Thursday, February 23, 2017


Monday, February 13, 2017

"Pats on the back" #shortpoetry

Affirmation isn't necessary
if you really believe
you've accomplished something.
A certain city's citizens say,
"We are so great. Look at us."
I'm left to wonder where
the muck and dirt are hiding.
It is usually in plain sight
in the smile that's
really a sneer.
And that's all the more reason
to leave.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Facts matter even in a #posttruth age (no #alternativefacts)

There will always be facts even when there are "alternative facts," and alternative facts aren't facts at all. Lawyers rely on facts, and what the facts are is somewhat malleable--at least at times. There is one major caveat here: you can't be dishonest. Dishonesty makes debatable facts untrue, and I've seen plenty of dishonest lawyers. But it is up to lawyers to point out the truth.

Lawyers have risen up against unlawful and immoral "laws" recently, and throughout our history. They've once again regained the mantle of the 'guardians of our democracy.' Truth is at the heart of this, and that truth is we all matter. Laws matter. Facts matter. Truth matters.

Allegedly we are in a "post truth" age, and the solution to that is tell the truth.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Using a Vocational Expert to Win a #SocialSecurityDisability Case

 The vocational expert (VE) is an expert in the field of work, who testifies at a Social Security Disability hearing. The VE uses the Dictionary of Occupational Titles to respond to hypotheticals presented by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Hypotheticals are based on the claimant’s age, education, past work, skills, and ailments, both physical and mental. The VE is neutral, but, if properly questioned by the lawyer, the VE can become a tool to positively impact the case.
There are many schools of thought on how to question a VE. In my experience handling a few hundred disability hearings, the best thing to do is to find a quick and direct way to have the VE testify there are no jobs available. How do you do this?
 Assume a claimant is 45-years-old with a 12th grade education. Claimant’s past work is on the assembly line at the medium level (lifting 25 lbs. frequently, and 50 lbs. occasionally). Ailments include back problems (herniated discs) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and claimant cannot perform past work due to lifting requirements and standing requirements. VE rules out past work, but VE testifies there is light work (lifting 10 lbs. frequently, and 20 lbs. occasionally) available as a non-production oriented job sorting items while sitting down. What do you do then?
 Let us further assume claimant testified about IBS, and that testimony is supported by medical evidence. This issue requires a claimant take breaks, which take the claimant off task more than 20% of the day. Is the claimant disabled?
 More than likely, yes, because the legal standard is whether you can work eight hours a day, five days a week. If you are off task more than 20% of the day, you are not employable. Therefore, you are disabled.
 At first glance, claimant’s age (under 50) may give some lawyers pause. Not me. Age is significant, but the key issue is whether a claimant can work eight hours a day, five days a week. If that can be shown using VE testimony backed up by credible claimant testimony, and strong medical evidence, the age factor is less relevant.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Arches and Stairs" #sketchbook

Will #DonaldTrump and #Congress gut programs for those with disabilities?

It is likely. Mike Pence oversaw scaling back of Medicaid benefits in Indiana, and Trump's cabinet picks support the same tactics. Trump knows nothing about domestic policy, and he will take his cues from Pence.  Along with Congress, Trump wants to scale back Medicare, repeal Obamacare, bring back denying coverage for preexisting conditions, and limit access to programs such as Social Security Disability.

Trump and the new Congress want to dismantle the vestiges of the New Deal and get rid of Obamacare with no real replacement.

30 million will lose health insurance. This includes millions with disabilities, who will not have access to medical care.

It is also likely Trump and Congress will scale back laws meant to protect those with disabilities such as the American's With Disabilities Act.

For more information, check out this article in Slate. Terrified disabled people.