Monthly Archives: July 2012

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

Today’s post comes from guest author Kit Case from Causey Law Firm of 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about your professional or personal accomplishments, a home-based business, or even volunteer activities, which may be no longer current or may not accurately reflect your level of functioning since you applied for benefits.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.

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

Today’s post comes from guest author Edgar Romano from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano of New York.

The 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

When Is It Time To See The Doctor?

Today’s post comes from guest author Matthew Funk from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

Putting off seeing medical care is commonplace for chronic medical conditions. Under the Workers’ Compensation Law there is no timeframe for a claimant to see a medical provider. There is nothing in the law that requires a worker to see his doctor within 24 hours or 30 days of the accident. However, the sooner an injured worker sees a doctor, the better, especially if that worker is losing time from work because of the accident. A Law Judge will only grant awards for lost time that is backed up by medical reports.

That means if a member is out of work for three weeks before they go to a doctor, it is possible that Workers’ Compensation benefits might not be paid during that time period. In order for a claim to be successful in this situation the report that the doctor submits must have several things on it:

  • It must contain the history of the accident,
  • diagnoses a condition,
  • explain how the condition is related to the on the job incident, and;
  • comment on disability.

Disability is an essential component that must be on the reports. Without an opinion on disability, there is no evidence to dispute what the carrier doctors submit to the NY Workers’ Compensation Board.

Physicians are required to submit to the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) complete and thorough reports. The sooner that you see a doctor and have a report sent to the WCB the better for you and your case.

Pro Athletes Need Worker’s Compensation Too

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

Most of us do not associate a professional athlete’s injury with workers’ compensation. Because of pro athletes’ generous contract wages, and the relatively modest recoveries available under workers’ compensation, most fans don’t recognize that when it comes to receiving workers’ compensation, professional athletes are just like other office or factory workers who can recover worker’s compensation when injured.

Not every professional athlete, however, has a contract worth millions of dollars. Some of the athletes injured on minor league teams literally make no more than minimum wage, and receipt of workers’ compensation benefits is significant for those athletes.

Not every professional athlete, however, has a contract worth millions of dollars. Some of the athletes injured on minor league teams literally make no more than minimum wage, and receipt of workers’ compensation benefits is significant for those athletes. Wisconsin law places a cap on the amount of money an athlete can receive for his injury. The maximum weekly wage for 2012 is $1,281, yielding a temporary disability rate of $854. The right to workers’ compensation is contained in the collective bargaining agreements with the respective players unions in football, basketball and baseball. In Wisconsin, insurance companies charge employers like the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, and Milwaukee Bucks for workers’ compensation insurance.
Pro athletes regularly get hurt on the job, but few pursue workers’comp claims. In the ten years from 1994 through 2004 a total of 37 cases involving the Packers were litigated, and in the same period 20 cased involving the Brewers were contested. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sunday, June 25, 2006 “Paying for Pain”) Cases that went to a hearing were even more rare : only four cases involving the Packers went to a hearing in that ten year period.

It’s a popular notion that athletes assume the risk of injury, since that is the nature of professional sports. Some states have bought into this concept and leave professional athletes unprotected.

Athletes apply for worker’s compensation largely for two reasons: vocational retraining and Loss of Earning Capacity. Many pro athletes have not completed college, or when they did, they were not scholars, so the only thing they know how to do is play sports. If they get wrecked and cannot play, they have to find a way to earn a living. Loss of Earning Capacity is measured by the player’s residual ability to earn a living considering the limitations of the injury.

It’s a popular notion that athletes assume the risk of injury, since that is the nature of professional sports. Some states have bought into this concept and leave professional athletes unprotected. In Pennsylvania recently the Courts ruled the Pittsburgh Steelers do not have to pay the attorney fees related to a former player’s workers’ compensation case, because although he clearly suffered injuries while with the team, the team argued he was not “disabled” since he continued to play for other pro teams. Pittsburgh Post Gazzette, April 24, 2012. All pro athletes are covered in Wisconsin.

An Ad Campaign That Warms the Heart

Today’s post comes from guest author Kit Case from Causey Law Firm.

General Electric is running a series of advertisements that portray their employees, working in several industries, celebrating the impact of their work on our communities as well as on individuals.

In one spot, workers who build jet engines explain the precision of their work and are shown watching a plane take off using a set of engines they built, with smiles on every face.

In another, workers in a plant that builds medical scanning machines are visited by a bus load of cancer survivors whose treatment included scans by the devices. In a third spot, workers who build engine turbines are toasted at their local watering hole because, without them, there wouldn’t be cold beer (Bud, specifically).

It’s more than just television, it’s Social Networking

General Electric has launched a website which encourages individuals to participate in its “Celebrate and Power What Works” campaign. Visitors are able to upload photos and vote on their favorites, hooking into Facebook and entering to win prizes. For every action taken on the site – – upload or like a photo, or like GE on Facebook – – GE will donate $1 towards a non-profit group supporting workers, with a new non-profit recipient each week, giving up to $10,000 to each group. Past groups that benefited from this campaign include: Veterans Green Jobs, College for Every Student, Hire Heroes USA, and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. In order to participate, you have to log in using your Facebook or Twitter account, so I skipped this step.

