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  • Pregnant women receive protection in the workplace from new Illinois law


    Young pregnant woman working at officeChicago workers comp lawyers knows that working mothers are a crucial part of the country’s economy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of American mothers with children under 18 were active in the labor force during 2012. Many mothers continue to work during their pregnancies and the first months of their child’s life. A new law passed in Illinois offers a greater level of workplace protection to pregnant employees and mothers who have recently given birth, allowing them to continue in their jobs without facing unnecessary health risks.

    Difficulties for pregnant employees

    According to the National Women’s Law Center, nearly three out of five pregnant women currently go on working, at least part-time, into the final month of their pregnancy. As the rate of pregnancy in the workplace has steadily increased, the level of risk and ill-treatment has also gone up: charges of discrimination against pregnant women have almost doubled since the early 1990s. Federal law has added no new protections for pregnant workers in the past three decades, even though the number of pregnant employees and new mothers at work continues to rise.

    A new Illinois law protecting pregnant women

    In August 2014, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law, known as House Bill 8, amending the Illinois Human Rights Act to offer more protection to pregnant women in the workplace. The Act already prohibits overt discrimination on the basis of current or recent pregnancy. This new amendment expands the existing law to require modification of work duties when requested by pregnant or nursing employees. It is constructed along the same lines as Illinois anti-discrimination laws that protect disabled workers: pregnancy is to be treated as a temporary disability which is entitled to all reasonable accommodations. The amendment takes effect at the beginning of 2015.

    What are reasonable accommodations according to House Bill 8?

    Chicago workers comp lawyers will explain that House Bill 8 includes a checklist of accommodations which must be offered on request to pregnant workers, including all of the following:

    • Modified, lighter or less hazardous duty
    • Adjusted seating
    • Longer or more frequent rest breaks
    • Assistance with strenuous physical tasks
    • Adjustment of training and examinations as needed
    • Enhanced worksite accessibility

    This checklist is non-exclusive. Pregnant employees may request other accommodations as needed in the workplace.

    Do the provisions of House Bill 8 continue after the birth of the child?

    The new amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act continue to protect pregnant workers from the hazards of workplace injury or illness after the child is born. Employees may request unpaid leave to recover from childbirth or the aftereffects of pregnancy. The amendment also offers increased provisions for breastfeeding women in the workplace. Women must have access to sufficient breaks for nursing or pumping milk in a clean, safe, private space. Employers may not refuse to accommodate new mothers because of their breastfeeding status.

    House Bill 8 protects women against retaliation

    House Bill 8 forbids employers from retaliating against workers who choose to take time off after pregnancy. If a worker takes a pregnancy-related leave and returns to work, her employer is required to reinstate her to her original position or to another position at an equivalent level of pay and seniority. Benefits and retirement funds must be preserved intact during the period of leave. Employers are also forbidden from forcing pregnant workers or new mothers to take a required leave of absence. The choice to suspend or continue employment belongs solely to the woman and her family.

    What are the pregnant worker’s obligations according to the new law?

    House Bill 8 also creates distinctive obligations for pregnant workers who wish to benefit from increased accommodations. Employees must speak with their employers about proposed accommodations in a “timely, good faith and meaningful” manner. When a woman requests a specific modification to her work duties or her work environment, she must allow her employer sufficient time to make the necessary change. Leaves of absence must be negotiated in advance. New mothers must also notify their employers of their intent to return to work after a leave.

    What does House Bill 8 mean for employers?

    Many employers will need to reconsider their existing policies on pregnant employees. The necessary accommodations in some industries may be relatively small, a matter of no more than adjusted break schedules and a revised leave policy. Other industries and professions may face more complicated changes to accommodate pregnant women and new mothers. House Bill 8 gives employers the power of discretion over employee requests. Although a worker can request any reasonable accommodation, the employer reserves the right to deny a request if it would demonstrably cause undue hardship.

    Projected effects

    These new amendments to Illinois law are projected to have wide-ranging effects for women in the workplace. Chicago workers comp lawyers understand that many women currently face difficult career decisions during and after pregnancy as they weigh the benefits of unpaid leave or continuing a hazardous job. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, more than 600,000 family households in the state of Illinois are headed by working women. For single mothers and women who lack strong family support, the new law will offer a greater level of career stability and safety. This legislation will have an especially strong effect on low-income women, many of whom have traditionally worked in high-risk industries while pregnant or nursing.

  • Study: Going to a different hospital after surgery complications heightens mortality risk

    Hand of a dying patient lying on a mobile bed in hospital corrid

    When Illinois residents must have surgery, they are often unable to return to the same hospital for treatment of any complications that arise. A new study found in the Journal of the American Medical Association titled Care Fragmentation in the Postdischarge Period now indicates that this may increase those patients’ risk of death, particularly for the elderly.

    Study details

    The study aimed to determine whether patients receiving fragmented care at various institutions following surgery was associated with poorer outcomes than seen with those who are able to return to the same hospital. Researchers gathered data from Medicare inpatient files from January 1, 2009 to November 20, 2011 and included only patients who had undergone certain surgeries, including coronary artery bypass, which improves the flow of blood to the heart; abdominal aortic aneurysm repair to help make a major blood vessel stronger; pulmonary lobectomy which involves removing diseased tissue from the lungs; colectomy to remove irregular tissue from the colon; and hip replacement. All of these operations are common among the elderly. Researchers reviewed more than 93,000 patient files where individuals had undergone the treatments and required further post-operative care after discharge.

