If you have been injured at work and have a workers’ compensation claim, your employer is legally entitled to choose which doctors treat you for your injuries. Your employer is also required to pay for these treatments, as well as the prescriptions or medical devices that your workers’ compensation doctor orders. But what if the doctor is not treating you properly, or if you want a second opinion?
There is some good news: workers’ compensation law allows you the option to request a change in providers one single time during your case (Florida Statutes 440.13(2)(f)). But beware! There are limits to this option that you may not be aware of.
First, the employer still gets to choose who your new doctor will be, as long as they respond to the request in a timely manner.
Second, it is important to remember that this option is only available once in the entire pendency of your case. So it is important to wait until it is absolutely necessary before using your one-time change. Some workers’ compensation adjusters may offer you to request a new doctor if you didn’t like your initial appointment with an assigned medical provider. But you limit your ability to seek other providers as your case develops if that change is requested at the beginning of your treatment.
If you are not sure how to proceed with your medical treatment after an injury on the job, call the offices of Lancaster & Eure for a free consultation. We will advise you of your rights and explain the specifics of your treatment options.
For Social Security Disability claimants in Florida, the average processing time from the date of the application until the hearing decision is approximately 627 days. While the Social Security Administration has implemented initiatives to decrease the wait times for hearings by attacking the back log, the delays seem to be ever increasing. According to a recent study, the average wait time for post-hearing decisions has increased since the end of 2015 and as many as 11% of all claimants are forced to wait anywhere from 120-180 days to receive their decision following their hearing.
In the event of a car crash, there are several important steps to follow that will ultimately protect yourself and your interests. With over six million car accidents reported each year in the United States, it is better to be safe than sorry. As a helpful tool, here is a Top 10 List of things to do after a car accident:
Currently, psychiatric only injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are not covered under Florida's Workers' Compensation law. The law currently forbids, "payment of benefits under [the workers' compensation law] for mental or nervous injuries without an accompanying physical injury requiring medical treatment." Section 440.093(1), Florida Statutes (2015).
Following the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL first responder Gerry Realin was diagnosed with PTSD after having to carry almost 50 bodies out of the club. However Mr. Realin was denied workers' compensation benefits because he did not sustain a physical injury that required medical treatment. While this might seem like an arbitrary distinction to most, the effect is a total denial of benefits and forcing Mr. Realin to go entirely without compensation while trying to recover from the trauma he sustained.
Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) recently introduced a bill that seeks to extend protections for psychiatric only injuries to first responders like Mr. Realin. While the introduction of the bill is by no means a victory for injured workers, it is a step in the right direction to provide protection to those who put their own lives on the line on a daily basis to protect all others.
A recent court case challenging the proposed rate hike for workers’ compensation premiums has resulted in a victory for Florida business owners thanks to the work of attorneys who represent Florida’s injured workers.
Florida’s system for setting workers’ compensation rates is an antiquated one where the insurance carriers all hire the same contractor to set rates on their behalf with regulators. Florida is one of the only few states left who uses this type of system as opposed to allowing market forces to determine pricing.
Unfortunately, this system leads to increased costs for Florida’s employers and tends to only benefit the insurance carriers. This was shown by the recent proposal by NCCI (National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc.) for an increase of 14.5% without providing any true data or analysis to support.
James Fee, an attorney who represents injured workers in Florida, filed suit challenging the proposed hike because of NCCI’s failure to abide by Florida’s open government laws, also known as the Sunshine law. The suit was filed against NCCI, Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation and insurance commissioner David Altmaier for failing to provide public records or comply with public meeting requirements as required under Florida’s Sunshine laws. NCCI has defended their actions by claiming they are not subject to Florida’s Sunshine laws.
Judge Karen Gievers, a Circuit Court Judge in Tallahassee, recently ruled in favor of the challenge finding that the regulator and NCCI had violated Florida’s Sunshine laws by not opening their process to the public. In fact, she noted a series of NCCI meetings involving NCCI actuary Jay Rosen, Altmaier and other regulatory staff, were never publicly noticed and no members of the public were present.
