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Proposed Legislation Would Allow Uniformed Workers 75% of Their Salary for Retiring on Disability

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If passed, de Blasio’s amended disability pension legislation could be a triumph for disabled workers.  The changes made to the original bill would allow three-quarter pensions for uniformed workers hired after 2009 retiring on disability, as well as workers who suffered severe injuries on the job.  The original proposed plan gave uniformed workers only 50% of their salaries and was met with backlash from critics who said that 50% was too low for workers who risk their lives on a daily basis to perform their duties. 

The proposed changes to the bill also leveled the field by giving newer hires the same disability benefits as those who were hired prior to 2009.  Under the original bill, uniformed workers hired post 2009 would have been forced to live on $27 a day if they were injured in the line of duty.  Uniformed workers covered under the proposed bill include sanitation workers and corrections officers, as well as police officers and firemen.  However, in order to receive the disability benefits, workers would have to qualify for social security first, which has also been a source of contention for union advocates backing the NYPD and NYFD.     

It is estimated that the 75% pension plans would cost the city $342 million between 2015 and 2019.  De Blasio’s original disability pension plan was calculated to cost the city $47 million.

Uniformed workers are subjected to physical harm daily in the workplace, and risk their lives for the public.  In addition, due to the conditions of their employment, they face a number of work related health conditions such as the risk of developing various cancers, stress, sleep deprivation related conditions, depression issues, and heart attacks.  According to statistics, firefighters have significantly higher rates of testicular cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate cancer, and multiple myeloma, than the general population.  Additionally, due to hectic work schedules and stress, and other factors affecting metabolism, studies have shown that police officers are 8% more likely to develop obesity issues than their civilian counterparts.          

If you have been injured during the course of your employment, contact an attorney who is experienced in dealing with disability benefits.  Call The Law Offices of Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McInytre, LLP at (866)557-7500.  

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OSHA Censures Staten Island Construction Company

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The employment related death of a construction worker sparked a six month investigation of the company for which he worked.  The worker was killed last November, after being crushed and asphyxiated by a mezzanine that fell from a car dealership the crew was demolishing.

The investigation found numerous violations both prior to and during the demolition, including:

  • Failure to initiate programs to inspect the worksite, materials, and equipment
  • Failure to properly inspect the demolition site
  • Failure to conduct an engineering survey prior to the demolition
  • Failure to obtain a valid permit to demolish the building
  • Failure to properly train employees
  • Failure to inspect support walls and floors for the potential to collapse
  • Failure to keep a record of workplace injuries and illnesses

This was not the first death that resulted from the construction company’s negligence.  The owner had pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide several years ago when he had admitted he knew the trench he had sent a worker into was not safe.  Similar to the recent occurrence, the worker was also asphyxiated when the trench caved in on him. 

OSHA has released statements regarding the company’s disregard for safety protocol.  The Staten Island OSHA director stated that the worker would not have been killed had proper demolition procedures been taken.  However, OSHA is waiting for the findings of the DA’s office to release further commentary regarding the possibility of criminal prosecution for the construction company’s owner.  OSHA has fined the company $121,000 for “willfull,” “serious,” and one “other than serious” violations.          

If you have been seriously injured at the workplace, contact an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about Worker’s Compensation claims to discuss your legal rights and remedies.  Call The Law Offices of Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McInytre, LLP at (866)557-7500.  

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Can You Be Denied Worker’s Compensation for Not Taking Medication?

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Many people who receive Worker’s Compensation for injuries that occurred at the workplace are prescribed painkillers to take for the pain resulting from the injury.  It is not unusual for someone receiving Worker’s Compensation benefits to be tested for drugs.   In fact, a worker’s privileges to compensation may be denied in some circumstances if they have evidenced that they have been using certain drugs.  However, in one worker’s case, the company he worked for attempted to deny his wage replacement benefits because there was no evidence of drugs in his system.  In this case, the drug test revealed that the worker was not taking the prescribed opiod, Kadian which he was prescribed for back pain due to a workplace accident that occurred over ten years ago. 

The worker was required to take urine tests regularly to prove that he was taking the medication.  The company argued that the employee was violating the Worker’s Compensation provision against making fraudulent representations for the purposes of receiving the benefits.  However, the lower court found that it was unnecessary to penalize the worker because although his testimony was discredited, there was no evidence that he was selling or distributing the unused medication.  The company appealed.   

The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division recently heard the argument and affirmed the lower court’s decision, holding that the worker could continue receiving his compensation benefits and should not be penalized for failure to take the prescribed medication. 

To read the decision, click here.

If you have been in an accident at your job that prevents you from working, you may qualify for Worker’s Compensation.  Contact an attorney who is experienced in handling these matters who can ensure that your rights are protected.  Call the attorneys at Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McInytre, LLP at (866)557-7500.        

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New Legislation Introduced Aimed at Reducing Asbestos Exposure for Workers

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Last month, two senators proposed new legislation called the READ Act (Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database) which would update the 1988 Asbestos Information Act.  The new legislation would require companies to continually update the database with information regarding known asbestos locations.  The bill is aimed at limiting exposure to asbestos and would require companies who handled products containing asbestos to update the database annually, instead of the previously required one time initial reporting. 

Although new use of asbestos products has been banned in the United States, many new cases of asbestos related illnesses result from exposure from decades ago.  10,000 Americans die of asbestos exposure each year with many workers still being exposed to it on a daily basis from asbestos that still remains in many older buildings.  In many cases, symptoms do not arise until years later when it may be too late for successful treatment.  In a recent case, workers who removed asbestos from a courthouse in Missouri three decades ago have filed suit for medical expenses and damages.

