Last Friday, Newsday published an edited version of my Letter to the Editor criticizing their article about the reasons for the increase in Social Security disability claims. The Newsday article argued that one of the reasons Social Security disability claims were up was due to lax disability standards.
A few important nuggets of truth remained in my letter which will hopefully resonate with most New Yorkers. According to Social Security stastistics, the grim fact is that 1 in 5 male and 1 in 7 female disability recipients die within 5 years of being granted benefits. So if the average age that someone receives disability payments is 55, the fact is that many will never collect a dime of regular Social Security retirement benefits.
This saves Social Security a ton of cash! This “found money” in their “retirement trust fund” can always be used to supplement the “disability trust fund”. The drum banging about the “death of the “disability trust fund in 2016″ is nothing more than the inarticulate playing of a bunch of right wing, anti-entitlement percussionists.
As the residents of Queens know so well, getting Social Security disability benefits in New York is no easy task. Despite the large majority of Social Security judges being of the highest integrity, the simple fact is that the standards to get disability have never been higher than they have in the past year. Nationwide, approvals at the administrative judge level have dropped by nearly 10% in the last year. Judges are calling more medical and vocational experts to testify than ever before. Claimants have no choice but to hire Social Security disability attorneys to cross-examine these professional experts called by the judges. Many claimants are poor and extremely sick.
Although there are certainly areas for improvement in the disability system (such as worker re-training), lets not throw the most vulnerable to the curb so fast. After all, government stats show that many will be dead soon enough.
October 3, 2013 is the final deadline for many first responders and survivors of the attacks on September 11th to register for cash benefits from the WTC Victim Compensation Fund.
Sheila Birnbaum, Special Master of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, will be coming to Commack, Long Island on Thursday, July 11th for a Town Hall meeting and question and answer session about the Zadroga Act and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Linda Carson and Angela Luongo of our Zadroga Team will be their to assist our clients and others.
The meeting starts at 6:00pm at CSEA Local 1000 Headquarters where my good friend Nick Lamorte is President of the union. Nick and I have known each other for over 30 years going back to our old Farmingdale High School days where we both played football. Thanks Nick for providing your facility for this important public service.
The Victim Compensation Fund was re-opened as part of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2011 and allows up to $2.8 billion for survivors and first responders suffering from a specific list of cancers and other ailments as a resulting from the tragedy. According to the Department of Justice, 17,453 people have registered for the fund, 53 claims have been resolved and $6 million in compensation has been awarded to date. A small portion of this compensation will be paid at the time of the original award with the large bulk being paid in 2016-17.
The executive director the non-profit group 9/11 Health Watch has expressed that there is no telling how many may be eligible.
Processing applications for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund under the Zadroga Act is a lengthy, complex process (see the linked FAQ’s for example) - however, some claims can be worth in the millions of dollars depending on if a claimant cannot work anymore due to their 9/11 illnesses. It is important to apply as soon as possible.
Feel free to call us toll free at 1-855-WTC-INFO for a Free Consultation or visit us at www.zadrogaclaimsinfo.com for more information.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has recently proposed an unusual plan to relieve the debt of some 10,000 state-wide businesses who are members of failed, dissolved or defaulted group insurance trusts so that they can better provide coverage for work-related injuries. The idea is to rearrange financing through public channels to cover about $800 million in Workers’ Compensation liabilities. Specifically, it will permit the Workers’ Compensation Board to issue bonds to cover liabilities through the Dormitory Authority of New York. For more information on this proposition, go ahead and check out this link.
Good News! Dr. John Howard, Administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program, proposed a new federal rule on 7/2/13 which would add Prostate Cancer to the list of illnesses covered by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act and the WTC Health Program. Click here to see how you can support this proposed important rule.
If this rule becomes final, we fully expect that 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Special Master Sheila Birnbaum will also add Prostate Cancer to the list of eligible cancers for monetary awards under the VCF.
Any 9/11 first responder or survivor who is suffering from prostate cancer (even if currently in remission) or family member of a deceased prostate cancer victim should contact a Zadroga Act attorney today to find out how to register by the deadline of October 3, 2013.
Feel free to call us toll free at 1-855-WTC-INFO or visit us at www.zadrogaclaimsinfo.com for more information.
If the Padro vs. Astrue Social Security Disability Class Action Bias case alleging anti-claimant bias against five individual judges in the Jamaica, Queens Hearing Office is approved, what important notifications should claimants who were unfairly denied benefits be on the watch for?