Unfortunately, Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation has appealed the Circuit Court ruling meaning that the rate hike will go into effect as planned while this appeal is pending. As the current president of Florida’s Workers’ Advocates stated, "Though a circuit court judge emphatically ruled last week that insurance special interests actively broke Florida law, they are being rewarded now by getting to line their pockets with unwarranted profits… We are confident that the judge’s thoughtful, well-reasoned ruling will be upheld on appeal. But in the meantime, Florida businesses will be forced to pay unnecessarily high premiums, while workers’ comp insurance companies enjoy this early – and undeserved – mammoth present.” –Mark Touby, president of Florida Workers’ Advocates.
When it comes to professional athletes, most consider them to be exceptions to the rules. Whether it be a punishment for a particular crime, or backlash after an ill-advised statement, professional athletes seem to have their own set of special rules.
Unfortunately for those athletes, that is not the case when it comes to work related injuries. An article was recently published showing how a current NBA player has suffered the same fate as a large majority of injured workers. Lance Stephenson, most famous for antagonizing Lebron James in the 2014 playoffs, was recently cut by the New Orleans Pelicans following an injury to his groin that required surgery.
While instances like this tend to bring headlines and backlash from fellow players, the typical injured worker isn’t afforded the same type of coverage. Rather, they tend to be swept under the rug and offered empty condolences.
In Florida, there is a protection in the workers' compensation law to prevent an employer from retaliating against an injured worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, as too many Floridians’ can attest to, the practical effect of that protection is minimal. Under Florida’s labor laws employers have the upper hand in the employment relationship as employees are “at-will,” meaning that either the worker or the employer can terminate the employment at any time and without any advance warning. This typically results in employers claiming the firing of the injured worker was for some business-related decision, despite it being clear that the true reason for the firing was the work related injury.
Navigating the workers’ compensation system can be an overwhelming and daunting task. Let the experienced attorneys at Lancaster & Eure help you through this difficult time. Each attorney gives every client unique and personal attention. Call us for a free consultation (941) 365-7575, or, feel free to contact us online.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) just released an update to their 1989 guidelines for Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs. The guidelines were created to encourage employers to create programs that prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace. According to OSHA, the key principles are, “leadership from the top to send a message that safety and health is critical to the business operations; worker participation in finding solutions; and a systematic approach to find and fix hazards.”It is important to note that these guidelines do not create any type of legal obligations for employers and are simply meant to advise employers on ways to improve the health and safety of their businesses and employees.The guidelines are an important factor in helping to protect our workers from suffering avoidable injuries and illnesses due to hazards in the workplace. However, in order to do so, it is still up to the employer to implement and follow OSHA's recommendations.
Employer fraud in Florida's workers' compensation system is once again back in the news with a recent bust of 5 contractors in Southwest Florida. As we have discussed before, organizations affiliated with insurance companies try to blame increasing costs in the workers' compensation system on injured workers supposedly committing fraud to obtain benefits. But based on recent arrests across Florida, the guilty parties are typically employers.
This is especially true when it comes to employers in the construction industry. Failing to properly report employees to their insurance carrier, or failing to obtain the legally required insurance coverage, allows contractors to submit bids for projects at a much lower price than their competitors. This leads to cost savings for the general contractor or head of the project, but those savings come at the expense of the injured worker.
However, even if you are in the unfortunate situation of having an injury at work for an employer without the legally required insurance coverage, there are options available to obtain the benefits that you truly deserve. If you, or your loved one, has suffered a work-related injury, call the experienced attorneys at Lancaster & Eure for your free consultation (941) 365-7575, or feel free to contact us online
Typically, when you hear the term “workplace hazards” the first things that come to mind are things like heavy machinery or working from unprotected heights. But as many Florida workers know, hazards can come in all forms, especially when you work outside in our state’s always changing weather landscape.The Department of Labor recently shared some helpful tips on how to avoid accidents caused by bad weather. Seeing as we are in the middle of summer, most Floridians know that a short afternoon shower is all but guaranteed on a daily basis. For most of us, this is a simple inconvenience while we are out and about. But for a large portion of Florida businesses, these storms can heavily impact their bottom line. To avoid continued delays and work stoppages, employers tend to encourage their employees to return working as soon as the storm appears to move away.
Unfortunately, this encouragement can lead to an increase in injuries on the job. As the Department of Labor story points out, a Florida roofer suffered a tragic and fatal accident from a lightning strike because they were working on the job site in between storms. Florida workers should follow the tips laid out in the Department of Labor story to avoid these types of accidents, such as waiting just 30 minutes after the storm passes before returning to the active job site.
