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workplaceinjuriesIFTF

Most Common Workplace Injuries, Statistics, and Tips For Accident Prevention

Posted on 20 June 2017

Workplace injuries can take many forms. They can happen by accident or through negligence, but oftentimes, it’s a combination of both. While Pennsylvania is a no-fault state for workers’ compensation, many injuries can be avoided with proper precaution.

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7 Tips for Grilling Safely this Memorial Day Weekend and All Summer Long

Posted on 24 May 2017

On Memorial Day, we honor those who fought and died to protect our country. Close family members and relatives gather together on this national holiday to appreciate the freedom we all can enjoy because of the sacrifices made every day by our armed forces.

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Keld Longshoremen

Pond Lehocky's Occupational Safety Series: 8 Things Longshore and Shipyard Workers Need to Know

Posted on 19 April 2017

Longshore and shipyard workers help keep America’s maritime industry running strong, but their jobs can be difficult and dangerous. In fact, according to OSHA’s statistics, the injury and accident rate of shipyard employees is more than twice that of construction and general industry workers.1

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Nick VA Blue Swoosh

Veterans Affairs Benefits and Worker’s Compensation: What You Need to Know

Posted on 12 April 2017

By Nicholas Liermann, Esquire | Veterans Affairs Accredited

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Workers Comp Repetitive Strain Injury 1

Does Workers’ Comp Cover a Repetitive Strain Injury?

Posted on 5 December 2016

Many people associate workers’ compensation with one-time catastrophic work accidents such as a construction worker falling from scaffolding or a carpenter losing a limb. While these types of devastating injuries are most certainly eligible for workers’ compensation, there are other injuries that can take months or even years to develop.  Repetitive strain injury workers’ compensation cases, sometimes called Mancini workers’ compensation cases, are also compensable under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.

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May is National Stroke Awareness Month

Posted on 8 April 2015

There are approximately 7 million stroke survivors in the United States living with the after-effects of a stroke, which often include increased healthcare costs and loss of employment income, according to the National Stroke Association.

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Ambassadors Of Humanity Gala Dinner

Posted on 8 April 2015

On Monday May 9th, Steven Spielberg chaired the Ambassadors of Humanity Gala Dinner in Philadelphia, PA. The event was in honor of Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast, for his dedication to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute. 
 
The foundation was established by Spielberg after he was inspired by his 1993 film, Schindler’s List. The foundation gathers video testimonials from Holocaust survivors and eyewitnesses to use as educational tools for current and future generations. Spielberg’s mission is to “overcome prejudice, intolerance and bigotry as well as the suffering they cause.”
 
Our Firm sponsored the event with a donation for the ad book.  Sam and Jerry also made personal contributions to the cause and attended the event on behalf of the Firm. “Spielberg was inspired and changed forever by his filming of Schindler’s List.  Both Jerry and I found the entire evening to be inspiring,” Pond said.
 

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LEGISLATIVE ALERT HOUSE BILL 808- Extends Panel Medical From 90 to 180 Days

Posted on 8 April 2015

We have gotten calls from many of our medical providers about House Bill 808, which would extend care of a panel doctor from 90 days to 180 days. This is obviously the insurance companies’ version of rationed medical care and a way to control injured workers’ lives.

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Pennsylvania Association for Justice’s 43rd Annual Summer Retreat

Posted on 8 April 2015

The Law Firm of Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano is a proud supporter of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, which is holding its 43rd Annual Summer Retreat, June 23-26, at the Westin Philadelphia. PAJ’s mission is to promote a fair and effective justice system for Pennsylvania consumers and injured workers. Call PAJ at 215.546.6451 or call toll free 866 Injury Law (866-465-8795).

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House Bill 440 signed into Law, a measure that expands the availability of Workers’ Compensation coverage to small businesses

Posted on 8 April 2015

The new law authorizes insurers, including the State Workers’ Insurance Fund, or SWIF, to voluntarily provide workers’ compensation coverage to sole proprietors, partners in partnerships and members of limited liability companies.

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Social Security won’t mail annual statements – Workers will have to use online tools to review annual tax and earnings records

Posted on 8 April 2015

In April, the Social Security Administration began suspending the mailing of annual Social Security benefits estimates. A general movement of information from printed to digital format and a continued struggle to agree on a federal budget are to blame for the change.

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New Law Recognizes Cancer as Occupational Disease for Volunteer and Paid Firefighters

Posted on 8 April 2015

A new bill that recognizes cancer as an occupational disease for firefighters, was signed into law on July 7, 2011. House Bill 797 allows volunteer and paid firefighters in Pennsylvania to file for Workers Compensation if they are diagnosed with cancer. The law designates cancer as an occupational disease and allows firefighters to receive Workers’ Compensation if they are diagnosed with cancer related to direct exposure to certain known carcinogens encountered while responding to an emergency. There are multiple guidelines for applicants, which state that firefighters must be on active duty for at least four years and are required to pass a cancer screening before battling fires to file a claim.

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Jerry M. Lehocky, Esquire recently succeeded in securing Workers’ Compensation

Posted on 8 April 2015

Jerry M. Lehocky, Esquire recently succeeded in securing Workers’ Compensation benefits for an injured worker, who had suffered a severe cervical injury while working as a home health aid worker on February 21, 2010. In response to the injury, the injured worker’s employer issued a Notice of Compensation Denial, through which it downplayed the extent of the injuries and declined to pay Workers’ Compensation benefits, although the injured worker had been unable to return to work since the date of the incident. The employer also failed to adhere to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act by failing to issue the Denial within 21 days of the reported work injury.

