Press Release: Barkan Meizlish, LLP Files Class Action against Nationwide Children’s Hospital

For Immediate Release:

COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST NATIONWIDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

On June 24, 2020 Attorneys with Barkan Meizlish DeRose Wentz McInerney Peifer, LLP filed a federal collective and Ohio class action Complaint against Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

According to the Complaint, Nationwide Children’s Hospital (“NCH”) participated in acts of wage theft against employees in the Psychometric position. These violations include failure to compensate employees for all hours worked and failure to pay overtime, in violation of the Federal Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§201, et seq., the Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act [“the Ohio Wage Act”], O.R.C. §§4111.01., 4111.03 and 4111.10, and the Ohio Prompt Pay Act [“the OPPA”].

Natalie Morris, a psychometrician, brought this lawsuit on behalf of herself and all other similarly situated current and former NCH psychometricians who worked for NCH since June 24, 2017. Originally, an unnamed NCH psychometrician filed a wage theft complaint against NCH with the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”). In response to that complaint the DOL investigated. While the substance of that investigation is not public, the DOL and NCH are attempting to resolve all the psychometrician’s wage claims by offering a lump-sum payment to affected employees. This lawsuit was brought by Ms. Morris to secure complete payment of all the hours she is owed.  She also brought this lawsuit to obtain payment for all the hours owed on behalf of all current and former NCH psychometricians who worked for NCH since June 24, 2017.

 

Plaintiffs’ Attorney, Robert E. DeRose official statement:

“Although the DOL investigated this case, it is apparent from the facts that Nationwide Children’s Hospital did not have a good faith basis for paying its psychometricians the way it did and that is wage theft. Wage theft in any form cannot be tolerated.  The hospital willfully paid these employees in violation of the wage laws and they should be paid for three years of time and liquidated damages.  The amount the hospital is trying to pay to get out of trouble is far below what the employees are due.  That is why the court will decide this case.”

A copy of the complaint can be found here

 

About Barkan Meizlish, LLP: The law firm of Barkan Meizlish, LLP is over sixty years old, with a national practice, focused on union side labor law, wage and hour/overtime litigation, worker’s compensation, Social Security disability, personal injury, and medical malpractice.

Temperature Checks and the FLSA

Changing Workplace Culture during COVID-19

As with most aspects of life, COVID-19 has changed the daily routine of many workers. Today, the average worker is usually asked to have their temperature checked before beginning their workday. While the effectiveness of the practice in preventing the spread of the virus is debatable, the practice is currently required by many employers. Currently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that enforces civil rights in the workplace, has stated that while conducting temperature checks does not violate the Americans With Disabilities Act, it may violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and some state employment compensation laws.

These temperature checks may be a violation of the FLSA because employees who have to spend several minutes waiting their turn for the check may be uncompensated for this time. The FLSA states that activities that are an “integral and indispensable part of the principal activities” of an employee are compensable. While activities that are preliminary and postliminary to principle activities are not compensable under the FLSA. When an employee cannot perform his “regular” job without first engaging in the preliminary activity, then the preliminary activity becomes ‘integral and indispensable’ and therefore compensable.

Temperature Checks and Compensation

These temperature checks could be argued to be ‘principle’ or ‘preliminary’ depending on your perspective. Time spent by employees putting on and taking off protective gear and walking between their work station and the protective gear changing areas were both deemed compensable activities. So, if we could liken the temperature check to being a protective measure against infecting their fellow employees like putting on protective gear would likely be a principle and compensable activity. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that time spent waiting to put on protective gear is not a compensable activity. Since waiting in line for the temperature check will likely be the most time-consuming activity, this activity may be considered preliminary and non- compensable.

Depending on how the federal or state courts rule on this issue, employers could face potential wage and hour claims related to this activity. It may be most advisable to employers to compensate the temperature checks before this becomes a litigated issue.

 

– Audrey Bidwell

Does Social Security Disability Insurance Work for Disabled Ohio Residents?

Answering whether the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program works for Ohio residents with long-term disabilities requires specifying what you mean by “work.” It helps people who have few other means of support, but qualifying for SSDI benefits grows more difficult each year.

