PA to tax injured workers? Really?

I am sure you will not find too many people in Pennsylvania that will argue the fact that Pennsylvania needs to overhaul its antiquated school funding scheme, specifically, the reliance upon property taxes to fund public education.  Property tax reform has befuddled and escaped the Pennsylvania General Assembly for years. I am a property owner, tax payer, and an elected School Board member in Shippensburg.  I get it.  I agree that property tax reform, and more specifically, public school funding,…

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Report: Truck Traffic on I-81 to increase 50% by 2040

A report was issued from the Pennsylvania Statewide Freight Model that indicates that truck traffic on Interstate 81 in Central Pennsylvania will increase by 50% by 2040.   Kevin Cole of the Interstate 81 Coalition, believes that truck traffic in this region with double by 2025. "Purportedly 12 percent of U.S. economy travels on I-81 today," Cole said. "We're expecting that traffic to come regardless of what the impact of the canal is or isn't. Moving stuff over to rail will…

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Work Injury at Shippensburg’s Procter & Gamble

You can read about it here at ShippensburgWorkersComp.com. Sounds like a pretty serious injury if Life Lion had to be called, rather than regular emergency personnel.  We will keep an eye out for additional information related to this work injury. To the best of our knowledge, the new Procter & Gamble facility is still hiring and not anywhere near capacity.  The huge new distribution center off the Olde Scotland Road in Franklin County Shippensburg is the largest warehouse int he…

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How long does it take to litigate a work injury in Pennsylvania?

b4e87-workinjuryOne of the first questions I get at nearly every consultation for workers’ compensation is — how long does it take to get benefits.  Understandably so.  Injured workers still have mortgages, rent, car payments, and other bills to pay.  If your injury is accepted by your employer and it’s insurance carrier, then you will likely wait two or three weeks for wage loss benefits to begin.   What about if your work injury is denied?

Let’s cut to the case right away, then I will explain.  A fully litigated workers compensation claim is not a quick process, it takes a long time. If your claim is denied, by the time you actually get a decision by a workers compensation Judge, you are likely looking at a time frame between 8 and 12 months, depending on the Judge.   Let me explain.

A litigated claim (and we use that to mean a Denied claim), commences by me filing a Claim Petition on your behalf.  The burden of proof in a Claim Petition lies with the injured worker.  I must prove four things in Claim Petition litigation:

1.  An injury occurred;

2.  in the course of claimant’s employment;

3.  the injury disables claimant from performing work, thus wage loss, and

4.  that the employer was timely notified of the work injury.

With the new workers compensation integrated software system (WCAIS), a Notice of Assignment to a workers compensation Judge usually occurs fairly quickly.  However, it still may be 3 to 4 weeks until your first hearing.  That’s right — FIRST hearing.  Again, depending on the Judge, you may or may not testify at the first hearing.  Some judges simply use the first hearing as a five minute set up the case kind of hearing.  Other judges have the claimant testify.  dge. So right off the bat there is a 3 week wait for a Judge to get the file and hold a hearing. And the Judges in Pennsylvania do a fantastic job of getting you a quick hearing date.   (more…)

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Don’t believe the Social Security Disability hype

04102-box2We hear stories, read articles, read social media content, and hear ‘horror’ stories about how out of control Social Security Disability benefits program is, in terms of awarding benefits.  It’s just wrong.  Plain wrong.

First, and foremost, what many people fail to understand, is the fact Social Security Disability (SSD) is partially funded by your money!  Yes, you pay for social security disability benefits out of your pay checks through a payroll deduction.   Just like unemployment compensation.  Why?  Because it is there in case you need it.   A person is not eligible for SSD benefits unless they have paid in enough quarters.  That is fact!

US News and World Report published a good article on the hype surrounding this ‘out of control’ SSD benefit program.   The article points out, that although benefit growth has risen modestly, that is also because the sheer number of workers paying into the system has risen.

True, the disability insurance rolls have grown in recent decades, but most of that reflects well-understood demographic factors that have increased the number of insured workers, especially in the crucial 50 to 64 age group where risk of disability peaks. These factors include: overall population growth; the aging of baby boomers; the rise in the share of women in the labor force; and the rise in Social Security’s full retirement age from 65 to 66.

Properly measured, the share of insured workers receiving disability insurance benefits has risen much more modestly than the raw number of beneficiaries (see chart below).

Contrary to popular belief, benefits under SSD are not easy to get.  The process is long and rigorous.  The definition of ‘disability’ under the SSD program is not simple to meet and requires significant medical evidence and documentation.

Disability insurance benefits also  remain hard to get, even in recessions, including the recent Great Recession. While claims rose sharply, the number of approved claims rose much less. In other words, standards for approving benefits remained strict and a much higher share of applications were rejected.”

Sure, we all know ‘someone’ who is receiving disability benefits that ‘shouldn’t be’.  First, we really do not know that person’s medical conditions, extent of treatment, and (more…)

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