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Union Workers Are Different When It Comes to Workers’ Comp

Posted on 8 April 2015

You go to work each day, and hope for the best – that you will be able to keep your job and avoid injuries that could make doing your job impossible. In the meantime, you pay your union dues faithfully, without necessarily knowing how participation in a union will enable you to maintain your livelihood. You may be surprised to learn that a union worker has a greater likelihood of collecting workers’ compensation following an on-the-job injury, compared to a non-union worker’s chances of receiving those benefits.

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Workers’ Compensation Benefits Obtained for Nurse Injured on the Job

Posted on 8 April 2015

David F. Stern, Esquire successfully obtained Workers’ Compensation benefits for a certified nurse who sustained a devastating knee injury while at work. Prior to meeting with Mr. Stern, the injured worker had treated with the employer’s own panel doctors for her injury. Although she was initially released to return to work light duty, the employer did not offer any work within the panel’s restrictions, and the injured worker was left with no choice but to stop working.

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The Fabric of America

Posted on 8 April 2015

By Daniel Morson
Of Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano

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Social Security Not Going Bankrupt

Posted on 8 April 2015

By Alex Sioutis, Esq.

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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Posted on 8 April 2015

Congress has designated that the month of October be recognized as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) each year. The Office of Disability Employment Policy is responsible for planning NDEAM activities and materials with the intent to increase the public’s awareness of the contributions and skills of American workers with disabilities. The theme for NDEAM 2011 is Profit by Investing in Workers with Disabilities, which promotes the valuable contributions people with disabilities make to America’s workplaces and economy.

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SSDI vs SSI – What’s the difference

Posted on 8 April 2015

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are two Social Security Administration (SSA) programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. Only individuals who meet certain medical criteria are eligible to receive benefits from the SSI or SSDI program.

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Recent Decisions

Posted on 8 April 2015

A Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier may request a “utilization review” of medical bills submitted by a medical provider to determine if the treatment is reasonable, necessary and related to the work injury. When a utilization review is requested, the insurance carrier does not have to pay for the bills at issue unless the utilization review is decided in the doctor’s favor.

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Supreme Court to Review Statutory Employer Case

Posted on 8 April 2015

In the underlying case, Six L’s Packing Co. V. WCAB (Williamson), 2 A.3d. 1268 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010), the Commonwealth Court upheld a determination that Six L was a statutory employer under Section 302(a) of the Act. The determination was made without applying the test articulated in the seminal case of MacDonald v. Levinson Steel Co., 302 Pa. 287, 153 A. 424 (1930).

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Impairment Rating Evaluations

Posted on 8 April 2015

While you are receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, your employer may require you to attend an examination with a doctor of its own choosing. One type of examination is known as an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE). This examination may be requested up to two times within a 12 month period. If the insurance company physician determines that you are less than 50% whole body impaired, you will automatically convert to partial disability status and your benefits will be limited thereafter to a total of 500 weeks. Both the insurance carrier and the injured worker have the right to appeal the findings of an IRE.

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Securing Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Posted on 8 April 2015

Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, an employer must render payment of any benefits awarded by judicial order within 30 days of the judicial decision. An employer who refuses to make such payments, without filing a petition and being granted relief from making payment, can be subject to penalties, under the Act.

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Injured Workers Able to Return to Work, Affected by Ailing Economy

Posted on 8 April 2015

The workers’ compensation procedures and outcomes in Pennsylvania were recently analyzed as part of a study performed by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute. Pennsylvania was included in the study because it is known to have faster and higher return to work stats in comparison to other states. The study found that recent economic conditions have made it more difficult for injured workers to return to the workforce. For example, employers are less likely to offer modified work to injured workers at the cost of having to lay off able-bodied workers to make a position available. Employers are also less likely to hire workers with permanent restrictions, creating fewer jobs for injured workers who are looking for work. While employers may be making it more difficult for injured workers to return to work, injured workers have a strong financial motivation to return to work, if faced with the possibility of losing their temporary disability benefits. If you have suffered a work injury and have been contacted by your employer to return to work, it is important to speak with an attorney to ensure that you are being offered appropriate and available work and to understand what your rights are under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Samuel H. Pond recently prevented an employer from reducing his client’s workers’ compensation benefits when the injured worker did not return to work following a vocational assessment. The vocational expert had identified non-union jobs for the union worker. The Workers’ Compensation Judge agreed with Mr. Pond that the non-union positions were not considered “available” under the Act and could not support the employer’s request for a modification of benefits.

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Undocumented Workers Can File for Workers’ Compensation

Posted on 8 April 2015

Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, an injured worker can receive disability benefits even if he is not working legally in this country at the time of the injury. While undocumented workers are free to file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits, an employer may have those benefits suspended if the employer can prove that the injured work is capable of performing some type of work. While an employer would normally have to go through certain steps to obtain a suspension of benefits, these additional steps are not necessary when it comes to undocumented workers.

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Did your Work Injury Occur Within Course and Scope of Employment?

Posted on 8 April 2015

In order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania, the Workers’ Compensation Act places the burden on the worker to prove certain elements of his case. One element is proving that the injury occurred while in the course and scope of employment. In order to show that an injury occurred while in the course and scope of employment, the injured worker must prove that the injury was sustained while in the furtherance of the employer’s business. Once the injured worker meets his burden on a claim petition, the employer then has the opportunity to raise a defense. For example, an employer can argue that the injured worker violated a positive work order when the injury occurred. If the employer can establish a positive work order violation, the injured worker is not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

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Are You Entitled to an Increase in Your Wage Loss Benefits?

Posted on 8 April 2015

In a recent commonwealth Court Decision, Bucceri v WCAB (Freightcar America Corp.), No. 2021 C.D. 2010 (Filed, November 22, 2011), the Court found that an employer’s payment of supplemental unemployment compensation benefits should be included in the calculation of an injured worker’s average weekly wage where the payments are an accrued entitlement that have been built up over time as a result of services performed by the injured worker for the employer.

