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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

New Unfair Social Security Disability “Redeterminations” Based on Fraud by Convicted Lawyer Raymond LaValle Representation Should Be Challenged

Posted in Raymond LaVallee Social Security Lawyer, Social Security Disability, Social Security Disability Fraud, Social Security Disability lawyer, Social Security Disability Redeterminations

Just this week, more legitimately disabled individuals became victims of the criminal acts of their former Social Security Disability attorney, Raymond LaValle, and his criminal associates Thomas Hale, Joseph Esposito and John Minerva.

See my prior posts here and here discussing the unfairness of lumping all claimants represented by Mr. LaValle into an overly broad allegation of fraud. Since that time, I have won many cases by proving to Social Security that many of the claimants represented by Mr. LaValle were in fact disabled under the Social Security law. Social Security was trying to take away their well deserved benefits through “guilt by association” for having made the simple mistake of choosing the wrong lawyer.

Now Social Security is making a new push to round up legitimately disabled in the alleged fraud net.  Just this week I received calls from three claimants that I believe have been unfairly caught up in this bureaucratic investigation. Social Security is now assuming the claimant is guilty and making the claimant prove themselves innocent by excluding certain medical evidence from use in proving their case.    Every person who has called me this week about the “Redetermination “letters they received has been on Social Security Disability for 15-20 years. Over that time period, Social Security has continued to review their cases and found them with a continuing disability. Hmm…

Now 20 years later, they receive what they describe as an “intimidating” letter from Social Security demanding a response in 30 days saying they might not be disabled after all. One of these individuals is a 9/11 FDNY hero who was disabled  due to a lung prior to 9/11. Despite being severely disabled before 9/11, he still went in to work on the pile at Ground Zero to rescue and recover his brothers.  This is a disgrace and this is not American justice.

However, there may be some hopeful due process and justice on the horizon. This past March,US District Court Judge Pamela Chen decided a “redetermination” case against the Social Security Administration. This important case, Chilson_v_ColvinSSA  (shout out to my friend and fellow SSD attorney Louis Burko for the win!) seriously questioned the constitutionality of Social Security’s procedures in “Redetermination” cases like this. Part of the Judge’s comnments are below

“With respect to Plaintiff’s assertion that ALJ Farrell’s exclusion of medical evidence was overbroad (Pl.’s Br. 8-10), the Court makes the following observations. First, the provisions of that Act that address DIB redeterminations based on the SSA’s receipt of information suggesting an initial determination was tainted by fraud “or similar fault,” 42 U.S.C. § 405(u)—which, the parties agree, govern the SSA’s exclusion of evidence in Plaintiff’s case—define “similar fault” as conduct involving “an incorrect or incomplete statement that is material to the determination [that is] knowingly made,” or conduct involving “information that is material to the determination [that is] knowingly concealed.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(u)(2) (emphases added). Yet, as Plaintiff rightly argues, the SSA does not address this “knowledge” or mens rea element anywhere in its submissions. (Pl.’s Br. 9-10.) Indeed, rather than address what appears to be a mens rea requirement of 42 U.S.C. § 405(u)(2), the SSA points to an internal manual of procedure, “Hearings, Appeals, and Litigation Law Manual (HALLEX),” and emphasizes that a “preponderance of evidence” standard does not apply to its determination that there is “reason to believe” that an applicant’s evidence was tainted by fraud or similar fault. While the SSA is generally entitled to deference in interpreting its authorizing statute and regulations, see United States v. Mead, 533 U.S. 218, 227-28 (2001), it may not ignore the plain meaning of the Act, which defines “similar fault” as certain conduct that is done “knowingly.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(u).

