The Blog

Dealing with Governmental Agencies

There is nothing more discouraging then dealing with governmental agencies, whether they are federal, state or local, when trying to obtain benefits to which a person is entitled.  You could be:  (1) An employee, injured on the job and needing Workers’ Compensation,; (2) a veteran who was injured during active duty military service requiring V A Benefits; or (3) a person who has a disability who must apply for Social Security Disability or SSI.  In any of the aforementioned situations, the process is most often extremely long and can be unnerving for those who have no income, and  no way to pay their bills or provide support for their families.  The answer to these issues is positive support and acquiring attorneys who have their client’s best interest at heart.

I am a veteran and know what it feels like to endure the process where a person is applying for benefits and it seems like the government is always giving the veteran and the aforementioned people the run around.  Banks Law is an “ELITE” law firm specializing in these areas and we are genuinely concerned about our client’s wellbeing.   Although a company must make money to survive, the bigger picture is assisting those who cannot help themselves and must be dependent upon others to ensure work on their behalf gets done.  When I read an email noting that a Banks Law client has won their case, it makes me feel great inside knowing that I was a part of that process.  Another one of our people are happy and satisfied!

Veterans are near and dear to my heart because we took a pledge to protect our country upon entering active duty and have put our lives on the line for the people of this nation; also other countries abroad.  Veterans endure a lot of pain and suffering, whether it be physically or mentally, in accepting this mission and it’s great to be part of a law firm which assists them in obtaining benefits to which they are entitled.  My goal is to ALWAYS do the best that I can for our clients because ultimately they come first and it is extremely rewarding to see situations that have happy endings!  Banks Law Employees are the Best!  WE ARE ELITE!

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Take Control of your Claim for Veterans Benefits

 

If you were to speak to any Veteran, most of them would have the same thing to say about the way the Department of Veterans Affairs has treated them in a negative manner. This unfair treatment is not news to anyone. The VA has had periodic related scandals in the news. These scandals originate in the VA hospitals. Veterans still do not get the treatment they need, or, the treatment is delayed. Putting a person’s medical care on hold is unacceptable.

Veterans applying for Pension and Service-Connected Disability benefits are also placed on hold or just denied over and over again. Veterans need to understand that they do not have to put up with this.

The VA is not immune from the regulations that have been passed by Congress with regard to the process of obtaining benefits. Some Veterans may believe that the VA or service organizations are in control of their claim but this is not the case. Veterans should know that there is a lot more that they can do to enforce their rights. You can take control of your claim by taking it out of the hands of the VA, or the service organizations, and place it in the hands of experienced VA attorneys.

We at Banks law have five VA accredited attorneys who know the ins and outs of the VA claims process.   We can help you get the benefits you deserve. We interact with the VA daily, and know what needs to be done in order to succeed in your claim. Please call us if you have any questions regarding your current VA claim or, if you intend to apply for service-connected disability and/or pension benefits. Take control of your case by entrusting Banks Law to be your advocate.

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The Importance of a Professional Working Environment

Last night I was watching a show about businesses that failed to be successful due to lack of business knowledge and most importantly, the poor behavior their employees demonstrated. Many employers often get desperate, and hire anyone just so that they keep their business running, without really realizing the importance of having a strong team of workers. Yes, you can hire the best of the best, but when the employees cannot get along, and/or there is not enough positive vibes going around, work can be dreadful and end up in failure.

Obviously, everyone has their own personalities, and forcing someone to like a co-worker is not right, however, keeping it professional and friendly is always the best way. It is all about keeping their personal opinions aside, and trying their best to make themselves and the business successful. All it takes is one person to make things difficult and uncomfortable. For example, school group projects; if one person decides to not be responsible enough with their tasks and have an attitude, all the others in that group will suffer. Stress levels are crazy, bad confrontations can happen, and it will result in a poor grade. And the same thing will happen in a working environment.

I, myself, like to keep it short and sweet with my co-workers, not because I am anti-social or do not like to have a good time, but because it keeps me being drama free with others.

