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November 2011 Archives

Doctors decry lax Social Security Disability evaluation guidelines

Wisconsin workers who suffer from severe workplace injuries or other disabling medical conditions may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Disability benefits are available as a type of insurance benefit for workers that have paid into the national disability insurance system and are no longer able to work due to a disability. Supplemental Security Income benefits are similar to disability benefits and available to individuals with short or nonexistent work histories.

Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Changes

Unemployment insurance claimants in Wisconsin now have to wait one week after their separation of employment for their unemployment benefits to begin. Employers and the unemployment trust fund will likely save a great deal of money because of this change, which appeared in this year's budget bill rather than as a result of formal proposal, bill, or recommendation from the UI Advisory council, a committee with both management and employee representatives charged with making legislative recommendations and insuring state compliance with federal laws. The practical effect of this change is that it will prevent workers with temporary layoffs from claiming and receiving unemployment benefits during short layoffs lasting less than one week.

Appeals Council Reverses Madison ALJ's Decision - Awards Social Security Benefits

At a time when disabled individual's are waiting months, and sometimes years, to appear before an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing on their application for Social Security DisabilityNovember 2011 image.bmp benefits, it is imperative that the ALJ's consider all the evidence and make sound decisions. When an Administrative Law Judge fails to properly consider the evidence however, an appeal is necessary.

In this case, the claimant had a hearing in Madison before an Administrative Law Judge. She was a 51-year old woman with less than a high school education. Her past relevant work experience was as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Her disability primarily resulted from neuropathy in her feet and legs, which made it difficult for her to walk, requiring regular use of a cane and exposed her to the risk of falling. She also had a mental impairment that affected her memory and speech, and on occasion resulted in episodes where she blacked out but did not lose consciousness. According to Social Security's definitions, the claimant was also considered obese.

The Administrative Law Judge heard testimony not only from the claimant but from Medical and Vocational experts. The vocational expert testified that the claimant's restrictions and limitations, especially the use of a cane would preclude work above a sedentary level. Social Security's guidelines dictate that an individual of the claimant's age without a high school education restricted to sedentary work is considered disabled. The Administrative Law Judge however, declared that the claimant was capable of light work, without providing support in the record for his conclusion, and denied benefits.

With the help of Attorney Jennifer Allen, the claimant filed an appeal of the ALJ's decision, identifying the many missteps taken by the ALJ to deny the claimant's benefits. The Appeals Council reviewed the claimant's case and determined that the ALJ had not properly considered all elements of the claimant's conditions and resultant restrictions and limitations. Rather than remand the case back to Madison however, the Appeals Council reversed the ALJ's decision, issued a fully favorable decision, and awarded the claimant her benefits, resulting in almost 4 years of past due benefits. This successful appeal is just another reason why disabled individuals should contact an attorney when applying for Social Security Disability benefits.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for JJA Profile Picture.jpgAttorney Jennifer J. Allen is an associate attorney with Alan C. Olson & Associates, S.C. If you have any questions about Social Security Disability, please contact her at [email protected].

More strokes in teens, young adults mean more LTD claims (cont)

We are continuing our discussion of stroke and a growing concern in the medical community that teens and young adults are more vulnerable now than they had been in the past. The human cost is different for younger Americans: Less likely to die from the effects of a stroke, teens and young adults tend to suffer long-term disabilities that sap the energy and financial resources of their families.

More strokes in teens, younger men and women lead to more LTD claims

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report a couple of years ago that shows that the risk of stroke is increasing among younger people. Between 2005 and 2008, the incidence of stroke in people age 15 to 44 increased by about 33 percent. Stroke, the leading cause of serious, long-term disability, is not just for old folks anymore.

Disabled driver, 50, tired of unfounded complaints

West Bend police say they have a pile of civilian complaints about a local man. Other drivers have been calling about the 50-year-old's driving since 2007. The driver in question, though, believes he is the victim of discrimination and wants the harassment to stop.

FLSA requires all hours work to be paid even during daylight savings time

Last Sunday we all turned our clocks back one hour for daylight savings time. Many employees in Wisconsin who worked the third-shift in manufacturing or worked a night shift as a waiter or waitress worked the extra hour even though their schedule may not have reflected it. Employees and nefarious employers should be aware that the Fair Labor Standards Act requires all hours worked to be paid even during daylight savings time.

Public divided over proposed FLSA regulations on youth and ag work

Agriculture is an important industry in Wisconsin, and proposed regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act would limit the ability of youth to work in agriculture. As a result the public is divided over the potential safety benefits the regulations could bring and some family farm practicalities the proposed regulations may impede.

Social Security disability gets 3.6 percent boost

Starting January 2012, Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) will increase by a modest 3.6 percent due to an increase in the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), the first increase to COLA since 2009. The increase is good news for Wisconsin residents. According to the Social Security Administration, as of Dec. 2010, over 107,000 Wisconsin residents received some form of Social Security assistance.

New Compassionate Allowances for Social Security Disability

As discussed previously in this blog, Compassionate Allowances Conditions are those medical conditions where the nature of the disease or Setpember 2011 image.bmpcondition meets the statutory standard for disability. A claimant with a diagnosis of a Compassionate Allowance conditions benefits from a quicker decision and award of benefits. These types of claims are "fast-tracked" for a decision.

Rural areas depend more on Social Security Disability Income

The national debt is in the news a lot these days and a part of the conversation is how to lower federal spending by adjusting Social Security programs including Social Security Disability Income. Any changes in Social Security programs would disproportionately affect rural areas of Wisconsin because rural areas across the United States generally depend more on Social Security benefits than urban areas like Milwaukee.

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