800.438.7734

Workers' Compensation & SSD Blog

Too Many Disabled Individuals Die Waiting for Social Security Disability Approvals

By Kenton on February 15, 2018 - Comments off

6907811_S_Social_security_benefits_Form

It’s a disgraceful statistic: Almost 19,000 people died during 2016 and 2017 while waiting for approval of their Social Security Disability (SSDI) applications.

Because of backlogs averaging 605 days – and nearing 800 days or more in certain cities and states – individuals who have applied for SSDI die before ever receiving any of these crucial benefits.

In fact, at the end of 2017, more than 1 million former workers were stuck in the system’s backlog while waiting for decisions and hearings.

The Social Security Administration asserts that this backlog is unlikely to lessen before 2022, even with “fixes” such as additional funding, more staff and assigning additional judges for hearings.

The Compassionate Allowance program needs improvements also. This process “fast-tracks” applications for individuals with specific illnesses such as certain cancers, adults with brain disorders and some rare disorders that affect children. Improvements are needed to ensure that those individuals with the most severe disabilities get the benefits they have earned in a timely manner.

Improve Your Chances of Winning Your Disability Claim

It’s important to provide all information requested with your application, including a detailed and complete work and medical history. Include all contact information for work supervisors and physicians as well as a list of all facilities at which you were treated. Written doctor statements explaining your injuries and how your work and daily life are affected are essential.

Once you have applied, stay active with your case by keeping in contact with the disability examiner handling your claim. It’s a good idea to get your medical records yourself and deliver them directly to the examiner personally.

Of course, consulting with an attorney experienced in Social Security Disability applications and appeals can really help. We will examine your case, discuss its strengths with you and fix any weaknesses. The application and appeals process can be lengthy and complicated – don’t go at it alone!

Let Us Help With Your Social Security Disability Application

If you or a loved one has been denied Worker’s Compensation or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately. Call 800.438.7734 for your initial free consultation, either in our office or in the comfort of your own home. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office, Social Security attorney in Van Nuys, can help you navigate the application process for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

 

California Assembly Approves Bill To Help Breast Cancer Survivors Get Fair Workers’ Compensation

By Kenton on February 9, 2018 - Comments off

56102113 - male comforting to a sad depressed female who needs help in a coffee shop. break up or best friend concept

Legislation to make sure that women with work-related breast cancer aren’t shortchanged on Workers’ Compensation (WC) claims is one step closer to being enacted.

A KUSI Newsroom update reported that the bill, sponsored by State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, intends to remedy current state WC practices that do not conform to guidelines established by the American Medical Association. These guidelines require that doctors evaluate injured workers for all impairments that result from breast cancer and its treatment.

But in reality, many medical evaluations do not adequately describe the lifelong disabling conditions that workers endure from breast cancer. Many injured workers are forced to go to court to correct the inaccurate and incomplete evaluations.

Specifically, this bill will help insure that the California WC system and the doctors’ use of the AMA guidelines work together as intended. The proposed legislation:

  • Clarifies the AMA Guides criteria that medical evaluators should take into consideration when calculating permanent disability ratings for breast cancer case.
  • Ensures that child-bearing age is not used as a factor when calculating permanent disability ratings.

Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher called the current practices of many medical evaluators “gender discrimination” and objected that “women with job-related cancer have to jump through so many hoops” to get the WC benefits that they are owed.

The Assemblywoman stated that the bill will ensure that all breast cancer survivors – regardless of gender or age – undergo a complete and thorough medical evaluation in order to receive the compensation they rightly deserve.

After having been approved by an Assembly vote of 72-0, the bill is headed toward the Senate.

We Can Help with Your Workers’ Compensation Claim and Appeal

If you or a loved one has been denied Worker’s Compensation or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately. Call 800.438.7734 for your initial free consultation, either in our office or in the comfort of your own home. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office, Social Security attorney in Van Nuys, can help you navigate the application process for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

 

6 Tips To Improve Your Chances of Winning Your Social Security Disability Claim

By Kenton on February 2, 2018 - Comments off

11599712_M_Hearings_Hammer

Incredibly, only 3 out of 10 Social Security Disability (SSDI) applications are approved when first submitted! Most of these initial applications are denied because they are missing vital medical or work-related information.

