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The New York Disability Law Blog

Information and Help for Disabled Individuals with Workers' Compensation, Social Security Disability and Construction Accident Claims

Employers Save $45 Million on New York Workers’ Compensation Costs

Posted in Labor News, NY Workers Compensation Claims

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that employer costs for New York workers’ compensation in New York State will be reduced by a whopping $45 million in 2015.  This was done by lowering the cost to run the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.

The reduction in New York workers’ compensation costs to business was accomplished without cutting benefits to seriously injured workers. This is a win-win for employers and workers!

“Reducing the cost of doing business in New York has been a top priority for this administration and I’m proud to announce that our reforms to the workers’ compensation system have lowered rates [to employers] for the second straight year.”, Cuomo said in a press release.

Cuomo said  administrative cost savings in 2014 amounted to $170 million under his administration.  Cities, counties, towns, villages and school districts saved over $18 million.

The New York Workers’ Compensation Lawyers  at Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco  applaud Governor Cuomo for saving money for New York employers without hurting injured workers.  Please remember his efforts when you go to the polls on Election Day tomorrow.

File for Potential 9/11 World Trade Center Workers’ Compensation Benefits by 9/11/14

Posted in Labor News, NY Workers Compensation Claims, Zadroga 9/11 Compensation Fund Claims

Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP would like to urge you to preserve your right to New York worker’s compensation benefits if you participated in the rescue, recovery and clean-up of the World Trade Center from 9/11/2001 through 9/12/ 2002.  File a WTC-12 form (www.wcb.ny.gov/WTC12) with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board by 9/11/14. This preserves your right to future medical and lost wage benefits, should you ever need them, if you get sick in the future.

For example, if you are diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer any time after 9/12/2014, you will NOT be able to claim valuable monetary and medical benefits from the Workers’ Compensation Board if you do not file the WTC-12 form by September 11, 2014.  Even if you are not currently sick, please protect yourself by filing a WTC-12 form TODAY.  You’ll be glad you did!

Most people who worked around Ground Zero during the recovery and cleanup are eligible. You should file a WTC-12 form (www.wcb.ny.gov/WTC12) whether you were injured or not and whether you were employed or volunteered. This includes duty at Ground Zero, Fresh Kills Landfill, on the barges, the piers, and at the morgues.

All forms must be notarized and received by the Board by 9/11/14. For questions, please call us toll free at 1-877-693-2529 x123.  Protect you and your family today.

Social Security Disability Fraud, Facebook Privacy and the Manhattan DA… Oh My!

Posted in Disability Pensions, Firm News & Events, Social Security Disability

Yesterday’s US Supreme Court decision in Riley v. California, interpreting the Fourth Amendment in the “digital age”, could impact the current Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into allegedly fraudulent Social Security disability claims.   But let’s step back a minute and see where the DA’s investigation and the Social Security Administration’s  responses currently stand.

See my prior blog post here on this Social Security disability fraud case regarding the initial arrest of an unscrupulous lawyer (Mr. Raymond Lavalle, Esq.) and his associates (Thomas Hale, in particular) who allegedly ran a decades long Social Security disability scam.  If the allegations are proven (and I have every reason, based upon my independent knowledge, to believe that significant fraud was involved), all participants who intentionally participated in the fraud deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

However, some interesting legal issues regarding these cases have recently come to the surface.  First, Social Security has recently begun terminating disability benefits and Medicare health insurance for all claimants who were represented by Mr. Lavalle.  See SSA NY Disability Fraud Termination Documents here.  Social Security is also demanding repayment of  past disability payments, some of which run over one half million dollars.

While a certain amount of these former clients of  Mr. Lavalle may in fact have participated in Social Security fraud, there also appears that there are many with legitimate disabilities who simply chose the wrong lawyer to represent them.   Mr. Lavalle had strong hooks in police circles and he was known as the “go to” guy for Social Security disability matters. It would not be unusual for some legitimately disabled police officers to be represented by his law firm for Social Security disability claims.

Second, yesterday the  NY Times published an important article on the bitter legal fight Facebook is now having in NY State Supreme Court against the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office over the information in the Facebook accounts of these Social Security disability claimants. See NY Times Facebook v. Manhattan DA Disability Fraud Case article here.  See Facebook’s Official Statement here.

Facebook argues (I believe correctly) that the DA violated the constitutional right of its users to be free from unreasonable searches by demanding nearly complete Facebook data, including photos and private messages, on the claimants allegedly involved in these Social Security disability claims.   In confidential legal documents unsealed this week, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Melissa Jackson sided with the DA’s office and allowed the broad subpoenas  without notification to the individual Facebook users.   It also appears that the information gleaned on  these Facebook pages could have then led to wiretaps on the cell phones of the Facebook users.