  • Personal stuff should be kept to the minimal
  • Less gossiping about co-workers, or any situation
  • Leave personal issues at home
  • Be super friendly, yet professional
  • Treat everyone with the same respect
  • Be positive, for yourself and others

Anything work related is great to discuss, but personal stuff should be kept minimal. Everyone will always have their differences, but being mature and setting that aside is most important. Emotions are normal, but having a negative attitude toward someone or your workplace is unnecessary. You are there to work and show off your skills, not to create drama. Just know that a happy person and working environment will result in less stress, and great success.

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Commonwealth Court Finds Current Impairment Rating Evaluation Process Unconstitutional

An Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) is a process where the employer asks an injured worker to be “rated” to determine their percentage of whole-body impairment based on the AMA Guides (American Medical Association’s Guides to Permanent Impairment). In order to be rated, an injured worker must first be at “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). This means that the work related injury or condition is not likely to improve or worsen in the future, with or, without treatment. A doctor must decide whether an injured worker is at MMI, and if so, the current state of the law required the use of the 6th edition of the AMA Guides to determine whether the injured worker is 50% or more impaired. If the injured worker is found to be less than 50% impaired (as opposed to 50% or more which keeps the status of the benefit at total disability) after an IRE examination based on the AMA Guides, then the status of the worker’s wage loss benefit changes from total to partial disability. The significance of this status change is that there is a 500 week cap on partial disability benefits which means you can only receive a maximum of 500 weeks of partial disability benefits and, in some situations, less than that. There is no cap on total disability benefits. An injured worker theoretically can receive total disability benefits for the rest of their life if the Employer is not able to prove that the worker fully recovered from their work injury or, recovered enough to be able to return to some kind of work. If the worker is given a whole-body impairment rating of 49% or below using the AMA Guides, their total disability benefit converts to partial disability and the injured worker is only entitled to receive a maximum of 500 weeks of additional wage loss benefits and, in some situations, less than that. The current or, 6th edition of the AMA Guides generally favors employers.

An injured worker recently challenged the constitutionality of the IRE process. Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District), decided September 18, 2015, involved an IRE based on the 6th edition of the AMA Guides. The claimant argued that her IRE determination was unconstitutional because it improperly delegated legislative powers to a private entity, i.e., the AMA (American Medical Association) do to the fact that her IRE status change was based on the use of the 6th edition of the AMA Guides which was not approved by the state legislature. She specifically cited Article II Section 1 of the PA State Constitution. The Commonwealth Court agreed. The Court held that the legislature has given carte blanche to a private entity, the AMA, to make determinations on how to rate an injured worker for purposes of an IRE once they are found to be at MMI. When the Act was amended in 1996 and IRE determinations were added, the General Assembly specifically adopted the 4th Edition of the AMA Guides to determine an injured worker’s whole-body impairment rating. However, the General Assembly has yet to review and specifically adopt either the 5th or 6th editions of the AMA Guides that have surfaced since then. Because the General Assembly has not given specific direction on how to calculate the impairment rating under the current or updated versions of the Guides and, because it gave a private entity (AMA) complete control over establishing the standard (the Guides) by which the status of an injured worker’s wage loss benefits could be changed, there is no protections to prevent the AMA from developing future editions of the Guides that are biased toward the injured worker. Section 306(a.2) of the Workers’ Compensation Act merely provides that doctors performing IRE’s must use the “most recent” edition of the AMA Guides. No further direction is given by the legislature in reaching this determination which violates the Pa State Constitution.

It remains to be seen how this decision will impact IRE’s that were already completed using the 5th and 6th editions of the AMA Guides. The Commonwealth Court remanded the Protz case back to the Workers’ compensation Judge to decide the issue of the claimant’s whole-body impairment for purposes of establishing an IRE rating under the Act, using the 4th edition of the AMA Guides only. As it stands, this is the only edition of the Guides that the legislature has specifically approved its use.

http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Commonwealth/out/1024CD14_9-18-15.pdf?cb=2

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