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The Utilization Review Process

Posted on 8 April 2015

Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, a carrier may file a Uilization Review Request to determine whether medical treatment is reasonable or necessary for a work-related injury. If any party, such as the medical provider, injured worker, or insurance carrier, is unsatisfied with the outcome of the unitization review, an appeal may be filed to a Workers’ Compensation Judge, by filing, by filing a petition to review utilization review determination (UR Petition). Jerry M. Lehocky filed a UR Petition on behalf of an injured worker following an unfavorable Utilization Review. The carrier had requested a Utilization Review to determine the reasonableness and neceddity of all the treatment being provided to the injured worker by his treating physician. The Utilization Review Determination concluded that none of the treatment was both reasonable and necessary. The Emploer was ordered to make payment for the medical services which had been subject to review.

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David Stern Defeats Termination Petition and Expands Work Injury Description

Posted on 8 April 2015

A 46 year old grocery store employee from the Philadelphia area suffered a laceration to her middle finger which resulted in nerve damage. She underwent multiple surgical procedures and a skin graft, yet the work injury was only recognized as being a cut. Although the injured worker was unable to return to work and remained under medical care, her employer filed a petition to terminate her wage loss and medical benefits. David Stern not only prevented the empoyer from terminating his client’s Workers’ Compensation benefits, but he also succeeded in having the description of the work related injury expanded to include all of the injuries she had sustained as a result of her work incident. Now the injured worker’s employer must not only continue to pay wage loss benefits, but is also responsible for the payment of all medical expenses related to the expanded work injury.

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Frank Ciprero Defeats Intoxication Defense to a Claim Petition

Posted on 8 April 2015

A 39 year old Philadelphia roofer suffered horrific injuries while working after falling through a roof and landing on cement flooring. Francis N. Ciprero filed a claim petition on the injured worker’s behalf. The employer defended against the Petition by arguing that the injured worker had been intoxicated at the time of the injury. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, an employer can avoid liability for a work-related injury if the employer can prove the accident would not have happened if it were not for the worker’s intoxication. The Claim Petition was ultimately granted and the injured worker was awarded ongoing medical and wage loss benefits from the date of the incident.

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Wage Loss and Medical Benefits Won After Post Injury Lay-Off

Posted on 8 April 2015

A laborer was injured while on the job. He treated with the employer’s in-house medical facility and was released to work with restrictions. Days after releasing the injured worker to full duty, he was laid off. At the time, he had been referred to a specialist by the employer’s doctors and was scheduled to undergo surgery. Sam Pond filed multiple petitions and succeeded in getting ongoing wage loss benefits for the injured worker, as of the day he was laid off, with interest. Mr. Pond also ensured that the injured worker could continue treating for his work-related injury at the expense of the employer.

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Workers’ Compensation Judge Finds Stroke Work-Related

Posted on 8 April 2015

A 48 year old laborer was required to work in extremely hot conditions while performing strenuous work for his employer. He suffered a stroke while performing his job duties and required emergency brain surgery to save his life. The injured worker remained in a coma for almost three weeks after the incident and continues to require intensive medical care. He has been left with significant impairments to his speech and motor skills. David F. Stern filed a Claim Petition on the injured worker’s behalf. To defend against the Petition, the employer focused on the injured worker’s prior history of hypertension and attempted to undermine his testimony about his job duties and work environment by presenting two medical specialists and multiple fact witnesses. The Workers’ Compensation Judge granted the Claim Petition finding that were it not for the work environment and job activities, the injured worker would not have suffered a stroke. Both wage loss and medical benefits were awarded.

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Union Sprinkler-Fitter Wins Benefits for 2008 and 2010 Work Injuries

Posted on 8 April 2015

A Phladelphia union worker injured his shoulder while performing his job duties as a sprinkler-fitter in 2008. He continued to work his regular job, but never regained full use of his shoulder. He sustained a second work injury later that same year, but continued to work up through November of 2008. But for brief returns to work to keep his union benefits current, the injured worker has remained out of work since November or 2008 because of injury. Although the employer accepted the injuries, the employer used a medical-only Notice of Compensation payable (NCP). By issuing a medical-only NCP, the employer basically agreed to only pay for medical expenses and not for any non-medical losses, such as lost wages. Samuel H. Pond filed Petitions for both injuries. Mr. Pond also requested penalties based on the employer’s use of a medical-only NCP in light of the injured worker’s ongoing wage loss. Both Claim Petitions were granted by a Philadelphia area Workers’ Compensation Judge. Mr. Pond established that the injured worker was forced to stop working because of the second work incident, and obtained wage loss benefits dating back to November of 2008. The Workers’ Compensation Judge also awarded penalties after finding that the employer had no factual or medical justification to deny wage loss benefits to the injured worker when he stopped working.

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Wage and Medical Benefits Awarded in Claim Petition

Posted on 8 April 2015

David Stern filed a Claim Petition on behalf of a laborer who worked in the Philadelphia area. Mr. Stern’s client worked as a carpet cleaner and sustained injuries to his neck and lower back while reaching into his vehicle to retrieve his equipment. In winning the Claim Petition, the injured worker was awarded medical benefits for both his neck and back injuries, which included an aggravation of underlying degenerative changes in his cervical spine. The injured worker was also awarded wage loss benefits dating back to his last day of work with the employer.

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Claim Petition Granted

Posted on 8 April 2015

Francis N. Ciprero recently won a Claim Petition filed on behalf of an injured worker who had suffered a burn injury while working part-time as a roofer in the Philadelphia area. The Workers’ Compensation Judge awarded temporary total disability benefits dating back to July of 2010 and ongoing, plus interest.