3 Ways That Social Security Works for People With Disabilities

Thousands of Ohioans rely on SSDI as a literal financial lifeline. While federal permanent disability benefits are not generous, receiving SSDI payments is the only thing that makes it possible for many people to afford housing, food and other necessities. Without SSDI, long-term care facilities would be overwhelmed, homelessness and hunger would worsen, and the amount of human suffering would be incalculable.

SSDI also works in the sense that it is open to nearly all U.S. citizens who have paid into the Social Security system while working. Children whose parents have established Social Security eligibility also have access to federal disability benefits.

A third way SSDI can work for people in Ohio who are too disabled to work is that the program recognizes all types of disability. People in Ohio can qualify for Social Security disability payments regardless of whether a physical, mental, intellectual, or emotional problem leaves them unable to hold a job.

3 Ways That SSDI May Work Against People With Disabilities

Getting approved to receive federal disability benefits is often difficult. Applicants must complete reams of paperwork, submit large amounts of medical documentation, and pass an assessment performed by a doctor chosen by the Social Security Administration. A large proportion of first-time applications for SSDI benefits are rejected, and appealing a rejection takes considerable time and effort.

A second problem is that a significant number of people will never be eligible for federal disability benefits at all. SSDI is only available to people who pay into Social Security. In Ohio, state employees such as public school teachers, police, professional firefighters, and civil servants do not have Social Security contributions withheld from their paychecks. State employees who never hold a private sector job cannot qualify for SSDI benefits. Instead, those individuals must rely on their pension plans if they become too disabled to work.

Last, Social Security requires longtime SSDI benefit recipients to reaffirm their need for disability payments. Completing that process involves submitting to another assessment, sending in new medical documentation and, possibly, appealing a suspension of benefits.

Since the SSDI program has limited funds, it looks for reasons to deny or stop paying benefits. It may do so by rejecting an initial application, strictly applying eligibility rules, or deciding that a long-term disability has become manageable to the point that a current beneficiary can return to work. In those ways, the Social Security disability program definitely works for itself rather than people with disabilities.

At Barkan Meizlish, LLP, our Social Security disability attorneys work exclusively for our fellow Ohio residents. We are available to help with every stage of the SSDI application, appeals, and recertification process. We also offer free consultations to all potential clients. If you need assistance, call (614) 221-4221 to speak with a lawyer or schedule an appointment online.

Summertime Revamp of FLSA is Underway

New FLSA Rules Rolling Out This Summer

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released two new rules relating to overtime calculations and employee compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Change to the Calculation of Overtime for Salaried Workers

Under the FLSA, there are two ways to determine overtime calculations, the “time and a half” method and the “fluctuating workweek” (FWW) method. The latter method is used when an employee receives a fixed salary for working fluctuating hours rather working on an hourly basis. FWW calculates a salaried employee’s overtime by computing the employee’s regular rate of pay each week based on the employee’s hours worked for that week. The new DOL regulations regarding DWW determine that all bonuses, premium payments, and other pay (such as commissions, hazard pay, or nighttime differentials) are included in the calculation of the FWW employee’s regular rate of pay for the purpose of calculating overtime.

This change may mean that salaried employees will see an increase in their overtime pay. However, it may also potentially hurt salaried employees because employers may choose to reduce an employee’s fixed weekly salary and shift considerable portions of an employee’s to bonuses and other forms of payment, all while the employees are averaging the same number of hours throughout the year.

Change to the Compensation of Commissioned Retail and Service Employees

Under the FLSA, commissioned employees working in a retail or service establishment may be exempt from receiving overtime pay. An employee falls within this exemption if they work for a “retail or service establishment,” if their regular rate of pay is in excess of one and one-half times the minimum wage, and if more than half of their compensation was derived from commissions earned from the sale of goods or services.

The most difficult part in determining if an employee fell within this exemption was determining if an employee was a ‘retail’ employee as the FLSA does not define what qualifies as a “retail or service establishment.”  In an attempt clarify if an individual worked in a retail establishment, the Wage & Hour Division of the DOL issued non-exhaustive lists of establishments that did and did not qualify as ‘retail’ under the FLSA.  However, because these lists were often vague, confusing and contradictory they were removed by the DOL. This update to regulation is effective on May 19th and will call for businesses to reevaluate whether they are considered ‘retail’ without the lists for guidance. This may lead to many businesses that formerly viewed themselves as ineligible for the exemption to begin implementing it on their commissioned employees.