However, even with these tips workers are still in danger of being injured due to being rushed back to work as soon as the storm appears to be passing. Navigating the workers’ compensation system can be an overwhelming and daunting task. Let the experienced attorneys at Lancaster & Eure help you through this difficult time. Each attorney gives every client unique and personal attention. Call us for a free consultation (941) 365-7575, or, feel free to contact us online.
The City of Bradenton is currently reviewing the effectiveness of red-light cameras and their impact on the reduction of red-light running accidents. The Bradenton Police Department has recently found that at the 7 intersections in Bradenton that are equipped with red-light cameras, the number of accidents caused by running red-lights remains the same. That is, despite the fact that the number of car accidents in general at those intersections has increased.
According to the Bradenton Police Department, since the cameras were installed in 2009 the number of tickets at those 7 intersections has more than tripled, but the number of red-light running has decreased by only 7%. In fact, the average number crashes due to red-light running is almost the same as before cameras installed, even with the total number of car accidents increasing last year.
The statistics of these accidents occurring at intersections with red-light cameras show how difficult it is to reduce the risk of any type of accident on our roadways. If your loved one has been the victim of a car accident, let the seasoned attorneys at Lancaster & Eure fight on your behalf to recover the damages you and your family deserve. Call us for a free consultation (941) 365-7575, or feel free to contact us online.
Sometimes, understanding the Florida statutes, or laws, regarding workers’ compensation benefits can be difficult. This is especially true when reading section 440.15 of the Florida Statutes which covers impairment benefits. Impairment benefits are based on the percentage of impairment, or the “impairment rating” the physician assigns the injured worker once he or she has reached “maximum medical improvement.” Only statute-approved physicians can determine an impairment rating, and once the physician has done so, impairment benefits are due and payable within 14 days after the carrier (the workers’ compensation insurance carrier) has knowledge of the impairment.
Impairment ratings are based solely upon the employee’s physical diagnosis and findings, and in no way reflect that employee’s limitations. The impairment rating also has nothing to do with any disability the injured worker may have. Impairment benefits are paid every two weeks, at the rate of 75% of the employee’s compensation rate, if the employee is not working. If the injured worker has gone back to work, the impairment benefits are paid at 50% of the injured worker’s compensation rate.
The period of time for which impairment benefits are paid is figured according to the impairment rating. The statute states benefits are paid for the following periods:
This means that if you are given an impairment rating of 22%, you receive two weeks times ten (20 weeks) of benefits for your percentage points from 1% through 10%, three weeks times five (15 weeks) of benefits for your percentage points from 11% through 15%, four weeks times five (20 weeks) of benefits for your percentage points from 16% through 20%, and six weeks times two (12 weeks) for your percentage points from 21% to 22%. All these weeks are added together, so for an impairment rating of 22%, you would receive a total of sixty-seven (67) weeks of benefits paid.
Navigating the workers’ compensation system can be an overwhelming and daunting task. Let the experienced attorneys at Lancaster & Eure help you through this difficult time. Each attorney gives every client unique and personal attention. Call us for a free consultation (941) 365-7575, or, feel free to contact us online.
Jonathan Schwabish, of The Urban Institute, put together an article called, “11 Charts about the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.” Each of these charts break down the numbers to show the amount of people currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and trends in the characteristics of those receiving Social Security Disability benefits.
The charts included in the article show some revealing statistics about Social Security Disability and those who receive disability benefits:
• In 2013, there were approximately nine million disabled workers on Social Security Disability, nearly SIX TIMES the one-and-one-half million who received benefits in 1970.
• The percentage of people awarded disability within a year has remained flat since 199, despite the increase in the amount of applications, most notably during the latest recession.
• The older you are, the greater your chances for being awarded Social Security Disability: the average age of SSDI beneficiaries is 53.5 years for men and 53.4 years for women.
• Women tend to receive a less benefits than men. More than half of women on Disability received benefits under $1,000 per month, while only about one-third of the total men on Disability received benefits that low.
• People who receive Disability tend to have a much lower average family income than non-beneficiaries. In 2010, almost half of people on disability (younger than forty-nine years old) were in the lowest income group.
• Southern states have a higher percentage of residents on Disability than other states.