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Employers Must Comply with the Act or Face Strict Penalties

Posted on 8 April 2015

Jerry Lehocky filed a number of Penalty Petitions after an employer failed to issue proper documentation following his client’s return to work in June of 2010. The employer had also failed to pay partial disability benefits between June of 2010 and August of 2010, although his client had been earning less than her pre-injury wages. Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (“Act”), if an injured worker returns to work after an injury, and is earning less than his time of injury earnings, the employer may modify wage loss benefits, but only if it provides written notification to both the injured worker and the Bureau to advise that benefits will be modified. Additionally, the Act states that notification must be sent within seven days of the effective date of the modification. While the Act allows the injured worker to challenge the modification, the employee must file a challenge to the modification within a certain period of time. The Workers’ Compensation Judge granted the Penalty Petition and ordered the employer to pay the partial disability benefits at issue along with a 20% penalty. Mr. Lehocky also established that the employer violated workers’ compensation laws by failing to reinstate his client’s workers’ compensation benefits in August of 2010, when she was forced to stop working because of the work injury. In this matter, the employer had issued a Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable (“NTCP”) recognizing the work injury. In his review of the Bureau documents, Mr. Lehocky discovered that the employer had failed to timely stop the NTCP. Because the employer had failed to follow the procedural requirements of the Act, the Workers’ Compensation Judge granted the second Penalty Petition and ordered the employer to reinstate total disability benefits as of August 2010, as well as a 20% penalty on the benefits which were due and owing.

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Benefits Reinstated One Day After Penalty Petition Filed

Posted on 8 April 2015

Samuel H. Pond met with a client whose benefits were stopped without warning. Mr. Pond looked through the Bureau documents and discovered a Notice of Compensation Payable, which had been overlooked by his client’s prior counsel. Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, once an employer accepts liability for a work-related injury it cannot stop paying benefits without an executed agreement or court order. The day after filing a Penalty Petition, the employer voluntarily reinstated workers’ compensation benefits.

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Two Recent Favorable Decisions

Posted on 8 April 2015

Attorney David Stern received a favorable decision from a Philadelphia area Workers’ Compensation Judge, which denied a Termination Petition filed by an employer. Mr. Stern has been representing the client since 2006, and has successfully defended against numerous petitions filed by the employer, including two prior termination petitions.

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Commonly Asked Workers’ Compensation Questions

Posted on 8 April 2015

Can my employer try to terminate my workers’ compensation benefits?

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Educational/Vocational Training

Posted on 8 April 2015

One question we are often asked is whether the workers’ compensation insurance carrier or the employer is required to provide re-training once an injured worker can no longer perform the job he or she was doing when injured.  The simple answer to that question is no.  Nowhere in the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act does it state that the employer is to provide re-training or educational services to any injured worker.  What this means is that it is your responsibility to find some form of light duty job that you can perform with your current level of experience or enroll in an educational or vocational institution to be trained at something that is within your current physical capabilities.

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Surveillance

Posted on 8 April 2015

If you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits chances are that the insurance company has hired a private investigator to conduct surveillance (sit outside your home in a car or van with tinted windows and take movies of you once you leave your front door).  Although this is a form of harassment, it is legal.  Any thing you do in public and this now includes anything you post to a social media network (words, photos or videos) is fair game for you to be cross examined at some point in the litigation process.  Being on workers’ compensation benefits does not mean however, that you have to sit in your home and stop living.  It is perfectly advisable that you continue to live your life and act within your restrictions as set forth by your doctor.  That may include taking walks, running household errands, etc.  What the carriers are primarily interested in is whether you are working and collecting total disability benefits at the same time.  This is fraud.  This kind activity could potentially result in you going to jail.

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NFL Team Not Liable for Attorney Fees in Player’s Workers’ Compensation Case

Posted on 8 April 2015

A Pennsylvania appellate court recently ruled that the Pittsburgh Steelers do not have to pay the attorney fees for a former player who sought Workers’ Compensation Benefits.

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Injured at an employer-sponsored event?

Posted on 8 April 2015

At times, you may take part in activities with your employer that don’t fall between the normal “9-to-5″ work hours, such as a work softball league or a charitable event out in the community. What if you get injured? 

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Workers’ Memorial Day marks the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

Posted on 8 April 2015

Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28, 2012, marked the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) over four decades ago.  Ceremonies were held across the Commonwealth to honor the memory of workers who were killed or injured while at work.  From 2009 to 2010, workplace deaths rose in Pennsylvania from 168 to 219.  Nationwide, 3.1 million workplace injuries and illnesses were reported to private sector employers.  Much focus was placed on exposing recent attempts to roll back job safety protections by big business and conservatives in Congress.

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A Win for Williamson & Workers!

Posted on 8 April 2015

This month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down a decision that clarifies “ambiguity” regarding statutory employer status in Pennsylvania’s Worker’s Compensation Act. Keith Williamson was hurt in a car accident while transporting tomatoes between a PA warehouse and a Maryland processing facility. Six L’s (the tomato growing company) employed F. Garcia & Sons to transport the tomatoes. Williamson was a truck-driver employed by Garcia. Garcia does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, so Williamson argued that Six L’s was his statutory employer, secondarily liable to cover the costs of his injury-related expenses. Williamson successfully argued that the PA Workers’ Compensation Act created a “class of statutory employers,” who are liable for their employees even if the relationship is not as direct as say premises-based employment. In what is being referred to as a “game-changing decision,” the Court ruled that any person contracting out work that is a “regular or recurrent part of their businesses” must guarantee the benefit of workers’ compensation insurance.