Again, this change has the potential to both help and hurt employees depending on how their employers choose to implement the updates. In the worst cases, employees that long considered themselves to be safely outside of the “retail or service” work designation may begin to be considered within it according to their employer and lose the overtime pay they relied upon.

Overall, these updates could be simplifying and beneficial to employees in their shift to a more flexible, COVID-attuned work schedule. If you still have questions about how you may be impacted by these rules, a Wage & Hour attorney can help.

 

– Audrey Bidwell

What is the Average Ohio Workers’ Comp Settlement for a Back Injury?

Typing “average workers’ compensation settlement for a back injury in Ohio” into Google or another search engine will return a few dollar amounts. However, the numbers are unlikely to be very accurate for an Ohioan who suffered a back injury on the job.

The reality is that many factors go into determining what constitutes a fair and acceptable settlement amount. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the injured worker will have to ask and answer some questions, including:

  • How much has treatment and therapy for the back injury cost to date?
  • How long will the injury and its symptoms require treatment and therapy?
  • How much will ongoing treatment and therapy cost?
  • How long did the worker spend off the job while recovering?
  • Has the worker been medically cleared to return to their job?
  • Has the worker already resumed working?
  • Are any replacement wages still due?
  • Is any lump sum settlement for an amputation, loss of use, or some other permanent injury due?
  • Is the injury so serious that returning to work seems unlikely and that disability benefits from Social Security or the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System are possible?

A workers’ compensation claim can be settled at any time, even before the claim is allowed. However, an employer cannot force its employee to settle a claim. Nor can an employer retaliate against a worker who reports an on-the-job injury.

The injured worker has an undeniable legal right to seek the advice of an experienced and knowledge employee rights attorney while considering these questions. But the final decision on whether to accept a settlement offer from the workers’ compensation program rests entirely with the individual.

One More Consideration

A related issue will be whether the person who suffered a back injury on the job could have grounds for filing a personal injury claim against a party other than their employer. What lawyers call third-party claims can be filed against those other than co-workers whose negligence causes an injury such as drivers who crash into company vehicles, makers of defective tools, and contractors who failed to comply with electrical and building codes.

A settlement of  the workers’ compensation claim will not affect an injured employee’s right to pursue a third-party claim. However, knowing that a personal injury settlement or jury award is possible could influence an individual’s willingness to conclude their dealings with, and reliance on, workers’ compensation for the payment of medical and therapy bills.

A third-party claim arising from a work-related injury has the same burden of proof as any other personal injury case. To succeed in securing a settlement or winning jury award, the injured person must produce evidence that the defendant’s negligence caused their injury resulting in damages. In the third-party claim, the damages include pain and suffering which are not available in the workers’ compensation claim.

Attorneys with Barkan Meizlish, LLP, are available to help with Ohio workers’ compensation and personal injury cases in Columbus and across the state. You can schedule a free consultation online of speak with a lawyer directly by calling (614) 221-4221.

What Kind of Results Can I Expect if I File a Lawsuit for Unpaid Overtime in Ohio?

No Ohio employee rights attorney can guarantee the outcome of an unpaid overtime lawsuit.

Winning is not a sure thing, and the amount of money that can be claimed in the event of succeeding at trial or negotiating a settlement depends on too many factors to calculate accurately. So, we will never be able to tell anyone precisely how things will end.

However, we understand that clients in unpaid wage cases want to know what they should expect to go through when they sue their current or former employee. That is a question we are prepared and happy to answer.

Still, we cannot include every detail here, and your situation may present some unique challenges we have not anticipated. Please contact us online or call Barkan Meizlish, LLP at (614) 221-4221 to schedule a free confidential consultation if you need more information or wish to pursue an unpaid overtime lawsuit.

First, Know Whether You Have Grounds to File an Unpaid Overtime Lawsuit

Under a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), hourly workers who do not manage other employees and who earn less than $455/week ($35,568/year) are eligible to earn overtime pay. The legally mandated overtime pay rate is 1.5 times the eligible employee’s hourly wage, and overtime starts after an employee has worked 40 hours during a 7-day workweek.