Additionally, it is estimated that 100,000 have died, or will die, as a result of mesothelioma resulting from exposure to asbestos in shipyards alone.  Similar to lung cancer, it can take sometimes up to thirty five years for symptoms of mesothelioma to surface.  In addition to shipyard workers, high risk groups for mesothelioma include Navy veterans, those who have been employed at power or machinery plants, electricians, construction workers, plumbers, etc.        

If you have been exposed to asbestos during your employment and are suffering from an asbestos related illness, contact an experienced Worker’s Compensation attorney who will strive to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.  Call The Law Offices of Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McInytre, LLP at (866)557-7500. 

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New York Times Investigation Reveals Nail Salon Workers Subjected to Health Risks

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According to a recent investigation by the New York Times, nail salon workers are some of the most overworked, mistreated, and underpaid workers in New York.  In addition, many of them face serious health risks due to the fumes and chemicals to which they are subjected on a daily basis.   

Most of the nail salon workers interviewed during the Times investigation were immigrants from Korea or China, and occasionally Latin America, Nepal or Tibet.  The Times found that some of these workers were earning a wage as little as $10 per day.  $35 is considered to be very good pay by those working in the nail salon industry.  In many cases, their employers even keep their tips, and offer no overtime pay.  In addition to the deplorable employment working conditions employees face, many of the workers are forced to go home to overcrowded and unsanitary living arrangements. 

Due to the salons not being properly ventilated, many of these workers face medical ailments such as respiratory and skin issues, nose bleeds, headaches, and sore throats, in addition to the physical pain that comes from being hunched over all day, and sore hands resulting from massaging other people’s hands and scrubbing calluses from feet for hours on end.  In many cases, women are not given gloves to protect their hands or proper masks to protect from inhalation.  Chemicals in products used for manicures include dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde.  Nail products are not regulated by the FDA and therefore, the long term health effects have not been studied by exposure to these products.  Tragically, in the nail salon industry, miscarriages and birth defects are all too common among women of child bearing years as a result of being over-exposed to these toxins. 

As a result of the New York Times expose, Governor Cuomo issued an emergency order to protect nail salon workers until more permanent measures can be in place.  Such measures include increasing safety measures requiring protective gloves; ordering back pay for lost wages; and an educational campaign that would distribute materials in six languages about the rights, health, and safety of nail salon workers.      

If you are a manicurist, or work in the cosmetics industry and have developed an illness as a result of your employment, you may be able to assert a Worker’s Compensation claim.  Contact the experienced attorneys at Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McInytre, LLP at (866)557-7500.

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Recent Survey Indicates Large Percentage of Fibromyalgia Patients Not Receiving Disability Benefits

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Anyone with fibromyalgia knows how debilitating the condition is, and how difficult it is to perform job functions that you may have been able to previously.  While the condition affects 5 million adults, only 25 percent are receiving disability benefits.  A recent survey conducted by ProHealth.com has found that out of the 316 participants, 60% had fibromyalgia.  68% of the participants were not receiving disability benefits at all.  The two most popular responses as to why the survey participants were not receiving disability were that they either felt guilty asking for it, or could not afford to be out of work for two years while awaiting approval.  For those who did make claims, 75% had not involved a lawyer. 

Even for those who apply for social security disability for fibromyalgia, the outcome is uncertain.  The Social Security Administration issued new standards in 2012 to determine disability eligibility based on fibromyalgia symptoms.  Previous to the new guidelines, a fibromyalgia claim was not necessarily viable.  In determining the eligibility for a claim, the Social Security Administration will look at whether:

  • There is at least a 3 month history of widespread pain
  • At least 11 of the 18 tender points are found on examination
  • Evidence from other disorders were excluded

The SSA also requires medical documentation for a period of 12 months prior to the application date.  Documents should include medical evaluations from a physician, and possibly a psychologist.  The SSA will also take into consideration evidence of a person’s day to day functioning as reflected by the statements provided by friends, neighbors, clergy, past employers, counselors, or teachers.  The SSA will also have their personnel evaluate you in a multiple step process considering:

  • Work history
  • Severity of symptoms
  • Whether the impairments meet medical criteria
  • Whether you are capable of performing past work

If you are capable of doing past work, then you do not qualify for disability.  If you are denied your claim, you may appeal.  Many people have found more success with the appeals process.

Navigating through the Social Security Disability system is often frustrating and confusing.  If you are experiencing the debilitating pain of fibromyalgia and can no longer work, it is best to contact an attorney who is experienced in handling such claims.  Call The Law Offices of Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McInytre, LLP at (866)557-7500.  

Click here to see the results of the ProHealth.com survey regarding work disability.

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OSHA Renews Alliance with the Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair

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Working in a car repair shop can be a hazardous job.  Each day, mechanics and other employees inhale fumes, work with toxic chemicals, and handle heavy and dangerous equipment.  OSHA has recently renewed its relationship with the Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair to ensure that those who work in car repair shops receive proper training and information regarding health and safety in the workplace. 

Those who work in automotive repair shops should be supplied with and wear proper safety gear, including protective eye wear, gloves, and foot wear.  In addition, because workers are required to handle heavy equipment, they should be trained in proper lifting techniques to avoid back or other injury.  Additionally, certain positions may require specialized training and certification. 

The objectives of the OSHA and Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair include implementing training and safety measures with additional focuses on lift safety, Absorbed Glass Matt batteries, and contaminated refrigerant.  The alliance intends to use data from Worker’s Compensation, injuries and non-injury data, and existing information regarding health hazards in the industry to improve safety efforts. 

