• Categories: Agents Marketers Comments Off on Helping Your Agent Market Your Home

    All because you have decided to employ the services of a real estate agent does not necessarily mean that you should sit down fiddling with your thumbs and whistling away in utter boredom. You can actually help to move the sale of your house a bit faster by helping your real estate agent market your home.

    Hiring a real estate agent takes off most of the work off your hands. However, you need to remember that a real estate agent has other clients and may not give the marketing of your property the attention or priority that you may like.

    Devising ways to also create awareness about the sale of property on your own part can help you achieve your goal of selling off your home fast. There are several ways that you can help your agent to market your home. They include;

    o Fliers or post cards: Small scale advertising materials such as fliers or post cards can go a long way in helping you attain your goal of attracting home buyers to your home. You can make the fliers and post cards as detailed and attractive as possible. You never know how far they are going to go.

    o Open houses: You can arrange open house sessions and invite your neighbors or the neighborhood for them. Even though they may not need a house, they may be aware of someone who wants to buy a house.

    o A blog: You can create a blog where you can put information about your home on. A website containing pictures and details about your home can also go a long way in giving a home buyer a nudge in your direction.

    o Banners: A huge colorful banner put up in front of your house announcing that it is for sale and for a certain price can attract home buyers to you faster. It’s really about how innovative you are that determines how fast you sell your home.

  • Categories: Car Auto Comments Off on Car Auto Insurance: Benefits of Insuring Your Vehicle

    According to the law it is very important to hold a car auto insurance if you own a car or drive one. This policy helps in protecting you from any form of mishap that you may face on or off the road. If you do not wish to bear the brunt of heavy damage cost then get your car insured as quickly as possible.

    However, before even you sign on the dotted line you need to carefully consider all the option and the basics of all the policy available to you. Today, there are several insurance providers that offer you some of the best possible rates for car auto insurance policy but you need to go along with the one that offers you in safe hands all the way.

    If you thought that car auto insurance only covered on road accidents then you are wrong. Car insurance policy helps in covering all the necessary expense that you may insure while driving or even when parked. Yes it is true that you are covered from any form of natural calamities or damages caused b theft or breakage. Most of the insurance policies also help pay a certain amount of medical cost in case of major accidents.

    Additionally, they may also help in covering legal expenses, expensive car parts and third party damage cost. With so many added advantages and benefits, it would be unwise not to own a car insurance policy to protect your car, yourself and most importantly your family members.

    When it comes to selecting car auto insurance policy many companies have their own strategies to gain customers loyalty. The business of car insurance is very competitive and therefore, you need to thoroughly understand all the types of auto insurance which are available in the market. Comprehensive coverage policy, collision insurance policy, Liability insurance, uninsured motorist protection coverage, personal injury coverage, no fault insurance and gap insurance are some of the car auto insurance that you can consider buying.

    With so many options available you need to consider carefully all the information and details of each policy and choose the one that you require mostly. It is also mandatory to comply with the state law in respect to car insurance policy for car owners and drivers. You also need to understand all aspect of the policy in case of any mishap due to accident or third party damages. In short, car insurance policy gives you total confidence while driving and absolute peace of mind.

  • Categories: Commercial Comments Off on Commercial Print Modeling Vs Editorial Print Modeling

    When you think or hear of the word “commercial” in regards to the modeling industry, there are a few variations of the meaning, but in the most practical form regarding “print” photography think of the word “promote”. The model’s job is to be photographed “promoting” a product or service in a print ad (for example… in magazines, brochures, newspapers, catalogues, etc.). There are numerous opportunities for COMMERCIAL PRINT MODELS that exist all over the United States and internationally. The ad may range from the smallest business promoting its’ livelihood all the way to large corporations who can afford their own advertising agencies to handle marketing campaigns.