The most important letter they will receive is a letter from the Social Security Administration telling them how to Request a New Disability Hearing and Decision from a New Queens Disability Judge (ALJ). Within 60 days of receiving this letter, claimants must use the form contained in this letter to Request a New Hearing before a New and different Queens disability judge. Failure to do so within 60 days may prevent the claimant from getting a new hearing.
Once you receive this Padro v. Astrue Notification letter, you should immediately contact a Queens Social Security disability lawyer to learn your rights under the settlement. You may be entitled to “six figure cash awards” of retroactive benefits along with Medicare medical insurance. Call us TODAY toll free at 1-877-NY-DBLAW (1-877-693-2529 x123) to discuss your case.
We look forward to hearing from you. If you previously had another attorney or ”Advocate” representing you when you were initially denied benefits, you may want to contact a different Queens Social Security Disability Attorney for a fresh look and second opinion.
Feel free to contact the Queens New York Social Security Disability Lawyers at Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP with offices in Forest Hills for a Free Consultation. Call us TODAY toll free at 1-877-NY-DBLAW (1-877-693-2529 x123) to discuss your case.
Over 4000 Social Security disability claimants who were previously denied disability benefits going back to January 1, 2008 by certain Administrative Law Judges (David Z. Nisnewitz, Seymour Fier, Hazel C. Strauss, Marilyn P. Hoppenfeld, and Michael D. Cofresi) at the Jamaica Social Security Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODAR) are beginning to get mail notification of their rights to new hearings under the terms of a pending class action settlement. The official Notice, which was already printed in the New York Daily News, can be seen here.
My phone has been ringing off the hook since yesterday with claimants who were denied benefits and who want to know how they can obtain the disability benefits so many were unjustly denied by these five allegedly biased Judges. A public hearing to determine the settlement’s fairness is scheduled for July 24, 2013 at 2:30p.m at the Federal District Court in Brooklyn.
This class action case, Padro vs. Astrue, alleged that certain Queens, New York Social Security Administrative Law Judges were “biased” against claimants and unfairly denied their claims for disability benefits. It must be noted that these rogue Judges are the exception in the Queens disability office. See my dedication to their late distinguished colleague Judge Sol Wieseltheir here.
I was one of only two private practice Queens New York Social Security Disability lawyers (the other was my colleague Jeff DeLott) who had the courage to stand up to these rogue QueensJudges in the Padro class action case. If you would like our New York Social Security Disability lawyers to give your prior Social Security disability denial a fresh look and free evaluation, call us toll free at 1-877-NY-DBLAW (1-877-693-2529). Ask to speak directly to one of our Social Security Disability attorneys. We would be glad to meet with you in either our Forest Hills office or one of our other convenient locations. See here for a copy of my legal affidavit alleging biased and unfair hearings by Chief Judge David Z. Nisnewitz and Judge Seymour Fier.
As a result of the substantial evidence of improper judicial conduct uncovered in this case, the Social Security Administration (SSA) chose (at a substantial cost to the taxpayers) to settle this case and agree to give over 4000 previously denied claimants new hearings.
This is a great victory for the many vulnerable disabled residents of Queens who were trampled upon by a few out of control Queens Social Security Judges who thought they were above the law.
As a result of the proposed settlement, any Social Security disability claimant who received either an “Unfavorable” or only a “Partially Favorable” decision by Judges David Z. Nisnewitz, Seymour Fier, Hazel C. Strauss, Marilyn P. Hoppenfeld or Michael D. Cofresi from January 1, 2008 to the date of the final settlement will have the right to a new hearing before a new Judge, and a new decision in their case. If the new decision is “Favorable”, this could potentially result in ”six figure” awards of back benefits to certain claimants along with retroactive Medicare health insurance coverage. Eligible class members should begin receiving letters and instructions on how to request a new hearing shortly after the settlement is approved.
In an unusual action, because the proposed settlement does not remove these Judges from their positions, for 30 months after the final settlement, the Social Security Administration has agreed to have appeals of decisions from these five Judges reviewed by a special group of staff at the Social Security Appeals Council. If this staff decides that a Social Security disability claimant deserves a new hearing, the case will be sent back to a different Judge who is not one of the five named in the lawsuit. Finally, Social Security has agreed to re-train the five offending Judges and also issue a new rule on how to complain about biased Judges in the future.
You can read the entire proposed Padro v. Astrue class action settlement here. We will continue to update you on this site on this good news for disabled residents of Queens as more information becomes available. If you have questions, call our Queens Social Security Disability Lawyers located in Forest Hills toll free at 1-877-NY-DBLAW (1-877-693-2529 x 123).
