Amazon has come under recent fire for significant amount of work-related injuries, which may are significant injuries. In Central Pennsylvania, Amazon has a deep footprint, including in Carlisle, Chambersburg, Lewisberry, and Harrisburg. I have represented many Amazon clients over the years, including distribution center workers and more recently delivery drivers. Amazon has gone through hiring spurts all over Central Pennsylvania, due to the ever increasing popularity of online retail delivery purchases. Injuries have increased due to the volume of business…
Here we provide social security disability hearing tips and advice. Many of my clients express anxiety, stress, fear, and nervousness toward their upcoming hearing for Social Security Disability benefits. Unlike Workers Compensation, where an injured worker may testify twice, with social security disability hearings, there is one hearing. Claimants have one shot to convince an otherwise skeptical administrative law judge that they are indeed disabled and unable to work full time. Here are some tips we provide to our clients as they prepare for their disability…
Mooney & Associates has beefed up our Social Security disability staff. We always filed appeals to denials and effectively represent our clients in appeal hearings in front of the Office of Adjudication and Review (ODAR) in Harrisburg. However, with staffing changes, we are now able to expand that practice. Not only can Mooney represent you in your appeal hearing for your denial, but we now can do the initial application process as well. You will always stand a better chance of winning your appeal hearing…
So why is a Vocational Expert at my social security hearing? When you go to a Social Security Disability hearing, in most normal circumstances, besides myself and you, also in the hearing room is the Judge, a Court Reporter, who records all testimony, and a Vocational Expert. A what?
Purpose of a Vocational Expert
A Vocational Expert (here in referred to as the ‘VE’) is called by the Social Security Administration to be an expert in your hearing. There are several purposes for a VE.
First, the VE helps the Judge classify your past relevant work. That is specifically work you have performed over the past 15 years. It is important to classify it correctly. The work you performed will be classified not only as ‘customarily’ performed, but also as ACTUALLY performed. For example, a job you may have performed in the past may be classified as Light work, but you may have actually performed the job as medium, depending on how heavy you had to perform the job. That classification can be critical. I can of course help solidify proper classification. (more…)
I was recently a guest on ABC 27 in Harrisburg on Good Day PA to discuss Social Security Disability. Specifically, I discussed with Amy Kehm, the host of Good Day PA, why applicants for Social Security Disability benefits who have been denied benefits, needs experienced attorney to represent them before the Social Security Administrative Law Judge. Contrary to popular opinion, winning Social Security Disability cases is no east task. Pressure is on Social Security ALJs to deny benefits. You can…
One thing I have learned through my years of dedicating my practice to representing injured workers is the fact we have a strong labor work ethic in Pennsylvania. I see it everyday.
The misnomer out there is that injured workers want to just sit on workers compensation benefits. That is just not accurate. Many injured workers that I represent want to get back to work quickly, even before they are healed. Many are losing precious dollars each week, many are long time employees of companies they enjoy working for, and others feel worthless just sitting at home, while they heal from their work injuries. These are not people trying to live off a benefit they deserve. These folks do not go to work asking to be injured.
Robust Economy in Central Pennsylvania
In Central Pennsylvania, we have a robust economy. Cumberland County is expected to become the fastest growing county in the Commonwealth. From a strong housing market, to a positive tax environment, to a robust work ethic, the Carlisle, Mechanicsburg, Silver Spring Township, Hampden Township areas, and even south to Shippensburg, are bustling with economic development. Even across the county border to Franklin County, just look at the growth in Chambersburg. Distribution Centers and manufacturing are popping up all along Interstate 81 corridor. Shippensburg is set to see more growth off Interstate 81, Exit 24. One thing these companies have cited is a strong work ethic. That is something to be proud of. Companies do not locate to areas where they do not believe they can gain a strong work force.
So on this Labor Day, we should take pride in our communities that we live in and be thankful we are seeing growth and advancement, not decay and depreciation. Pennsylvania is not a growing state, population wise, but the area we live in, well, the story is quite different. Take pride in our communities and who we are as Central Pennsylvanians. We work well, we work hard, and we produce.
