Stockton California Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Two California firms on annual 'Dirty Dozen' list

The last week of April, leading up to International Workers' Day, is known as Workers' Memorial Week. Worker's Memorial Week is an annual remembrance of individuals who were killed, hurt or suffered an illness while working at their jobs. Many such workers were injured while on the job in one of the industries that have infamous reputations for dangerous conditions. Nationwide, these types of work give rise to disproportionately large numbers of workers' compensation claims and job-related injuries.

However, not all of the most dangerous companies to work for fall into the categories of traditionally dangerous workplaces. During Workers' Memorial Week, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health or COSH releases an annual "Dirty Dozen" list. The "Dirty Dozen" calls out 12 companies whose safety records have been particularly egregious. What typically lands a firm on the list is a high number of preventable accidents or safety violations or especially hostile work environments.

Know what to expect from your workers’ compensation claim

When you suffer from a work-related injury, you usually have the right to file a workers' compensation claim to help you recover from the injury and make up for income lost during the recovery. However, if you do not know what to expect from such a claim, you may miss out on important benefits that you rightly deserve.

Unfortunately, the workers' compensation process is constructed in a way that often protects employers' and insurance providers' interests above workers' interests. In many cases, workers who do not know the benefits they should expect from a claim miss out on some form of compensation that they should receive. If you recently suffered an injury on the job, it is vital that you understand the benefits you should expect, to keep your rights and privileges protected from unfair business practices.

SSA budget bump may ease California SSDI backlog

Considerable attention from the media, the public and government watchdog agencies, like the Government Accounting Office (GAO), has been focused on the Social Security Association in recent months. The scrutiny has come in the wake of the beleaguered agency's struggles to deliver its services to the public. Clearly, this is a national problem, but the effects of the SSA's difficulties have been felt by thousands upon thousands of California citizens, as well.

The SSA is tasked with the oversight of several programs, including Social Security Retirement Benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Much of the scrutiny of SSA has been concentrated on the Social Security Disability program due to a backlog in the claims process. For example, SSDI claimants may not receive an initial benefits determination for several months. Then, should the claimant need a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ), they may wait several more months. Some Californians have experienced wait times of well over a year before learning whether they will ultimately qualify for SSD benefits.

SSDI vs. Workers' compensation in California

If a California worker is injured on the job - that is, at their place of work and while they are performing their prescribed job duties - they can look to workers' compensation for help with medical expenses and any lost wages they suffer as a result of the injury. On the other hand, if the injury they suffered prevents them from returning to work for a considerable length of time or inhibits their ability to work altogether, it is possible that the worker may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Although they can overlap, workers' compensation and SSDI benefits differ in several ways. Workers' compensation is a type of insurance for which employers are required to pay the premium. Most all employers must carry workers' compensation insurance in California. Workers' compensation serves the dual role of ensuring that injured workers have access to medical and financial assistance while at the same time limiting employers' exposure to liability for workplace injuries.

Can Californians get SSDI for respiratory disorders?

In California, people who have a debilitating respiratory disorder that prevents them from working may be able to obtain financial assistance from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Benefits from SSDI are administered by the federal government and disbursed from a trust to which U.S. workers contribute throughout the course of their careers. The contributions are made as part of every worker's payroll withholdings.

Qualifying disorders of the lungs and/or respiratory system must conform with the specific guidelines established by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In order to receive benefits, claimants have to demonstrate that their disorder is as severe as the guidelines require to be deemed debilitating. As an example, someone who suffers from asthma must offer medical evidence that their forced expiration volume (FEV) falls below the guidelines for their height and gender.

California SSDI claimants affected by SSA workload

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants in California, as in the rest of the United States, have been plagued by delays in both initial claims decisions and most egregiously, in the wait times for hearings before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), in a recently-released report, says that crushing workloads and a failure to fully adopt technologies that would increase efficiencies at the Social Security Administration (SSA) is part of what is causing the delays. The report goes on to detail the challenges that SSA faces in trying to serve SSDI benefits claimaints.

One particularly difficult challenge for SSA to surmount is the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. The Baby Boomers represent 80 million members of the U.S. population, and they are reaching the ages that account for the greatest numbers of disability claims: 50s and 60s. The GAO report predicts that the number of SSDI claims will continue to rise over the next few years, adding to the SSA's already unwieldy workload.

Will skin disorders qualify for SSD benefits?

Skin disorders are often more than cosmetic. They can be a source of extreme discomfort, sometimes to the extent that it affects one's ability to work. When they become this severe, such impairments can also be economically debilitating for those who suffer from them. In cases where an individual is unable to work, they may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to help offset some of the financial hardships and lost wages from being out of work.

The SSDI program is a trust into which all workers in the United State have contributed over their work careers. In order to qualify for SSDI Benefits, a worker's skin disorder must be supported by medical records and meet certain government guidelines that have been established by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Many specific disorders fall within the guidelines, but to qualify for SSD benefits, medical evidence must demonstrate that the disorder meets certain thresholds.

GAO report: SSDI claimants more successful with representatives

In California, it's not workers employed in manufacturing or construction who run a higher risk of workplace injuries. Rather, those employed in health care actually are at greater risk for workplace injury than construction or manufacturing workers. Fortunately, health workers may be entitled to compensation if they become ill from an incident on the job or suffer a workplace injury.

When people think of workplace accidents, they probably conjure up images of construction sites, manufacturing plants, or fishing boats. But in Connecticut and elsewhere, folks who work in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities than those employed in construction or manufacturing jobs. The incidence of injury is similar across all types of health care facilities, public or private, union or nonunion.

GAO report: SSDI claimants more successful with representatives

In Stockton, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants who need one can wait as long as 15 months for a hearing, while other Californians are seeing wait times that are stretching as far out as 24 months. With such long waiting periods - it has been estimated that as many as 10,000 people died last year while waiting for an SSD hearing - it's crucial that claimants leverage every possible advantage they can. A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified one factor that seems to give some claimants an edge over others: a representative, such as an attorney.

The GAO report found that those who appeared at an SSD claims hearing with an attorney or other representative were three times more likely to receive SSD benefits than claimants who attended without representatives. The report offers no explanation as to why represented claimants were more successful, however it illustrates how crucial having a representative can be in the claims process. It also illustrates how inconsistent the Social Security Administration's (SSA) administrative law judges have been in rendering their decisions.

These ladder safety tips are a must to follow

Depending on your profession, you could be the type of person who uses a ladder day in and day out. For example, painters are always working on ladders. Just the same, roofers and construction workers use, sometimes extremely long (!), ladders to reach the tops of buildings.

There is no doubt that using a ladder can make life much easier on the job site. Unfortunately, it also could increase the risk of being part of an accident.

Contact

Law Office of Ronald M. Stein, Attorney at Law
4521 Quail Lakes Drive
Stockton, CA 95207

Phone: 209-751-4370
Fax: 209-957-3005
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