Second, the Court is troubled by the effect that the SSA’s redetermination and evidence exclusion procedures have in the specific circumstances of Plaintiff’s case.Taking a step back, the Court observes that Plaintiff’s DIB have essentially been denied based on a letter by the DA’s office informing the SSA that the DA’s office investigated and decided to prosecute Plaintiff’s former attorney and former psychiatrist. (Tr. 229-30.) Based on that letter, the SSA determined that Plaintiff was no longer eligible for disability benefits, and, in her redetermination hearing before ALJ Farrell, Plaintiff was effectively precluded from giving any evidence whatsoever of her mental health during the relevant period. Indeed, based merely on a suspicion and guilt by association, without any fact-finding in the record as to Plaintiff’s culpability in the fraud scheme, the SSA disregarded not only Plaintiff’s records from the health providers in question, but also all of Plaintiff’s allegations regarding a mental impairment diagnosed by a discredited doctor; as well as all medical evidence from other sources that was based in whole or in part on Plaintiff’s allegations of a mental impairment alleged in her original application for disability benefits. In other words, the SSA withdrew Plaintiff’s benefits, disregarded her existing medical records, and told Plaintiff that she was barred from even giving testimony as to her mental health condition in the relevant time period and, in effect, from obtaining any medical evidence regarding her mental health—all of this without determining whether Plaintiff knew of, or knowingly participated in, the fraud scheme. The Court questions whether this procedure for adjudicating Plaintiff’s entitlement to DIB satisfies the requirements of Due Process guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. See Basciano v. Herkimer, 605 F.2d 605, 609 (2d Cir. 1978); Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976). However, given the alternative grounds on which to remand this action, the Court abstains from this constitutional issue at this time.”

If you get a “Redetermination” letter from Social Security, contact a good New York  Social Security Disability lawyer right away. You may have only 30 days to respond to the letter to preserve your rights to fight the case. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 1-800-671-4927

 

9/11 Health Watch Fundraiser in New York City Honors Denis Hughes

Posted in 9/11 Cancer Claim, 9/11 Health Watch, 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, 9/11 Zadroga Act, World Trade Center Health Program, WTC Cancer, WTC Health Program

NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento with Troy Rosasco

Last night was the annual fundraiser for 9/11 Health Watch, a vital organization supporting  9/11 victims and their families. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Law Firm of Turley Hansen & Rosasco was pleased to financially support 9/11  Health Watch at the Advocate Level as we have done in the past. As always, Executive Director Ben Chevat organized a great evening.

The honoree last night was former New York State AFL-CIO Union President Denis Hughes. Mr. Hughes was President of the AFL-CIO on 9/11.  Following the September 11th tragedy, Mr. Hughes led labor’s successful efforts to secure $billions in federal funding to help rebuild New York City. After the Word Trade Center buildings came down, he also helped coordinate the statewide union response to help in the rescue, recovery and cleanup at Ground Zero. Current AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento (pictured above with Turley Hansen & Rosasco partner Troy Rosasco) introduced Denis Hughes and presented him with a plaque from 9/11 Health Watch in recognition of distinguished service to 9/11 victims and the entire city in their months of need.

The New York State AFL-CIO is an umbrella organization of over 3,000 public sector, private sector, and building trades unions throughout New York State.  The AFL-CIO represents over 2.5 million members, retirees and their families. This umbrella organization of unions, which is the largest in the country, is committed to the fight for social and economic justice for all workers of all backgrounds and nationalities.  The foundation of our movement is the belief that we are stronger together.

Bottom Line – New York City could never have recovered from the devastating impact 9/11 had it not been for the strength of our loyal and dedicated union workforce.  First, they worked tirelessly for months to clean up all the steel and toxic debris (much of which is now causing 9/11 related cancers) from the World Trade Center buildings. Second, they then began to long process of rebuilding lower Manhattan culminating in the completion of the 9/11 Memorial and the new One World Trade Center building.  And it was people like Denis Hughes that helped Captain the labor union ship.

9/11 Health Watch was instrumental in helping pass the recent Reauthorization of the James Zadroga Health & Compensation Act of 2015.  It is also a force behind the ongoing success of the World Trade Center Health Program. If you are able to help support this vital organization, please visit their website here to become a member or  to make a donation.

