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Workers' Compensation & SSD Blog

Social Security Disability and Working – Frequently Asked Questions

By Kenton on November 21, 2017 - Comments off

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Does receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits prevent you from working? Read the following FAQs to learn the answer:

Can I work at all and still receive SSDI benefits? Yes, you may work while receiving SSDI benefits. However, your income must be small – up to $1,170 per month or $1,950 if you are blind (2017 values). Earning anything over those amounts is considered “Substantial Gainful Activity” and the Social Security Administration (SSA) will assume that you are able to work.

What if I want to try working more while on SSDI? The SSA encourages beneficiaries who are disabled to try to go back to work and offers special rules that allow you to experiment with part-time or full-time work without affecting your benefits. This program is called a “Trial Work Period.”

How long is a trial work period? The trial work period is 9 months over a 60-month period. The 9 months don’t have to be consecutive. A month counts during this period if you earn more than $840, or if a self-employed person works 80 or more hours.

Are earnings limited during the trial work period? No. You may earn as much money as you like during this period without lowering your monthly SSDI benefit.

What types of earnings apply toward the $840 trial work period threshold? All your earnings – before taxes – count toward the $840 threshold. However, you may deduct impairment-related work expenses such as service animal costs, job coaching and medical supplies. Be sure to track these expenses.

How will the SSA know that I am working? It’s up to you to inform your local Social Security office of your monthly earnings if you work while receiving SSDI payments. Failure to do so may result in termination of benefits.

What happens after the trial work period? Once you have worked more than 9 months in a 60-month period, the SSA will measure your work and earnings against the substantial gainful activity test as described above. If you exceed those amounts, the SSA will assume that you are no longer disabled.

Does the SSA offer any help to get me back to work? Yes. The Ticket to Work program helps SSDI recipients locate service providers to help find employment and rehabilitative services. An agency will provide services including training, career counseling, vocational rehabilitation and job placement. You can learn more at the SSA’s publication The Red Book – A Guide to Work Incentives and at the SSA’s Ticket To Work website.

Let Us Help with Your Social Security Disability Claim

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.

 

CA Law Requires Disclosure of Certain Chemicals in Cleaning Products

By Kenton on November 15, 2017 - Comments off

California has become the first state to pass legislation requiring the disclosure of certain chemicals in cleaning products.

The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 15th. The purpose of the law is to make it easier for consumers and workers to identify dangerous ingredients contained in commonly-used cleaning products and fragrance mixtures.

Cleaning products sold in our state will be required to list ingredients on product labels as well as provide additional ingredient information on product websites. Importantly, the law requires that specified employers provide that information to their employees.

The Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) requires that manufacturers of consumer and institutional cleaning, polish, floor maintenance, automotive and air care products provide warnings about hazards like flammability, toxicity and combustibility. But the FHSA does not require a full list of chemical ingredients. Under the new California rules, product labels and websites must list chemicals of concern along with most other ingredients, as well as fragrance allergens.

OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Act) requires employers to share information on substances in the workplace with workers through safety data sheets. The bill’s new requirements would mandate that California employers already covered by the OSHA rules make the contents of workplace cleaning products available in the applicable data sheets.

Under the terms of the new law, manufacturer websites must be updated by January 1, 2020 and product labels must be in compliance by January 1, 2021.

Cleaning Chemicals Can Affect Your Health

Those who work with cleaning chemicals suffer from health problems including:

  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Itchy, red eyes
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Asthma
  • Skin and eye burns
  • Skin rashes

Employers must provide a safe workplace with sufficient ventilation when using cleaning chemicals. Cleaning chemicals must be labeled and workers must receive training on the hazards of cleaning chemicals along with safe work practices. Training must include cleaning chemical hazards, use and storage, how to handle a spill or other emergency, how to get safety data sheets and when protective clothing and other gear is required.

If you suffer an injury because of chemical exposure on the job, you are entitled to file a Workers’ Compensation claim.

Let Us Help with Your 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 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 and Veterans Benefits To Increase in 2018

By Kenton on November 10, 2017 - Comments off

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Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Retirement benefit recipients will get a 2% increase in benefits in 2018. This increase is the largest since 2012 and, after a zero increase in 2016 and a modest increase of 0.3% last year, millions of beneficiaries will be pleased.

