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SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY: THE TRUTH BEHIND MISCHARACTERIZATIONS BY POLITICIANS AND THE MEDIA

A thought-provoking article about the Social Security Disability (SSD) program appeared in the August 25, 2014 edition of The Hill, a newspaper published for and about the U.S. Congress. The article was authored by Barbara Silverstone, Executive Director of NOSSCR, the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives. Ms. Silverstone’s complete article can be accessed on the The Hill’s website.

Ms. Silverstone dispels with factual data some of the myths currently being peddled by certain members of Congress and media outlets. Ms. Silverstone points out the eligibility criteria for SSD are extremely strict, and the burden is on the person applying for benefits to prove, with medical records – not mere assertions, the severity of his or her disabling condition(s). Only about 40% of applications are approved, a fact that belies the claim there is a systematic bias toward approving applicants who are not actually disabled. The current approval rate is the lowest it has been in 40 years.

Ms. Silverstone notes that recent Congressional investigations into allegations of fraud have not identified any cases of fraud beyond those that the Social Security Administration itself has uncovered. She discusses, in particular, the 2012 investigation of Senator Coburn. His staff reviewed about 300 appeals decisions, but failed to identify a single individual who was approved for benefits that should have been denied. Congress complains that the Social Security Administration does not do enough to identify potential fraud in the program, but at the same time Congress has cut Social Security’s budget, providing about $1 billion less than requested over the past three years! As a result, Social Security has lost more than 11,000 employees since 2011. This inevitably has impacted the agency’s ability to serve the American people in many aspects of its operation.

Lawsuit claims incarcerated juvenile seriously injured

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.reviewjournal.com

By YESENIA AMARO
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

A lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of a juvenile inmate alleges he suffered permanent injuries from the combination of a physical attack and use of force by correctional officers while housed at the Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko.

The complaint was filed in Clark County District Court by Al Lasso, a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas. The plaintiff, Daniel Vargas, who was transferred to the Northern Nevada facility in October, lost eyesight after he alleges officers attacked him and hogtied him in November, securing his limbs together behind his back.

“We don’t want any other child to go through what Daniel and other children up there have had to go through,” Lasso said, who added his client was not doing interviews.

Last month, Family Court Judge William Voy ordered 12 Clark County youth to be returned to his jurisdiction after reports that youth were being “hobbled” at the Elko facility. The lawsuit claims Vargas was one of those inmates.

Hobbling is defined as using a 2-foot-chain to connect the wrist restraint to the ankle restraint, preventing the person from standing upright, according to state officials.

The complaint alleges that at the end of November, Vargas woke up in accordance with facility policy and went to the bathroom to wash his hands and brush his teeth.

But because Vargas desperately needed to use the restroom and proceeded to the stall before brushing his teeth, officers attacked…

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Fallin Gives Work Comp Commission Opportunity To Improve After A Request For Their Resignation

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp Brief and comes from kgou.org


Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission Credit Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission

Governor Mary Fallin is not asking the three members of the Workers Compensation Commission to resign but will give them time to work toward their goals, according to her spokesman.

“At this time, the governor has asked the commissioners to work hard to reduce the case backlog and deliver on the promise of a more fair, efficient and effective workers’ compensation system. She is giving them the opportunity to work hard towards those goals,” Alex Weintz, Fallin’s spokesman, said in an email Tuesday.

“As evidenced by the reduction in workers compensation premium rates and drop in numbers of adversarial cases being filed, the commissioners have already made significant progress.”

Weintz comments came in response to Oklahoma State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations’ President Jim Curry’s request that Fallin ask for the resignation of the Workers Compensation Commission’s three members.

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KGOU is a community-supported news organization and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online, or by contacting our Membership department.

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Why Are Men Leaving The American Workforce?

Today’s post was shared by Trucker Lawyers and comes from www.npr.org

It was a great time to be an American man in the workplace after World War II. Hiring was strong for both white-collar jobs and factory work while industries like autos, aviation and steel were booming. By the 1960s, that started to change.
It was a great time to be an American man in the workplace after World War II. Hiring was strong for both white-collar jobs and factory work while industries like autos, aviation and steel were booming. By the 1960s, that started to change.

It was a great time to be an American man in the workplace after World War II. Hiring was strong for both white-collar jobs and factory work while industries like autos, aviation and steel were booming. By the 1960s, that started to change. Three Lions/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Three Lions/Getty Images

It was a great time to be an American man in the workplace after World War II. Hiring was strong for both white-collar jobs and factory work while industries like autos, aviation and steel were booming. By the 1960s, that started to change.

Three Lions/Getty Images

There’s a long, unfolding story about work in America that often gets overlooked. It’s the story of men opting out of work altogether. These are men who have vanished from the labor force — men who don’t have a job and aren’t looking for one.

To describe this historic development with the context it deserves, we start with the American economy after World War II. It was firing on all cylinders, dominant globally, confident and dynamic. It was a great time to be an American man in the workplace. Hiring was strong for white-collar jobs and factory work. Industries like autos, aviation and steel were booming.