    Commercial Print Modeling is very different from Editorial Print Modeling. Remember that an “editorial” is a magazine fashion “story” of the trend that is happening at that particular moment, not a specific advertisement for any one company, even though you will see multiple credits cited in small print of the stores and designers of the featured garments and accessories. Some ads that you may see in magazines may be elaborately spread out and photographed in an “editorial-style”, but it is ultimately a “commercial” ad if it is promoting one company name. It makes a nifty, high fashion looking ad, though, because that is the style ad that they are marketing to their specific consumers.

    Usually, though, the editorial model and their style of modeling don’t represent the particular looks that can be marketed to a large group of average, “every-day” consumers (a.k.a. the people who buy). Consumers buy from ads that they can relate to or strive to achieve. This is where a commercial model may have a wonderful chance of success because their image is a part of the marketing process that sells to the consumer. They represent a highly approachable and marketable look. So, for whatever product they are promoting their look can vary dependent upon what product or service is being advertised to the consumer. That means the door is open to many different types and sizes of models. Take note, that there are actually some editorial fashion models that are able to cross over from editorial modeling into the diverse commercial advertising side. That’s so ideal for a career model who wants longevity. The commercial model doesn’t usually have just one look even though there may be one special look that gets them hired over and over.

    This is where the terminology variations form and can cause confusion to whether a model is considered an editorial-type or commercial-type of model. Remember the prestige title? It’s placed on editorial models, but there is something wonderful to be said for being a successful working commercial model, too. “Commercial” is a term that the general public thinks of as ads that they see on television or hear on the radio. The terminology used by an advertising agency versus a modeling agency when referring to “commercial” has different degrees of meanings, too, depending on how they interpret the booking.

    Being in a television commercial is one type of opportunity that can use commercial models, but it’s “NOT” why they are called commercial models. For the purposes of a commercial type of model, the doors are open for almost anyone who has the skills of being either photogenic for photographs or having the right personality and approachable looks for promoting a product. The range of model can vary from being very outwardly attractive all the way to people who possess a great “character” face and /or personality (a.k.a. character model). Fashion does have its place for commercial models (a.k.a. commercial fashion models) by selling the garments or accessories that are being advertised in catalogues, showrooms, and certain ads in magazines (not the editorial stories).

    The context of explaining where the “commercial model” terms are used may vary depending on whom is referring to the booking… an Advertising Agency, a Commercial Modeling Agency, or a “specialized” Editorial Fashion Agency. Advertising Agencies (a.k.a. Ad Agencies) are hired on behalf of a company who wants their product or service promoted. Ad agencies will overall take charge of how the product or service will be promoted and will usually take care of hiring all of the personnel needed to complete the job such as photographers and models, too. If the campaign is something to promote a “fashion” product, then the “ad” agency refers to this as a “fashion” job. This is where the slight confusion of terms is just a technicality. An “Editorial ” modeling agency does not refer to such “fashion” work as “editorial” and will likely view the ad as commercial. So, here you have the advertising agency’s viewpoint booking a “fashion model”, but perhaps the modeling agency refers to what the ad agency is booking in terms of a commercial model. Ultimately, someone is used, so congrats to whatever type of model gets the job. Commercial Fashion Print bookings for models represent a lot of work around the world, too, as well as the high fashion modeling. The demand for catalog models varies from city to city just as the prestige of work does.

    Even though “Prestige” is usually a term that is used for the editorial model bookings, there is a rare level of “exception” for the commercial models who are working for the “big” clients in fashion, too. Upscale catalogues, beauty clients, fashion clients, and department stores using the “combination” fashion and commercial models for their print work offer opportunities, too, that is different from the fashion editorial stories. It’s all about high-end advertising! There are some rare, “dual-type” models that can be in possibly the same types of magazines for their “commercial” fashion ad that their “editorial” fashion story would be in. These companies want to showcase their product and company name with a great deal of effective, up-scale representation, so the bottom line is “investing” in their ability to make money. Booking models is an investment of their money that they pay the ad agency (or modeling agency) directly, so the ability to have the right model representing the company’s “look” to their market that they are trying to reach is essential. The “prestige” in a commercial fashion print opportunity is usually associated with either the upscale client, usage of photographs, or the amount of money paid to the commercial model.

