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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

Walmart and McDonald’s Want to “Deform” Workers’ Comp and “Re-engineer Social Justice”

Posted in Health Info, Labor News, NY Workers Compensation Claims, Uncategorized

Last March the New York Disability Law Blog posted on the the “Demolition of Workers’ Comp”, an excellent piece of investigative journalism co-produced by NPR and ProPublica. At that time, we highlighted that employer workers’ compensation costs were at a 25 year low.  Despite employers paying less for workers’ comp, they still did awful things like deny an injured worker a prosthetic hand for the real one he lost on the job.  Instead, the employer offered him a metal hook!  I kid you not.

Now comes the second installment entitled “Inside Corporate America’s Campaign to Ditch Workers’ Comp” and the plight of injured workers seems bleaker than just six months ago.

A shrewd Texas corporate lawyer by the name of Bill Minick proudly proclaims “We’re talking about re-engineering one of the pillars of social justice…”(i.e.,Workers’ Compensation).  Mess with the “pillars of social justice”?! 

Really Bill? You may be the son of an evangelist, but you are not God!  

There is nothing wrong with trying to reduce employer workers’ comp costs (even if it at a 25 year low). There is nothing wrong with promoting employee safety and appropriate return to work. There is nothing wrong with eliminating both employer and employee fraud.  There is nothing wrong with elimination of inefficiencies in the system. Workers’ comp can always be improved.

But only a crazed zealot would attempt to tear down “one of the pillars of social justice” while making it all sound reasonable to legislatures and the public at large.  One need only look to recent history  to recognize the permanent harm crazed zealots can do. One need only look at the horrors workers’ comp “deform” has produced for injured workers so far.   Beware!

After reading the the almost inconceivable, anti-worker provisions in the “Opt-out workers’ compensation plans” Minick, Walmart and McDonald’s propose, one can only conclude that states such as Texas and Oklahoma are travelling backwards to the days of “robber barons” exploiting injured workers to gorge on ever increasing profits.  These are the types of abuses that the original workers’ compensation laws and “pillars of social justice” seeks to abolish.

Historic workplace tragedies such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and more recently, 9/11  are not forgotten.  Workplace shootings seem to be almost daily occurrences in the nightly news. Progressive workers’ compensation laws, first proposed by Theodore Roosevelt, still serve the remedial and humanitarian goals of protecting the economic interests of both workers and employers.

Thankfully, Congress is watching. See the below letter from prominent members of Congress who are watching this issue closely.

Congress Letter to DOL re workers comp oversight 10-20-15 (2)


Protective Legislation for Workers – St. John’s Law School Spring 2015 Wrap-Up

Posted in Disability Pensions, Firm News & Events, Long Term Disability / ERISA, NY Workers Compensation Claims, Social Security Disability, Zadroga 9/11 Compensation Fund Claims

St Johns Law Logo

My third year of teaching the course Protective Legislation for Workers was the charm. As a new course developed by Prof. Barouh and myself, we have steadily fine-tuned the class based on student feedback and trial and error. Fifteen excellent students (mostly third year) brought the class alive this spring with insightful and regular participation in our seminar format.

I was very impressed with their essay answers on the final exam and wished many of them good luck after graduation. Most of our graduating third year students have new attorney jobs already, with at least half going into labor & employment, workers’ compensation or disability law. This is a testament to the strong labor & employment law program at St. John’s led by Prof. David Gregory.

I wish everyone a safe and restful summer.

Adding Insult to Injury – The Demolition of Workers’ Comp

Posted in Construction Accidents, Labor News, NY Workers Compensation Claims

This week National Public Radio and ProPublica released an eye-opening report, The Demolition of Workers’ Comp, detailing how state workers’ comp benefits for injured workers have been slashed across the US leaving many to live in poverty without proper medical care.

Could this happen in New York? Unfortunately, the answer is “Yes”. As New York workers’ comp lawyers, we can see the hand writing on the wall if something is not done soon. Here are some sad lowlights from the article:

  • Dennis Whedbee lost his arm on the job. The workers’ compensation insurance company refused to give him a prosthetic hand. They offered him a hook instead!
  • Joel Ramirez is a paraplegic due to a work accident in a warehouse. He needs assistance with bathing and toileting on a daily basis. The workers’ comp insurance company took away his home health aide leaving him sitting in his own urine and feces. His wife had to quit her job cleaning houses to take care of him.
  • John Coffell suffered a severe lower back injury working in a factory. His workers’ comp checks are so low his truck was repossessed and his family was evicted from their apartment. His family had to split up to live with relatives and some live in a family camper.

While injured workers in New York are facing similar indignities, employers continue to lobby to cut workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers even more despite:

  • Employer workers’ compensation costs are at a 25 year low.
  • Workers’ comp insurance companies are making record profits.
  • “Employer fraud” is growing as a result of misclassification of workers.

As a result of the unending cuts in workers’ comp benefits in the last decade, the cost of work related accidents have been shifted to the Social Security disability program, Medicare and Medicaid. Essentially, costs properly borne by employers only a decade ago are increasingly being shifted to taxpayers. With employers paying less for work related injuries, they have less incentive to prevent work accidents in the first place – which is in everyone’s’ best interest. Bottom line – the workplace is getting more dangerous, employer costs have gone down dramatically and insurance companies are still making record profits.

