Category Archives: Social Security

Article in The Guardian Explaining How Doctors “Measure” Pain

How many of you have been asked by a doctor to describe your pain on a scale of one to 10? This article describes how science has advanced in gauging pain, but how much further doctors have to go.

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What is BU08028 and What Does it Mean to Chronic Pain Sufferers?

by Karl Voigt

In short, BU08028 is a new research drug that provides the pain relief of opiates, without their addictive effects. Trials of the drug have been conducted on rhesus monkeys with success that — it is hoped — will translate to humans. The trials, conducted at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, demonstrated a novel approach to pain relief without the risk of addiction.

Today’s pain management medicine relies primarily on opioids, like Vicodin or Oxycodone, that quell pain signals to the brain by interfering with neuron receptors known as opiod receptors, particularly the mu opioid peptide receptor (MOP). Unfortunately, these medications are highly addictive, as these MOP receptors also play a large role in regulating emotional impulses like the desire for reward, euphoria and cravings. That addiction can ultimately lead to respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.

Fortunately, the body has another type of neuron receptor called the nociceptin-orphanin FQ peptide receptor (NOP). Previous research showed that drugs that solely target NOP receptors can block the addictive effects of opioids. Building on that foundation, Wake Forest researchers created a drug that would simultaneously target both the MOP and NOP receptors to produce opioid-like pain relief while reducing the risk of addiction.

Two days ago, their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In short, monkeys were given the opportunity to self-medicate with this new drug. While the addictive nature of an opioid would make them repeatedly dose themselves, they did not do so when given the pain-killing BU08028.

While this breakthrough is impressive, the drug’s introduction is still years away. Studies on humans may start in less than two years. Find the Wake Forest abstract here.

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Join Us, 04/08/2016, for Live Immigration Law Video Seminar!!

On behalf of Prince Law Offices, P.C., I am pleased to announce that the firm’s attorneys will be utilizing new technology to host informative live video sessions devoted to the various areas of practice we cover: Firearms Law, Workers’ Compensation, Immigration, Civil Rights, Social Security, Corporate Law, Energy Law, Criminal Law, Wills Estates, Family Law, and Civil Litigation.

Please join us for the pilot launch of these sessions, next Friday, April 8th at 6PM, where I will be leading a 1/2 an hour discussion on Immigration Law issues related to Family Immigration benefits, including application requirements, filing fees, time-frames, and new developments in the law.

The program we shall use is called  JITSI,  a new open-source platform which will permit our participants’ full interaction with the seminar including video and voice access by which to share comments and questions.  There is no cost to attend.  Further, there are no limits on the number of possible participants so please, by all means, tell your friends, colleagues, family members, etc., about this exciting new program.

Please note in advance that the purpose of these seminars is to provide general information concerning the previously mentioned areas of law, and not to respond to or offer advice concerning individual legal issues.

At 5:45PM on April 8th, I will post the link for interested parties to join me in the Immigration Law seminar.

Stay tuned for the link and I hope to see you on the 8th.

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Filed under ATF, Business Law, Communications Law, Computer Law, Constitutional Law, Consumer Advocacy, Criminal Law, Energy Law, Equine Law, Family Law, Firearms Law, Immigration Law, Landlord/Tenant, Marijuana Law, News & Events, Real Estate, Social Security, Trademark and Copyright, Uncategorized, Wills and Estates, Workers' Compensation

Social Security Fraud

By Tom Beveridge.             On February 26, 2014, Carolyn W. Colvin, the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, testified before Congress regarding the Social Security Administration’s efforts to investigate and stop disability fraud.  Commissioner Colvin indicated that fraud rate in the Administration’s disability programs is actually less than 1 percent; however, no amount of fraud is tolerable.  In fact, she issued this powerful warning to claimants and applicants:

“We have no tolerance for fraud, and I reiterate to those who would defraud Social Security: We will find you; we will prosecute you; we will seek the maximum punishment allowable under the law; and we will fight to restore the money you’ve stolen to the American people. “

In my practice, I am pleased to say that I have very rarely encountered actual cases of Social Security fraud.   However, I have exchanged stories with other practitioners who have been involved in such cases – most of which ended quite badly for the claimants.  Suffice it to say, fraud simply isn’t worth the risk.

Fraud occurs when an individual knowingly and intentionally makes false statements or conceals material facts in an attempt to obtain benefits.   Examples of such conduct include using false Social Security numbers, offering false information on applications, forging or falsifying Social Security documents, conspiring to present a false claim for benefits, etc.    From the initial application process and ongoing, Social Security personnel are on the lookout for fraudulent claims, statements or actions.