Nearly all employees who traditionally receive tips, such as wait staff and bartenders, are eligible to earn overtime, but are also often eligible to be paid a lower hourly rate. On the other hand, some skilled professionals and salespeople who get paid hourly are not eligible. The rules regarding exemptions from overtime eligibility become pretty complicated pretty quickly. Feel free to ask an unpaid wage attorney if you are unsure whether you meet the criteria for earning overtime.

Consider Talking to Your Coworkers or Former Colleagues

Employers use a variety of tactics to deny overtime pay. A few of the most common are

  • Misclassifying employees as managers or nonemployee independent contractors,
  • Telling employees they must work unpaid overtime in order to keep their jobs,
  • Inappropriately counting tips as a component of hourly pay, and
  • Playing games with comp time in lieu of paying overtime.

Checking with coworkers or the people they used to work with to learn if such problems are occurring will give a worker a sense of whether they have grounds to file an unpaid overtime lawsuit. Also, groups of people who worked for the same employer can join together to take collective legal action against a company that underpaid them. Collective actions can have a great chance of succeeding in court than lawsuits filed by individuals.

Understand That There Will Be a Lot of Paperwork

Proving that an employer violated overtime rules requires collecting and analyzing pay stubs, timesheets, corporate records and internal communications between supervisors and managers. An attorney who has experience in handling unpaid wage cases will know how to compel an employer to share all the necessary information. It will also be helpful for you to gather any documents that have your pay or time information on them and provide them to your attorney as soon as possible.

Do Not Be Surprised if Your Employer Pushes Back

Federal employment regulations call demanding fair pay for all the hours that one works “engaging protected activity.” It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who engages in protected activity, but it is not uncommon.

Data released by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in February 2020 show that retaliation was the number-one complaint the agency received during the previous fiscal year, accounting for nearly 54 percent of the cases. When supervisors and managers harass, insult, demote, or fire an employee who files an unpaid overtime lawsuit, that employee also has the right to file a workplace retaliation lawsuit.

Recognize That the Hassle Can Be Worth It

A worker who wins their unpaid overtime lawsuit receives the payments they were originally denied, interest on the back pay, and other monetary damages. The court may also issue orders for the company to improve its pay practices or face further fines.

I’m Salaried, So I Shouldn’t Get Overtime, Right? Not Necessarily.

Salaried Employees Can Be Either Exempt or Not Exempt

There is a common misconception that “salaried” means “exempt” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) or Ohio wage laws. [1] While many exempt employees are salaried,[2] not all salaried employees are exempt. This results in underpayment for employees who are entitled to at least minimum wages for all hours worked, and overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.

Overtime for Non-Exempt Employees

Overtime pay is calculated at a rate of one and a half an employee’s “regular rate”. If a non-exempt employee is hourly, then the regular rate is usually their hourly rate. If the non-exempt employee is salaried, the regular rate is their hours worked in a workweek divided by the amount of salary attributed to that workweek. The regular rate should also be used for purposes of calculating such things as non-discretionary bonuses or safety incentive payments.

While a thorough consideration of all the facts may lead to the ultimate conclusion that your are indeed exempt, you should not automatically accept an “exempt” status simply because you are a salaried employee and/or because your employer says so.

Salaried employees whose hourly pay per week ends up being less than the required $7.25/$8.70 should call us at 800-274-5297.[3]  Additionally, employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek but do not receive an overtime can also reach out.  Remember, it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against you for asking questions about your hours worked and wages paid, exercising your rights under the FLSA and/or Ohio wage and hour laws.

[1] Note that this is not the same “exemption” as used concerning your taxes. See for example Withholding Exemptions – Personal Exemptions – Form W-4

[2] See for example DOL Fact Sheets 17a and 17g.

[3] This post was first published in 2017. The Ohio minimum wage was $8.10 at the time. Updates reflect the 2020 minimum wage in Ohio.

 

(This Notice is for informational purposes. It is not legal advice).

Originally published on June 14th, 2017

Call Center Industry and Wage and Hour Violations

Call Center Employees Affected by Wage Theft

In today’s age of technology and convenience, customer service is often only a phone call or instant message away. With an increasing consumer demand for faster support and quicker turnaround times, it seems that more industries than ever have turned to call centers as a means to provide streamlined service to their customers. Call center employees are essential service providers for customers in need of guidance. Sadly, mistreatment is common.