• The majority of people on Disability report either mental disorders (Ex. autism) or muscle/bone disorders (Ex. carpal tunnel syndrome).
• Once approved, few actually leave: the number of individuals removed from Disability declined by about forty-four percent from 1970 to 2003; but that trend is shifting. In 2014, the number of people removed from Disability increased by about fifteen percent.
• The number of Disability applications has increased over time, and typically follows the path of the economy. The worse the economy, the greater the number of Disability applications. The amount of applications for Disability typically grows in times of high unemployment. The more the economy improves, the more the number of people applying for Disability will fall.
Navigating the Social Security Disability system, a system where nearly half of all applicants are denied, can be a frightening and overwhelming task. If you are unable to work due to medical or psychological conditions, let the seasoned attorneys at Lancaster & Eure fight on your behalf to get you the benefits you deserve. Each attorney gives every client the unique and personal attention they deserve. Call us for a free consultation (941) 365-7575, or feel free to contact us online.
In a workers’ compensation case pending before Florida’s Supreme Court, the employer, Hialeah Hospital, is claiming the injured worker failed to follow necessary procedures to allow the Supreme Court to review the case at all. This seems to be just another attempt on the part of an Employer/Carrier to skirt responsibility for a worker injured on the job.
One of Lancaster & Eure’s fellow members in Florida’s Workers’ Advocates (FWA), an advocacy group of workers’ compensation claimant attorneys which fights for the rights of all injured workers in Florida, is representing the claimant in this highly controversial and significant case. The injured worker is challenging the constitutionality of the current Workers’ Compensation laws in Florida. The heart of the claimant’s argument is centered around their claim that the amendments enacted by Florida’s legislature, spanning from 1935 (when the law was created) to 2003, have continually favored employers and insurance companies rather than the injured workers the law was designed to protect. The results of these amendments have been far-reaching; however, they have made the system inadequate when it comes to the protection of rights of injured workers by steadily removing benefits available to them. Every amendment which removed benefits for injured workers has provided nothing to the injured workers in return, and thus, they are left with a system which fails them. The dispute in this particular Florida’s Supreme Court case pivots around the previously available benefits for partial disability, which were repealed with the enactment of the 2003 amendments to the Florida Workers’ Compensation laws.
In this case, the claimant, a nurse, injured his back while lifting a patient at work. He was left with permanent impairment and restrictions to avoid heavy lifting. With this impairment and these restrictions in place, the claimant was unable to return to his nursing position with the hospital, forcing him to take a job as an instructor at a nursing school. Unfortunately, his post-accident employment as an instructor resulted in a significant pay decrease from the position as a nurse he held before the accident. If lawmakers had considered the detriment of the 2003 amendments to the injured worker prior to their enactment, benefits which would assist this injured worker’s recovery, both medically and financially, following his accident would still be in place. Sadly, the claimant was injured in December of 2003, mere weeks after the amendments removing the partial disability benefits took effect.
Florida is known for being business-friendly, and a promising state in which to begin or expand business ventures, but at what price? Should the citizens and workers of Florida be exploited and forced to suffer in order to improve Florida’s business climate? At Lancaster & Eure, we fight for the rights of the citizens and injured workers of our great state, and do not rest until our clients receive the benefits they truly deserve.
If you have a question about workers’ compensation laws in Florida, or have been injured while at work, call (941) 365-7575 or Contact Us today for your free consultation.
An article produced by students at Skidmore College in New York provides a real world example of the plights of migrant workers who are forced to deal with work-related injuries in the United States. The article highlights the story of a migrant worker who came to the United States to work at the Saratoga Race Track in New York, where he sustained a work-related injury. Typically, the Workers’ Compensation laws in the state of New York are considered some of the most worker-friendly Workers’ Compensation laws in the nation. However, this article exposes the issues migrant workers face when they have sustained a work-related injury.
Many industries rely on both migrant and undocumented workers to provide necessary services that allow those businesses to thrive in today’s competitive market. This is certainly true in Florida due to the substantial farming and hospitality industries which rely heavily on the services of migrant and undocumented workers to continue thriving in the current business climate.