    Commercial print models appear in magazine ads, newspapers, newspaper fliers/inserts, brochures, school text books, catalogues, billboards, Internet ads, hang tags, food packaging, and numerous other product pictures (too many to list all). We mentioned earlier that there is flexibility in the model’s appearance and even size. The requirements aren’t as strict as the editorial fashion model regarding height, weight, and body measurements, but the model hired for a commercial print job is required to fill the shoes of whatever “character” that they have been hired to portray in front of the camera. The character is usually booked according to the model that suits the role closest such as “young mom”, “middle-aged pilot”, “corporate executive”, “young nurse”, “college student”, etc. The company or advertising agency has its own idea of how they want their product or service represented, so the model must “look” and “project” the part to the client and photographer. This involves acting. The younger model is unlikely an experienced or trained actor, but modeling is a version of role-playing, so acting is a personal trait that can improve the model’s ability to get into character. Actors compete for these jobs, as well, in commercial print, so it’s not just for career models. Everyone wants the work. Commercial print modeling may or may not be a full-time career choice as compared to the editorial fashion model’s often hectic schedule.

    Flexibility in a model’s availability is also a key requirement to getting the work when jobs are available, too. Some bookings are literally made at the “last minute” when clients need someone a.s.a.p. for “whatever” reason they may find (a model never showed up, a model needs to be replaced, etc.) There are often a team of people relying on “everyone” to do their job and show up on time. Time is something that is paid for and a model should never assume that being even five to fifteen minutes late is acceptable. This is not a social situation, but rather a professional, paying job. Being a little early is well worth the experience of not frustrating a team of creative individuals and allowing you some breathing time to get into character! Being on time shouldn’t be considered as showing up at the exact moment that the job is officially starting. It is implied that you should know to be a little early to catch yourself up with any required information, extra preparation, or updates to what is going on for that booking. Your mind should be open to whatever character that you will be portraying and how you may best show whatever product or implied service via your poses and any props.

  • Categories: Dental Comments Off on How to Choose the Best Dental Office for Dental Treatment/Services?

    Are you looking for a good dental office? How to choose a dentist overseas? How to choose a dental care centre which offers good service? Searching for the right dentist? These may be some of the questions on your mind if you’re looking for a well qualified dentist.

    There are a few key points one should keep in mind when selecting a good dental office.

    The most important is the qualification of the dentist. Ensure that the dentist is licensed in the country where he/she is practicing. Look for the credentials, dental school he graduated from and their experience in this field. It is definitely very important to find the right dentist for your dental needs whom you’re comfortable with. When searching for a good dental clinic, be sure you pick a place in which you will receive the attention that your require. It needs to be open conveniently and offer extended and emergency services to its patients. Low cost, affordable dental treatment and maintenance visits to the dental office are equally important factors.

    If you are looking for a best dental clinic to solve your teeth problems, look for one which can provide quality dental services with client satisfaction. A good dental clinic should be well equipped with the latest in technology like Digital X-rays, Intra-oral cameras, microscopes, patient education video and monitors, latest equipment and a good quality dental chair. It is extremely important that they maintain ‘High Sterilization Standards’, list their ‘Clinical Protocols’, use branded and tested ‘Materials and Products’, and have a primary and experienced Dentist with other Dental Specialists in-office. A good and qualified dentist along with his team and other specialists should be able to provide a comprehensive and complete dental care for the individual and the entire family.

    Most reputable and good dental offices have their own websites with provision for making appointments. Both Domestic and International Appointments can be made using these forms available on their websites. Some good dental offices will also have the provision for Online Consultation, ‘Live Chat’ and ‘Patient Feedback Forms’. Reading ‘Patient Testimonials’ either available in their websites or on Google is a very useful tool in assessing the quality of dental service and reputation of the dentist. Check for Memberships, Affiliations and other Certifications of the dental office.