The “Demolition of Workers’ Comp” and accompanying info on the NPR website is well-researched and traces the origins of workers’ compensation law and the “grand bargain” between workers and employers: injured workers gave up their right to sue negligent employers in return for prompt lost wage and medical benefits. Employer and business interests are now trying to renege on that century old bargain by gutting state workers’ compensation laws. Do employers really want to go back to a system where they have to defend against employee lawsuits? I don’t think so.

Employers and business should keep their “hands off” workers’ compensation and the fair “grand bargain”.

Is Working While On Disability a Contradiction?

Posted in Social Security Disability, Uncategorized

Working while on Social Security Disability


You know someone who has been involved in an accident that has affected his ability to perform his duties at work. He applies for disability, and receives it; but then you find out that he is working at another job.

You scratch your head and wonder how it’s possible that someone who is receiving disability is able to continue working. Isn’t that some sort of conflict of interest? Actually, it isn’t. As surprising as it may sound, the government actually offers incentives to those who are on disability. The aim of these incentives is to encourage those who are on disability to return to work so that they can regain financial independence.

Take the case of a banquet server from California. She worked for more than 3 decades and was involved in a serious car accident that left her with ruptured disks in her back and neck. She required physical therapy and surgery, and was no longer able to keep up with the physical demands of her job. This forced her to file for disability.

Since she had a good work history and paid into Social Security, she was eligible to collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) when she needed it. While on disability, she received the funds she needed to pay bills and other expenses. However, once she recovered to a point where she felt like she could return to work, she decided to take advantage of the government-sponsored “Ticket to Work” program. This program allowed her to learn a new skill, data-entry, which she now uses in her new position.

She started out earning minimum wage, which wasn’t enough to pay her bills. The wage she earned, coupled with the funds she received from her SSDI allowed her to make ends meet. She was eventually promoted to a supervisory position in her new-found job, and was able to support herself financially from the wage she earned from her new job.

How Does It Work?

There are two types of Social Security benefits that people with disabilities can qualify for: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). People can qualify for one or both, and both offer the option to work and collect benefits at the same time.

In short, in order to qualify for either type of disability, the following criteria must be met:

  • Suffered a disability that will last for a year or longer
  • Worked a specific period of time
  • Must have paid Social Security taxes

During the trial period of the work incentive program, an individual tests his or her ability to work while still receiving full disability. All work activity has to be reported, and they must earn at least $770 a month.

The work incentive programs that the government offers those who are on disability has positively impacted many people’s lives.

Should you have any questions about  whether you are eligible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits,  please feel free to call or fill out the contact us form at the top of this page.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All New York Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Claimants!

Posted in Firm News & Events, Health Info, Labor News, NY Workers Compensation Claims, Social Security Disability

On behalf of all the attorneys and staff at the New York disability and workers’ compensation law firm of Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP, we would like to wish all our clients, friends and fellow travelers in the disability community a very Merry Christmas and a Brave New Year!

Social Security Disability Advocates Binder & Binder Officially File for Bankruptcy

Posted in Health Info, Labor News, Social Security Disability

As reported in the Wall Street Journal today, the nation-wide Social Security Disability firm of Binder and Binder formally filed for bankruptcy last night in New York.  The bankruptcy petition filed with the Court is 62 pages long (we will post on Monday) and lists current total employees as of October 2014 at 966.  The bankruptcy petition indicates that the staff at Binder & Binder will shrink, presumably by closing offices and layoffs, to 355 employees as of December 2016. In addition, employee benefits will shrink by approximately one third.

According to the petition filed in Court, there will be no more Call Center employees or Case Interviewers by June 2015.   Also, many talented employees will immediately try to find new positions in other Social Security Disability law firms.    Finally, the current active client caseload of 57,968 is estimated  to shrink to 15,163 by December 2016.  This most likely means that Binder & Binder will stop taking any new cases immediately and simply wind down the existing stockpile. Many existing clients are likely to abandon ship now and retain new Social Security Disability lawyers.

This is a sad day for all of Binder’s Social Security Disability clients who are currently represented by… “America’s Most Successful Social Security Advocates”.


Social Security Disability Firm Binder & Binder Prepares for Bankruptcy

Posted in Health Info, Long Term Disability / ERISA, Social Security Disability


“The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”  As reported originally in the Wall Street Journal, Binder & Binder, one of America’s largest Social Security Disability Advocate corporations is preparing for possible bankruptcy this week.

The company is facing roughly $40 million dollars in debt due in part to the expensive and ubiquitous late night commercials featuring Charlie Binder in his infamous cowboy hat. In addition, the company is getting squeezed due to shrinking demand for its services and greater government scrutiny of Social Security disability claims.

Binder & Binder was once a small Long Island law firm founded by brothers Harry and Charles Binder. Over the years, they grew exponentially due to TV and internet advertising. The firm was eventually converted into an advocacy corporation with non-lawyer representatives. In 2010, the brothers sold a large stake in their company to a division of H.I.G. Capital, a Miami-based private-equity firm, for an undisclosed sum.  Sounds like the brothers got out just in time, and HIG investors may now be holding the bag.

In my opinion, this is a good example why Social Security disability representation should be left to smaller local law firms rather than mega-national corporations with non-attorney advocates. The Social Security Administration should rescind fee withholding for non-attorney advocates which are the steroids allowing Binder & Binder and similar corporations to grow exponentially.

It is clear that the Binder & Binder non-attorney advocate business model may now be imploding on a massive scale, and its reported 57,000 clients are possibly at risk.  


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.