If you were a man in the 1950s, you had a job, says…

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OSHA Chief: Inequality in America Is About Workplace Hazards, Too

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.nbcnews.com

Image: Assistant Labor Secretary David Michaels of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration attends a full committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 23 in Washington, DC.
Image: Assistant Labor Secretary David Michaels of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration attends a full committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 23 in Washington, DC.

Inequality and poverty have taken center stage in American politics in the years since the recession. Fast food workers have raised the profile of low-wage work, cities and states around the country are raising the minimum wage, and elected officials in both parties have made the struggles of poor Americans core political issues.

But David Michaels, Ph.D., M.P.H., who leads the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under the Obama administration, says that workplace inequality is more than just wages. In an interview, Michaels, who is responsible for enforcing federal laws to project workers from illness and injury, says the regulatory structures he oversees aren’t sufficient to protect vulnerable workers from harm.

NBC: The political conversation about inequality in recent years has focused on wages. You’ve made the point that when addressing inequality, we should focus more on workplace health and safety issues. Why?

Michaels: Wages are clearly a core component of the discussion of inequality and the ability to get into and stay in middle class. But workplace health and safety issues also have an enormous impact. Workplace injury and illness can push workers out of middle-class jobs and make it hard to enter into the middle class in the first place.

Studies show that workplace injury…

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Fair Treatment Under the Law

Today’s post was shared by US Dept. of Labor and comes from social.dol.gov

Editor’s note: This is the first blog post in “Working Families, a Reality Series” by Women’s Bureau Director Latifa Lyles exploring issues that affect women and families in the 21st-century workplace.

Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that Triple T Foods, a pet food processor in Arkansas, will pay a $30,000 settlement to a former employee for a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit in which the employee got fired on the day she announced she was pregnant.

Here we are, 36 years after the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and some employers still view child-bearing and employment as mutually exclusive activities.

The Women’s Bureau recently posted a series of charts with data about mothers and families on our website, and the numbers show that being a mother in the workforce is increasingly the norm. It is not surprising that the vast majority of mothers – 7 out of 10 – work, and women are the sole or primary financial support for their families now more than ever. What’s more, over two-thirds of women work during their first pregnancy. Yet, pregnancy discrimination persists in many forms, in all stages of employment – hiring, firing and promotion – and in all stages of pregnancy.

Employment protections for workers who are pregnant or nursing:


Map of pregnancy discrimination laws in the United States
Map of pregnancy discrimination laws in the U.S.

Click on the map to learn about pregnancy discrimination laws by state.

Cases like…

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Disability Rights are Civil Rights

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from social.dol.gov

President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act

President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Earlier this month, we as a nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Just minutes before putting pen to paper on that historic day, President Lyndon B. Johnson went on television to address the nation, articulating the law’s fundamental purpose: to create a better, more inclusive society for all Americans.

“Those who founded our country knew that freedom would be secure only if each generation fought to renew and enlarge its meaning,” he said in his address, going on to acknowledge the many leaders, both black and white, who worked tirelessly to get what he often referred to as “an American bill” onto his desk.

At the time, I was 5 years old and 3,000 miles away in southern California, doing the typical things 5-year-olds do. But, there were others older than me listening who took those words to heart in a way that would have a profound impact on my life. In the 1960s, the unified disability rights movement was just emerging, and its leaders learned a great deal from those who brought the Civil Rights Act to fruition.

Twenty-six years later, those leaders found themselves at the White House looking on as another president signed landmark civil rights legislation renewing and enlarging America’s ideal of equality — the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which was authorized by President George H.W. Bush on July 26,…

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Job Corps is My Calling

Today’s post was shared by US Dept. of Labor and comes from social.dol.gov

Editor’s note: As we continue to post Job Corps stories in honor of its 50th anniversary, we want to hear from you. Submit your story through our Web form here − or share on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #JobCorps50.

Anne Marie Scheer drives 106 miles round trip daily to attend classes at the Muhlenberg Job Corps Center. It’s an extraordinary signal of her commitment to her future. At 25, she is juggling child-care responsibilities with the time she needs to complete her training for launch her career. Anne Marie has successfully completed the Heavy Equipment Operators and Construction Equipment Mechanics courses, and is now working to complete the truck driving course before transferring to advanced mechanics training.

Muhlenberg Job Corps Center sign
Center sign

As a longtime Job Corps center director who has counseled hundreds of students, I can say that Anne’s dedication to her career goals is amazing. She continues to work harder and harder to reach each new level of training.

It’s students like Anne Marie that inspire me and my fellow Job Corps center directors. They keep us focused on the transformational potential of this program, even when the deep structural injustices that we see every day weigh on us. The Muhlenberg campus has proudly served more than 16,000 students since it opened in 1973. Many of these students, like Anne Marie, are and have been exceptional — serving as role models, even though they often don’t appreciate their…

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After the International Nutrition Building Collapse: OSHA Releases Report

The International Nutrition building.

Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

I was going to write about a summary from the official OSHA news release and provide a compilation of web resources regarding the Jan. 20 International Nutrition building collapse in Omaha. This is relevant now because the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) quite recently found the cause of the collapse after an investigation and levied proposed fines for the tragedy that killed two, injured nine, and doubtlessly affected all the other workers at the plant and all those folks’ loved ones in the greater community.