The case is now on appeal.  Facebook is represented by Orin Snyder at the national litigation powerhouse law firm of Gibson Dunn.  In its opening brief (see Facebooks-brief-seeking-review-of-the-case-on-disability-fraud-subpoenas ), Gibson Dunn states that:

“This appeal arises from the largest set of search warrants that Facebook has ever received and presents important questions concerning the lawful limits of searches and seizures in the digital age.”

Yesterday’s US Supreme Court decision in Riley v. California also dealt squarely with the lawful limits of searches and seizures in the digital age. In that case, Justice Roberts ruling for an unanimous Supreme Court, observed that:

“…modern cell phones, which are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of the human anatomy…”

So, the relevant questions in my opinion are:

  • With an estimated 1.28 billion active users worldwide, how much less pervasive today is Facebook than the cell phones  Justice Robert’s so correctly describes?  Are Facebook users entitled to the same privacy protections as cell phone users?
  • Will the Supreme Court’s decision in Riley impact the Facebook v. Manhattan DA case?
  • Will the Facebook appeal  in NY State Supreme Court have any impact on the Social Security Administration’s current attempt to terminate benefits from hundreds of disability claimants? 
  • Are the current termination of benefits efforts by Social Security the result  of  ”fruit from the poisonous tree” (evidence obtained illegally)?  If so, where does that leave the claimants involved in the alleged disability fraud?

I predict that the Facebook appeal will eventually be decided at the New York State Court of Appeals, if not the US Supreme Court.  We will keep you posted.

 

 

Attorney Troy Rosasco Gets High Marks For His Online CLE Disability Claim Lecture

Posted in Firm News & Events, Long Term Disability / ERISA, Social Security Disability, Veterans Disability Claims

Disability Attorney Troy Rosasco

Attorney Troy Rosasco, Partner at Turley, Redmond, Rosasco and Rosasco, has been consistently receiving 4 star ratings  from his online Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course, “Disability Insurance Claims Primer: The Plaintiff’s Perspective” through Lawline.com.  Mr. Rosasco has been a part of the CLE program since 2010 and is still receiving high marks for the content of his presentations nationwide.

Mr. Rosasco has given other online courses through Lawline.com including the well received free course on 9/11 Victim Compensation Claims in which he has proudly donated his time in creating so that others can benefit from his experience and knowledge in the field of Disability Law. He says, “Like all my CLE presentations, I do not get paid for either the presentation or any re-broadcast.  I consider it a way to give back to the profession which has given me so much satisfaction over the years.”

In addition to his Lawline.com courses, Mr. Rosasco is also an Adjunct Professor at St. John’s University School of Law, his alma mater, where he teaches a course on Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Law. “I really enjoy the interaction with the law students.  Besides helping them learn an important area of the law, they keep me sharp!”

Mr. Rosasco is considered one of the top disability lawyers in the New York Metro area and has been named a 2014 Super Lawyer.  He has been helping disabled workers for over 25 years in getting the disability benefits they deserve.  He is also a much sought after resource by various newspapers and media outlets for his knowledge and expertise on disability law.

Social Security Disability Paralegal Ronnie Drozda Receives Touching Letter From Client

Posted in Firm News & Events, Social Security Disability

Our own Social Security Disability Paralegal Ronnie Drozda received a very touching and complimentary letter from one of our clients who unfortunately is suffering from multiple myeloma; an incurable bone marrow cancer. Social Security Disability Attorney Janet Santeramo-DeWaele was able to get our client  a favorable decision on her case and Ronnie was right along with her to lend support.

Ronnie has been with Turley, Redmond, Rosasco and Rosasco for over 12 years helping disabled workers with their Social Security Disability claims with understanding and compassion for each individual case that she assists with. This letter serves as testimony to her nature and how she works hard to help our clients get the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. “Ronnie has the extraordinary gift that enables her to sympathize and empathize with clients and has held the hand of many of them providing emotional support along with legal expertise as their claims were navigated through the murky waters of Social Security Disability. She is a remarkable human being and an outstanding team member,” says Ms. Santeramo-DeWaele.

This letter is just one example of many that we have received over the years on Ronnie’s behalf. Ronnie is hard-working and a naturally caring person who makes each and every client feel that they will never be treated as just a numbered Social Security Disability case. Ronnie genuinely cares about our client’s well-being. We are very lucky to have her as a part of the TRRR team!

To read the entire letter click here.

 

Social Security Disability Attorney Henry Shapiro Lectures Students at St. John’s University School of Law

Posted in Firm News & Events, Social Security Disability

 

Social Security Disability Attorney Henry Shapiro recently lectured a group of law students at St. Johns University of School of Law in Jamaica, Queens on Social Security Disability. Mr. Shapiro spoke  about starting a career in the field of Social Security Disability Law and what it’s like working for Turley, Redmond, Rosasco &Rosasco. Although Mr. Shapiro touched on a variety of subject matters such as the administrative process, drafting appeals and legal memos, he also stressed why it is important to hire an attorney when fighting for Social Security Disability benefits and the major differences between a Social Security Disability Attorney and a Social Security Disability Advocate.

