Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Medicare Quickly Covers End Stage Renal Disease

There need be no prolonged wait to obtain medicare if you have ESRD (end stage renal disease). Often those who obtain Social Security disability have to wait for medicare but in this situation no matter who you are or even if you have not obtained any disability benefits you can quickly get medicare coverage. This article which appears in this link addresses this matter along with other points. Sadly obtaining disability can be a prolonged process but it is good to know that in this area you can quickly get on medicare regardless of your age or circumstance. I still believe that leaving medical care in the hands of private insurance is not the best approach for those with serious injury or illness. We can believe in free enterprise but also realize that society has to step in when it affects all of us. We see this with fire protection and police and the military and education. Also we should see that in the human area of healthcare. Its high cost and immense impact on all of us should be a social or societal concern. In any event medicare can step in for you if you have ESRD without much waiting around.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Maximum rates and the caps

The Division of Workers Compensation has just posted the rates for maximum benefits and related math calculations. For example they indicate that as of January 1, 2012 the caps are to be $76605.00 and $153210.00. Maximum rates are usually related to your average weekly wage not to the severity of your injury. Those with a workers compensation injury are paid two thirds of their average weekly wage for temporary benefits in the majority of times. There are exceptions that can lower this amount and there are occasions when the average weekly wage should be adjusted higher. If you are a claimant never assume the figure your employer or its insurer says is your wage. Never assume they are right no matter what is told you. If you are an employer or insurer never assume the figure provided by a boss is correct. A wage calculation is not a simple matter and there can be many variables that affect the calculation. However the fact you sustained a horrific injury is not going to affect the math. It is based on the math and when in doubt is determined by a judge when someone takes it to a hearing. In a typical situation the injured worker receives two thirds of his average weekly wage during the time he is temporarily disabled which s adjusted if you work part time. If a claimant returns to work full time temporary benefits stop. Such benefits can stop for other reasons as well as provided by law. You can review that with your attorney or seek help from the Division to understand it. Customer Service phone is (303) 318-8700. Please note the two thirds figure has not been considered taxable but it is not the same as your paycheck amount. It is what it is as set forth by law. But each year there can be adjustments and that is what has been done and posted at the Division today. Caps are amounts that place a limit on your compensation. They do not apply to medical benefits which are not capped (at least not yet) and they do not apply to those permanently and totally disabled. But if you are drawing temporary benefits and then entitled to permanent benefits those amounts can be capped when added up. Temporary benefits alone are not capped but if added to permanent benefits the law can apply a cap. Regretably this is a tough matter for claimants but the state has decided through its elected representatives to place limits in certain areas. In a sense most insurance policies have limits and workers compensation is no different.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Claimant Arrested for Fraud

As reported in this article a claimant was indicted on suspicion of stealing $140000 in funds from Pinnacol Assurance, the insurer handling more workers compensation claims in Colorado then anyone else. The spouse was also indicted. In my experience this is relatively rare. A claimant may exaggerate his condition but seldom is it outright fraud. Some employers are much more likely in my experience to intentionally coverup claims made by employees. In any event this news is unfortunate as it suggests that surveillance be used in many cases. There are many claimants who must be put through this process even though they have legitimate injuries. Yet insurers do not just look for fraud they also look for any possible evidence that helps them to defend the claim. There are very few arrests but there are many cases where the insurer has evidence the claimant can do more then is recommended by his doctors. So judges may be shown this but also doctors. If you exceed your restrictions and that is videotaped then your case has not only been weakened but your doctor may become quite upset with you which also makes him question your treatment and future needs.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Colorado Springs News on Dr Shockney

I am providing a link to a Gazette newspaper article on a local psychotherapist Dr Shockney. It is a detailed article which questions the credentials and expertise of this individual. Dr Shockney was sometimes involved in workers compensation cases and also in many other matters, civil and criminal. I am not sure what the outcome of this will be but today another article was posted over at the Gazette. I imagine that more will be forthcoming. A psychiatrist is an M.D., but there are other professionals in the mental health field and the article suggests that the state does not regulate psychotherapists very well. The original article was explosive to say the least. It certainly appears to be highly researched but we will have to wait for further developments. Some fields do not require an extensive education and testing or life experiences can be part of your expertise.
UPDATE: The Gazette on June 22, 2011 is reporting that Dr. Shockney is retiring immediately.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

DIME Brochure

A DIME or Division Independent Medical Examination is a very unique process which allows those requesting it to seek to obtain a truly neutral evaluation of a claimant's impairment and treatment plus even more. It is a powerful force in keeping the system honest since most treating physicians have been selected by the employer/insurer and many claimants remain suspicious of that. To claimants such physicians often seem not to be on their side. In point of fact they may be quite capable but there are others who may be less then thorough or devoted to the patient/claimant. A DIME affords a claimant or even the other side the opportunity to have treatment and impairment reviewed. Moreover the law has made a DIME a strong force that can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence in most cases. There are exceptions but the general rule requires strong evidence to overcome the DIME opinion especially on the issue of MMI or impairment. The Division has a brochure available to review the DIME process and it is worth reading. In my practice we use the DIME process in the vast majority of cases though in some cases we do accept the treaters opinion. By the way you can agree with the treaters rating but still seek permanent total disability by objecting and following through as set forth by the law. A physician may say you have 20% impairment but for you perhaps you can no longer work. You have the right to seek total disability but you must act timely and sensibly to make your case. A lawyer is usually essential here.