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PA State Legislature to Take One of Largest Loans in State History to Pay Off Unemployment Compensation Fund Debt

Posted on 8 April 2015

This month, Pennsylvania House lawmakers approved a bill that will allow the state to borrow money to pay off the $3.9 billion it owes the federal government in jobless benefits. The state has been in debt since 2008 when businesses borrowed money to compensate laid-off workers during the recession. The bill authorizes one of the largest single-debt issuances in Pennsylvania history, but supporters hope that saving employers’ money will lead to the creation of more jobs. Part of the problem is due to structural inefficiencies-the tax structure that underwrites employee compensation trust fund has not been increased by state lawmakers since the 1980s, even though the workers’ salaries that determine the amount of benefits have risen steadily. Rather than addressing these issues, however, the administration has chosen to focus on saving money at the expense of workers. Packaged in this bill are “money-saving” provisions that predictably shave away at workers’ rights while serving big businesses. One such provision limits eligibility for jobless benefits by eliminating eligibility altogether for people, such as seasonal workers, who make a majority of their annual income over several months. As is, an employee must earn 20% of their base-year wages outside their highest-earning quarter. The Corbett administration is lobbying to dictate that 49.5% of base-year wages must be earned outside of one’s highest-earning quarter. Why? Because the change would mean that over the course of one year, 48,000 fewer people would be eligible to receive benefits. Every day, political decisions are being made that affect all of us. It is our responsibility to get educated and get involved!

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Disturbing Trend of Anti-Union Legislation

Posted on 8 April 2015

The ability of Scott Walker to hold his seat after ushering in cuts to public-worker bargaining rights, health-care benefits, and pensions signals yet again the triumph of corporate greed over protection of individual worker rights.  Walker insists that the cuts are necessary because of the $3.6 billion debt he inherited as governor.  Yet, his policies continuously undercut the potential for job-growth and chip away at the progress union workers have made over the past 50 years in securing safe and decent livelihoods.  He rejected federal money for a high-speed rail line, repealed Wisconsin’s equal pay law, and cut its health-care program.  In campaigning against the bail-out, he raised $30.5 million, eight times as much as his opponents.  Over the course of the recall, spending reached nearly $100 million.  Voters struggle in an economy that has been hard-hit by the recession, and middle class Americans are made to pay out of their pockets for government debt while Walker spends exorbitant amounts to ensure he can buy his way into staying in office.

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Chronic Pain and Brain Activity

Posted on 8 April 2015

Ever wonder why one person may suffer from a chronic pain condition while another, who suffered the same type of injury, does not? A recent study tracked the brain activity of 40 people with new back injuries for one year. After one year, the group was divided into two smaller groups: (1) those whose pain was resolving and (2) those whose pain persisted. Interestingly, at the start of the study, both the persistent pain group and the recovering group reported similar levels of pain. However, the persistent group differed from the recovery group in terms of their emotional feelings about the pain.

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Three Ways to Prevent Heat Illness: Water. Rest. Shade.

Posted on 8 April 2015

While your body normally sweats in order to cool off, extreme conditions can cause your body temperature to rise to dangerous levels. This means that sweating alone is not enough to help keep you cool in the heat and humidity we’ve been experiencing these past few weeks.

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Is Your Fibromyalgia Severe Enough to Qualify you for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Posted on 8 April 2015

Social Security Disability benefits are reserved for those who have medical conditions serious enough that working is not an option. In some cases, like those concerning people with Fibromyalgia, the condition may not be severe enough sometimes to qualify them for benefits. Fibromyalgia is a special case because some days the symptoms may be mild and other days they may be severe- leaving the decision of whether or not to include Fibromyalgia in limbo. A recent ruling released July 25th, 2012 by the Social Security Administration details how Fibromyalgia cases will be evaluated to help the decision on whether to include the condition for benefits. A physician’s opinion alone will no longer be enough to be the factor determining benefits; evidence in addition to diagnosis is now required. Fibromyalgia qualifies if the following factors exist:

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Three Ways to Avoid Workplace Falls: Plan. Provide. Train.

Posted on 8 April 2015

Did you know that workplace falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry? Tragically, these deaths are preventable. Construction workers and employers can save lives by planning ahead to ensure that jobs are being performed safely. This means thinking about how the job will be done, what sort of tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment will be necessary to perform those tasks. The second step to prevention is toprovide the right equipment. Any worker who is working six feet or more above lower level risks severe injury or death with a fall. Employers should provide these workers with the right equipment, such as different kinds of ladders, scaffolds and safety gear. Finally, training workers to use equipment in a safe way is another way to prevent falls. Employers should provide training that allows workers to understand how to safely use equipment.

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Random Workplace Inspections May Lead to a Decrease in Workplace Injury

Posted on 8 April 2015

Workplace safety is the most important factor when discussing prevention of work-related injury. Government regulations are in place to protect employees from harm and employers from violating the right people have of safe working conditions. A recent study completed by economists and environmental experts from known universities proves that randomized inspections of workplaces improve safety by forcing companies to keep up with the latest regulations and prevent problems before they have a chance to occur.

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Social Security Disability Benefit Recipients Exceeds Jobs Created

Posted on 8 April 2015

Job creation has been at the forefront of America’s problem-solving strategy for a few years now. The more jobs that can be created, the more people that can work and therefore more money will be flowing through our system. It seems reliable, until we look at the number of people applying for social security disability benefits. In June 2012, the 85,000 people enrolled in the Social Security Disability Insurance program surpassed the 80,000 jobs that were created. One explanation for this is that the baby boomer generation is now reaching the age where health problems are keeping some of them from being able to work. Since that generation is so large and workforce demographics are certainly changing, it is important to be aware of current social security disability legislation. With an election upcoming, be sure your representatives protect the Social Security Disability Insurance that helps so many people.

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Six Tips for Eye Safety in the Workplace

Posted on 8 April 2015

In recognition of Eye Injury Prevention Month, here are some tips to ensure eye safety while you’re on the job:

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Attention Young Workers

Posted on 8 April 2015

Are you under the age of 18 and working? As a young worker, you could be prone to injury or sickness on the job due to unsafe equipment, lack of training, poor supervision, illegal or inappropriate work assignments, unrealistic work expectations and stressful work conditions.

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Overqualified Immigrants at Greater Risk of Workplace Injuries?