If you are an auto mechanic, it is important that your employer provide you with proper safety gear and a well ventilated and well-lit area in which to work, as well as adhere to OSHA safety standards.  Although some minor injuries in the auto repair shop may be unavoidable such as small cuts and bruises, exposure to certain chemicals can cause lasting damage.  Many products that workers use contain asbestos and lead which can cause respiratory illnesses, kidney disease, neurological illnesses, and permanent disabling or debilitating injuries. 

If you have been employed in an auto repair shop and have been injured while working, you may qualify for Worker’s Compensation.  Contact an experienced attorney who can help guide you through the process.  Call the attorneys at Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McInytre, LLP at (866)557-7500.

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Performance Artists Face High Risk of Workplace Injury

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When one goes to see a show such as Cirque du Soleil, spectators see a performance that allows them to retreat into their imaginations for a while.  What they don’t necessarily see, however, are the injuries that can affect so many of the performers.  According to OSHA, Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas show has been ranked 79th most dangerous workplace out of 52,000 nationwide.  The injury rate for these performers is four times greater than professional sports teams.  Additionally, in many cases, performers do not receive just compensation and will never be able to perform again.

While many of the injured performers receive Worker’s Compensation, the system is not geared toward the specific nature of performance, and companies such as Cirque du Soleil do not have provisions in the performers’ contracts like those of professional athletes.  This means that many of these performers will be left without adequate compensation for their injuries and an inability to earn a living.  In one case, a performer’s pay dropped 85% after her injury due to the cap placed on Worker’s Compensation payouts.  The price tag placed on her permanent ankle damage was $170,000, after she disputed the initial $45,000 she was offered.  Due to her injury, the former Olympian will never be able to perform again.

In another tragic case, a performer was killed when her harness did not work properly.  Despite the performer’s concern about the equipment, the company did not take proper safety precautions.  After an OSHA investigation, the company and the casino in which it was housed were fined for safety violations.  The company also settled a lawsuit with the performer’s children.

Being a performance artist can be a dangerous occupation and result in serious injury.  If you are a performer who has been involved in a work related accident, contact an attorney who has experience dealing with these matters and will ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.  Call The Law Offices of Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McInytre, LLP at (866)557-7500.     

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Heightened Risk of Danger for Construction Workers on Scaffolds

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The New York Committee of Occupational Safety and Health recently issued an alarming report regarding their findings of the hazardous conditions construction workers face in New York.  While construction workers make up 4% of New York’s workforce, the occupation also accounts for 20% of New York’s worker fatalities.  The Committee found that workers who work at elevated heights are at increased risk for accident and most OSHA violations occur in this category.  65% of construction workers are working at elevated heights on scaffolds, therefore, most construction workers are adversely affected by the risks associated with working at elevated heights.  The Committee reported that two-thirds of construction sites visited were issued citations for serious violations.  Additionally, most of the scaffold violations were found to occur at non-union sites, which are responsible for 79% of fatal construction accidents, according to OSHA.

Many tragic deaths could have been prevented by implementing basic safety protocol.  In one case, a worker fell from a ladder simply because no one was available to hold it.  The employer was only charged a $4,000 fine.  In another case, a worker in his early twenties fell to his death because his harness was not attached to an independent anchorage.  The New York City Department of Building inspectors have also cited instances of preventable tragedies due to unsecured planks, lack of protection systems on balconies, failure to install guardrails, failure to erect a scaffold properly, and cross braces missing.  Due to the low number of OSHA inspectors, many violations go unnoticed.     

The report also found a disproportionate number of Latino/immigrant deaths resulting from falls.  OSHA has launched a bilingual campaign to educate workers who many not speak English about fall hazards and safety measures.  

Construction company owners are rarely criminally prosecuted for these violations.  Over the course of 35 years, only 84 cases have been prosecuted.  A landmark case occurred recently in Staten Island when a construction company owner was charged with criminally negligent homicide as a result of the death of one of his workers.  For a conviction of criminally negligent homicide, a class E felony, an offender can receive up to 1 ½ -4 years jail time in New York.  OSHA violations resulting in loss of human life may be prosecuted, resulting in up to a 6 month prison sentence or fine of $250,000-$500,000.  However, more commonly issued for the violations are basic monetary penalties which are not paid 30% of the time.     

If you have been injured in a work accident, you may qualify for Worker’s Compensation.  Additionally, if you were injured due to an elevation related accident, you may be able to sue your employer and third parties under New York’s strict liability “Scaffold Law.”  Contact an attorney who is experienced with construction accidents who will fight for your rights.  Call The Law Offices of Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McInytre, LLP at (866)557-7500.   

        

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OSHA and Airline Ground Safety Panel renew alliance

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Many accidents can occur on the runway of an airport.  Airline ground personnel run a risk of being struck by heavy objects, and even coming into contact with hazardous chemicals.  In addition, ground personnel frequently operate equipment such as hi-life trucks, jacks, dollies, refuelers, loading devices, and pushback tugs.  As a result, working as ground personnel at an airport requires special safety training to avoid injuries in what can be hazardous conditions.

As a result of the safety issues facing airport grounds personnel on a daily basis, OSHA formed an alliance with the Airline Ground Safety Panel in 2008. The Alliance was just renewed for the second time on April 8, 2015 for another five years.  The Alliance implemented training resources and safety guides identifying potential hazards and solutions to prevent vehicle accidents, falling objects, amputations, pinch point injuries, collisions, and other injuries.  It plans to continue educating airline workers about employee safety, rights and responsibilities.

Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace.  However, an average of thirteen workers each day are still killed, and another four million workers a year are seriously injured as a result of their job duties.  If you have been injured as a result of an unsafe working condition, you may be able to file a Worker’s Compensation claim.  Contact an experienced New York attorney who will fight for the compensation you deserve.  Call The Law Offices of Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McInytre, LLP at (866)557-7500.            

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Clothing Store Receives OSHA Citations for Locking Emergency Exits

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New York clothing retailer Conway has been cited with OSHA violations at least three times at two of its Bronx locations for locking and blocking emergency exits, thus creating the hazardous conditions for its employees and customers and the potential for preventable tragedies.  Despite OSHA inspections, the company willfully violated the safety warnings and continued the practice of locking the exits. 

The Conway violations are reminiscent of the conditions that led to the most fatal industrial accident in U.S. history which occurred in 1911 in New York City.  The 146 deaths and 71 injuries resulting from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire would have been entirely preventable had workers been able to escape the flames.  However, the building’s exits and stairwells were kept locked by the owners, causing senseless death and injury.

As a result of this tragedy, many labor reforms were spurred and laws were developed to help protect workers.  However, despite modern safety regulations, many violations still occur over 100 years later. 

In addition to citations for locking emergency exits, Southern Island Stores, LLC (the parent company of Conway), was also cited for ineffective extermination of rodents due to the serious health risks workers face who are exposed to vermin.

In the event of a fire or serious emergency, having to locate keys and take the time to unlock emergency exits places workers in situations that could mean the difference between life or death.

OSHA workplace safety standards for exit routes include:

  • A workplace must generally have at least 2 exit routes for evacuation that lead to outside
  • Exit route doors must not be obstructed, or restricted by locks or alarms that would restrict their use
  • Ceilings of exit routes must be 7 feet 6 inches at minimum
  • Exit doorways must be at least 28 inches wide

In addition, employers are required to have an emergency exit plan that must be written and available to employees in a company of ten or more.  A company with fewer than ten employees may orally communicate the exit plan.  The emergency exit plan should include a list of procedures for reporting emergencies, evacuating, medical rescue, and information regarding the alarm alert system.   

If you have been seriously injured at work due to your employer’s negligence and safety violations, you may be eligible for Worker’s Compensation.  Consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling Worker’s Compensation claims who can ensure that you will get the compensation you deserve.  Contact the attorneys at Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McInytre, LLP at (866)557-7500.

   

 

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NPR Reports Insurers Gaining Control in the California Worker’s Compensation System

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According to a recent report by NPR, the worker’s compensation system in California is giving too much control regarding medical decisions to employers and insurers.  The State Compensation Insurance Fund, a quasi-governmental agency, employs anonymous independent medical reviewers.  The reviewers, who are not required to be licensed in the state, have the power to make decisions regarding treatments without ever examining the worker.  Many believe that too much deference is given to the reviewers, who side with the insurance companies 90% of the time. 

In the case of a worker who was injured in a work accident in 1997, reforms made to the California worker’s compensation system have denied her the continuation of effective treatment which included pain medications and a home aide.  This worker might never be able to use her feet again, and suffers from what is known as chronic or complex regional pain syndrome.  After the State Compensation Fund reviewed only the worker’s medical paperwork, and not her actual injuries, the reviewer determined that the medication and the home aide were not helping her recover and thus, denied her request.

Because the reviewers are anonymous, it is impossible to override their decisions or even depose them for trial purposes. 

In another heartbreaking case, a worker who suffered from job related injuries which resulted in paralysis is unable to live at home because his request for modifications to his home for wheelchair access were denied.  Even though his doctor prescribed $170,000 in home modifications, an independent medical reviewer employed by the California Insurance Guarantee Association rejected the prescribed modifications.  However, after NBC4 News in Los Angeles featured the story, the CIGA approved the modifications and publicly announced that the claim was not handled properly.

Click here to read the full NPR story.    

Click here for the audio transcript. 

If you have suffered from a workplace injury, contact an experienced worker’s compensation attorney who will fight for your rights.  Call The Law Offices of Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McInytre, LLP at (866)557-7500.

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Bus Drivers Face High Risk of On-the-Job Injury

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Public transportation drivers have an especially important role to play in society- they are entrusted with delivering thousands of people every day safely to their destinations.  In fact, in 2013, Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation and half (5.4 billion) of those trips were rides in a bus.  Therefore, when a bus driver suffers from an injury or illness, there is a trickle down effect.  A recent survey was published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reflecting the kinds of hazards bus drivers face on a daily basis.  Due to the nature of their employment, bus drivers spend a great deal of time on the road and as a result, 42% of work related injuries in 2013 were related to transportation incidents.  However, these incidents were second to physical overexertion in 2012, which accounted for 34% of cases.  In 2013, overexertion constituted 22%.

In addition to vehicle accidents and bodily reactions, bus drivers also are exposed to the elements of nature as a condition of their job, and thus, slips and falls accounted for 14% of injuries in 2013- a decrease from 20% in 2011.  The remainder 35% of accidents faced by bus drivers in 2013 fell into the categories of contact with objects/equipment, violence by people or animals, and exposure to harmful substances. 

Bus drivers can often face long hours, and both physically and mentally stressful conditions.  To be entrusted with the safety of so many passengers each day is a very serious undertaking.  If you are a bus driver, or a loved one is, who has been injured while on duty, contact an experienced attorney who can assist you with your Worker’s Compensation claim at attorneys at Sherman, Federman, Sambur, & McIntyre, LLP at (866)-557-7500.     