Treating injured employees with respect
Hopefully, as we continue to see companies locate into Cumberland, Franklin, and Adams counties, we will see companies become good stewards. Part of that is treating employees with respect and taking care of them when they are hurt. Work injuries happen. It is a fact. Many people get hurt working around the home. But, at work, there is heavy lifting, there are fork lift accidents, there is such a thing as repetitive stress and trauma, there are slip and falls, there are certified nursing assistant who get injured helping patients, and there are auto accidents. The key is how we respond to such injuries. Companies need to do a better job at restructuring or revising processes to avoid work injuries. They need to constantly evaluate work injuries and make changes to head off injuries before they occur. They need to put employee safety as a core company value. Without employees, companies do not exist. Without a healthy work force, profits dwindle. It’s called good stewardship and it needs to become a core principle. Companies need to stop with the suspicions, stop the blaming, and stop putting up impediments to treatment for injuries, and instead, focus on getting injured workers well and compensating them fairly for life altering injuries. (more…)
I hear from every client their disbelief of the wait time to receive a hearing on their Social Security Disability appeal. It is frightening for folks who have no income or limited income and can’t function normally or work. However, it is also a reality. And, it is not just the Harrisburg Office of Adjudication and Review, which handles Social Security Disability appeals, that has the backlog wait time. It is a national problem.
Here are the current numbers. (As of July 2016)
HEARING WAIT TIME
Elkins Park, PA
Seven Field, PA
Pennsylvania State Average
Maryland State Average
As you can see, the Harrisburg ODAR office is trending right near the Pennsylvania state average, but above the National average. There may be some relief in sight though. Harrisburg has recently added three new Administrative Law Judges, which should help reduce the wait time to around the National average. Bottom line is, even with new ALJ’s on the way, if you have been denied Social Security Disability and you appeal, you SHOULD NOT expect to have a hearing for at least 16 months. (more…)
Attorney Mark A. Buterbaugh, who currently manages and handles all of the firm’s Workers’ Compensation cases, has begun representing injured Federal Government employees, in Federal Workers Compensation. Attorney Buterbaugh will work aggressively to fight for and protect benefits that Federal employees are entitled to under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA).
Currently, there are only limited amount of attorneys who handle Federal Workers Compensation claims nationally, let alone in Pennsylvania. Most civilian federal employees in all three branches of the Federal government are covered under the Act, unless covered by Special Legislation or non-appropriated funds. In our area, that may include employees of the US Postal Service, Veterans Administration, Social Security Administration, civilian employees at the Letterkenny Army Depot, Carlisle War Barracks, New Cumberland Depot, Mechanicsburg Navy Base, and more. (more…)
Federal government employees have a unique workers compensation system, rather than the typical state workers compensation system that covers all other injured workers. The Federal Workers Compensation systems cover most civilian employees of the Federal Government. The program is administered by the Office of Workers Compensation programs (OWCP) in the US Department of Labor & Industry. It’s rules and procedures are unique and at times substantially differ from Pennsylvania’s workers compensation system.
If you are an injured federal employee, such as a US Postal employee, an employee of a VA Medical facility, a civilian employee at one of our several military installations in Central Pennsylvania (Letterkenny, Carlisle War College, Mechanicsburg Naval Yard, etc…), a TSA employee at Harrisburg airport, an employee of the Social Security offices in the Central Pennsylvania area, etc… then you are likely covered under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) and therefore fall under Federal Workers Compensation. (more…)
A Harrisburg area plumbing company, Williamson Plumbing, has been fined by OSHA for safety violations after a workers was injured while working in a trench. The injury was caused by a trench collapse, which trapped the injured worker and caused the injured worker to have to be hospitalized. After investigating, OSHA issued citations for what it called “one willful, six serious and one other-than-serious violations.” The agency also issued citations to the company for failing to: – keep excavated materials…