The message: real workers make an impact on all of our lives every day.

The company’s primary message, of course, is that General Electric has an impact on our lives every day, that GE is a leader in technology on multiple fronts. But, every time I see the ads, I am more focused on the pride on the workers’ faces and the message that the work they do matters. Everyone wants their work to matter but, in many cases, blue-collar workers are portrayed in an unflattering manner.
If our manufacturing economy is to prosper, we need to respect and appreciate the workers in that sector. Young people need to be shown that skilled labor is a valued and important facet of the workforce. GE has accomplished this in their latest ad campaign and created a way for individuals, in their own small way, to take action that matters, too.

Monday Workers' Comp Q&A: Does going back to work ruin my case?

Today’s post comes from guest author Todd Jones from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

QUESTION: DOES GOING BACK TO WORK RUIN MY CASE?

ANSWER: Not at all!

This question comes up a lot in Workers’ Compensation cases. When someone is injured they have to balance their personal and professional obligations while including their injury as a new variable.

This is completely understandable. Oftentimes people want to try to get back to work but are not sure if their body will hold up. This uncertainty can cast a shadow over everything a person has to consider when they have a work injury.

First and foremost you should speak to your doctor and find out what you are physically capable of. While your injury may be improving, you may not be able to return at 100%.

If your doctor clears you to return to work Continue reading

Injured Worker Advocates – To End Like the American Indian?

Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gynne

In the New York Times bestseller, Empire of the Summer Moon, author S.C. Gynne writes in great detail about the last days of the Comanche Indians, who roamed the great plains from Mexico to North Dakota and who were the last holdouts against the white man’s overwhelming non-stop push for Indian land. The final death blow was the destruction of thirty-three million buffalo between 1868 and 1881. General Phil Sheridan said buffalo hunters in the last few years did “more to settle the vexed Indian question than the entire regular army had done in the last thirty years.” Gynne explained that killing the buffalo was more than an accident of commerce. “It was a deliberate political act.”

What to do? Educate the public. Build coalitions. Utilize social media to explain what can happen if, God forbid, a nice person (like someone reading this blog) should be seriously injured at work and need workers’ compensation benefits to keep afloat and pay medical bills.

As legislatures all over the country constantly erode the rights and benefits of injured workers, the all consuming nature of the quest reminds me of the push for more land and the destruction of those Indians who stood in the way. Advocates for injured people also stand
in the way and at every turn attempts are made to steamroll them. Texas is a prime example. It is hard to find a workers’ compensation lawyer in that state who has been practicing for twenty years or more. That institutional knowledge has been blown away like tumbleweed in a storm. As Shakespeare so famously stated on behalf of a dictator who was about to seize power, “The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers.” Removing access to lawyers is a simple but effective formula for insurance companies and big employers who want to Continue reading

Overpayment Of Unemployment Due To Payment of Workers’ Compensation Benefits – NOW WHAT?!?

Today’s guest post comes from Kit Case of the Causey Law Firm in Washington State.

Injured workers transition from time loss compensation under their workers’ compensation claim to unemployment compensation when they are released to return to work but do not have a job available to them. In many cases, disputes arise as to whether the release to work and termination of workers’ compensation payments is appropriate. Often, the worker tries to find physically-appropriate work while collecting unemployment compensation during the dispute process but, once their attorney secures payment of back benefits under the workers’ compensation claim, an overpayment of unemployment benefits has occurred due to the overlap between the two systems. When this happens, workers should:

  1. Notify the unemployment insurance system that they are continuing to seek payment from the workers’ compensation system, but that they are involved in an appropriate job search during the dispute process.
  2. Immediately share with the workers’ compensation attorney any notices or orders received from the unemployment insurance system. These are usually NOT mailed to the attorney of record in a workers’ compensation claim and the notices often have limited time periods within to file a protest or request for reconsideration of the determination.
  3. Hold in savings from the workers’ compensation payment the claimed unemployment overpayment amount during the dispute process until a final overpayment notice has been issued, or have the workers’ compensation attorney hold this amount in their trust account. If this is not possible, be prepared to enter into a repayment agreement with the unemployment insurance system once a final overpayment figure has been determined.
  4. Seek assistance from the workers’ compensation attorney to document all attorney fees and costs paid as part of the effort to obtain back benefits under the workers’ compensation claim. Submit this documentation to the unemployment insurance system and request a reduction in the claimed overpayment to take these attorney fees and costs into account.
  5. Continue to send any notices or orders to the workers’ compensation attorney.
  6. Once the overpayment has been repaid, check to see if the receipt of workers’ compensation back benefits changes your tax obligations. In many states, workers’ compensation payments are not taxable income, but unemployment benefits are taxable. If there is a significant payment of back benefits under the workers’ compensation claim, it may be worthwhile to file an amended tax return with the IRS to document the lower taxable income figure.