Posted on 8 April 2015

The Injury Prevention journal published a Canadian study which found that recent immigrants, who are also overqualified for their jobs, are three times more likely to be injured at work than their less educated, native-born peers. The researchers cited a lack of skills and knowledge about common workplace safety, along with language barriers, to account for these findings in overqualified recent immigrants.  They also noted that having a higher education could isolate immigrants from other co-workers and even supervisors, leaving overqualified immigrants on their own when it comes to understanding workplace safety and getting help on the job.

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Workers' Compensation and Surveillance

Posted on 8 April 2015

Workers' Compensation matters vary from case to case, but one common thread is that injuries sustained by workers are severe enough to keep them from performing their routine job duties. To ensure each claimant is being completely truthful with his or her claim, insurance companies will send investigators to observe the daily behavior of the injured worker. For example, if the investigator finds that a construction worker who has injured his hand on the job is operating machinery on a job site after filing a claim, some hefty consequences could result.

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Most Dangerous Jobs in America

Posted on 8 April 2015

According to a recent article on cnn.com, professional fishermen have the most dangerous job in America. The article compared the fatality rate per 100,000 workers of dozens of jobs, and fishermen topped the list at 121.2. Loggers and airplane pilots took second and third places with 102.4 and 57 fatalities per 100,000, respectively.

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Asbestos: Still a Serious Health Threat

Posted on 8 April 2015

Last week was National Asbestos Awareness Week, a relatively new occasion intended to increase awareness about the serious dangers of asbestos exposure. Although the use of asbestos has greatly declined, exposure still remains a major threat to the health of workers who repair old buildings and indeed anyone who comes into contact with the material. It’s long been known that asbestos can cause fatal conditions like lung cancer and mesothelioma, yet asbestos still isn’t banned in the U.S.

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Should NFL Athletes be Collecting Workers’ Compensation From Out of State?

Posted on 8 April 2015

A bill introduced in California would largely prevent professional athletes like those in the NFL from filing cumulative trauma workers’ compensation claims in California if they had not retired from a team based in that state. Spokespeople representing several professional sports associations contend that athletes from teams outside of California are cashing in on workers’ compensation benefits from the state, raising team costs as well as costs of workers’ compensation for all employers in California.

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Avoidable Tragedies: Workplace Falling Injuries

Posted on 8 April 2015

The regrettable truth about accidents in the workplace is that far too many of these tragedies are preventable. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in the construction industry, where falls are the leading cause of fatalities. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), over a third of work-related deaths in construction in 2010 were due to preventable falls.

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Intoxication on the Job May Prevent You from Collecting Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Posted on 8 April 2015

It's pretty clear that using drugs or alcohol while working is a bad idea. Not only is it unprofessional, but depending on your job, being intoxicated could bring up some serious safety issues that could put you and your coworkers in danger. But it’s also vital to note that if you suffer an injury on the job while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your intoxication can significantly lower your chances of collecting workers' compensation for your injury.

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Workers Compensation and Occupational Overuse Syndrome

Posted on 8 April 2015

It's clear that a small amount of discomfort may be an unavoidable aspect of many jobs. Whether it’s lifting heavy objects, typing for long periods of time, or just standing on your feet for hours on end, job-related exertion is, for many of us, simply a part of life. But if performing the same repeated movements at work has lead you to experience such symptoms as muscle spasms, strength loss, numbness, or moderate to severe aches and pains, you may have developed a condition known as occupational overuse syndrome.

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Training and Education for Workplace Accident Prevention

Posted on 8 April 2015

No matter the industry, it’s clear that educating employees about accident prevention is a cornerstone of ensuring on-the-job safety. Accordingly, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains a grant program designed to help nonprofit organizations with funding for programs that facilitate these critical objectives.

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Diesel Exhaust Exposure and Lung Cancer

Posted on 8 April 2015

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. - about 27% of all deaths from cancer can be attributed to this form of the disease, and more people die of lung cancer each year than of breast, prostate, and colon cancers combined. According to the American Cancer Society, men have a 1 in 13 chance of developing lung cancer in their lifetimes, while women have a 1 in 16 probability. And, unfortunately, the last several decades have seen little significant progress in lung cancer treatment.

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Famed Actor Sued for Not Providing Workers' Compensation Insurance

Posted on 8 April 2015

Well-known comedic actor Jim Carrey has made headlines recently not for an upcoming movie, but for a failure to purchase workers' compensation insurance for employees at his art studio in New York. The workers’ compensation board in that state has fined him $72,000 for a failure to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for all of 2012. Mr. Carrey has denied any wrongdoing and is blaming the issue on a clerical error, but the case will likely go to court if the fine is left unpaid.

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Managing the Threat of Heat-Related Illness at Work

Posted on 8 April 2015

As summer approaches, the rising temperatures are a welcome respite from the bitter cold of the winter months. But for workers exposed to excessively hot conditions on the job, high temperatures can be dangerous, even deadly.

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Lack of Sleep Raises Risk of Work Injuries

Posted on 8 April 2015

It's long been known that poor or insufficient sleep can have negative health effects and contribute to conditions like obesity and diabetes. Now a new study shows that (not surprisingly) lack of sleep is a significant contributing factor to workplace injuries.

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Jerry Lehocky to be Appointed President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice

Posted on 8 April 2015

Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano is pleased to announce partner Jerry Lehocky's appointment as President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice (PAJ), effective July 1, 2013. Mr. Lehocky is a founding partner of Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano, which has become the area's leading workers's compensation and Social Security Disability law firm since its inception in 2010.

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NFL's Tom Brady and Drew Brees Voice Opposition to Workers' Compensation Bill

Posted on 8 April 2015

Tom Brady and Drew Brees are best known for being two of the greatest quarterbacks in the National Football League today. But while they play for opposing organizations, the two superstars have recently teamed up to write a guest column in the San Francisco Chronicle voicing opposition to AB1309, a proposed California bill that would change the workers' compensation rules particular to professional athletes in that state.