Each October, the Social Security Administration announces annual changes including benefit cost of living adjustments, if any. Here is a quick look at some of the most significant increases:

  • 2% cost of living increase for Social Security beneficiaries. This is the best increase in 6 years, fueled in part by the recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma that pushed gas prices higher. This COLA is calculated using the average inflation reading from the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, many recipients will see little or no raise as Medicare Part B premium increases may eat up a lot of the increase.
  • Maximum monthly payout. If you will be eligible for the maximum monthly benefit at full retirement age, that amount will jump from $2,687 to $2,788.
  • Earnings limit for payroll taxes. The FICA tax rate, which includes Social Security and Medicare taxes, will remain the same at 7.65% (15.3% for those who are self-employed). However the annual limit on which Social Security taxes are paid, or maximum taxable earnings cap, is climbing by $1,500 to $128,700.
  • Full retirement age. The age at which unreduced benefits are available is increasing in 2018 from 66 years and 2 months to 66 years and 4 months.
  • Earnings threshold for disability benefit recipients. Individuals with disabilities can earn up to $1,180 per month in 2018 without impacting their SSDI benefits. Beneficiaries who are blind may earn up to $1,970 a month.
  • Earnings limit for retirement beneficiaries who work. If you are working while collecting Social Security Retirement benefits and not yet at your full retirement age, in 2018 you can earn $17,040 annually before your Social Security benefit is reduced – an increase over the 2017 amount of $10 per month.

Because disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs uses the same COLA determination, those payments will also increase by 2% in 2018.

Supplementary Security Income Changes for 2018

2018 Supplementary Security Income (SSI) changes for next year include a 2% COLA, increasing the SSI monthly payment for individuals to $750 and to $1,125 for a couple.

The resource limits used in determining eligibility for SSI remain unchanged at $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple.

Let Us Help with Your 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 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.

 

Workers’ Compensation Law Changes After San Bernardino Shooting

By Kenton on November 3, 2017 - Comments off

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Governor Brown recently signed into law changes to California’s Workers’ Compensation (WC) program. The legislation requires that employers in both the private and public sectors take immediate action in the event an employee is injured in an act of terrorism.

The impetus for the WC change came from the difficulties faced by the survivors of the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino. In that tragedy, 14 people were killed with 22 more wounded during a training seminar at the Inland Regional Center, a supportive agency for people with developmental disabilities.

Survivors of the attack faced significant delays – up to a year – and even denials for critical medical treatment. The new law can help mitigate these problems as it requires that employers provide a nurse case manager as well as information of available treatment options to employees injured in an act of terrorism.

The provisions of the new law only apply if the governor declares a state of emergency in connection with an act of terrorism, as happened in the San Bernardino shooting. Under the changed law, medical or psychological treatment must be provided by trained and qualified health-care professionals.

After being introduced, the bill was amended many times. Key provisions that were taken out included a proposal to bypass the utilization review process that employers and WC claims administrators use to determine which treatment to provide.

A spokesperson for the county stated that the new law was modeled based on the process created by the county at the time of the 2015 attack. At that time, the county provided all the injured employees with the immediate services of nurse case managers as well as counsel on medical treatment options.

Let Us Help with Your 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 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.

 

Are You Eligible for Supplemental Security Income?

By Kenton on October 27, 2017 - Comments off

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If you or a family member has a disability, you may be eligible for another federal program in addition to Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a benefit program that provides payments to eligible disabled, blind and aged individuals (age 65 and over) who have little or no income.

Qualifying for SSI Payments

SSI is a need-based program and does not require a minimum period of work to qualify.

Medically, the eligibility requirements for both SSDI and SSI are the same. In general, you must have a medical condition that prevents you from working and is expected to last for at least 12 months – or is terminal.

To qualify for SSI, your income must be limited. SSI income is defined as money you earn from work as well as money you receive from other sources such as Social Security, Workers’ Compensation, unemployment benefits, Veterans’ benefits and even help from friends or relatives. Your income must not exceed $735 per month for a single person and $1,130 for a couple (2017 values), or you will not be eligible for an SSI payment.

Your resources must be limited too. Resources for SSI include cash, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, land, vehicles, personal property and life insurance. The resource limit may not exceed $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple in order to qualify for an SSI benefit.

How Supplemental Security Income Works with SSDI Benefits

Some eligible individuals with a disability can qualify for both SSDI and SSI benefits. Here’s how it works:

The current minimum SSI benefit for an individual is $735 per month. If you qualify for SSI benefits, your payment can supplement what you receive in SSDI payments. If, for example, your monthly SSDI benefit is $500, you may be able to receive an SSI benefit of $235 – the difference between the minimum SSI benefit of $735 and your SSDI benefit of $500.

Even though the Social Security Administration (SSA) administers this program, payments are financed by general funds of the U.S. Treasury rather than Social Security taxes.