The Florida legislature has recognized the importance of migrant and undocumented workers to the businesses and industries that operate in Florida. In fact, the Florida Workers’ Compensation statute provides the same protection and benefits for undocumented workers as they do for documented workers who have sustained work-related injuries. Unfortunately, the Workers’ Compensation insurance carriers who insure these industries do not share the same view of the importance of migrant and undocumented workers, and continually endeavor to deny Workers’ Compensation benefits to injured workers who truly deserve them.
If you or your loved ones have sustained a work-related trauma, contact the attorneys at Lancaster & Eure today to ensure you will have an advocate who will fight for the benefits you truly deserve.
Recently, a construction worker in Miami, FL was involved in a tragic accident while on the job. While working on a construction site a piece of machinery weighing about 2,000 pounds, that was being hoisted by a crane, fell onto him as he was working on the 37th floor of a condominium. Tragically, the 29-year-old worker died at the scene of the accident.
Unfortunately, these types of tragic accidents occur all too often in Florida. A recent article by Contact 5, part of WPTV in West Palm Beach, cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics' report finding that Florida continues to have one of the highest work-related death rates in the country (based on population). In fact the Bureau's statistics from 2014 found that Florida had the 2nd highest work-related death rate in the country behind only Texas. The article cites possible reasons for this as the lack of teeth in the fines imposed by OSHA, a lack of resources available to OSHA, and Florida's 2002 abolishment of its Department of Labor. The lack of resources is so profound that the article estimates there is only one OSHA safety inspector for approximately every 66,000 job sites nationwide.
Under Florida's Workers' Compensation law there are benefits available for the deceased worker's surviving spouse and/or children such as:
If you or your loved ones have been affected by a work-related death contact the attorneys at Lancaster & Eure today.
One of the requirements for an injured worker to qualify for workers' compensation benefits depends upon the employment relationship between the injured worker and the employer. This means an injured worker must prove he was an employee of the employer at the time of the accident. While this seems like a simple requirement to satisfy, in reality it is a difficult process in certain situations.
Workers' compensation insurance carriers focus their efforts on defending claims by injured workers. One of the popular defenses most carriers employ is to argue the injured worker was not an employee at all, but rather an independent contractor. This defense is significant because if the carrier is able to prove that the injured worker is not an employee, or the injured worker does not have the ability to defeat this allegation on their own, it can result in the injured worker receiving a complete denial of benefits across the board.
Recently, attorneys in California have initiated claims against food delivery employers, companies which hire contract workers to deliver food from restaurants which do not offer their own delivery. These claims focus on proving these contracted workers are in fact employees, and are not independent contractors as claimed by those companies. These cases are significant because, if successful, employees who are injured while working for such companies would then be entitled to workers compensation benefits for their injuries. But if these claims are unsuccessful, those employers will still be able to avoid paying benefits to injured workers by simply claiming such workers are independent contractors.
Arguments by employers and workers' compensation carriers as to the injured workers status, as in employee or independent contractor, can be defeated with the help of an experienced workers compensation attorney.
If you or your loved ones have experienced these issues with your employer or their workers' compensation carrier, contact the experienced attorneys at Lancaster & Eure today.
The workers' compensation system was created to ensure the quick delivery of benefits so an injured worker may return to work, once healed, in the quickest time possible. The system was first created through an agreement between workers and employers. The workers agreed to give up their right to sue their employers in a traditional court of law, and the employers agreed to pay the injured workers’ medical bills and a portion of their wages until recovered from the work accident.
In recent decades, the purpose of the workers’ compensation system has been undermined by special interests groups in favor of the insurance carriers. The workers’ compensation systems in a majority of the States, especially here in Florida, have been continually dismantled in favor of the insurance companies and to the detriment of the injured workers. This dismantling of the law has created a system where virtually every single injured worker must obtain representation to protect themselves and to combat the unnecessary delays by insurance carriers which end up drastically increasing the worker’s recovery time.
Investigations by ProPublica and NPR have found some of the cutbacks have been so drastic that injured workers are virtually guaranteed to slide into poverty simply by having an injury at work. The changes in the law have allowed insurance carriers to continue their tactics of delaying or denying surgeries, prescriptions, or additional treatment recommended by the claimant’s authorized treating physician.