Here are our 6 top tips to increase your odds of success when filing a claim for SSDI benefits:

  • File your application at the right time. We recommend that you apply for benefits when you have been off work for at least 5 months. Since your disability must keep you from working for at least 12 months, if you file sooner your claim will probably be denied because your condition will be viewed as not severe enough.
  • Make sure that your doctor will support your application. Your doctor’s medical opinion must detail the functional restrictions that prevent you from working.
  • Practice filling out your application. Don’t jump right into completing the application online without careful and thoughtful preparation. You can download the disability benefit application and print it out. Then you can complete it by hand and see what information you are missing. Read more about the application process here.
  • Compile all necessary medical and job documentation. Here is the Social Security Administration’s checklist for SSDI application documents that you will need. It’s important to give specific details of your medical treatments as well as your work history.
  • Get a copy of your medical records for yourself. You may have to pay for them, but California law requires that physicians must provide copies to you within 15 days of your request. It may speed up the application process to give copies of your medical records directly to the disability examiner.
  • Reach out for an attorney experienced in SSDI claims. We have helped hundreds of applicants get the disability benefits they deserve via the claims process and through complicated appeals procedures.

We Can Help with Your Social Security Disability Claim and Appeal

If you or a loved one has been denied Worker’s Compensation or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately. Call 800.438.7734 for your initial free consultation, either in our office or in the comfort of your own home. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office, Social Security attorney in Van Nuys, can help you navigate the application process for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

 

Common Reasons for Denial of Workers’ Compensation Claims

By Kenton on January 26, 2018 - Comments off

24284604_S_couple_Spouse_Stress_Form_paper

You are probably eligible for Workers’ Compensation (WC) if you have been injured at work or if you have an occupational disease caused by your job.

However, there are some circumstances that will cause a WC claim to be denied. Here are some of the most common reasons for denial:

  • Missing the deadline to file or report your claim. In California, you must fill out a DWC-1 form and submit it to your employer within 30 days of being injured or becoming aware of your condition of an illness. Your employer will then file a claim with the insurance carrier, and you should receive a claim status letter from the insurance company within 14 days. Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a WC claim or appeal is typically one year from the date of the injury or illness.
  • Not seeking appropriate medical care.
  • Using an unauthorized medical provider.
  • Your injury or illness is not severe enough to qualify.
  • Claiming an injury that did not occur on the job. Generally, pre-existing conditions that were worsened at work are not covered. Any injury suffered while commuting generally is not covered.
  • A claim that is missing witness statements supporting your report.
  • Your doctor feels that you are able to perform a modified or alternate form of work that your employer offers. In this case, you have to do the alternate work until you can get a second medical opinion.
  • Your employer states that your condition is not work-related in order to save money on insurance liability and expense. Here, you must gather more evidence of your inability to work such as witness testimony and a doctor’s statement.

If your WC claim is denied, you have the right to appeal that decision and appear before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. At this point, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney experienced in Workers’ Compensation appeals.

We Can Help with Your Workers’ Compensation Claim and Appeal

If you or a loved one has been denied Worker’s Compensation or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately. Call 800.438.7734 for your initial free consultation, either in our office or in the comfort of your own home. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office, Social Security attorney in Van Nuys, can help you navigate the application process for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

 

Social Security Disability: Defining Skilled and Unskilled Work

By Kenton on January 16, 2018 - Comments off

69612840_S_cleaning_ceiling_bathroom

One of the key components in evaluating whether or not you are eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits is whether or not you are able to perform your job. Your medical condition must be severe enough to have a significantly negative effect on your ability to do tasks related to your work.

Even if the Social Security Administration (SSA) finds that you are unable to do your past job, they will look at less demanding work that you may be able to do. For this assessment, the SSA uses the skill level of your last job to list other jobs you might be able to do.