 

 

Social Security Disability Firm of Binder & Binder Laying Off Majority of Employees

Posted in Binder & Binder, Social Security Disability, Social Security Disability lawyer

Binder & Binder plans to lay off 100

photo credit: Google Maps

As reported in today’s Newsday, the former nationwide Social Security Disability firm of Binder & Binder has announced that it is laying off 100 of 147 employees from its Hauppauge, Long Island headquarters effective December 11, 2017 due to bankruptcy.  I have been reporting on the Binder & Binder bankruptcy for over three years and and this final sad outcome was inevitable. See my prior Binder & Binder bankruptcy posts here and here.

In addition, Binder and Binder plans to close its Long Island City, Queens, office and lay off all 90 employees, also on Dec. 11th.  It previously closed it’s Tampa office. That’s 190 employees losing their jobs right before holidays.  Our law firm is already getting resumes from soon to be unemployed attorneys, advocates and  paralegals. Sad.

Word on the street is that Binder & Binder is going to ship most of its New York pending claims to a Massachusetts firm for future representation. If true, current Binder & Binder clients would have to agree to the transfer to the out of state firm. 

Personally, after practicing Social Security Disability law in New York for over 25 years and winning over 10,000 Social Security Disability claims, I have no idea why any New York client would want an out-of-state firm to handle something as important as their Social Security Disability claim. Out of state attorneys and advocates generally have little to no experience appearing before the Administrative Law Judges who have been  deciding cases in New York for years.

An experienced local  Social Security Disability lawyer may have appeared before your Judge hundreds of times and knows the proof that particular judge requires to approve your case.  Many good local Social Security Disability attorneys have credibility with the local judges. This advantage cannot be underestimated.

As sad as these layoffs are for the Binder & Binder employees, it is also a sad day for the Binder and Binder clients who may be impacted by having their cases transferred to an out-of-state representative. I wish them all the best.

If you would like a free, no obligation case review regarding a pending Social Security Disability claim and you are currently represented by Binder & Binder, please call us at 1-877-NY-DBLAW (1-877-693-2529) or direct at 631-518-6131.

We look forward to speaking to you.

 

 

 

 

Were You There? Residents and Downtown Workers Eligible for 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and Free Health Benefits

Posted in 9/11 Cancer Claim, 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, WTC Cancer, WTC Compensation Fund, WTC Health Program

NYC 9/11 “Crash Site Area”

If you lived or worked in any job in lower Manhattan below Canal Street (see map above)  between 9/11/2001 and 5/30/2002 and have either cancer or a respiratory illness, you may be eligible for free 100% paid health insurance for life and a tax-free cash award from the federal 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Please visit Turley, Hansen & Rosasco at 911cancerclaim.com for more info.

Unfortunately, every day more and more downtown office workers and professionals, downtown residents and first responders in the Ground Zero area are being diagnosed with 9/11 related cancers or respiratory illnesses (such as COPD, interstitial lung disease, WTC cough, RADS  and asthma).

The first step in the process to find out if you have a claim should be to contact an experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund claim lawyer who can screen your individual facts to see if you are eligible for health care and cash benefits. Health care benefits through the World Center Health Program can allow you receive medical care from some of the top doctors and hospitals in the country, including facilities such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and many others. Cash compensation benefits  can include lost earnings if you are unable to work due to your 9/11 illnesses or injury and pain & suffering damages.

A good 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney should help you obtain the sworn witness statements you will need to prove that you were in downtown Manhattan between 9/11/2001 and 5/30/2002. In addition, a good 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund lawyer should help you obtain the medical records necessary to prove that your 9/11 cancer or respiratory condition is related to your exposure to the dust and deadly toxins that covered lower Manhattan for months afterward.

If you are interested in a Free, No Obligation Personal Case Review, call Turley, Hansen & Rosasco today at 1-855-WTC-INFO (1-855-982-4636) or visit us at 911cancerclaim.com where you can see our case award results.