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Reducing the Impact of Chronic Illness in the Workplace

Posted on 8 April 2015

Chronic health conditions are on the rise among all age groups and continue to increase health care costs while decreasing productivity nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 25 percent of the U.S. population is considered obese, a number which could grow to as much as 40 percent by 2020 if current trends continue. Obesity is a contributing cause of serious chronic health conditions like diabetes, which cost employers an estimated 138 million days of productivity in 2012. Heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S., is often caused or exacerbated by obesity as well.

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Could Your Facebook Account be Used to Derail Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Posted on 8 April 2015

For many of us, online social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. Vacations, fancy dinners, and everyday activities are all chronicled for our friends and followers to enjoy. Sharing pictures and personal details has become a hallmark of the social media experience. Yet despite customizable settings on popular social networking sites like Facebook, concerns about the privacy of posted material have continued to persist, with users wary of third-party advertisers, admissions officers, and employers alike having access to their profile’s information. Now, recent rulings in Pennsylvania workers' compensation cases could add forensic computer experts to that list.

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Healthcare Workers at High Risk for Musculoskeletal Injuries

Posted on 8 April 2015

Musculoskeletal disorders, conditions that affect the nerves, tendons, muscles, and supporting structures, account for a significant number of work injuries. Often caused by overexertion and heavy lifting, these injuries affect thousands of workers a year in various industries. Surprisingly, the highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders (or MSDs) occur not among such workers as construction laborers or freight, stock, and material movers, but among nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants.

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Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation: An Overview

Posted on 8 April 2015

Workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania is a benefit system intended to help workers who've suffered illness or injury on the job. In accordance with the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, those hurt at work are entitled to appropriate compensation for their injuries.

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Social Security Halts Usage of the Term “Mental Retardation”

Posted on 8 April 2015

The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced on Thursday that it will no longer use the term "mental retardation," instead replacing it with "intellectual disability" in its official Listing of Impairments and other regulations. The SSA cites the widespread adoption of the term “intellectual disability” by Congress, government agencies, and various public and private organizations as impetus of the change, along with the negative and often offensive nature of the term "mental retardation" in modern language as well. The SSA's voluntary change comes less than three years after President Obama signed Rosa's Law, which updated language in federal health, education, and labor policy statutes with the terms "intellectual disability" or “individual with an intellectual disability."

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Pennsylvania Ranked Fifth Among Most Dangerous States for Workers

Posted on 8 April 2015

Pennsylvania may be the fifth most dangerous state for workers in the country, according to a new study. Based on 2011 data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the study highlights both the most dangerous states in which to work and the most hazardous industries for workers in the U.S.

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The Dangers of Transvaginal Mesh

Posted on 8 April 2015

Since their introduction over a decade ago, transvaginal mesh implants have been linked to injuries in thousands of women. In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a report finding that vaginal mesh products pose a high risk to patients, cautioning doctors to warn women of problems associated with these devices. Around 30,000 lawsuits have been filed by women claiming injuries suffered as a result of defective transvaginal mesh products, and manufacturers have paid out millions of dollars in damages to victims of malfunctioned implants.

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Preventing Workplace Violence

Posted on 8 April 2015

Almost two million American workers report being victimized by workplace violence every year, and workplace homicides are the fourth leading cause of occupation-related death in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). Women are even more at risk, as homicide causes more on-the-job deaths among female workers than any other factor. These eye-opening statistics may even belie the true extent of workplace violence in America, as many cases of violence at work go unreported.

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Epileptic Seizure Sidelines Minnesota Head Coach During Halftime

Posted on 8 April 2015

This past Saturday, Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Jerry Kill suffered a seizure mid-game while his football team was playing Western Illinois. Luckily, Kill was said to be "resting comfortably" after the incident, suffering no serious injuries, and the Gophers even went on to win the game.

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Social Security Updates Policy on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in New Social Security Ruling

Posted on 8 April 2015

Earlier this month, the Social Security Administration released a new Social Security Ruling (“SSR”) updating its evaluation criteria for disability cases involving Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (“CFS”).  As the etiology of this debilitating illness is unclear and it is more subjective than some other physical conditions, proving CFS in disability claims was sometimes more difficult than other conditions.  The new ruling, SSR 14-1p, primarily adopts the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) definition of CFS and specifies the medical signs, laboratory findings, and additional criteria for diagnosis.   Additionally, the ruling lays out the documentation required for a disability claim involving CFS, how CFS is considered in the five-step sequential evaluation process every disability claim goes through, and how a person with CFS is found disabled.   

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118th Boston Marathon Run Today, April 21, 2014

Posted on 8 April 2015

On the third Monday in April, Massachusetts and Maine celebrate Patriot’s Day, a holiday commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.  The date is also traditionally the date of the Boston Marathon, causing the holiday to be called “Marathon Monday” by many Bostonians.  

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Governor’s Award for Safety Excellence

Posted on 8 April 2015

Pond Lehocky believes that every worker should know their rights in the workplace and their workers’ compensation protections, should they ever be injured on the job.  However, it is our hope that employers do their best to ensure that every work environment is safe and secure for each of its employees.  

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OSHA issues Final Rule to Improve Safety for Workers Performing Electrical Power Generation

Posted on 8 April 2015

The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) announced the issuance of new provisions covering the operation and maintenance of electric power generation, transmission, and distribution line and equipment.  The previous rules for transmission and distribution installations were more than forty years old, last updated in 1972. 

