Friday, July 23, 2010

Social Security Disability Filing Online

The traditional way to ask questions and also apply for Social Security disability benefits is to go down to a local SSA office. Any such filing is a bit time consuming as information needs to be supplied and the forms are somewhat complicated. Another option is to file the application online starting here. Be aware that it still takes a lot of your time and can be confusing. It also appears that one form has to be mailed in or dropped off at the agency office. I had one client file online but it was reported that it was not as easy as it might seem. My view is that you do so in person if you can. If not call them up or try the online approach. Any application takes time to process and that includes gathering up some if not all of your medical records. If you are denied be aware that such denials are common and you have the right to appeal provided you promptly act. By all means consult with an attorney especially if you've been denied as there can be many reasons for the denial that justify an appeal.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The New Surveillance

Years ago I would tell claimants that they must be careful as they often are followed and videotaped. Often this is not just to find out if you are a faker. It may also show how functional you are compared to what a doctor may be saying. If you doctor says stay off your feet or don't lift more then 10 lbs and you are videotaped walking around for a prolonged time or lifting 20 lbs it hurts your case even if it were one time or after taking pain medication or whatever. Such surveillance does not show the details or that what you did may have exhausted you. It just shows you more functional then what your doctor may have said. I would tell them to follow your doctors restrictions or if you are really having problems to limit your activities at all times. No one is invisible when they go out in public or can be seen from a parked vehicle. Surveillance videos can be shown to a judge and to your doctor so be careful. Doing something one time just because you push through the pain or take something to help with pain is using poor judgement. Get help when you need it or as with shopping shop more often but never disregard your doctor or your own well being. Anyway those were simpler times and now we must all think about new ways to find out about you. Be aware that going online or posting information on Facebook or wherever can be located and often obtained as noted at this other blog. Your activities, your resume, your dreams, your abilities and your goals should be kept private during the workers compensation claim process. To me private means don't do it at all as thinking you can restrict access is foolish thinking. Further be extra careful with emails too. Those you think are your friends or co-workers can retain emails and they may in some way be used against you. Discussions about your health, your job, your claim and others related to any of that should be severely restricted and ideally eliminated during your claim. A failure to act wisely can mean losing your doctor even your attorney and perhaps your case. Surveillance nowadays is not to be taken lightly.
UPDATE Sep. 29, 2010: If anyone thinks that Facebook or other online social networks are not being noticed by attorneys and insurers please look at this detailed legal article that reviews the situation. Moreover investigators can have a motherload of information to use against claimants. Restricting access may not stop them. You may not even realize how it can be used but others know better. For example you go to a rock concert and post about it. It was fun; it lasted 2 hours and everyone was on their feet the entire time. But what did your doctor say? Did he restrict your standing? So now you are seen disregarding your doctor. My view...anyone with such an account should cease posting for the duration of your case or be at risk.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Survey

Insurers are now required to survey each claimant after the case is over as set forth in this rule just posted by the Division of Workers Compensation. This is then yearly reported by them. I wonder how many angry claimants will respond to the few questions posed to them. They relate to claimant satisfaction and this mandatory survey may reveal how many are dissatisfied. Many are not pleased by the process which originally was designed to promote the prompt and efficient delivery of benefits. Nowadays we have disputes all over the place which if not quickly resolved proceed to hearings and sometimes to appeals.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Settlement Documents

This link to the Division website lets you take a look at the standardized workers compensation settlement agreements. These documents are uniform so the language is the same for just about everybody. That said there are ways to make some changes or attach other documents that may be side deals between the parties. If you've been provided documents and want to see if they conform or where they differ check it out.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Maximum Rates

Workers Compensation benefits are all set by statute. Benefits are a form of insurance coverage for those who have been shown hurt at work. But like any insurance it does not pay unlimited benefits. Benefits are restricted by what we call caps and that means they are limited depending on the situation. Anyone's true losses and pain may be much higher but workers comp given it is insurance only covers what the state sets forth it will cover. Even then disputes are common especially over the severity of the injury and whether work activities caused or aggravated your condition. There may also be disputes on wage calculations, dates, doctors or medical care, job termination, and much more. One cap noted is on maximum rates. Each year this figure can change but what it means is that you can get less but never more then the cap if your wage exceeds $1216 a week (which can include certain other wage related benefits if applicable). Given this figure it means that the top amount of $810.67 is the maximum figure for temporary total disability (2/3rds of the $1216.00).