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Executive Seeks Fund Reallocation to address Social Security Disability

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The United States Social Security Disability Insurance program, which provides benefits to over 11 million Americans, could be cut by nearly 20 percent. According to reports from the Social Security Administration Board of Trustees released in July 2014, the Social Security trust fund, which finances the federal program, is projected to be depleted by the end of 2016.

To address potential shortfalls in the past, Congress has reallocated payroll taxes from Social Security’s Old Age and Survivors Insurance fund to the disability trust. Similarly, while recognizing the need for a congressionally crafted long-term solution, the White House has proposed reallocating payroll taxes from the social security retirement fund to the social security disability trust fund to prevent the looming depletion.

Specifically, the White House’s proposal would shift $330 billion from retirement accounts over the next five years. However, according to the White House, the proposed reallocation will not affect the overall health of the retirement and disability trust funds on a combined basis.  It is important to note that it is still unclear whether such measures will be adopted.

If you or a loved one have any questions regarding your Workers’ Compensation, social security, or New York State disability benefits, contact our experienced attorneys at Sherman, Federman, Sambur, & McIntyre, LLP at (866)-557-7500 or click here to speak with our office. 

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Recent Report Exposes the Injured System of Worker's Compensation

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A recent report by ProPublica and National Public Radio exposed how states, including New York, have implemented cuts to worker’s compensation benefits which has resulted in shifting the costs of workplace accidents away from the employers and to the taxpayers.  Employers are paying the lowest premium rates on workers’ compensation since the 1970’s.  Both the risk of injury is increasing due to changing trends in the labor market, as well as the financial hardships suffered by employees who cannot work due to work related disabilities.  Due to implementing cost saving strategies, insurance companies are seeing an 18% return in profits while workers are not getting the compensation they deserve.  In many instances, the workers who suffer injury are forced into poverty as a result of being unable to return to their job, in addition to paying extraordinary medical expenses. 

In New York, medical treatment guidelines were implemented in 2010 which lowered worker’s compensation costs for employers while limiting adequate treatment available to many workers.  According to the ProPublica report, in 1988, the average rate for worker’s compensation insurance in New York was $2.98 per $100 of the worker’s wages.  Last year, it was $2.85.     

In a report published this month by OSHA entitled “Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job,” OSHA analyzed the economic burdens that work injuries place on families and the trickle-down effect low worker’s compensation pay out rates have on society.  The injuries suffered by many workers affect their entire family structure.  In many cases, a worker’s spouse will need to cut back on their own hours of employment in order to care for their disabled family member.  In other cases, the non-disabled spouse may take on an extra job or extra hours to support their family.  Such long days causes workers to run the risk of fatigue and illness which causes a 61% increase in both work related injuries and motor vehicle accidents.  Additionally, because workers cannot sue their employers, they largely rely on paying out of pocket for their medical expenses.

It is also interesting to note the price tags attached to injuries regarding worker’s compensation benefits.  For example, in New York, the maximum compensation for loss of an arm is $252,299.  In many jobs that involve labor, a worker will be unable to return to his previous duty without a limb.  In many cases, the worker will have to support a family in addition to paying medical expenses out of the amount provided.  Nevertheless, New York’s worker’s compensation benefits are still higher for most body parts than the national average.   

OSHA has asserted that the “acceptable number of work injuries, especially fatal work injuries is zero.”  In order to accomplish this, employers must take preventative measures to eliminate dangerous conditions.

For more information, see:

https://www.propublica.org/article/the-demolition-of-workers-compensation

http://www.dol.gov/osha/report/20150304-inequality.htm                 

http://www.propublica.org/article/how-much-is-your-arm-worth-depends-where-you-work

If you are a worker who has suffered an injury while on the job, contact an experienced Worker’s Compensation attorney to ensure that your rights are protected and you are getting the full and appropriate compensation you deserve.  Contact Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McIntyre at (866) 557-7500.

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Courts Explain Parameters Of What Constitutes A “WTC Qualifying Condition, New Onset Disease”

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By: Sean Patrick Riordan, Esq.

In the nearly fourteen years since the World Trade Center attacks First Responders have contracted and suffered from a variety of injuries and illnesses resulting from their heroic work at the World Trade Center Site. In order to better care for public servants who developed these WTC related illnesses as a result of their efforts, in 2005 then Governor George Patacki signed into law what has commonly been referred to as the World Trade Center Bill. Litigation dealing with the meaning of the bill, as well as the parameters of those that qualify, has been raging ever since.

                The Appellate Division, 1st Dept., on February 17, 2015, clarified an important question surrounding the WTC Bill, namely: “What constitutes a “New Onset Disease” within the meaning of the law?” In Sheldon v. Kelly, the Court makes clear that the provision is to be read expansively and not narrowly.

                The WTC Bill specifically enumerates a number “qualifying physical and psychological WTC Conditions” which are too numerous to fully state here. If an applicant’s disabling condition is specifically noted as a “WTC Qualifying Condition” the WTC Bill shifts the burden of proof onto the applicable Retirement System to rebut the presumption that the applicant’s condition was not caused by their WTC exposure. This “burden shift” is extremely important. In passing the WTC Bill the legislature realized that many of the diseases that would emanate from WTC toxic exposures would take years to develop and study and the legislature did not want to have First Responders denied their rightful benefits in the interim. As the Court stated in a similar case, Bitchnatchi, “the full extent of the health challenges faced by these workers, arising from chronic, acute exposures to a toxic brew of substances at the site, may not be known for years.”