    To keep your teeth healthy, it is essential that you visit your dentist every six months called as ‘recall’ visits. During this visit the dentist will re-examine your teeth and gums, check for any decay or cavity, clean your teeth, and discuss tips to maintain your oral hygiene and emphasize on preventive dentistry. A good dental examination with proper X-rays is a must for proper diagnosis.

    Today dentistry has evolved tremendously and even for those people who have lost their teeth, many affordable treatment options are available to stay healthy and regain their beautiful smile. Missing teeth can be replaced by implants, bridges, dentures or partials. With Teeth-in-an-Hour by Nobel Guide the patient can go home with a new set of teeth immediately after implant placement. You can get a new set of teeth right away and be able to eat immediately after the treatment. The Nobel Guide System means you can now replace your missing teeth with permanent solutions using dental implants – easily, quickly and comfortably.

    Some extremely high end and reputable dental offices may also promote Dental Tourism in their city. Dental Tourism is one way whereby people from other countries travel and get their dental treatment done in another country like New Delhi, India. Due to the high cost of the dental treatment in the US and other European countries, some patients opt for combining their travel with low cost, economical dental treatment. Sometimes the combined cost of the travel along with the dental treatment comes out to more economical that getting the treatment done in their respective country. This comes in particularly useful for those people who do not have dental insurance or cannot afford the high cost of dental care in their country. Such dental offices offering dental tourism may also provide additional services to their out stationed patients like ‘Hotel Accommodation’, ‘Travel Agent’, ‘Pick-up/ Drop-off’ facility; and maintain ‘Safety with Private Parking’. ’32 Smile Stone’ Dental Clinic promotes dental tourism in New Delhi and since their dentist in a US graduate from the most reputable dental school in the USA, she pays detailed attention to her work and quality of service.

    Dentistry had diversified into various specialties and many treatment options are available for Dental Care. Some treatment options include Implants, Metal Free Crown and Bridges, Veneers, Root Canal Treatment (single sitting) using rotary endodontics, Tooth colored filings, Cosmetic Gum Treatment, Invisible Braces, 1-Hour Zoom Whitening, Children’s Dentistry with prime focus on Preventive Dentistry, Dental Spa etc.

  • Categories: Disability Comments Off on Additional Relief For Your Social Security Disability Clients From an Employment Law Standpoint

    Social Security disability attorneys or representatives are often not familiar with some of the civil rights laws and other remedies which may be available to their clients, beyond, or in lieu of, Social Security disability benefits, and which may result in additional or alternative sources of financial proceeds for their clients. Also, as Social Security disability claims have greatly increased due to the lagging economy, client advocates may encounter many persons who will not meet the stringent Social Security disability standards, but may be able to qualify for other relief. This article will explore some of these laws and remedies.

    Due to the complexity of some of the remedies and the intricate interaction between them, which often require balancing and negotiation, it will be beneficial to client advocates to establish a relationship with one or more attorneys who practice in the areas of law noted below if they do not, in order to determine if other remedies may exist for their clients. As many of these additional remedies have stringent time deadlines, inquiries should be made as quickly as possible to other counsel as to whether a client has additional remedies and the viability of pursuing them. Indeed, failure of an attorney or a representative to consider these remedies may be the source of a professional liability issue depending on the outcome of a client’s case.