Getting Social Security Disability benefits is becoming harder than ever before to get a favorable decision without a lawyer. Mr. Shapiro says, “In an evolving climate where Administrative Law Judges are enlisting medical and vocational experts on the majority of their cases, it has become increasingly difficult for a claimant to obtain disability benefits without representation.  He adds, ” A skilled and experienced attorney can cross-examine and interrogate the experts and work to lay out the evidence in your case to develop a winning theory that will allow the Administrative Law Judge to approve your case on the merits.  The importance of having an attorney and bringing your ‘A’ game at the administrative hearing is magnified when reviewing the level of success at the Appeals Council for claimants denied at the hearing level.”

For the eager litigators and those looking to hone in on their interrogation skills, Mr. Shapiro shed some light on the structure of Administrative Law Judge hearings, which are generally known as a non-adversarial process, although that is changing as well. Mr. Shapiro stated, “Over the last year, the Social Security Disability program has been receiving publicity for the wrong reasons. Fraud perpetrated by a select number of physicians and claimants in an effort to obtain disability benefits has altered the disability culture that we have come to know. As a result, the Social Security Disability program has become the new whipping boy for Congressional debate.”

As a precaution going forward, many Administrative Law Judges are using resources that were previously far from common practice. While the Social Security Administration does not employ an attorney to represent its interests at the hearing, medical and vocational experts are growing in popularity as a tool to give judges evidence in the form of expert testimony that often times will result in medical or vocational findings contrary to what your treating physician indicates. Mr. Shapiro said, “The well-versed attorney will need to thoroughly review his or her file and evidence of record and develop a theory and strategy in anticipation of cross-examining the expert witnesses called by the Administrative Law Judge. The attorney must think on his or her feet, have the ability to conduct a direct examination of his or her client, as well as a cross-examination of potentially multiple expert witnesses, including physicians. The attorney must research and learn about various medical conditions so he or she can question a physician about something the physician has been practicing for decades – a difficult task but one that requires the preparation akin to that of a trial.”

Mr. Shapiro also cautions about using a ‘Social Security Disability Advocate’ rather than an attorney in Social Security Disability Claims. The Social Security Disability application process is a very delicate structure, involving claimants who are facing dire financial and medical straits and often are looking for legal assistance and someone who will listen. Turley, Redmond Rosasco & Rosasco has become known throughout New York as being a firm that does not practice as an assembly line.  Mr. Shapiro says, “The attorneys and paralegals take the time to answer all questions and a personal touch is provided throughout the application process. This is not the norm however, as many non-attorney advocacy groups have increased in size and enlist “advocates,” not attorneys, to handle the serious process of Administrative Law Judge hearings.”

The hearing will determine the outcome of your claim and have a major effect on your financial status because by the time of the hearing, a claimant has likely been out of work for well over one year. Advocates are sent to do whatever hearings are on the schedule that day, and do not have the ability or the knowledge of the Social Security laws and regulations to invest the same amount of time and file preparation into a claimant and his or her file when compared to an attorney.

Mr Shapiro explains, “It is becoming far too commonplace where claimants receive an ‘Unfavorable Decision’ from an Administrative Law Judge after appearing with an advocate and then call an attorney explaining that they did not even meet or speak with the advocate until the morning of the hearing, they were not prepared for their testimony and the Administrative Law Judge did not know everything about their medical condition and impairments.” He adds, “An advocate tends to be a hired gun rather than an attorney who invests time and effort into every file and helps guide you from the initial application through the administrative hearing. When your financial  future is on the line and you are forced to testify in front of an Administrative Law Judge, wouldn’t you want an attorney who practices law and specializes in Social Security and its programs rather than a non-attorney representative who just knows you as a name on a piece of paper?”

Should you have any questions about social security disability or need help with your claim, please feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.

Bill Turley to Run 5K in support of Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk

Posted in Firm News & Events

Attorney Bill Turley runs for charity

 

On Saturday, May 10th, Senior Partner Bill Turley will be running the 14th Annual 5K Race/Walk Fun Run in support of the Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk (VNSHS). Bill started running back in High School as a member of the track team and has been an avid runner ever since. He runs every other day and has participated in many races over the years including the popular Cow Harbor Run in Northport.

This is Bill’s third time running in support of the VNSHS. He says, “I am by no means a championship runner. I usually wind up somewhere in the middle of the pack. For me it’s all about supporting this wonderful and caring organization. This year I am running in memory of my sister-in-law, Donna Andrews, who died of cancer in 2011.” Bill’s wife Elaine, who is an Elder Law and Estate Attorney, will also be participating and walking to lend her support to the organization.