ProPublica notes some significant findings from their study:
The insurance carriers' and large corporations' traditional argument in support of “reforming” the workers’ compensation system is the costs and premiums for workers’ compensation are “out of control.” However, the sad truth of the whole situation is the rates employers presently pay for workers’ compensation insurance are the lowest since the 1970’s, yet this is apparently still too high for the insurance carriers and employers. In fact, the investigations by ProPublica and NPR discovered in 2013, insurance carriers had their most profitable year in over a decade, earning an 18% profit (far and above the 2013 average profit of 7.6%, according to the Washington Post).
The one thing never discussed in all of these arguments on the alleged high cost of workers’ compensation is who ends up footing the bill when these employers and carriers save money with the so-called “reforms”. The answer is us, the American tax payers. The removal of benefits for injured workers forces them to turn to Social Security Disability, Medicare, and Medicaid for the lost wages and medical costs which should be covered through workers’ compensation. Despite all of these costs falling on the shoulders of the tax payer, the federal government still refuses to monitor state workers’ compensation laws to avoid these costs becoming the burden of the tax payers.
If you or your loved ones have been affected by the reduction of benefits for injured workers in the Florida workers’ compensation system, please find and contact your State Representative or Senator of your district and find and contact your US Representative and Senator for your district. The only way we can be proactive against further harm to injured workers from the current system is to work together to inform our State Representatives and Senators of the true impact of their decisions in the lives of their constituents.
For information on the ProPublica and NPR investigations and a brief history on the workers’ compensation system in the US see The Demolition of Workers Compensation
For Help locating and contacting your representative:
In Social Security Disability claims, the majority of individuals are denied on their initial application, and in the appeal of the initial denial, called a Request for Reconsideration. The reason for these denials are generally thought of as evidence of Social Security’s unofficial policy of denying everyone twice, and forcing them to go to a hearing (almost 2.5 years from the initial application in Florida) so only those who are serious about their claim will continue. Unfortunately, Social Security does not seem to realize this type of mandatory delay, of approximately 2.5 years in Florida, before someone truly looks at your case, is extremely harmful to those who are already struggling to make ends meet due to their disability and inability to work.
It is important to avoid making any type of mistake resulting in additional delays during Social Security's decision-making process. Accordingly, avoiding the 7 common mistakes made in applying for Social Security Disability, published in the article by Medical News Today, is extremely important.
From Medical News Today’s 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Seeking Social Security Disability Benefits- Avoiding the following mistakes will help present your claim in the strongest possible way:
If you or your loved ones need assistance in obtaining Social Security Disability benefits contact us today.
The Supreme Court of the United States recently issued a decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court held same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states. The Obergefell decision has made a large impact in all aspects of the Federal government, especially in the Social Security arena. A prior Supreme Court decision in 2013 opened the door for same-sex couples to apply for spousal and survivor benefits, but only in states which recognize their union. The Obergefell decision has now made it so states such as Florida, who has traditionally refused to recognize the union of same sex spouses, may no longer be a bar to same-sex couples applying for Social Security benefits.
As mentioned in the previous post, Social Security Benefits for Spouses, in certain circumstances, individuals can apply for Social Security Disability or Retirement under the earnings records of their spouses. Now, with the Obergefell decision, same-sex spouses can apply for Social Security Disability benefits under the earnings record of their spouse, even if they live in a state who does not recognize their union.
However, there are drawbacks to this decision and its effect on Social Security, namely for those applying for or receiving Social Supplemental Income (SSI) benefits. In order to be eligible for SSI benefits, the applicant must show they they have "limited resources." For the Social Security Administration, "limited resources" means the individual may not have assets (such as cash, bank accounts, cars, etc.) which collectively amount to more than $2,000 or $3,000, if married. The Obergefell decision has resulted in the Social Security Administration now considering the assets of the same-sex marriage as a whole, as opposed to only looking to the individual applying.
Additionally, if your spouse is earning an income then Social Security will attribute some of their income to you, the individual receiving SSI benefits. So in same-sex couples where the spouse is earning income, the individual receiving SSI benefits may have those reduced based on the income that Social Security "deems" to them from their spouse's earnings.
If you have questions regarding your claim for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, contact us today.
A new study by the Workers' Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) found the likelihood of injured workers getting back surgery, under workers' compensation, depends upon the geographic location where they seek treatment for their back pain.
