Many of our clients have Workers' Compensation cases going on at the same time we are representing them in their Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability claims. Having handled the Workers' Comp claims myself for over 20 years before turning exclusively to the other areas gives me a leg up on maximizing client benefits and explaining the interplay between the two.
Last week I had a unique opportunity to pass some of this knowledge along to the Commissioners of the New York State Workers' Compensation Board when I made a presentation to them at their monthly meeting in Albany. A link to the presentation as a webinar can be found at the Workers' Compensation Board webcasting archives (to access the presentation, click on "Guest Speaker---Lewis B. Insler, Insler & Hermann, LLP" and then click on either Dial Up or Broadband to watch).
I tried to explain Social Security using analogies from Workers' Compensation Law that they would understand. Although I was mostly policy neutral, I did try to make the point that a finding of disability by Social Security, regardless of the medical conditions under which it was found, should negate the contention that a claimant has "voluntarily retired" from the labor market. The insurance carriers make that argument in more and more cases and it is simply illogical if Social Security Disability has been approved.
The Commissioners had very few questions, as they had other business to move on to when I finished, but I was asked about fees and, interestingly, about fraud. (Later in the week the Nassau County District Attorney announced they had arrested seven people in a Workers' Compensation fraud investigation.) I told them that while some claimant fraud undoubtedly exists, Social Security does little proactively to combat it due to budget constraints.
My more important point to them was that fraud exists not only on the claimant's side, but that several IME's (Independent Medical Examiners) have been removed or are being sued for fraudulent exams or reports made on the behalf of the Social Security Administration.
In the past decade or so the pendulum in New York Workers' Compensation has swung away from the claimants. I like to think my presentation may have given it a little momentum back in their favor.