Let Us Help You Apply for SSDI and SSI or Appeal an SSDI Denial

If you or a loved one has been denied Workers’ 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.

 

What To Do If You Are Injured At Work

By Kenton on October 19, 2017 - Comments off

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If you become injured at work or get sick from a work-related illness, do you know what to do?

It’s important to act quickly so that you may qualify for Workers’ Compensation (WC) benefits. Follow these steps if you or a loved one has been injured or become ill at work:

  • Report the injury or illness to your employer. Reporting promptly will help avoid delays and problems in receiving benefits, which include vital medical care. If your illness or injury developed gradually, report it as soon as you learn that it was caused by your work. Importantly, if you fail to report your injury or illness to your employer within 30 days, you may lose your right to receive WC benefits.
  • Get emergency treatment if necessary. Call 911 or go to an emergency room right away and be sure to tell medical personnel that your injury or illness is work-related. Even if you don’t need emergency treatment, it’s important to get medical treatment in the form of first aid and then follow-up with a visit to your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Complete and file a DWC-1 claim form to start the WC process. Your employer must give or mail you a claim form within 1 working day after being notified about your injury or illness. If your employer doesn’t give you the claim form, you can find it at the Department of Industrial Relations forms page.
  • You should complete the “employee” section of the form, sign and date it and then send it to your employer right away in person or by mail. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself and use certified mail – return receipt requested so you have a record of when it was mailed.
  • Your employer should complete the “employer” section of the form and forward on to their insurance company. If you don’t receive a copy of the completed claim form from your employer, request one for your records.
  • The insurance company has 14 days to inform you by letter of the status of your claim. If not received, call the insurance company directly.

Acting promptly in notifying your employer and filing the DWC-1 form, as well as submitting all required paperwork on time, will help improve the success of your Workers’ Compensation claim.

Let Us Help You Apply for SSDI or Appeal an SSDI Denial

If you or a loved one has been denied Workers’ 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: How Does a Continuing Disability Review Work?

By Kenton on October 13, 2017 - Comments off

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Generally, Social Security Disability (SSDI) payments continue as long as you are not working and remain disabled.

The Social Security Disability Administration checks periodically to ensure that you are still disabled. These evaluations are called Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR) and are scheduled based on the cause and severity of your disability:

If your condition is expected to improve, the review will be between 6-18 months after your disability date.

  • If it is possible that your condition will improve, the review will be every 3 years.
  • If no improvement is expected, your condition will be reviewed every 7 years.

For beneficiaries under age 50, CDR reviews may occur more frequently.

Outside of the schedule above, a CDR may be scheduled if you have actually returned to work, if a new treatment for your condition is introduced or if medical evidence indicates that your condition has improved.

The CDR Review Process

When you are selected for a CDR, you will receive a letter asking that you visit your local SSA office. Bring along all recent medical and work documentation.

Continuation of your SSDI benefits after the CDR hinges on these questions:

  • Has your condition improved? If the answer is NO, then benefits will continue.
  • Are you now able to return to work? If the answer is YES, your SSD benefits will be stopped. At that time, you will be advised of the appeal process.

Take action quickly if your SSDI benefits stop after a CDR review. You have only 60 days to appeal this decision.

Please reach out for us if you feel that your benefits have ceased incorrectly. We have the right experience in CDR reviews and disability benefit appeals and will work hard to increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

Read more about CDRs in the Social Security Administration brochure What You Need To Know: Reviewing Your Disability.

Let Us Help You Apply for SSDI or Appeal an SSDI Denial

If you or a loved one has been denied Workers’ 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.

 

Workers’ Compensation and Repetitive Stress Injuries

By Kenton on October 5, 2017 - Comments off

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Many workers incorrectly believe they must suffer an acute and sudden injury in order to be eligible for Workers’ Compensation (WC). But under California’s WC system, employees who experience repetitive stress injuries may also be eligible for benefits.

Repetitive stress injuries are those injuries to the nervous and musculoskeletal systems caused by repetitive tasks and work-related vibrations, mechanical compression or sustained or awkward positions. Many conditions and syndromes fall into the repetitive stress injury category, including but not limited to carpal tunnel syndrome and many back and spine injuries. In particular, muscles, nerves and tendons are susceptible to these types of injuries.

These workplace injuries are very common; in fact, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that repetitive stress and strain injuries are the biggest occupational health problem in the U.S., with carpal tunnel syndrome accounting for more than 50% of all work-related injuries.