The race begins at 9 a.m. and includes 1.6 miles of the historic Cow Harbor course. All proceeds of the race supports the VNSHS Annual Bereavement Retreat for Children. If you would like to show support or participate in the race go to www.visitingnurseservice.org.

Good luck Bill! All of us at Turley, Redmond, Rosasco and Rosasco are rooting for you in this great cause!

Workers’ Compensation Attorney Jaclyn Simmons to Speak at Suffolk Academy of Law

Posted in Firm News & Events, NY Workers Compensation Claims

Turley, Redmond, Rosasco and Rosasco workers’ compensation Attorney Jaclyn Simmons will be presenting a lesson at the Suffolk Academy of Law on Tuesday, May 6th in Hauppauge.  The class program, “Workers’ Compensation for the Conscientious Practitioner,” is part of the academy’s spring continuing legal education curriculum. Ms. Simmons will be speaking about the financial penalties and liability exposure for uninsured employers.

The program will be helpful to other workers’ compensation attorneys, personal injury attorneys and those who represent employers.  Ms. Simmons says, “Employers are heavily fined for not carrying  workers’ compensation insurance when required. This lecture gives an overview of when it’s needed, when it’s not, and what to do if you are faced with a penalty.”

Jaclyn Simmons has been with Turley, Redmond, Rosasco and Rosasco for 10 years and has given many lectures on workers’ compensation law throughout her career. To learn more about  our workers’ compensation department and other practice areas click here.

The class is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.  If you would like to participate in the class, see  the SCBA website for tuition information.

 

Scaffold Law: The Argument Between Workers and Contractors Continue

Posted in Construction Accidents, Labor News, Uncategorized

The long debate over whether or not the Scaffold Law should be reformed or repealed continues. In short, contractors, property owners and insurers want it repealed because they feel it is antiquated and biased against them. Labor advocates want it to remain and continue to protect the safety of New York construction workers.

The Scaffold Law was enacted in New York back in 1885 to hold employers accountable in upholding safety measures for workers that were laboring at dangerous heights during the skyscraper boom. Over the years, there has been some lobbying in an attempt to repeal the law, but in recent months there has been a growing push from opposers to eradicate the Scaffold Law.

Contractors, property owners and insurers maintain that the Scaffold Law doesn’t hold workers responsible for their own safety if they are not following  proper precautions on the job. If a worker gets injured on a construction site due their their own unsafe work habits, contractors claim that the Scaffold Law still holds them accountable for the worker’s accident resulting in substantial payouts for lawsuit settlements.

Workers and advocates have been fighting back just as hard to keep it in place. Unions are standing firm about the Scaffold Law being a  necessary component to ensuring safety in the above ground construction workplace. Supporters of the law say that it forces contractors to adhere to safety rules and regulations.

Advocates also argue that if the Scaffold Law is repealed then property owners and contractors will fall short in ensuring safety for construction workers.  They also assert that this will put  minority and immigrant laborers in harm’s way.  The Scaffold Law protects both union and non-union workers. Minority and immigrant laborers are more inclined to work for non-union contractors and as a result, may not get the proper safety equipment and training needed. It’s not uncommon for immigrant laborers to fail in reporting unsafe working conditions for fear of being fired.

There has been some buzz about Governor Cuomo having a hand in possibly making changes to the law, but at this juncture it looks like the Scaffold Law will remain as is.

 
 
Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Redmond, Rosasco and Rosasco contributed to the writing of this post.

New Study Finds Low Back Pain Leading Cause of Disability

Posted in Construction Accidents, Health Info, Uncategorized

Low back pain

A new study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases journal reported that low back pain is a leading cause of disability not only in the United States, but worldwide. 1 out of every 10 people suffer from some type of low back pain. Out of 21 regions studied, the top regions for disability were Western Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The lowest numbers in disability from low back pain were in the areas of the Caribbean and Latin America. The study was conducted over a 6 year span and used data about back pain from other studies dating back as early as 1990.

Study author Damian Hoy from the University of Queensland’s School of Population Health in Australia says, “Low back pain is something that almost all people experience at some point in their lives.” He adds, “It is something common across sexes, age groups, countries, socioeconomic groups, education levels and occupation.”

The global study looked at 300 other disabling conditions compared to low back pain. Many different circumstances may lead to the risk of low back pain but some of the contributing factors may be higher than others. In the US,  a leading contributor  to those with low back pain had jobs that involved heavy lifting or were extremely stressful. It was also found that men as a group have a larger risk of developing low back pain than women.

Dr. Anders Cohen, Chief of Neurosurgery and Spine Surgery at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York concurs with the findings. He says, “Back pain is the number one cause of lost work days in the U.S.”   The problem is expected to become more common as the world population ages. The author of the study notes that governments and  health services  need to pay more attention to the disability problems that low back pain causes.