Defining Skill Levels for Social Security Disability Eligibility

The SSA classifies job skill levels based on how long it takes to learn the job, plus the characteristics of the specific job.

The 3 job skill categories are:

Unskilled work. This work requires little or no judgment to perform simple tasks, and typically can be learned in less than a month. Unskilled work often requires strength and does not help a worker gain work skills.

Semi-skilled work. Semi-skilled work does require some skills but not complex job functions. This work requires alertness and ability to pay attention to detail. A job requiring coordination and dexterity to perform a repetitive task may be semi-skilled. Semi-skilled jobs typically take 3-6 months to learn.

Skilled work. This type of work requires the use of judgment and the knowledge of how to perform manual or mechanical tasks to create a product or provide a service. Skilled work includes jobs that require a person to work with figures, ideas or facts, or to work closely with others.

As you can see, it is very important that you accurately describe your job functions when applying for SSDI. This is the information that the SSA will use to assign a skill level to your work.

Specific Vocational Preparation Ratings

In order to determine the skill level of your jobs, the SSA uses a rating called the Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) based on how long it takes a worker to learn how to do the job (including most types of training).

Using the SVP levels, job skill assessments are categorized as:

  • Unskilled: Learning the job based on a short demonstration for up to one month of training
  • Semi-skilled: Training over one month to six months
  • Skilled: Training greater than six months

The SSA will use the skill level(s) of your past work to assess whether there is other work that you can do, given your medical condition, that is at the same skill level or lower. In other words, the higher your skill level of your past work, the harder it may be to win your claim as the SSA may find work that you are capable of doing.

Let our attorneys experienced with Social Security Disability applications investigate how your SSDI claim may be affected by your past work.

We Can Help With Your Social Security Disability Benefits Application and Appeal

If you or a loved one has been denied Worker’s Compensation or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately. Call 800.438.7734 for your initial free consultation, either in our office or in the comfort of your own home. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office, Social Security attorney in Van Nuys, can help you navigate the application process for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

 

California Tackles Illegal Use of Disabled Parking Placards

By Kenton on January 12, 2018 - Comments off

35241192 - handicap parking

Did you know that there are about 8,000 Californians older than age 100? Obviously, few of these seniors are still driving. So why have more than 26,000 people here claimed to be over age 100 so they can use the state’s blue disabled placards?

The California blue disabled placards allow vehicles to park at any street meter for free all day, as well as at prime blue-stenciled stalls in public parking lots. State officials believe that children or friends of the formerly disabled drivers, many of whom have died, are illegitimately using the disabled placards. In some cases, individuals have purchased the placards illegally.

After years of disabled placard abuse, authorities are taking action to reduce the number of vehicles illegally taking up prime parking spots by using the disabled placards.

New State Law Tightens Oversight of State Disabled Placard Program

California is implementing processes to verify use of the disabled placard.

The federal Social Security Administration’s “death file” will be matched against the state list and placards for deceased drivers will be canceled.

Among other requirements, the new law requires that placard holders renew them every 6 years. This process replaces the current automatic 2-year renewal.

Department of Motor Vehicles Must Strengthen Placard Application Approvals

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) must increase efforts to prevent fraud. Auditors have found that officials accept applications for disabled placards without required medical documentation. The agency also issues too many duplicates and fails to cancel those placards for the deceased.

The audit estimated that several hundred thousand of the state’s 3 million placards are likely being used fraudulently! Among other application enforcement steps, the DMV must demand proof of identity along with true full name and date of birth.

If you or a family member is disabled, you may be eligible for a California disabled parking placard or license plate. You can find information and eligibility requirements at this California DMV website.

We Can Help with Your Social Security Disability Benefits Application and Appeal

If you or a loved one has been denied Worker’s Compensation or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately. Call 800.438.7734 for your initial free consultation, either in our office or in the comfort of your own home. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office, Social Security attorney in Van Nuys, can help you navigate the application process for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

 

California Workers’ Compensation for Domestic Workers

By Kenton on January 5, 2018 - Comments off

53471300 - young mother looking how her child daughter drawing a picture

Many domestic workers like housekeepers, nannies and caregivers are not aware that they have the right to federal and state labor rights including Workers’ Compensation (WC) benefits.