Unfortunately for Customer Service Representatives (“CSRs”), call centers are one of the most common places for companies to commit wage violations, These violations can be accidental or intentional, depending on the centers management. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), covered nonexempt employees are entitled to receive minimum wage for all hours worked, and overtime compensation at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.

Today, numerous call centers across a variety of business channels call central Ohio home, including Teleperformance, Call Management Resources, ContactUS Communications, and Total Quality Logistics all operate facilities in the Columbus area. Nationwide, Verizon, DISH, JPMorgan Chase, and Randstad also operate centers in the surrounding vicinity.

FLSA Violations and Call Centers

When centers expect their employees to perform unpaid “off-the-clock” work, problems arise. This type of work is a direct violation of the FLSA. Call center employees must receive paid for time spent performing everyday duties. These duties include:

  • turning on/off computers
  • logging in to programs
  • making pre- or post-call notes
  • attending work-related meetings
  • working through lunch
  • participating in work-related training

If you work in a call center and are not being properly paid wages you have earned, an attorney can help. You can call for a free consultation at 800-274-5927. You may have a viable claim and we can help you determine the best course of action. The team at Barkan Meizlish, LLP is here to help.

 

originally published on March 13th, 2018

COVID-19 FAQ

LAYOFFS AND FURLOUGHS DUE TO COVID-19 IN OHIO: WHAT ALL EMPLOYEES NEED TO KNOW.

Employers across Ohio are closing their operations due to Gov. DeWine’s declaration of a state of emergency and the “Shelter in Place” Order.  While the emergency declaration and the “Shelter in Place” Order are necessary to #flattenthecurve, many Ohio businesses are reducing their workforce due to the coronavirus pandemic through layoffs, furloughs, reductions in hours, and pay cuts. The business decisions an employer makes have different impacts on its employees.

If you have been laid off, furloughed or had a reduction in hours, you have important rights.

OHIO UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

The emergency declaration expands unemployment coverage in Ohio until the emergency declaration is lifted.

  • If you are quarantined due to COVID-19 you are eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • The one week waiting period to file for unemployment benefits has been waived so an unemployed worker can file for benefits immediately upon being separated.

The online form to apply is found at: http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/num/JFS00671/pdf/. Applying online will help expedite your application.

If you are working, but have a reduction in hours, you may still be eligible to apply; however, your earnings will be deducted from your maximum benefit amount. This means if what you earn in a week with reduced hours is more than your state maximum benefit, you will not receive unemployment. Maximum Weekly Benefits are:

Number of Dependents If your Average Weekly Wage was: Maximum Weekly Benefit
0 $960 or higher $480
1 or 2 $1,164 or higher $582
3 or more $1,294 or higher $647

 

  • The emergency declaration has waived the requirement that a person receiving unemployment benefits is “actively seeking work.”

THE CORONAVIRUS AID, RELIEF, AND EMERGENCY SECURITY ACT

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Emergency Security Act or the “CARES Act” that passed on March 27, 2020 impacts your unemployment benefit entitlement and Maximum Weekly Benefits. Under this federal stimulus law, if you have an unemployment claim in Ohio, you are entitled to an additional weekly $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payment on top of existing state unemployment benefits for a maximum of thirty-nine weeks, subject to further extension rules. Further, sick employees who have the coronavirus can also collect unemployment if they are not receiving paid leave benefits.

The CARES Act mandates extension of unemployment coverage to an individual who is otherwise able to work and:

  1. who is not eligible for regular compensation or extended benefits under State or Federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation;
  2. who has exhausted all rights to regular unemployment or extended benefits under State or Federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation;
  3. who is unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because the individual has been diagnosed with COVID–19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. who is caring for a household family member who has been diagnosed with COVID–19;
  5. who is primary caregiver for a child or other person in the household who is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and this prevents work;
  6. who is an employee or new hire that is unable to reach the place of employment because of a COVID-19 quarantine or health provider self-quarantine;
  7. who has become the breadwinner or source of major support for a household because the head of the household has died from COVID–19;
  8. who has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID–19 due to closure of the place of employment; or
  9. who is self-employed, is seeking part-time employment, does not have sufficient work history, or otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment or extended benefits under State or Federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation.