We are proud that our website is one of the most extensive and helpful 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund sites on the internet.  We have literally spent months building this 9/11 website so that you may receive all the information you need about 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund claims.  If there is anything you don’t understand on our website or have questions about lawyer representation in 9/11 claims, please call us at 1-855-WTC-INFO (1-855-982-4636).

Until then, we wish you or your loved one the best of health.

 

9/11 Cancer Eligibility for the Victim Compensation Fund

Posted in 9/11 Cancer Claim, 9/11 VCF Registration, 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, 9/11 Zadroga Act, WTC Cancer, WTC Health Program, Zadroga 9/11 Compensation Fund Claims
NYC 9/11 "Crash Site Area"

NYC 9/11 “Crash Site Area”

If you were in the 9/11 “crash site area” in lower Manhattan as indicated in the above map  during the period of September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002, and have been diagnosed by any of the almost 70 covered 9/11 related cancers, you may be eligible for compensation from the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

Some of the most common 9/11 cancers that responders and survivors are fighting today include:

Some of the most common 9/11 non-cancer conditions include:

If they were in the crash site area between 9/11/2001 and 5/30/2002,  potential 9/11 Victim Compensation claimants include:

  • First Responders
  • Firefighters
  • Police Officers
  • EMTs
  • City Workers
  • 9/11 Volunteers
  • Construction Workers
  • Truckers and Sanitation
  • Utility Workers
  • Cleaners
  • Residents living below Canal St.
  • Workers below Canal St.
  • Students below Canal St.

It should be noted that these lists of potential claimants and conditions are NOT exhaustive.  For a a complete list or to discuss your specific 9/11 related illness or cancer, please call the 9/11 attorneys at Turley Hansen & Partners at 1-855-WTC-INFO.  

Our office can help you file your application for 9/11 Victim Compensation and help you enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program which provides free healthcare for life for 9/11 related conditions.

 

 

 

 

We Will Never Forget September 11th, 2001

Posted in 9/11 Cancer Claim, 9/11 Never Forget, 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, 9/11 Zadroga Act, World Trade Center Health Program, WTC Cancer, Zadroga 9/11 Compensation Fund Claims

Remember 9_11_2001

The attorneys at Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco will never forget 9/11.

We continue to fight every day for health care and compensation for 9/11 responders and survivors. Thankfully, the James Zadroga Reauthorization Act was passed last year which guarantees health care and compensation for years to come, especially to those with 9/11 related cancers.

Please take a moment today to remember all those who lost their lives on 9/11 and all those who continue to fight 9/11 illnesses today. God Bless.

Zadroga 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Re-opens for New Claims

Posted in 9/11 Cancer Claim, 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, WTC Cancer, Zadroga 9/11 Compensation Fund Claims

Sept-11th-Victim-Comp-Fund_Image_Turley_Hansen

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) re-opened yesterday and is accepting new claims after a seven month hiatus. The temporary closure for new claims was necessary to comply with the new James Zadroga Reauthorization Act passed last December. The Fund is now up and running at full speed. All those with new 9/11 illnesses diagnosed since last December, or those who did not complete there claim application prior to December last year, can now file claims through a  9/11 Victim Fund attorney or directly through the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund website.

There are several important things you should know about filing a claim under the new Zadroga 9/11 Reauthorization Act:

  • there is a new 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund 16 page claim form  which must be used. This single form replaces two prior forms which were used to determine “eligibility” and “compensation” in different steps.  The single claim form will relieve claimant’s from having to potentially appeal claims twice;
  • the  VCF will not begin reviewing any new claim until the application is fully complete (including any any supplementary information required in the separate appendix questions). Essentially, Fund claim attorneys and staff want to review completed applications once “soup to nuts” and not in a piecemeal process. This should streamline and quicken the pace of award determinations in the future;
  • the VCF will prioritize claims for victims who are determined by the Special Master to be suffering from the most disabling physical conditions;
  • non-economic (pain and suffering) damages for 9/11 related covered cancers will be capped at $250,000;
  • non-economic damages for non-cancer 9/11 related conditions are capped at $90,000;
  • there no longer are “minimum awards”.  Previously, the minimum award amount was $10,000. This means that certain claimants with certain conditions may receive no compensation award despite having a 9/11 related illness. (Note: you should speak to a 9/11 attorney if you think you may fit into the “zero award” category. Many times, these “zero awards” may be caused by “collateral offsets”);
  • for purposes of calculating economic loss, caps Annual Gross Income (“AGI”) at $200,000 for each year of loss. This may lower awards for claimant’s earning substantially more than $200,000 per year if their 9/11 illness causes a loss of income or benefits.

If you have questions about the “New 9/11 Victim Compensation Claim Form” , a 9/11 cancer compensation claim or  your previously filed claim given the reopening of the VCF, call one of our 9/11 attorneys  at 1-855-WTC-INFO (1-855-982-4636).

Turley Hansen 9/11 Attorney Interviewed by WorkCompCentral for Zadroga Act Cancer Article

Posted in 9/11 Cancer Claim, 9/11 VCF Registration, 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, 9/11 Zadroga Act, World Trade Center Health Program, WTC Cancer, Zadroga 9/11 Compensation Fund Claims

Sept-11th-Victim-Comp-Fund-Turley-Hansen

WorkCompCentral, the leading online publication for news and analysis regarding injured workers, interviewed Turley Hansen partner Troy Rosasco last week to discuss the milestone of $1.52 billion paid out to first responders and other victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

Rosasco said one of the biggest problems 9/11 cancer victims face is missing the strict deadlines to register eligible cancers with the Victim Compensation Fund. At least once a week Turley Hansen has to tell a 9/11 cancer victim or family member that they have missed the strict deadlines. Rosasco says it is “heartbreaking”.

Anyone diagnosed with what they believe is a 9/11 cancer must register with the Victim Compensation Fund within two years of diagnosis, but no later than December 18, 2020.  Click here to register today with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.  Do not delay. You can always choose to hire a 9/11 attorney after you register, but the most important thing is to register so you do not miss the strict deadlines.  If you have questions about 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund registration, eligibility or benefit amounts, feel free to call our office at 1-855-WTC-INFO (1-855-982-4636).

Turley Hansen & Partners has represented more than 1000 first responders, volunteers or residents of lower Manhattan before the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. To date, they have collected over $60 million in cash awards for their clients. See a list of the most common 9/11 related cancers here.

In addition, they have helped many of their clients file for benefits with the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) which provides free healthcare across the country for eligible individuals who lived or worked in the vicinity of Ground Zero, and were exposed to the toxic stew that engulfed the area for months. See a list here of all covered cancers treated by the World Trade Center Health Program.

As for the passage of the Zadroga Reauthorization Act, Rosasco praised Congress:

The citizens of the United States can be very proud of the way their government has acted with both compassion and thoroughness in taking care of [9/11] heroes who risked theoir lives for others. With all the criticisms of Congress and Washington that we here these days, this is one Act that Congress can be very proud of.

 

9/11 WTC Compensation Fund to Issue New Zadroga Act Regulations Next Week

Posted in 9/11 Cancer Claim, 9/11 Health Registry, 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, 9/11 Zadroga Act, WTC Cancer, WTC Compensation Fund, WTC Health Program, Zadroga 9/11 Compensation Fund Claims

Sept-11th-Victim-Comp-Fund-Turley-Hansen

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund will issue an important new Final Rule on June 15, 2016 which will help clarify new procedures for filing claims under the James Zadroga Reauthorization Act.

Since the Zadroga Act was reauthorized, 9/11 WTC lawyers like Turley Hansen have not been able to file new claims while we awaited these new regulations and new claim forms.