    An applicant for Social Security disability benefits frequently has a history, such as his medical conditions or work history, which has brought him to the position of applying for this type of benefit, which requires that he is deemed unable to perform substantial gainful work for a minimum of twelve (12) months or he has a condition that will result in death. That history often involves his employment situation and the nature of that situation can serve as the basis for additional remedies. Therefore, a thorough interview with a potential client should determine:

    • Whether that person suffered an injury at the workplace;
    • Whether his employer terminated him as a result of suffering the injury after the employer was informed that it was a work-related injury;
    • Whether the injury, work-related or not, still permitted him to work for his employer with a reasonable accommodation by the employer. The courts’ interpretation of “reasonable accommodation” is discussed below;
    • Whether the employer refused to make the reasonable accommodation and instead laid off or terminated the employee;
    • Whether the employee, who formerly did not have any or few performance problems, suddenly received discipline or write-ups after the injury;
    • Whether the employer should have been aware that the employee was suffering from physical or mental problems, and instead of helping him manage those problems, terminated him, laid him off, or eliminated his position;
    • Whether the employee had available to him short and/or long-term disability benefits, some type of retirement disability or union benefits for which he could apply.

    THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITY ACT AND ITS AMENDMENTS
    Significant legislation has been enacted to protect employees who have been injured in and out of the workplace and who are suffering from an illness. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (hereinafter “ADA”) was intended to “provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” 42 U.S.C.A. §12101 et seq. The Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees and prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of a disability in regard to job application procedures, hiring, advancement, termination, compensation or job training. See 42 U.S.C. §12112(a).

    In the years since the Act’s passage into law, the U.S. Supreme Court has handed down specific opinions which have curtailed the reach of the ADA and have greatly limited the definition of a disability under the ADA. Large clusters of people, initially covered by the ADA, have been shut out from the intended far-reaching protections as a result of those court opinions. The result has put a heavy burden of proving a disability on the plaintiff, which was clearly against Congress’ intent. See Sutton v. United Airlines, Inc., 527 U.S. 471 (1999) and its companion cases and in Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams, 534 U.S. 184 (2002). As a result of these Supreme Court cases, lower courts have found that individuals with a range of substantially limiting impairments are not people with disabilities.

    In order to rectify this situation, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (hereinafter “ADAAA”), which became effective on January 1, 2009. The ADAAA greatly broadens the relevant definitions of the ADA and gives renewed hope to disabled individuals who are ready, willing and able to work with a reasonable accommodation. The Act’s new language also enlarged the definition to include a larger array of individuals who are “regarded as” having a disability. Additionally, mitigating factors are no longer assessed in the evaluation of an individual as disabled.

    If one has a client who lost his job due to a negative job action and who is covered by the newly expanded ADAAA, but had no recourse but to initiate a Social Security disability claim, either because his condition worsened or because he could not locate another job with his disabilities, he will be required to file a claim with a government agency at the local, state or federal level in order to protect his rights and preserve his right to bring later litigation, if necessary. That government agency may hold a fact-finding conference or a mediation, depending on the agency’s practice, and while the matter is at the agency level it may be settled without resorting to litigation. Bear in mind that the ADA claim can proceed independently and concurrent to the Social Security disability claim.

    Employers are required by the ADAAA to reasonably accommodate those employees known to have a disability to allow for the fulfillment of essential job functions. However, these employers will not be required to make accommodations which will cause an undue hardship. Under U.S.C. §12111(9), those reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to, (1) making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, (2) job restructuring, (3) modification of equipment or devices, (4) appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, and (5) the provision of qualified readers or interpreters.

    It is the employee’s responsibility to inform his employer that an accommodation is necessary in order for that employee to fulfill his essential job functions. It is also important to know that the new amendments make it clear that employees who are simply “regarded as” having a disability are not eligible for the aforementioned accommodations. Once the eligible employee requests an accommodation, an interactive process with the employer regarding the appropriate accommodations will begin. U.S.C. §12111(10) enumerates factors that would cause an undue hardship on the employer when accommodating an employee and are thus not mandated under the law. That list includes: (1) the nature and cost of the accommodation, (2) the overall financial resources of the facility or facilities, (3) the overall size of the business and (4) the type of operation.