In fact, with just a few exceptions, all domestic workers in California are eligible for WC. The exceptions to this coverage are casual part-time babysitters – for example, your teenage next-door neighbor and those domestic workers who are classified as independent contractors.

It’s not straightforward to determine if you are an independent contractor. You may qualify as an employee even though the person you work for told you that you are an independent contractor and supplies you with a 1099 form at the end of the year.

In our state, qualifying as an “employee” versus an independent contractor depends on many variables, including whether taxes are withheld from your pay; where you perform your work; what equipment your employer provides.

All Employers Must Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance

California employers must purchase WC insurance from an approved provider and keep the coverage current by paying the applicable premiums.

If you were placed by a company that provides domestic workers, that company is the employer and is responsible for withholding taxes from your checks as well as providing WC insurance.

Other homeowners and business owners may hire domestic workers through an agency. Again, here the agency is the employer and responsible for WC insurance.

However, when an individual hires a domestic worker directly, that person is responsible for purchasing WC insurance.

To find out more about your legal rights as a domestic worker who has been injured on the job, consult with an experienced California WC attorney. You may still be eligible for benefits even if you have signed a contract stating that you are an independent contractor if we can prove that you were wrongly classified.

We Can Help with Your Social Security Disability Benefits Application and Appeal

If you or a loved one has been denied Worker’s Compensation or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately. Call 800.438.7734 for your initial free consultation, either in our office or in the comfort of your own home. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office, Social Security attorney in Van Nuys, can help you navigate the application process for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

 

Common Social Security Disability Myths

By Kenton on December 29, 2017 - Comments off

23988882_S_Myth_Truth_bowling_pins

Depending on whom you ask, there are dozens of myths and misconceptions out there on Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.

Here are the most common that we run into as we counsel clients:

  • Every first time application is denied. Well, not quite! But California initial claim approval runs about the same as the national average – only about 30% are approved the first time. Often initial claims are denied for missing medical or work information, so make sure your application has all the necessary information.
  • Certain medical conditions get automatic SSDI approval. There is a limited list maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA) called Compassionate Allowances showing severe illnesses and injuries that require only a doctor’s diagnosis to automatically qualify the applicant for benefits. Examples from the list include ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, pancreatic cancer and acute leukemia. The SSA will expedite these applications.
  • A supporting physician’s letter will automatically get approval. A short letter will not help your case, but a more detailed medical source statement known as an RFC form can help get you approved for benefits. A helpful statement will explain why you have limitations and will include references to medical evidence, opinions on what your limitations are and an explanation on how your limitations are supported by the medical evidence.
  • You will receive an approval decision within 120 days. Each case is different – an approval can take as little as 30 days or even up to 2 years. If the initial application is denied, the first stage of appeal called a Reconsideration can take 3-4 months more. After that, an appeal to an administrative law judge can take an additional 6 months or more. The average wait time for a hearing before a judge is 20 months.
  • You can’t work and have earned income if you are applying for disability. The SSA will determine that you are not disabled if you can perform Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). In 2018, the SGA thresholds are monthly earnings of $1,180 ($1,970 if you are blind). There are, however, exceptions to this rule in determining whether an individual is able to work.

You can read more about SSDI myths and misperceptions at our website. We have the right experience and expertise to work to get you the benefits you deserve.

We Can Help with Your Social Security Disability Benefits Application and Appeal

If you or a loved one has been denied Worker’s Compensation or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately. Call 800.438.7734 for your initial free consultation, either in our office or in the comfort of your own home. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office, Social Security attorney in Van Nuys, can help you navigate the application process for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

 

Your Workers’ Compensation Case: Don’t Make These Mistakes

By Kenton on December 20, 2017 - Comments off

student_Laptop_Mug_Watch_Book_849825_S_

It’s hard enough to get a Workers’ Compensation (WC) case settled, but if you make one or more of these mistakes, you may be damaging your own case:

  • Missed medical appointments. Your case may be delayed or even denied if you don’t go to the doctor for scheduled appointments. It is essential that your attorney has adequate evidence of your work-related illness or injury.
  • Missing hearings and depositions. You must appear at scheduled hearings and depositions or you will greatly weaken your case. The judge will certainly frown at this and may even dismiss your case. Let your attorney know right away if you can’t appear for any reason.
  • Pestering your attorney. Attorneys handle many cases at once and must make frequent court appearances. Call for updates no more than weekly, unless you have an emergency. If you reach voicemail, leave a brief message but always leave your name and full telephone number.
  • Withholding information. Withholding relevant information or lying can get you into serious trouble and weaken your case. Your lawyer can best represent you only if you give clear, accurate information about your medical condition and the circumstances surrounding your injury or illness. Withholding important information or lying under oath can carry serious repercussions.
  • Comparing your case to others. Your WC settlement will be unique based on circumstances such as your occupation, age, salary and type of injury or disability. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for your settlement by comparing your case to others who claim to have received a significant settlement.
  • Not compromising. Settling a WC case is a give and take with compromise and negotiation. Your trial may take months to complete. Count on your attorneys to use their legal expertise to discern what your case is worth and then to make sure that you receive the best possible outcome.
  • Declining a reasonable settlement. WC is insurance to compensate you for injury or illness suffered on the job. The program is not intended to punish your employer. If a reasonable settlement is offered, you should accept it instead of insisting on a trial. In this case, the judge may turn against you.

One of the worst mistakes that you can make is not to consult with an attorney experienced in California Workers’ Compensation cases. We are dedicated to helping injured workers get the compensation they need.

Ask Us for Help With Your California Workers’ Compensation Claim

If you or a loved one has been denied Worker’s Compensation or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, it’s important to immediately get an attorney experienced in these types of cases. Call 800.438.7734 for your initial free consultation, either in our office or in the comfort of your own home. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office, Social Security attorney in Van Nuys, can help you navigate the application process for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

 

What To Expect at a Social Security Disability Hearing

By Kenton on December 15, 2017 - Comments off

11599712_M_Hearings_Hammer

If your Social Security Disability (SSDI) claim has been denied after Reconsideration, you have the right to request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. At this point in the appeals process, it’s important to consult with an attorney experienced in Los Angeles SSDI appeals for the best outcome.

The judge will set the date, time and place for the hearing, which may happen through video conferencing. Note that the hearing will not be in a courtroom – instead, it will be in a more informal setting such as a business conference room or at your local Social Security office.

Participants in the SSDI Hearing

In addition to you, your attorney and the Administrative Law Judge, other attendees at the hearing can include:

  • Invited family members for support.
  • Any witnesses you want to bring who can testify to your limitations.
  • A vocational expert who knows about the skills needed to perform certain jobs as well as job availability in your labor market.
  • A medical expert who may be called to evaluate your medical records and explain your medical conditions.
  • A court reporter.

What Happens During the Hearing

After you are sworn in by the court reporter, the Judge will ask you questions about your past work and your physical limitations. Don’t worry! We’ll help you prepare in advance so you will be able to answer the Judge’s questions, and also will be prepared to speak about how your disability limits your ability to work and your normal day-to-day life.

The Judge then may ask the vocational expert hypothetical questions about work that someone like you can be expected to do. The Judge may also ask the medical expert questions about your medical condition.

You may be asked by the Judge if you would like to make any comments. This is your opportunity to explain how your disability affects you. Discuss how you are affected by your medical condition including pain levels, mobility issues, sleep and appetite problems and relationships with others.

You will receive a written notice as to the Judge’s determination in your case. If you disagree with the result, the next step is to appeal to the Appeals Council within 60 days of receiving the hearing notice.

Let Us Know If Your SSDI Application Has Been Denied

If you or a loved one has been denied Worker’s Compensation or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately. Call 800.438.7734 for your initial free consultation, either in our office or in the comfort of your own home. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office, Social Security attorney in Van Nuys can help you navigate the application process for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

 

800.438.7734