The study, Why Surgery Rates Vary, found that 1/5 of the injuries covered by workers' compensation are back injuries. And while the injuries are common in workers' compensation, the best way to treat the injury (either through surgery or conservative measures) lacks consensus between the providers in different states. The study found the surgery rates were affected by each of the following, "more surgery-intensive local practice norms, higher reimbursement rates for surgery, and more surgeons in an area." As the stated in the study, " nearly 20 percent of injured workers with back pain had surgery in Oklahoma and Tennessee. By contrast, less than 10 percent of workers in California and Florida with the same diagnoses had surgery."
The Social Security Administration currently has the largest backlogs of any federal agency with 990,399 cases waiting for the Social Security Administration to take action. The majority of the backlog stems from the system governing applications for Social Security Disability.
Currently, the system is set up in such a way to essentially force those applying for Disability to wait 2.5 years for a chance to plead their case. The system is set up so that the first two decisions, the initial application and the request for reconsideration (used when the initial application is denied), are made by those at the local office who lack the training and expertise required to make such decisions. With such limitations imposed on those making the determinations at the first two levels, it is extremely rare to be approved before making it to the hearing level.
After filing the initial application and the request for reconsideration, the next step is to file a request for hearing. The hearing stage is when the claimant finally has a chance to truly present his case to an Administrative Law Judge who will then determine if the claimant is able to work any job in the national economy. However, due to the massive backlog the Social Security Administration has, the typical waiting time for a hearing (from the date of the request for hearing) is ONE AND A HALF YEARS.
Unfortunately, this backlog causing such large wait times is imposed on those who are the least able to weather the storm. Our attorneys at Lancaster & Eure, P.A. are available to help you navigate this complex system and ensure your case is presented in the strongest possible form at every level of your case.
Social Security- Biggest Backlog in the Federal Government
Our firm is proud to announce Attorney Rosemary Eure was recently inducted into Florida Workers' Compensation Institute's (FWCI) Hall of Fame and was inducted, as a fellow, into The College of Workers' Compensation Lawyers.
The College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers is a national organization that was established to honor those attorneys who have distinguished themselves in the field of Workers' Compensation.
FWCI established its Hall of Fame to recognize those who have dedicated their legal careers to maintaining and improving the Florida workers' compensation system. Judges, attorneys and workers compensation industry individuals are all eligible to be elected to the FWCI Hall of Fame.
Ms. Eure was recognized by FWCI and the College for her work on behalf of injured workers and her dedication to improving the current workers' compensation system in Florida.
Lancaster & Eure prevails on permanent total disability trial for injured hospital worker entitling the injured worker to over $580,000.00 in benefits.
In Florida, Permanent Total Disability benefits are available to injured workers who, due to limitations from their work accident, are incapable of working in even a sedentary job within a 50 mile radius of their home.
In February 2015, attorney Eric Christiansen of Lancaster & Eure assisted a hospital employee in Punta Gorda in winning her workers' compensation claim for permanent total disability benefits.
The employee suffered a severe knee injury when she was kicked violently by a psychiatric patient. Even though her injury led to two surgeries, a recommendation for a total knee replacement, and significant permanent restrictions, the employee returned to work for the employer, though ultimately she had to switch to a less demanding job because of the injury-related restrictions.
Despite the employee’s strong efforts to return to work with the hospital, where she had worked for 8 years, the hospital ultimately told the employee that her restrictions could no longer be accommodated and let her go. The hospital’s workers' compensation insurance company then failed to provide any reemployment assistance to the employee, even though she had no transferable skills and had been working her entire adult life in the position in which she was injured.
Instead of reaching out to help, the workers' compensation insurance company claimed that the employee’s disability was not related to her knee, but instead to some unrelated medical conditions that had never stopped the employee from working for the hospital during her 8 years there. Attorney Christiansen took the depositions of several physicians and retained medical and vocational experts to testify on the employee’s behalf.
The case went to trial in February 2015. After weighing the merits of the case, the Judge of Compensation Claims found for the employee and ordered the workers' compensation insurance company to pay permanent total disability benefits to the employee. The Judge’s ruling entitles the employee to 66 2/3% of her average weekly wage until she is 75 years old, meaning this ruling awarded over $580,000.00 in benefits to the employee.
Workers' compensation insurance companies often deny benefits that should be paid, as was done in this case. Don’t accept the denial of your workers' compensation case without standing up for your rights. If your workers' compensation benefits are not being provided properly, contact Lancaster & Eure today.