                The WTC Bill also contains a provision covering “new onset diseases resulting from exposure as such diseases occur in the future, including cancer, asbestos related disease, heavy metal poisoning and musculoskeletal disease.” Until now, what constituted a “new onset musculoskeletal disease” was unclear, and many claims were denied by the Retirement System as not fitting within the parameters of the WTC Bill. Sheldon has changed that.

                Sheldon, a retired NYPD Police Officer, worked over 300 hours at the WTC Site and, in 2002, was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a “syndrome that causes chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain.” Following her application for WTC Accidental Disability Retirement, the Police Pension Fund denied her claim, finding that Fibromyalgia was not a WTC Qualifying Condition and that Sheldon failed to prove a connection between her disease and her WTC exposure.” The Appellate Division overturned the Pension Funds denial, finding that Fibromyalgia is rightfully within the “broad parameters of a musculoskeletal disease.” Therefore, the Court held, the Pension Fund was required to affirmatively rebut the causal connection presumption created by the WTC Bill. The Court once again stated that a Retirement System cannot merely rely on the lack of evidence and studies that clearly show a connection between the disease and the WTC exposure; INSTEAD the Retirement System must show evidence that there is clearly no link between the two.

                The decision marks a giant step forward for First Responders who are suffering from a multitude of impairments not specifically stated as covered by WTC Qualifying Conditions. Many new and valid claims will now be guided with the Sheldon principles and rightfully awarded WTC Accidental Disability benefits.

                If you have any questions or need assistance with your WTC Accidental Disability claim, please feel free to contact us at (212) 612-3198. 

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Nurses Face Increased Risk of Workplace Violence

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The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) has estimated that 2 million Americans a year are subjected to violence in the workplace.  Specifically, there has been new light shed on the violence that many health care providers face on a daily basis.  Nurses are most likely to experience violence, with up to 82% of emergency room nurses reporting that they have been the subject of physical violence, and 100% claiming they had been subjected to verbal violence, according to a survey conducted by the Emergency Nurses Association. 

Last month, the issue of workplace violence for nurses rose to the forefront when a cardiologist was shot at a Boston hospital, allegedly upset over his mother’s death.  Although shootings at hospitals are not common, violent crimes in hospitals have been increasing as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Emergency room nurses and nurses who work in psychiatric wards are among those employed by the profession that faces the highest risks of injury resulting from violence in their workplace.  Many of those who attack nurses are under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, or suffer from mental illness.  Last year, a 70 year old nurse went into a coma and suffered brain damage as a result of a patient repeatedly kicking her in the head at a New York hospital.  OSHA found that particular hospital had 40 incidents within 3 months, failing to take proper measures to prevent such scenarios from occurring.       

As well as violence causing injury in the workplace, nurses also face a number of other job related injuries and illnesses that are prevalent in the profession.  Back injuries, slip and falls, exposure to chemicals and diseases, and the injuries that may arise from a patient’s violent episode can all contribute toward a Worker’s Compensation claim if you have to miss work due to your condition.

If you are a nurse who has been the victim of workplace violence or suffered injury as a result of performing your job, you are eligible to file a  NYS worker’s compensation claim.  Contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who will work aggressively to secure full and appropriate compensation for your injuries. Contact Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McIntyre at (866) 557-7500.

 

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ABLE Creates Long-Term Planning Solution for Disabled Americans

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In order to qualify for federal programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a person can’t have more than $2,000 in cash savings or other assets. As a result, many disabled individuals are discouraged from working or setting aside money for long term expenses, since they don’t want to put their benefits at risk.

A traditional planning solution that many permanently disabled individuals have as means to provide for long term care beyond government benefits, has been to create a special-needs trust. However, many people receiving Medicaid and SSI benefits, do not have the extra money to hire the necessary legal services to produce a trust.

This past December, however, congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, more concisely referred to as ABLE.  Essentially, ABLE creates a lower-cost of means for the disabled and their families to save for long-term needs without jeopardizing their federal benefits.

According to the New York Times, disabled people and families with children who have special needs can pay into the accounts. So long as the money is spent on pre-approved categories of expenditures for the beneficiary, withdrawals from the accounts will not be taxed. Such pre-approved expenditures include, housing, education, transportation, health care and rehabilitation.

ABLE accounts have an annual contribution limit of $14,000 and can grow to $100,000 without effecting S.S.I. benefits. To qualify you must have been disabled before age 26. While specific regulatory are still emerging, anyone eligible for S.S.I. benefits will likely be eligible for ABLE.

Additionally, if you or a loved one have any questions regarding your workers benefits, social security, or disability benefits contact our experienced attorneys at Sherman, Federman, Sambur, & McIntyre, LLP at (866)-557-7500 or click here to speak with our office.  

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Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McIntyre, LLP Plays Important Role in Major Breakthrough Related to 9/11 Volunteers

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Sherman, Federman, Sambur & McIntyre, LLP recently played an important role in protecting the rights of 9/11 volunteers in the Jaime Hazan case.  This case was recently reported on the front page of the New York Law Journal, Long Island’s News 12, Fox News, the New York Daily News and WALK radio.  The case is being cited as greatly expanding the Workers’ Compensation rights of 9/11 Volunteers.  This media coverage is almost unprecedented in the field of Workers’ Compensation.

Article 8-A of the Workers’ Compensation Law affords Workers’ Compensation benefits to volunteers who participated in the rescue and recovery efforts surrounding 9/11.  One of those injured as a volunteer was Jaime Hazan.  Sherman, Federman litigated this case extensively, winning the case at the Workers’ Compensation Board level.

