Saturday, May 24, 2008

Preparing For A Social Security Disability Hearing

At this website they are saying they have a video on preparing for a Social Security hearing. There is a demo of the video and also information to purchase the DVD or videotape. Certainly you should ask your attorney about the hearing if you need to know what happens at a local hearing. The most common situation is where you and your attorney are in the hearing room and there is a vocational expert also present. That expert or VE has been asked to be there to answer questions that may assist the judge in deciding on your claim. A judge is there (sometimes though by television from another office) and perhaps an assistant to the judge. Other witnesses are also possible but less common. Here is a link to the website that is selling the video on SS hearings.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Recent Cases in Federal Court on Social Security Disabilty

Check out recent court cases on Social Security disability at this website. It has many recent cases which were decided on issues involving the disabled. If you lose and go to a hearing and lose again you can still fight back and sometimes succeed. By the way if you want to look at Colorado cases they are in the 10th Cir. which covers several states and is the court one step away from the US Supreme Court.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Today :Termination for Cause Case Claimant Loses

Today the Colorado Court of Appeals issued a decision against a claimant. The law involved what we usually call termination for cause. The statute says if a claimant is responsible for his termination from employment then his right to temporary benefits can be cut off. There is an exception should your condition worsen after termination but otherwise a claimant receives no wage loss or temporary benefits if he was properly terminated for cause. I dislike the law though I understand the concept behind it. The legislature did not want people who had a job and then lost it because of themselves to collect temporary benefits. I dislike it because the injured worker is still likely disabled and may not be able to find another job while he remains under treatment and with restrictions and/or medications. This law has led to numerous disputes which have gone to hearing. All sorts of reasons can justify the employer saying a claimant is responsible for termination. Witnesses usually are found who still work there who tell the judge at hearing how "bad" the claimant was or what wrong he did that led to termination. I've heard it said the claimant was insubordinate, violated rules, abandoned the job, was loud or rude or loafing or not following orders or even not calling in. If your resume is wrong or you lied on your original job application or tested positive for drugs (not drugs on the job but just even for drug residue that may be in your system from weeks ago) then the termination can be your fault. You can then lose not just workers comp temporary benefits but even unemployment benefits even if you cannot find other work. A claimant can face months without any income and that can be devastating unless you have other resources. In the case decided today the worker tested positive for cannabis after his injury and was terminated. He sought temporary benefits and was denied them and appealed. The court decision accurately states the law in this area so any injured worker should take heed not to give your employer and cause to fire you. Read it here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sigala Colorado Supreme Court decision today

In this case the Supreme Court interpreted the word suspend to mean temporary not permanent if the claimant corrected the situation. The insurer wanted it to mean it was a bar to benefits and even if the claimant corrected his noncompliance he would not get those benefits which accrued during the suspension period. Here the claimant failed to make a doctors appointment set by special rule and when it was corrected he sought the back temporary benefits that had been suspended. At the Supreme Court level they decided in the claimants favor and reversed the lower court decision that said he was barred from those back benefits. The case really only involves a few weeks of benefits but you can see that insurers often seek to have the law intrepreted to stop or reduce benefits. This is just another example of how adversarial the system can be. Read the case here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Insurer's Be Practical!

In the recent past I've been involved in several minor disputes over at most a few thousand dollars in medical or compensation benefits. That strikes me as incredible in this day when litigation costs and delays may help no one. I understand initially defending on a disputed issue but when it is being set for a hearing it is time to reassess from a business standpoint. Defense attorneys are just doing their job when they must defend the insurer/employer. They are trained to do so and not to settle at least not right away. Insurance however is a business and its may not be just a matter of who is right or wrong. Often I suspect cases have been prolonged and expenses gone up when they should have been just moved along. Settling or compromising on an issue is practical but not always legally correct. Being practical means to assess risk and costs along with the legal issues. When this is not done the insurer becomes a prisoner to the legal issues over the business side of it. I realize there are times each side gets hard nosed. Yet a middle ground is often the most sensible way to move a case along. I'd like to see insurers being pro-active in this because it requires business common sense not legal analysis.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Colorado General Assembly

Ever want to check on bills being passed or that are pending at the Colorado legislature? It is important if you have any interest in changing the law that you be active or at least educated about bills that seek to become new laws. Here is a site to visit that can tell you about current bills. For example plug into the site HB 1407 and see what comes up. This is a bill just recently filed to take it to insurance companies that unreasonably deny benefits. Will it pass? Well the insurance lobby spends much to prevent such bills from passing. They may advertise that it will be disastrous for Colorado. You have heard such ads before when they proclaim businesses and the taxpayer will be hurt and costs will rise if this bill or that bill passes etc. etc. etc. I just think we need to look at the bigger picture and do the right thing. I also know that public relations campaigns may or may not be truthful. It seems nowadays that negative campaigning is the way to go...not just in elections but with anything you want to stop in its tracks. Anyway here is the link to the Colorado General Assembly.