The penalties for Social Security fraud can be very significant.   Obviously, the SSA can reopen a claim or determination to eliminate any false information and reevaluate the claim.   Significant criminal and civil penalties also exist depending on the type of fraud involved.   For example, making false statements in an attempt to secure benefits is a misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to a $1,000.00 fine and up to 1 year in jail.   Even worse, an individual who presents a false claim under the guise that he or she is someone else who may be entitled to such benefits faces a felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.00 and imprisonment of up to 5 years.  42 U.S.C. §1307.  In addition to criminal penalties, an individual convicted of fraud will have to repay the SSA any amounts received.

As with any application for benefits, it is absolutely critical that a claimant provide truthful and complete information during the process.   When discovered, false information simply “red-flags” an application, and the denial of benefits is the likely end result.

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Workers’ Compensation Claimants: Do You Have Help You Don’t Know About?

by Karl Voigt

Workers’ compensation claimants: do you have help you don’t know about? It’s possible you may have a little help out there. Your income is generally fixed and it’s time to assess and know what resources you have available.

If you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, that likely means you’re considered disabled. If you’re disabled, you may have insurance policies you may not remember. Namely, if you have a mortgage, car loan, or even credit card, you may have taken out a disability policy when you opened your account. It’s time to take advantage if you did. Even if you don’t remember, you should contact your lender to see if you have a policy that will actually make your payments while you are disabled.

How about disability polices? Maybe you have paid premiums to an insurer like, say, one associated with a duck that has a voice remarkably to Gilbert Gottfried’s. If you have, you may be entitled to a monthly disability check. If you paid 100% of the premiums, you may be able to collect benefits over and above your workers’ compensation checks. The only downside is that this disability policy may claim a credit for any workers’ compensation checks you get. You may get a reduced amount, but most of these policies have a monthly minimum payout. And, as you know, every little bit helps.

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Facebook and … Workers’ Compensation?

by Karl Voigt
What does workers’ compensation have to do with Facebook? More and more, apparently!

As the world becomes more “linked in” and peoples’ online presences become more commonplace, employers are trying to use that presence against injured workers.

Workers’ Compensation insurers and employers are more and more attempting to use injured workers’ Facebook pages against their employees. Namely, they are trying to use photos and updates published on social networking sites to combat claims of disability.

One popular example involves a worker (not our client!) who claimed total disability, yet published evidence of his competition in bowling tournaments. Sure enough, an astute private investigator used his published schedule to follow him to a tournament where he videotaped the event, blending in with the other spectators. Of course, the video was used to disprove his claim the he couldn’t work.

Even if an investigator doesn’t find anything incriminating on the site, online photos can at least be used to positively identify a subject of real-world surveillance. Even more, if a user publishes his affiliation with an archery club, for example, an investigator can contact other members of the club for more information about any continued activities within the club

While none of our clients have anything to hide, we do suggest that you review your privacy settings. And also publish your Facebook entries considering the fact that ANYONE might read them. Know that anyone who has “friended” you may be able to access your photos and entries.

We don’t necessarily suggest that one “go dark” after a work injury but do, however, recommend minding the content one publishes to make sure it can’t be misinterpreted.

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Workers’ Compensation isn’t taxable, right?

by Karl Voigt

Workers’ Compensation wage loss benefits aren’t taxable, right?

Right!

Well, unless you’re also a Social Security Disability recipient. Then, things may get complicated.

We all know that workers’ compensation wage loss benefits are paid to injured workers. Simply stated, these benefits are not taxed by state or federal governments. We know that some injured workers also apply for — and receive — Social Security Disability benefits. Of course, the Social Security Disability Administration takes an offset — a credit — for workers’ compensation. That means that monthly Social Security Disability benefits are reduced by weekly workers’ compensation benefits.

So far so good.

Trouble comes, however, if Social Security Disability checks are not a household’s sole source of income. Social Security Disability is not taxable unless a worker’s income or a worker and spouse’s income exceed certain limits. One those limits are reached, Social Security Disability is taxable. Receipt of workers’ compensation may drive income over those limits. The tax due on Social Security Disability benefits is based upon the total amount of Social Security benefits to which a claimant is entitled, whether or not the workers’ compensation offset causes a reduction in the Social Security Disability amount. Workers’ compensation benefits may therefore be taxable as if they were social security benefits.

Problems arise because the IRS considers the amount offset for workers’ compensation as if it’s a Social Security Disability benefit.

So, let’s say you’re entitled to $15,000 a year in Social Security Disability benefits, but you only get $5000 because of a workers’ compensation offset of $10,000. How much of your Social Security Disability benefits are subject to tax? $5000? No! $15,000. Of course, this is only a problem if that amount causes your household income to exceed IRS limits.

So don’t be surprised if you receive a 1099 for your workers’ compensation benefits. Your workers’ compensation may be taxed!

For more information, see http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10018.html.

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