    It is also significant to note that simply because an employee’s doctor sends a note to the employer limiting the employee’s ability to work, requesting time off for the employee, requesting reduced hours, or asking that the employee be assigned to light duty, the employer is not necessarily governed by the doctor’s request. Legions of employees have been terminated because an employer either did not feel the need to honor a doctor’s request or seized upon the doctor’s request to terminate an employee because, according to the doctor, the employee cannot do the job as required. An employee would be wise to seek legal help, if possible, in negotiating a disability accommodation from an employer.

    It is not uncommon for employers to begin plotting for an employee’s termination shortly after they are informed, formally or informally, of the employee’s illness. Red herrings often used by employers to terminate or alternatively force an employee to resign include giving an employee a series of baseless poor performance evaluations, job restructuring rendering the affected employee’s position nonessential, suddenly changing absence policies, or engaging in poor treatment of an employee which encourages his resignation.

    THE REHABILITATION ACT

    The Rehabilitation Act Title V entitled “Nondiscrimination under Federal Grants and Programs” 29 U.S.C.A. § 720 et seq. protects those with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of those disabilities in programs organized by or receiving money from the federal government. The standards for determining employment discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act are the same as those used in Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act described above.

    THE PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION ACT
    The two primary laws that protect women during pregnancy are the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). An amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was established in 1978. The Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to treat employees with pregnancy-related conditions in the same manner required by law as those with other health conditions. For example, if an employee with a serious medical condition is permitted to take leave or work a modified schedule under FMLA, the pregnant woman will be afforded the same options. The Act also prevents an employer from firing or refusing to hire a woman based on her pregnancy or ability to take maternity leave. In that same light, an employee cannot lose credit accrued for seniority or retirement benefits during her leave. Lastly, an employer is required to keep the job open and maintain health care benefits as though the woman was on sick or disability leave.

    Pregnant women also rely heavily on FMLA. As previously discussed, expecting and new mothers can take up to 12 weeks off within a 12 month period to care for the birth of their child. One key distinction between FMLA and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is that FMLA only applies to employers of 50 employees or more. Moreover, the employee must have worked either one full year or 1250 hours to request FMLA leave.

    THE AGE DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT ACT

    The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”) protects those employees over the age of 40 from workplace discrimination based on age. 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. It applies to employers with 20 or more employees, state, local and federal governments, and employment agencies and labor organization. Under this Act, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, job assignments and training. As with the ADAAA, this Act also makes retaliation relating to the aforementioned unlawful.

    Although an employee can be asked to waive their rights under the ADEA when signing a severance agreement, a clearly established protocol must be followed. The agreement must be (1) in writing and understandable; (2) specifically refer to ADEA rights; (3) not waive rights or claims that may arise in the future; (4) offer valuable consideration; (5) advise the employee in writing to consult with an attorney prior to execution of the waiver; (6) allow for 21 days in which the employee can consider the agreement; and (7) allow for 7 days within which the employee can revoke the agreement after signing it. Consider this protocol if a severance agreement concludes one’s client’s disability matter.

    THE FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT

    The Family Medical Leave Act, (P.L. 103-3, 107 Stat. 6) (“FMLA”) was enacted on February 5, 2003 for the purpose of helping people who were stressed about trying to balance the competing demands of work and family life. The FMLA allows an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a family member, or to tend to his own serious health problems. The employee has three options from which to choose when deciding how to take time off. He can take the entire 12 weeks at once, take leave as needed following proper procedures, or he can simply work a reduced schedule. Note that FMLA time off may be combined with paid time off and employers generally have an option of requiring that employees use up their sick/vacation/personal time prior to using FMLA time. Employers have the burden of providing employees with information, notice and guidance about FMLA requirements.

    It is important that any FMLA documents completed by the client and their doctors be reviewed by an attorney if possible. Moreover, an attorney or representative should ensure that the FMLA documents conform or are at least considered when applying for other types of disability. Often these documents will have different or contradicting onset dates, diagnoses, prognoses, or levels of severity of condition which will complicate the Social Security disability application procedure. The FMLA leave documents can be of assistance and provide documentary support in a Social Security disability claim.