            The Uninsured Employers’ Fund, on behalf of the World Trade Center Volunteer Fund, appealed the determination of the Law Judge.  They argued that despite the fact that Mr. Hazan presented pictures, affidavits and other evidence that he participated in the rescue and recovery efforts at ground zero, he could not be defined as a volunteer because of Final Revised Order of the Chair 967.  This is an internal order of the Workers’ Compensation Board not to award World Trade Center Volunteer Benefits to volunteers that did not formally register with or serve under the direction of an authorized rescue entity or volunteer agency.  Thus, although Mr. Hazan proved he participated in the rescue and recovery efforts to the satisfaction of the Law Judge presiding over his case, his rights to benefits were being appealed because he did not formally register with a volunteer agency or rescue entity.  

            Sherman, Federman filed a rebuttal, or written response to the appeal, containing multiple legal arguments.  We argued that nowhere in the law was there any such requirement to register with a volunteer agency or rescue entity as a precursor to receiving 9/11 volunteer  benefits.  In fact, according to the way the law was drafted, the 9/11 Volunteer Workers’ Compensation law was to be interpreted broadly and not restricted.  Thus, Revised Order of the Chair 967 was contrary to the purpose and intent of the law.  Unfortunately, the Workers’ Compensation Board reversed stating that because Mr. Hazan did not satisfy Final Revised Order of the Chair 967, he could not be awarded 9/11 Workers’ Compensation Volunteer Benefits.

            Sherman, Federman advised Mr. Hazan that the Workers’ Compensation Board was misinterpreting the law and encouraged him to seek alternate counsel specializing in appealing to a higher court, the Appellate Division, 3rd Department. Mr. Hazan ultimately retained Michael Hutter and the Pro Bono Appeals Program in Albany to prepare appropriate briefs for that court and argue the appeal. On June 5, 2014 the Appellate Division ruled that the Final Revised Order of the Chair 967 could not bar Mr. Hazan’s claim for 9/11 volunteer benefits as it was contrary to the law.  The case has presently been restored to the Workers’ Compensation Board for further proceedings.

The significance of this ruling is that World Trade Center Volunteers who did not register with an authorized rescue entity or volunteer agency may now apply for Workers’ Compensation benefits and have their cases heard on the merits.  This ruling will hopefully open the door to an entire class of volunteer rescue and recovery workers who have been otherwise barred from receiving benefits at this point.  The Governor’s office is reportedly reviewing the decision of this case to determine whether to rescind Revised Order of the Chair 967.

Many of the Legal Arguments, originally advanced by Sherman Federman in the Rebuttal to the Appeal at the Workers’ Compensation Board level, were cited in the Appeal to the Appellate Division by Mr. Hutter and the Pro Bono Appeals Program in their brief and ultimately by the Appellate Division, 3rd Department.

We congratulate Mr. Hazan, Mr. Hutter and the Pro Bono Appeals Program for a job well done and for the impact this case will likely have on other World Trade Center Volunteers. 

New York Social Security Disability Attorneys

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Potential 2015 Workers’ Compensation Legislation

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Last year, 2014, the state of New York enacted several Workers’ Compensation bills, including the New York State Commercial Goods Industry Fair Play Act and the NYCERS and WCB Mandatory Exchange of information. To refresh, the New York State Commercial Goods Industry Fair Play Act, in part, established a standard to prevent the misclassification of trucker drivers as independent contractors. This simply means that truck drivers may be eligible for workers’ compensation if they were to suffer an on-the-job injury.

 The NYCERS and WCB Mandatory Exchange of information, among other things, mandated the exchange of information between the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) and the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) in an effort to implement pension plan offsets for the workers’ compensation benefits a retiree receives for the same injury.

This year, 2015, several previously proposed pro-labor workers’ compensation bills are likely to be reintroduced at the state legislature. Among them includes a bill which would require a presumption of permanent total disability if an individual is approved for social security disability benefits; a bill which would allow claimants to choose their own pharmacy; a bill that would allow death benefits to continue if a spouse remarries; a bill which would require medical treatment guidelines for all body parts and medical conditions; and a bill prohibiting the retroactive application of the medical treatment guidelines. While it remains unclear whether these proposals will be adopted, it is important that New York workers remain informed of potential rights and protections.

If you have suffered a work related injury, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and other damages. An injury on the job can occur in a number of ways and can jeopardize your ability to provide for you and your family. To learn more about the compensability of your claim, contact our experienced attorneys at Sherman, Federman, Sambur, & McIntyre, LLP. Call (866)-557-7500 or click here to speak with our office.  

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Additional Information Relative to Filing a Worker's Compensation Claim - English

Sherman, Federman, Sambur, & McInture, LLP is a Long Island, NY based workers’ compensation firm. We provide services to the greater New York area including but not limited to Brentwood, Garden City, Hempstead, Islip, Manhattan, Riverhead, essentially all of Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk county), Sysosset, Bay Shore, Hampton Bays, East Hampton, West Hampton, the North Fork, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massacheusetts the South Fork, Down Island, the North Shore, the South Shore, Mattituck, Jamesport, Cutchogue, Commack, Wyndanch, Longbeach, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, etc. We cover all urban, suburban and rural areas alike (i.e., the entire Tristate area).

Services include workers accident, workers compensation, social security disability, and veterans disability. We have worked with and represent heart attack patients, herniated discs, those injured on the job, pertaining to occupational disease illness for bread winners, the elderly/old, exclusive remedy requires, death benefits, fraud, office related injury, posttraumatic stress syndrome, abogado, lesions, compensation, laborales, en mass, section 32, HEP C, hepatitis, permanent disability, pre-existing conditions, 3rd party injuries, neck injury, sue worthy, employer induced, 32 settlements, WCB permanent-partial, carpal tunnel, car crash, arthritis, CRPS, temporary partial, TPD, complex regional pain syndrome, etc.

