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December 2014 Archives

Forklift accidents declining, but still injure and kill workers

The next time you drive your car, think about how often you see semi-trucks towing containers, box trucks or other commercial delivery vehicles sharing the road with you. Chances are you see them so often that you do not think about how prevalent they are in delivering the materials and goods that are staples of our modern way of life.

Post-Hearing Medical Examinations

Occasionally, a Judge will have a question about the claimant's medical status that comes up during the hearing, which he/she does not believe is properly addressed in the existing medical evidence. This will result in the scheduling of a post-hearing consultative examination paid for by the Social Security Administration. While it is necessary to appear for this examination, your attorney will have opportunity to object to its findings and, in some instances, even request a supplemental hearing. Occasionally, it may be necessary to ask one of your treating physicians to comment on one of these medical reports and counter any negative opinions.

Travel Expenses

If a claimant has to travel more than 75 miles one way to a hearing they can receive reimbursement for expenses. If travel expenses are requested, a form must be filled out and submitted to the Social Security Administration.

Worker’s compensation and medical marijuana: What is covered?

Before North Carolina ended its legislative session in August, a bill passed recognizing the therapeutic effects of marijuana. The North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act allows individuals with a certain form of epilepsy to use a type of marijuana, or hemp extract, as a treatment as long as it is prescribed by a neurologist in a specific pilot study and does not exceed certain maximum percentages.

Video Hearings

Increasingly, the Social Security Administration is conducting hearings by video. Whether or not this makes sense in your case is a matter to discuss with your attorney. Sometimes, your lawyer's familiarity with the local judges outweighs any possible benefit of a slightly quicker hearing date with a judge from another part of the country via a video teleconference. Generally, the ability to be in the same room with the judge creates a better opportunity for full and fair hearing than a video teleconference.

Are independent contractors covered by workers' compensation?

As a general rule, Charlotte and Mecklenburg employers with three or more employees must have workers' compensation insurance. Employers may satisfy the requirements of the law by qualifying with the North Carolina Industrial Commission as self-insurers in lieu of obtaining insurance through a traditional carrier.

Unemployment Insurance and Social Security Disability

The receipt of unemployment insurance during a time period of claimed disability often comes up in social security disability hearings. A problem exists because in order to obtain unemployment benefits, a person must certify that he/she is "willing and able to work." While the law does not prohibit this from occurring, as a practical matter most judges will bring pressure to change the beginning date of disability so that it coincides with the time period after unemployment benefits have stopped. If you receive unemployment benefits make sure you advise your attorney about this early in the case.

Using Your Own Vocational Expert

Occasionally, especially for claimants who are also receiving workers' compensation benefits, it may be possible to utilize vocational expert testimony from the workers' compensation or personal injury case in the social security claim. This vocational expert is generally "friendly" to the claimant is more likely to provide the kind of information that will be helpful in pursuing the social security disability case. The VE's testimony can be strengthened because of the opportunity to administer vocational tests that cannot be utilized during a hearing. However, a challenge exists because this type of evidence can be expensive.

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