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Phillies Opening Day, April 8

Posted on 8 April 2015

The Philadelphia Phillies opened the 2014 season at home on April 8, 2014.  Though the Phils fell to the Milwaukee Brewers 10-4, the park was filled with energy and excitement about the season.  To see photos from the game, please click here

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Major General Motors Recall

Posted on 8 April 2015

General Motors informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week that it would recall more than 1.3 million vehicles in the U.S. that may experience a sudden loss of electric power steering assist. GM says drivers will know if the electric power steering system fails because a chime and dashboard message will appear. The car can be steered without power assist, but it can require a lot more muscle to turn the wheel, especially at low speeds. Because of the difficulty, the car could be more susceptible to a crash.  

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Social Security’s Customer Service Issues

Posted on 8 April 2015

It's no secret to many of our clients that the Social Security Administration has been suffering from serious deficiencies in customer service for quite some time. Over the past several years, the Administration's total staff has shrunk dramatically, leading to significant cutbacks in customer service. Budget shortages have prevented replacing lost staff as well as taking steps to repair many of these issues.

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Stand With Pond Lehocky in Setting the Record Straight on SSDI

Posted on 8 April 2015

Despite the fact that the Social Security Disability Insurance ("SSDI") program is an insurance policy purchased by every working American with 6.2% deduction of each paycheck, Congress and the mainstream media have been attacking it as an "entitlement program." Pieces on 60 Minutes and NPR have declared SSDI "a secret welfare system...ravaged by waste and fraud." At Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano, we take particular offense to these reports, not only because they are based on anecdotal evidence rather than fact, but also because they are extremely damaging to our clients and to the integrity of the system.

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Veterans Day 2013

Posted on 8 April 2015

This Veterans Day, Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano joins America in honoring all of our nation’s uniformed service members, and our firm expresses our sincerest appreciation for their incredible sacrifices. On this day, it is essential to reflect on the reasons for this national day of observance and remember the men and women who have sacrificed courageously to safeguard the freedoms we all enjoy.

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Obamacare Deadline

Posted on 8 April 2015

As was discussed on our blog previously in December (“Understanding the Affordable Care Act”), Obamacare can provide our clients and the estimated 48 million Americans without health coverage with a critical option for medical insurance.  With the March 31, 2014 deadline to enroll or face possible tax penalties fast approaching, Pond Lehocky wanted to provide you with some additional information, news articles, and resources about Obamacare. 

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November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month

Posted on 8 April 2015

November marks National Epilepsy Awareness Month, an opportunity to both raise awareness about the devastating effects of epilepsy and reaffirm the commitment to ending the disease’s grip on sufferers everywhere. Purple is the color of epilepsy awareness, and many prominent local buildings and landmarks are “lighting up” to show support for the fight against epilepsy, including One Liberty Place and Two Liberty Place, The National Constitution Center, and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge (pictured on the right).

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Happy Holidays!

Posted on 8 April 2015

All of us at Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano would like to wish you and your loved ones a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday! We’d also like to wish all of our Jewish clients and friends a happy Hanukkah as well!

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Understanding The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Posted on 8 April 2015

What does the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) do?

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Three Important Things to Know if You are Injured at Work

Posted on 8 April 2015

If you’ve been injured at work, it can be a stressful experience. Not only do you have to deal with the injury itself, but the prospect of missing time from work and suffering a wage loss for an extended period can put your financial security in doubt. Fortunately, workers’ compensation benefits can provide a much needed recourse during this straining time. Here are three things to know if you are injured on the job:

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Disabled? Three Ways an Attorney Can Help You with Your Disability Claim

Posted on 8 April 2015

Filing a Social Security disability claim can be frustrating and confusing. Many disability applicants could greatly benefit from hiring a Social Security disability attorney to answer their questions, help them with paperwork, and provide legal representation at hearings. Here are three ways that a Social Security disability lawyer can help you throughout your claim:

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What is the Earliest Age That I Can Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

Posted on 8 April 2015

There is no minimum age to begin receiving Social Security disability benefits. As long as you meet the strict Social Security definition of disability and you have worked long and recently enough under Social Security to earn the required number of work credits, you can receive benefits.

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Most Common Workplace Injuries

Posted on 8 April 2015

Workplace injuries can take many forms. A recent study by findlaw.com reveals that as many as one in five adults say that they have been injured on the job.

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Social Security Adds New Compassionate Allowances Conditions

Posted on 8 April 2015

This week, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced 25 new conditions that will be included in its Compassionate Allowances Program. Among the new conditions are a dozen cancers, as well as disorders that affect the digestive, neurological, immune, and multiple body systems. The additions bring the total number of Compassionate Allowances Conditions to 225.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Posted on 8 April 2015

Today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy endures on this federal holiday to remember the iconic champion of civil rights. Special events around the nation from parades to tributes to service projects will be held to commemorate the dream of the civil rights leader. Dr. King dedicated his life to improving the world in which he lived, and he challenged the rest of us to do the same. He not only championed equal rights but also equal access to economic opportunity for all Americans.

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Can You Receive Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation Benefits at the Same Time?

Posted on 8 April 2015

It is possible to receive Social Security disability and workers’ compensation benefits at the same time. However, workers’ compensation and other public disability benefits may reduce Social Security disability benefits.

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OSHA’s Tips to Protect Workers in Cold Environments

Posted on 8 April 2015

With the often brutal winter conditions that come with this time of year, everyone knows the importance of keeping warm. This is especially crucial for those who work outside and are exposed to the brunt of the cold weather.

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Surveillance and Workers’ Compensation

Posted on 8 April 2015

The details of workers’ compensation claims vary from case to case, but one common thread among them is that injuries sustained by workers are severe enough to keep them from performing their routine job duties. To ensure that each claimant is being completely truthful with his or her claim, insurance companies will often send investigators to observe the daily behavior of the injured worker. If the investigator finds that a construction worker who has injured his hand on the job is operating machinery on a job site after filing a claim, for example, some serious consequences could result.

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