We are the best law attorneys/work injury lawyers/SSI and SSD attorneys, located in New York City. We can provide a free consultation for your case. Simply fill out our NY state intake form. There is also a printable version available via that same new client intake form link.

Where can I file a workers comp, SSD (social security disability), veterans claim in New York? Please contact us to set up an appointment!

Please view our testimonials above via the top-most navigation menu. You may also view our frequently asked questions (FAQ) pertaining to your SSI/SSD/Worker's Comp claim.

Moreover, please contact us with any questions related to: withdrawal, workers comp forms relative to NY/NJ/CT, NY workers compensation laws, Suffolk County and Nassau County WC Laws, questions regarding doctors in Long Island who may be able to assist with your comp case, "When should I get an attorney for NYS WC case?", filing for benefits, repetitive motion, all WC related forms and, potential fees and awards for your case, questions related to the WC board, questions relative to changing your reward, average weekly wage, reopening a workman’s comp case, SSI Attorneys and assistance, questions regarding making/filing another application whilst you have a pending appeal, reopening post-decision cases, voluntary withdrawal from the workforce, "Who pays for workers comp?", judge(s), spine stimulators, how to begin your WC case with SFSM via www.nycomplaw.com, wages and wage estimates, claiming your rewards for a filed case and the respective guidelines to winning.

Regardless of the outcome, Sherman, Federman, Sambur, & McIntyre, LLP is here to help. And our success is driven by our combined passion to help you!

El pariente adicional de Información para Archivar una Pretensión de Indemnización Laboral - Espanol

Sherman, Federman, Sambur, y McInture, LLP es una Larga Isla, Nueva York basó a la firma de compensación por accidentes de trabajo. Le proveemos los servicios al mayor área de Nueva York incluyendo pero no limitado a Brentwood, la Ciudad Jardín, Hempstead, Islip, Manhattan, Fuente de Un Río, esencialmente todo Sysosset Bastante Isleño,, Costa Baya, Hampton Bays, Hampton del este, West Hampton, el North Fork, Nueva Jersey, Connecticut, Pensilvania, Massacheusetts lo Al Sur Tenedor, la Isla Caída, el North Shore, lo Al Sur Costa, Mattituck, Jamesport, Cutchogue, Commack, Wyndanch, Longbeach, las Reinas, el Bronx, Brooklyn, etcétera (Nassau y condado Suffolk). Cubrimos todas áreas urbanas, suburbanas y rurales por igual (i.e., el área entero Tristate).

Los servicios incluyen accidente de trabajadores, compensación de trabajadores, incapacidad de seguro social, e incapacidad de veteranos. Hemos trabajado con y representamos a los pacientes de ataque al corazón, los discos herniados, esos heridos en el trabajo, relacionado con la enfermedad de enfermedad profesional para ganadores de pan, las personas de edad/viejas, el recurso exclusivo requiere, beneficios por muerte, fraude, la oficina relató lesión, síndrome postraumático de estrés, abogado, lesiones, compensación, laborales, masa en, sección 32, HEP C, la hepatitis, la incapacidad perpetua, condiciones preexistentes, lesiones 3 de fiesta, la lesión del cuello, entable demanda digno, el empleador inducido, 32 acuerdos, WCB parcial en la permanente, el túnel del carpo, el accidente automovilístico, la artritis, CRPS, el empleado eventual parcial, TPD, complique síndrome regional de dolor, etcétera.

Somos los abogados de ley de mejor abogado /trabajo de la lesión del abogado /Ingreso Suplementario de Seguridad y SSD, localizado en la ciudad de Nueva York. Podemos proveer una consulta libre para su caso. Simplemente llene nuestra forma de la toma del estado de Nueva York. Hay también una versión imprimible disponible por ese mismo nuevo enlace de la forma de la toma del cliente.

¿Dónde puedo reportar a unos trabajadores comp, SSD (la incapacidad de seguro social), pretensión de veteranos en Nueva York? Aquí mismo en Sherman, Federman.

Por favor mire nuestros testimonios arriba por el menú que se sobrepasa más de navegación. Usted también puede mirar nuestras preguntas preguntadas (el archivo de preguntas frecuentes) frecuentemente relacionado con su la pretensión Comp DE SSI/SSD/Worker.

Además, por favor contáctenos con cualquier preguntas con las que se relacionó: El retiro, ¿ las formas del comp de trabajadores referente a NY?, Solicitando beneficios, moción repetitiva, todo WC formas relacionadas y, premios y retribuciones potenciales para su caso, las preguntas se relacionaron con el pizarrón WC, preguntas referente a cambiar su recompensa, salario medio semanal, reabriendo un trabajador Abogados comp de caso, de Ingreso Suplementario de Seguridad y la asistencia, tiene objeciones acerca de referente a la confección /limadura otra aplicación aun mientras usted tiene una súplica pendiente, reabriendo casos de postdecisión, retiro voluntario de la población en edad laboral, ¿ "quien paga para trabajadores comp"?, El juez (s), los estimuladores de la columna vertebral, cómo empezar su caso WC con SFSM por medio de www.nycomplaw.com, sueldo y salario estima, pidiendo sus recompensas como demanda por un caso archivado y el respectivo conjunto de directrices a ganar.

Sin tener en cuenta el resultado, Sherman, Federman, Sambur, y McIntyre, LLP es aquí para ayudar. ¡Y nuestro éxito es conducido por nuestra pasión combinada para ayudarle!