WAGE AND HOUR CONSIDERATIONS

No pay means no work.

If you have had your normal work hours reduced, your employer cannot require you to do any work outside of those reduced hours without you getting paid for it.  In other words, if an employer asks an employee to do any work during the reduced hours, then the employee must be compensated for that time.   Things like answering emails, taking phone calls, picking up mail, etc. are all work activities for which employees must be compensated.

Wages

An employer cannot reduce an hourly employee’s pay below the Ohio minimum wage which is currently $8.70 per hour.  Employers cannot reduce a salaried employee’s weekly wage below $684 per week.  Both of these are still violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Ohio Wage Act.

Payment

The Ohio Prompt Pay Act remains in effect.  Employers must still pay employees at least on a bi-weekly basis and cannot make an employee wait more than 30-days for their paycheck.

NEW FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE RIGHTS AND PAID SICK TIME

On March 18, 2020, the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA) became law.  The law includes two new important provisions for Ohio workers: 1) an emergency expansion to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and 2) a new Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act that requires paid leave for employees forced to miss work because of the COVID-19 outbreak in certain circumstances:

EMERGENCY FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE EXPANSION ACT

  • Applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees and to all public employers that are covered by the FMLA regardless of size.
  • An employee is eligible after he or she has been employed for at least 30 calendar days before the first day of the leave.
  • Employees are entitled to 12 weeks of protected leave if the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency. A public health emergency means an emergency with respect to COVID-19 declared by a federal, state, or local authority.
  • The first 2 weeks of leave are unpaid, but an employee may elect to substitute any accrued vacation leave, personal leave, or medical or sick leave for unpaid leave.
  • After the first 2 weeks, leave is paid at two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay, with a cap of $200 per day. For employees with schedules that vary from week to week, a six-month average is to be used to calculate the number of hours to be paid. Employees who have worked for less than six months prior to leave are entitled to the employee’s reasonable expectation at hiring of the average number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work.
  • The Secretary of Labor is empowered to issue regulations to exclude healthcare providers and emergency responders from the definition of employees who are allowed to take such leave, and to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the required leave would jeopardize the viability of their business.

EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE ACT

Requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees and public employers regardless of size to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees on top of what the employer now provides (if any). This new paid sick time applies to employees who are unable to work, or telework, because the employee:

  1. Is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order.
  2. Has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  3. Is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. Is caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine as described above.
  5. Is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care has been closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.
  6. Is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health & Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Can I Fight Back Against an Administrative Law Judge’s Decision on my SSDI Claim?

Fighting the ALJ’s Decision

Picture this: you have made your way through the long disability determination process. Finally, you have had a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). But unfortunately, the ALJ’s decision is not in your favor, and your claim was denied. You may find yourself asking- what now? At this point, Social Security gives you a couple of choices.

The ALJ Denied My Social Security Benefits – What Are My Options?

Option 1:

Your first option is to appeal the ALJ’s decision to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council  is another component of the SSA, with its headquarters located in Falls Church, VA. The appeal must be filed within 60 days of the ALJ’s decision. You don’t get another hearing at this level. Rather, the Appeals Council will review the ALJ’s decision, the evidence in your claim file, and legal arguments submitted by your attorney in support of the appeal. The Appeals Council will then make a new decision.

The Appeals Council may uphold the ALJ’s decision and deny your claim again. Alternatively, it may reverse the ALJ’s decision and send your claim back to the ALJ with instructions to take another look at it. This is called a remand. Lastly, the Appeals Council may reverse the ALJ’s decision decision enitrely and award benefits to you directly. Because the Appeals Council handles appeals from ALJs all over the nation, it usually takes 12 to 18 months to receive a decision. For full details on the appeals process, you can check out the SSA’s website.

Option 2:

Your second option is to file a new application for benefits. Social Security no longer allows you to file an appeal and a new application at the same time, except under limited circumstances.

The best decision for you depends on several factors, including the strength of the evidence in your claim; whether you continue to be insured for the disability benefit; the ongoing state of your health; and of course any legal mistakes the ALJ may have made in denying your claim.

This decision is best made in consultation with a Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney who is familiar with your case and can advise you as to your options.

 

Originally published on December 2nd, 2015

 

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