each blanket of an owl, hippo or elephant. Only BreathableSacks from Lot No. 124 with a manufacture date of 04/17/2012 are included in the recall.  A tag sewn inside the recalled units where the infant’s right foot would be located states the “Date of Manufacture: 04/17/2012, Lot No. 124,” along with the washing instructions on the back of the tag.

Incidents/Injuries: None reported


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Workers at 9/11 site get workers’ compensation and disability extension

This alert comes to us from our friends at the New York State AFL-CIO.

Workers at 9/11 site get workers’ compensation and disability extension
The re-opener of workers’ compensation and disability retirement registry for workers at 9/11 Site (A7803A -Abbate / S5759A -Golden) has been signed into law and is Chapter 489 of the Laws of 2013.This bill reopens the registry for workers’ compensation and disability pension for those who were at or near the ground zero after the 9/11 terrorist attack. The new open period will extend through September 11, 2014. If eligible, workers who are on the registry will be presumed to have contracted certain illnesses that manifest themselves later in life as a result of their work at or near the site during that time period. The bill also addresses a shortfall in the law that prohibited vested members of a retirement system who worked at the site during the time in question but who subsequently left service, from being eligible for the registry.

The NYS AFL-CIO will continue to work with affiliates to spread the word and encourage any members or other workers who may be eligible for to register to do so prior to the new expiration date of September 14, 2014.

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“Lamestream Media” Enables Right-Wing Talking Points About Social Security Disability

– – Screen Shot from

Today’s post comes from guest author Jay Causey, from Causey Law Firm.

     Just in time for a scheduled meeting of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs to discuss the status of the Social Security Disability program (SSDI) on October 7th, on Sunday, October 6, CBS’ popular “news” show, 60 Minutes, aired “Disability USA” – a sensationalized program full of misleading and largely anecdotal information designed to convince viewers the program is riddled with fraud and on the brink of collapse.  If you watched this program, and it is your sole source of information about Social Security Disability, you know essentially nothing about the actual operation of the program.  You heard not a single word from disability recipients, their advocates, or from officials who administer the program, none of whom were invited to participate in the 60 Minutes piece.

…the 60 Minutes segment focused on some fraud in the program in one impoverished area of the country in order to paint disability recipients generally as the undeserving poor, slackers and frauds.

     First, listening to the program you might not have understood that the average monthly benefit of about $1100 is not tax-payer money but earned credits for money paid into the system by the disabled worker.  Then, in terms of the “shocking” growth of the disability rolls you heard CBS’s Steve Kroft and Senator Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma natter on about, you didn’t hear that the statistical growth of the program is a direct function of the increase in population over the past 30 years, the aging of the baby-boomer population into their higher disability years, the entry of women into the work force in greater numbers, and similar demographic factors.  Finally, you likely came away from the program thinking that qualifying for SSDI is a cakewalk, when the actual standards for disability result in denial of two-thirds of all applications, only 10% of those denials being reversed on appeal, and an overall figure of about 41% of applicants ultimately qualifying.

     Completely ignored in this puff-piece for the right wing (Coburn is the lead Republican on the Senate Subcommittee for Investigations and has a long-standing, well-documented hostility to Social Security) is the shifting of responsibility for disability from workers’ compensation systems, where it properly belongs, to the Social Security Disability program because of the rollbacks in coverage and benefits in states’ workers’ comp programs across the country, all driven by right-wing and corporate interests.  So, while SSDI faces potential exhaustion of its funds in the next few years (although this can be – and in the past has been – remedied by shifting funds from the Social Security old-age program), the liability insurance industry, which includes workers’ compensation carriers, is enjoying record profits over the last two years.

     Similarly unmentioned was the impact of the worst economy in decades, shrinking the ability of disabled workers to find less physically challenging work.

     As is typically the case with these types of “news” pieces, the 60 Minutes segment focused on some fraud in the program in one impoverished area of the country in order to paint disability recipients generally as the undeserving poor, slackers and frauds. CBS could have moderated the potential negative impact of its program by including interviews of SSA program officials or of spokespersons from some two dozen national disability advocacy organizations who asked to be heard on this show.  It shamefully chose to ignore all such requests, and has diminished itself accordingly as a news organization.



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