Jobs That Are at Risk for Repetitive Stress Injuries

  • Office work, especially data entry and programming, causes carpal tunnel syndrome primarily due to improper posture and ill-fitting chairs. Non-ergonomic keyboards and repetitive typing cause increased pressure on nerves and tendons in the hands and wrists.
  • Factory machinists and assembly line workers perform continual and repetitive motions when operating machines day after day.
  • Cash register operation can cause injury due to repetitively scanning products and operating the register.
  • Painters suffer nerve damage from tightly gripping paintbrushes and triggers, as well as from repetitive motions with brushes and sprayers.
  • Commercial driving can lead to injury after hours of gripping the steering wheel as well as repetitive gear shifting.
  • Construction jobs can cause repetitive stress injury because of continual vibrating machinery and heavy lifting.
  • Electronic assembly workers suffer from these injuries due to the repetitive adjustment of parts and thin wires in small spaces.

These are just a few examples of some of the work scenarios that can lead to repetitive stress injuries – there are many others. Your injury does not have to be caused by a single, sudden accident or trauma to be eligible for WC benefits.

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome or any muscle, nerve or tendon condition that is the result of your job, please reach out to us. We can help get you the Workers’ Compensation benefits that you deserve.

Let Us Help You Apply for SSDI or Appeal an SSDI Denial

If you or a loved one has been denied Workers’ 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.

 

Wounded Warrior Program: Expedited Social Security Disability Process for Military Personnel and Veterans

By Kenton on September 29, 2017 - Comments off

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a special process that speeds up Social Security Disability (SSDI) applications for certain military service personnel and veterans.

You are eligible for this expedited process if you became disabled while on active military duty on or after October 1, 2001. It doesn’t matter where you were when you became disabled, and your condition doesn’t have to be related to your military service.

Service members who were on active duty when the disability began and who have a compensation rating of 100% Permanent and Total may be eligible for the expedited process.

The SSA defines those on active duty as:

  • Full-time service members in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard – including those on active duty for training.
  • Army or Air Force National Guard who were ordered to active full-time duty during a war or other national emergency.
  • Students at pre-deployment training facilities and in U.S. military academies.
  • Reservists called to active duty, undergoing full-time and annual training, and those attending a military service school.

Note: The disability benefits that are available through the Department of Veterans Affairs are distinct from SSDI benefits with a separate application process.

Applying for the Wounded Warrior Expedited Process

Applications can be made while in military status or after discharge, and in a rehabilitation facility or when hospitalized.

When applying for SSDI, identify yourself as eligible for the Wounded Warrior program and tell the SSA that you were on active duty when your disability began. Your application will be labeled “Military Casualty/Wounded Warrior” and will be accelerated through the approval process as a “critical case.”

We would be happy to help you apply for SSDI, as it is a complex process. Our expertise can help you navigate through the application steps and gain the best outcome for you and your family.

To learn more about this special process, reference the SSA’s Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors brochure as well as their informational website for Wounded Warriors and Veterans.

Let Us Help You Apply for SSDI or Appeal an SSDI Denial

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.

 

Greyhound Customized Ergonomic Training Reduces Injuries

By Kenton on September 21, 2017 - Comments off

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With tailored ergonomic training, Greyhound Lines Inc. has reduced its Workers’ Compensation claims by 60% over the past 6 years.

70% of the company’s injuries are related to materials handling including lifting, twisting, pushing and pulling. With 7,000 employees, the company experienced 745 injuries in 2010, mostly musculoskeletal. That number was dramatically reduced to 295 in 2016.

The company’s Director of Safety and Security, Al Smith, attributes that decrease to new employee ergonomic training focusing on compliance along with training exercises and know-how. With the new process, safety experts study a person’s job before offering a customizable solution for better ergonomics.

Success With Any Safety Program Is Up to the Employees

Ergonomics experts acknowledge that success in any work safety program is up to the employees and their personal motivation.

An astounding 80% of adults will have back pain at some time in their lives. Most adults do not understand the biomechanics, or how and why the body can or is unable to move a certain way.

A successful ergonomic safety program will demonstrate to employees exactly what they are doing wrong in their specific job, and then offer solutions to fix the problem. Employee motivation was a big factor in the success of the Greyhound program – employees feel better doing the job properly and that motivates them to continue beneficial behavior.

Greyhound’s Approach to Ergonomic Training Resonated With Employees

Video-based training often doesn’t work. A more effective approach is individual job analysis and then physical demonstration and training right in the workplace.

Persuading workers how better ergonomics can help them on the job and in their personal lives is the solution.

We Can Help with Your 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 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.

 

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