“OSHA has proposed penalties of $120,560 and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program after its investigation into the collapse,” according to the official news release from OSHA.

The building’s collapse was because of “overloading nine storage bins on the building’s roof level,” the news release said, and the company was also placed on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Here is one link that was more of what I was expecting from the OSHA news release:

Business Insurance website: OSHA cites Omaha feed company for fatal plant collapse 

However, the business did respond via statement to at least three local media channels, and links to those stories are below. The level of denial by the business was frustrating, and I think the Omaha World-Herald newspaper nailed the tone of the story with its headline: “International Nutrition disputes OSHA’s conclusions that overloaded rooftop bins caused collapse.”

So not only does “the company strongly disagree with OSHA’s report,” it is “saying the citations are only allegations and that company officials didn’t know of any condition that contributed to the collapse,” said the reporter for KETVOmaha7 (this quote is attributed to International Nutrition’s attorney, Pat Barrett in the World-Herald article).

The business’ statement also included this quote from the WOWT.com story: “We look forward to presenting the facts demonstrating our commitment to employee safety – both before and after the accident. … At the same time, we welcome the opportunity to work with OSHA to continue to improve employee safety.”

I thought this was telling about the company’s “commitment to employee safety” from the WOWT.com article:

“In total, OSHA has visited the facility 13 times dating back to 1974. Eight of those visits led to violations; however, it had not landed on the Severe VEP program until now. OSHA officials told WOWT 6 News that usually occurs when companies rack up violations of $100,000 or more.”

To get more in-depth information, here are links to both the company’s statement at http://www.omaha.com/international-nutrition-s-july-statement/article_0997a878-10fc-11e4-8481-0017a43b2370.html and OSHA’s Citation and Notification of Penalty report at https://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/International_Nutrition_955579_Jul18_2014.pdf  

Finally, here’s a link to the actual news release again from OSHA: January structural collapse leading to 2 worker fatalities, 9 injuries at International Nutrition in Omaha caused by overloaded storage bins; OSHA cites company for 13 safety and health violations

“The company manufactures a feed supplement using multiple dry ingredients, rice hulls, solulac and limestone – the ingredients that were stored in the nine bins on the roof of the structure,” according to the KETVOmaha7 report.

The reality when it comes to workers’ compensation and lawsuits is nuanced, but the incident is stark in its details, and this information is from multiple news sources.

In 30 seconds, “close to 1 million pounds of steel, concrete, equipment and ingredients crashing through the plant” occurred, according to the World-Herald.

That 30 seconds and its aftermath is an experience that will take months and years for many to recover from. It is an experience that no worker or their loved ones should have to endure.

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A Special Warning About Over-the-Counter Pain Medications

The dangers of prescription pain meds get a fair amount of regular attention in the media.  A recent Consumer Reports (CR) article described a 300% rise in prescriptions of opiods – particularly those with hydrocodone –over the past decade, and provided a scary statistic:  17,000 people – 46 per day – die from overdose of these drugs.

What is less well known, and gets relatively scant attention, is that over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers containing acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) take 80,000 people yearly to the emergency room from overdose.  Acetaminophen, widely regarded as a “safe” drug is now the most common cause of liver failure.

The CR article points out the primary problem:  the directions for usage of these OTC drugs are ridiculously confusing and misleading.  Many of these only provide the caveat “take only as directed.”  What exactly does that mean?  Wildly different things according the cautions provided by differing drug manufacturers.  Some labels advise taking no more than 1000 milligrams of acetaminophen daily while others set the limits four times that high.  In some bizarre bureaucratic misstep, the FDA has lowered the maximum per-pill dose of the drug in prescription medications but has not done the same thing for OTCs. 

CR warns that overdosing on acetaminophen is easy as it is the most common drug in the U.S., found in more than 600 OTC and prescription medications.  There is little margin for error in exceeding the maximum recommended dose as only as small excess amount of the drug can be toxic to the liver.  A scary little graphic in the article shows how easy it is to do this.  A person might take six 500 milligram Extra Strength Tylenol (states maximum daily dose of 3000 milligrams) starting in the morning and through the day; then be on NyQuil for a cold and take eight 325 milligram pills (states maximum daily dose 2600 milligrams); and then do Walgreens Pain Reliever PM as a sleep aid (two 500 milligram pills at bedtime for a daily dose of 1000 milligrams).  At the end of a 24-hour period, that person would have ingested 6,600 milligrams of acetaminophen!!  Repeated doses of more than 4000 milligrams of the drug have been linked to liver, brain and kidney damage.  Chronically large doses have been correlated with the need for a liver transplant, or death, more than from one large overdose.

In 2011, the FDA limited the amount of acetaminophen in prescription pills to 325 milligrams per pill, but there has been no similar limitation imposed for OTCs, even though that market accounts for 80% of that drug taken yearly in the U.S.  For those regular users of acetaminophen, signs of potential liver damage to watch for are:  dark urine, pale stool, upper right abdominal pain, and a yellowish tint to the whites of the eyes.

 

Photo credit: Be.Futureproof / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Published by Causey Law Firm