We’ve all heard those stereotypes about Worker’s Compensation Claims being a lot of bologna. People think of claimants wearing fake neck braces, getting hurt on purpose, hobbling into their hearing limping on one leg and walking out limping on another. It would be naive to say that this never happens, which is a real shame considering how many people legitimately deserve to receive benefits. In 2003, Lisa Cullen published an article about the extent to which people overestimate the prevalence of fraud in Worker’s Compensation. The full article can be viewed here on pbs.org. Once more, there are many instances where employers are actually the ones being shady. Businesses might pay employees off-the-books to reduce their insurance premiums. They might also misclassify workers in high-risk positions as being in low-risk positions. According to insurancefraud.org, the U.s Government Accountability Office estimated that “The number of employees misclassified by employers increased from 106,000 workers to more than 150,000 workers between 2000 and 2007. This is a conservative figure because states generally audit less then two percent of Employers a year”.
The Worker’s Compensation Board’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was created in 1996 as a way to combat fraud. The office is charged with investigating any parties that may be involved in knowingly making false statements as a means of influencing a Worker’s Compensation Claim. These parties may include employees, employers and health care providers.
There are many ways you can report such dubious acts. There is a toll-free 24 hour hotline you can reach at 1-888-363-6001. Fraud complaint forms can also be found here.
This week, we’ve talked a lot about the regulation of legal pharmaceutical products. Let us take a minute though to think about illicit substances.
Worker’s Compensation is considered a no-fault system. The amount of money a claimant receives may not be increased if his or her employer is being negligent. Likewise, an employee’s carelessness may not decrease their award. However, it should be noted that it might be determined that an accident was the result an employee’s intent to cause harm or have been caused by an employee’s intoxication. In this scenario, an employee loses his rights to Worker’s Compensation.
You may be subject to a drug test if you are injured on the job. Though testing positive for any illegal drugs may not necessarily disqualify you from receiving benefits, it certainly doesn’t look good, especially if you are employed in a drug-free workplace. This should NEVER deter you from seeking medical attention after being involved in an on-the-job accident.
On a somewhat related note, any person who is incarcerated for a felony will be deemed ineligible for receiving benefits.
Index to Drug-Specific Information- if a drug has been the subject of review or safety advisory, you can find it on this alphabetical index
MedWatch Alerts- you can sign up to receive email alerts from Medwatch, an agency that reports bad drug events to the FDA
Daily Med- provides labels to pharmaceuticals to consumers and professionals
Drugs@FDA-this is a search engine that allows you to look up pharmaceuticals by name or active ingredient
FDA Drug Safety Podcasts
FDA Consumer Health Information- this is the FDA’s easy-to-understand guide to all products approved by the agency including pharmaceuticals as well as food products and animal feed
Drug Product Recalls-this is where the FDA posts information about recalled pharmaceuticals
It may go without saying that you should use discretion when taking anything that is prescribed to you after a work-related illness or injury. Of course all pharmaceuticals must be subject to rigorous testing and analysis before being approved for the market. In general this means making sure that the benefits of a medication outweigh the risks associated with its use. However, many times adverse reactions arise after people have already been prescribed and begin administering a drug.
The Food and Drug Administration has released a guide to safe use of prescription medications that is summarized below.
Before a drug can be tested on people in the United States, extensive preclinical data must be collected and presented to the FDA by any organization involved with its development. This generally entails animal testing. The FDA then analyzes whether or not these tests show the drug to be reasonably safe and effective enough to tests on humans. One of the main concerns during the initial testing phase is the presence or adverse drug reactions, otherwise known as side effects.
Certain medications are required to come with FDA approved guides that detail the risks of the specific drug or drug class that is prescribed. There are also Consumer Medication Information (CMI) sheets. These are generally distributed at pharmacies and are not developed or regulated by the FDA. They contain broader information about a drug that is not included on a CMI sheet such as how to store medication, symptoms of misuse and what to do if you experience serious adverse side effects. Generally the product’s labeling may also include a “black box warning” about serious risks associated with it.
After a drug is approved and on the market, it may still be under scrutiny from the FDA. Extensive Post-Market Surveillance is conducted to make sure there aren’t any problems that did not arise during initial testing. Many issues may also come up that have to do with the manufacture of the drug or improper labeling. Problems reported with prescription medications are compiled in an electronic database called the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS). The FDA’s safety and adverse event reporting program is called MedWatch. Their primary goal is to keep consumers and health care professionals informed about any problems that have come up with a variety of medical products and equipment.
If the FDA determines a drug’s use production and distribution a law, it may be recalled. A drug may be recalled due to problems with packaging, manufacturing or contamination as well as generally serious adverse side effects. In rare cases, the FDA may withdraw a drug if it is determined that the products side effects outweigh its benefits.