    The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division published a Final Rule under the FMLA in January 2008 which became effective on January 16, 2009, and an updated set of regulations by the Department of Labor were published. The FMLA benefits provided to military families (referred to as military caregiver leave and covered service-member leave) greatly expand the usual 12 weeks of FMLA leave up to 26 workweeks of leave in a single 12 month period to care for a covered service member with a serious illness or injury incurred in the line of duty on active duty. Also, the time spent performing light-duty work doesn’t count against the 12 week FMLA leave. The regulations provide added guidance of what a “serious health condition” is.

    Implementation of the ADA and the FMLA sometimes cause friction between an employer’s right to know about an employee’s condition and an employee’s right to keep his medical conditions private. Relying on a medical treatment source for this information is not suggested, as doctors have been known to tell patients they are not required to reveal any information about their medical conditions, when that is not always the case, which can result in an employee’s termination for refusal to divulge information an employer has a right to know.

    Generally, the information that must be revealed by an employee or his medical treatment sources under the FMLA must be enough to permit the employer to know how to best accommodate an employee, or to provide the information on Department of Labor Form WH-380E, which is a certificate of health care provider for an employee’s serious health condition. This information, requested from a doctor, includes, among other things, the beginning date of the condition, dates treated for the condition, probable duration of condition, medication prescribed, treatments, referrals made to other health care providers, and whether an employee can perform certain job functions.

    Employees on FMLA must follow an employer’s usual and customary procedures for reporting an absence, barring an usual circumstance. Further, an employer’s direct supervisor cannot contact health care providers and cannot ask for additional information beyond that required on the certification form, as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPPA”) is invoked to limit this information. There are also provisions for certification of ongoing conditions and fitness for duty certifications.

    FECA AND FELA CLAIMS AS OPTIONS FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYEES

    The Federal Employees Compensation Act (“FECA”), 5 U.S.C.A. § 8101 et seq., provides federal employees with compensation benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses. Administered by the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, all claims generally must be brought within three years of the date of injury. The federal employee will continue to receive compensation benefits as long as they remain totally or partially disabled. The federal employee will receive two-thirds or three-fourths of their salary at the time of the injury depending on whether the employee has dependents.

    Another piece of federal legislation that attorneys who handle disability matters should be familiar with is Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”). 45 U.S.C.A. § 51 et seq. This Act was initially meant to protect the rights of railway workers who were injured while at work in this country. Since its enactment, FELA has been greatly expanded. There is a three year statute of limitations from the date of the injury. Generally the statute begins running when the employee knew or should have known of the existence of the injury and that the FELA statute of limitations is triggered in an occupational injury case when the injured worker knew or should have known: 1) of the existence of the injury; and 2) that workplace exposure was a cause

    SHORT AND LONG-TERM TERM DISABILITY POLICIES AND ERISA

    Clients frequently are not aware that they are entitled to make a claim which entitles them to receive some form of some short and/or long-term disability payments as a general benefit of their employment, membership in a union or because they have opted to receive additional benefits paid for through payroll deductions. Employees may also have disability coverage they have purchased privately.

    However, simply because this type of benefit exists does not mean that it is easily procured. Disability insurance carriers may be reluctant to approve clients for benefits, particularly long-term disability benefits, and if they are approved, carriers often attempt to terminate the employee prematurely. Employees are sometimes lulled into thinking that because they have received short-term disability benefits easily that receiving long-term disability benefits will also be an easy process. Moreover, if an employee is receiving long-term disability benefits, this normally indicates that the injury is not work-related, because a worker’s compensation claim would ensue instead.