In addition, the 9/11 VCF will begin making new Group B (claimants with loss determination awards dated after 12/17/15) award decisions by the end of June on a rolling basis.  This will be great news for the many 9/11  responders and victims who did not fit into the Group A category (VCF award determinations 12/17/15 or before).  Many of them have been waiting many years for their compensation awards and light is now at the end of the tunnel.

For Group B loss decisions that begin being issued in late June, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund expects to begin authorizing payments to claimants by the end of August.

The WTC Compensation Fund expects that a that a small percentage of Group B claim loss decisions will be monetarily smaller than Group A claims for the same conditions.  The rational behind this should become more clear after the new Rule is issued on June 15th.  We will post the new rule as soon as it becomes available on our 9/11 Zadroga Act Info site, zadrogaclaimsinfo.com and on our Zadroga Act Cancer Info Facebook page.

Important: Remember that you must “Register” with the Victim Compensation Fund within certain deadlines depending on your 9/11 related diagnosis. Unfortunately, every day we are hearing from more 9/11 responders and downtown Manhattan residents who have  succumbed to 9/11 WTC  cancers and other illnesses. You only have two (2) years to register your claim with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund if you have a 9/11 related cancer. See the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund registration deadline chart here.

For example, if you were diagnosed with 9/11 related lung cancer on August 1, 2014, you only have until August 1, 2016 to “register” your claim with the VCF.  Missed registration deadlines are some of the saddest situations we must deal with when we speak to clients each day. If you have a question on 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Registration Deadlines, call us today at 1-855-WTC-INFO (1-855-982-4636).

We will have more information for you on this important new Zadroga Act Rule when it is issued by the WTC Compensation Fund on June 15th. Until then, have a nice weekend and stay healthy.

 

 

Important New WTC Status Report from 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

Posted in 9/11 Cancer Claim, 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, 9/11 Zadroga Act, Zadroga 9/11 Compensation Fund Claims

Sept-11th-Victim-Comp-Fund

9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) Special Master Sheila Birnbaum issued an important new report this week on the status of claims processing for first responders and other victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. See the key dates on the 911 Zadroga Act Reauthorization Timeline here. The Special Master highlighted the fact that the Fund has now paid out over $1 billion in the last five years, including many WTC 9/11 cancer claims. It is clear that the Victim Compensation Fund has ironed out almost all the kinks the fund had initially, and victims are now receiving timely loss determination awards. See the Special Master’s May 2016 9/11 Claim Status Report here.

The following are some important accomplishments and milestones passed by the VCF since the Reauthorization:

Group A Claims

  • Authorized full payments for expedited claims that do not have any issues preventing payment;
  • Authorized full payments for claimants who previously received a 10% payment and do not have any issues preventing payment;
  • Authorized 100% payments for claimants who have never received a VCF payment and do not have any issues preventing payment;
  • Authorized payments for claimants who previously received a loss determination letter that included a notice of missing information;
  • Group A payments completed (VCF activity complete) Department of Justice (DOJ) and Treasury Department finish processing Group A payments.

Group B Claims

  • Reviewed Group B claims received prior to December 18, 2015 for completeness from oldest to most recent; sent Missing Information letters as needed; received and reviewed responses to missing information requests; calculated preliminary loss based on draft regulations; Public comment period ends Release sample new hard copy forms Complete Government review; publish Interim Final Rule effective June 15 and begin public comment period.
  • Defined updated policies and procedures;
  • Drafted updated regulations (including required updates to loss calculation methodology);
  • Initiated official rule-making process – requires review and approval of regulations by various Government offices.

The new 9/11 VCF Message from Special Master Sheila Birnbaum clearly shows the impressive job the VCF is currently doing. I know many of you are  still waiting patiently to receive your the financial awards you deserve. However, assuming you or your attorney have submitted all the information required for the VCF to make a loss determination in your case, you should be seeing light at the end of the tunnel shortly.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us for a Free Claim Evaluation at 1-855-WTC-INFO (1-855-982-4636). Have a great Memorial Day weekend!