    Insurance disability carriers tend to have little respect for the fact that a claimant has been awarded Social Security disability benefits prior to or even after an ALJ’s decision, and this type of award does not have significant impact on a carrier’s decision to award long-term disability benefits. However, a detailed decision by an ALJ judge, the Appeal’s Council or a court, will usually be helpful in a long-term disability claim. In the event that a client suffers from physical and mental impairments, because many policies limit the number of years of benefits for mental impairments, carriers may seize on a decision and allege that the mental impairments take priority over the physical impairments, so one should use care in emphasizing the nature of the disability claimed.

    Most insurance carriers require that a successful applicant for long-term disability benefits apply for Social Security disability benefits, and if that claim is successful, those benefits will be offset against any amount paid to the applicant under long-term disability coverage, after the deduction of any attorney’s fees. If that claim is not successful, it should not impact on private disability insurance benefits.

    There are several levels of administrative appeal in the long-term disability denial process and insurance carriers frequently extend the administrative process as long as possible, hoping to wear out the applicant. It is important that each stage of the administrative process be followed, and that any and all medical evidence is submitted to the insurance carrier during the administrative process. This is because there is case law which states that evidence submitted after the administrative process cannot be introduced if a denial is later litigated under The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), found in the U.S. Code beginning at 29 U.S.C. §1001.

    ERISA is a federal law which mandates minimum standards for most voluntarily established pension and health plans in private industry. The result is additional protection for individuals with covered plans. Long-term disability appeals are included in the health care plans covered by ERISA. Being familiar with ERISA is particularly important when dealing with denials of long-term disability benefits in that this federal law preempts the vast majority of state and local laws pertaining to similar subject matter.

    ERISA dictates an administrative process which must be fulfilled in its entirety before the employee obtains the right to sue. The administrative processes differ from policy to policy but the common thread running through every policy is that stringent timelines must be followed in order to safeguard the claim. ERISA also provides for an internal appeal process. Once this process is complete, a lawsuit can be brought.

    UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS

    Although there may be risks if a claimant applies for both unemployment insurance (“UI”) benefits and Social Security disability benefits contemporaneously, for those who don’t have a financial choice, one is not precluded from filing for both benefits contemporaneously. In order to receive UI benefits, one must assert that he is ready, willing and able to work but cannot find employment. Conversely, to file for Social Security disability benefits one must show that his medical condition prevents him from working in his previous position or any other field and he is not currently seeking employment.

    Although there appears to be an inherent conflict in these positions, in Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems Corp, 526 U.S. 795 (1999) the U.S. Supreme Court held that: (1) claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and for ADA damages did not inherently conflict, and (2) an employee was entitled to an opportunity to explain any discrepancy between her statement in pursuing SSDI benefits that she was totally disabled and her ADA claim that she could perform essential functions of her job. A similar analysis can be applied to the receipt of UI benefits where one alleges an ability to do some type of work.

    Administrative law judges may not look favorably upon Social Security disability claims where the employee is receiving UI benefits, but they should consider a claimant’s application for and/or receipt of UI benefits as only one of the statutory factors adversely impacting the claimant’s credibility in assessing the ability to work, and it should be considered as part of the five step sequential evaluation process and the totality of circumstances.

    Holding oneself out as being able to work is not the same as being able to work and perform substantial gainful activity. Also, a mere desire to work is not proof of the ability to work, because many employers will not hire someone with a myriad of medical problems, despite that person being willing to make a work attempt.

    A November 15, 2006 Memorandum from Chief Judge Frank A. Cristaudo to Regional Chief Judges and Regional Office Management Teams, states that “[t]his is a reminder that the receipt of unemployment insurance benefits does not preclude the receipt of Social Security disability benefits. The receipt of unemployment benefits is only one of many factors that must be considered in determining whether the claimant is disabled. See 20 CFR 404.1512(b) and 416.912(b).” The Memorandum states that Social Security Ruling 00-1c incorporates Cleveland. A long line of Appeal’s Council and ALJ Decisions prior to Cleveland support this analysis, which requires consideration of all of the evidence and the totality of circumstances, making the ability to receive both types of benefits possible.