    Results and indications

    At the conclusion of the study researchers found a link between those who received post-operative care at a different facility than the one in which their surgery occurred and an increased risk of death. All told, 25 percent of these patients received treatment at a different hospital. Researchers found that these patients had a mortality rate of 5.8 percent while those who were able to return to the same hospital for treatment had only a 4.1 percent mortality rate. That is a 41 percent difference.

    According to Fox News, lead researchers believe that doctors and patients need to be more aware of post-operative surgery complications prior to any surgery taking place. If they have a plan in place to recognize and respond to an emergency situation, patients are more likely to have a better outcome.

    Unacceptable death rates for elderly patients

    Whether due to doctor errors or unforeseen events, post-operative complications are a common occurrence. Although data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that mortality rates for elderly post-operative patients have been decreasing over the past 15 years, the number of deaths that occur every year continues to be unacceptably high, with as many as 71.3 deaths per 100,000 patients over the age of 85 and 51.4 deaths per 100,000 patients 75-84.

    Those who have lost loved ones to surgical complications should contact an Illinois medical malpractice attorney for assistance. With their guidance and counsel, families may be able to find the closure that they need in order to heal and move past the traumatic experience of losing a loved one.

  • Disability Beneficiaries Reaches Record High

    Using Digital Blood Pressure GaugeDisability claims have reached a record high, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA’s two disability programs – Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – are the primary source of income for many disabled Americans. SSDI provides payments to disabled persons who have earned enough “credits” through the payment of social security taxes deducted from their paycheck, with no limitations on income or assets. Conversely, SSI provides income to those disabled persons who have limited income and resources.

    Since the U.S. economic decline began in 2007, the number of people seeking disability benefits has continued to rise. The number of disability applicants surged to a record high of 2.94 million in 2010 and has held steady at more than 18 per 1,000 workers in each of the past three years. The most recent figures indicate that the number of workers collecting disability benefits hit a new record high of 8,827,795 in December 2012, which was up from 8,805,353 in November 2012.

    The total number of all Social Security program beneficiaries, including retirees, dependent family members and survivors, and disabled workers and their dependent family members, also hit a record high in December 2012 at 56,758,185, which was up nearly 100,000 from the previous month.

    Given the record number of applicants and claimants, in addition to political uncertainties regarding the debt ceiling, many are concerned about the ability of the SSA to continue providing disability benefits to all eligible applicants. Some economists have speculated that, at the current rate, disability funds will be depleted in 2016, adding to the nation’s mounting debt load.

    The SSA disability program is funded primarily by payroll taxes, with additional revenue from interest on the assets in the trust fund, and income from a tax levied on those who receive Social Security retirement benefits.

    If you have become or are disabled, our team of skilled social security disability attorneys can assist you with every step of the social security disability claim process.  We will help you:

    • Determine whether, in addition to Social Security Disability benefits, you are also eligible for SSI, which requires that applicants meet certain financial eligibility requirements
    • Manage the claim application process
    • Assemble the specific information that the SSA requires be submitted with your application
    • Represent you at the Social Security disability hearing
    • Work with you to appeal the decision if your claim is denied.

    Do not hesitate to contact our office at (800) 442-6546 to schedule your free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Illinois social security disability attorneys.


    Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.


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    Chicago Wrongful Death | Chicago Social Security Disability | Chicago Class Action Lawsuits

  • Dangers of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

    balance strong manThe use of testosterone supplements among American men has skyrocketed in recent years. In fact, almost 3 percent of American men over the age of 40 have been prescribed some form of testosterone therapy and, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg Business Week, sales of testosterone are projected to reach $5 billion by 2017.

    Testosterone is taken a treat a number of symptoms, including:

    • Fatigue
    • Muscle and bone loss
    • Decreased libido

    Although there are several ways to treat low testosterone, many doctors and patients are rushing to use testosterone replacement therapy, which comes in many forms such as:

    • Testosterone patches
    • Testosterone gels
    • Buccal testosterone patch (placed on upper gum each day)
    • Testosterone injections (given every few weeks)
    • Subcutaneous testosterone pellets (inserted under the skin every three to six months)

    Dangers of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

    Yet, despite its widespread use, testosterone supplements are not necessarily safe. In fact, testosterone therapy has been linked to a number of serious side effects, including heart attack, stroke, and even death. Moreover, data is mounting that shows just how dangerous testosterone therapy really is.

    For instance, a study published in the Journal of American Medicine last fall found that that among men with heart disease and low testosterone levels, the use of testosterone therapy increased the risk of serious problems including heart attack, stroke, and death of nearly 30 percent. 

    In addition to risk of stroke and heart attack, testosterone therapy has a number of other side effects, including:

    • Acne and oily skin
    • Lower sperm count (which can cause infertility)
    • Higher red blood cell count (which can increase risk of heart attack and stroke)
    • Shrinkage of the testicles
    • Larger breasts
    • Worsening of urinary symptoms
    • Increased male pattern baldness

    Unnecessary Use of Testosterone Therapy

    Not only is testosterone therapy dangerous – particularly if the patient has a history of heart disease – but it is often prescribed when a patient does not need it. The Washington Post reports that the number of men starting testosterone therapy has almost quadrupled in the United States since 2000 and the majority of these patients had not had their testosterone levels measured recently or only had them tested once prior to beginning treatment, which is inadequate evidence that testosterone replacement therapy is necessary.

    Testosterone Lawsuits Mounting

    Manufacturers of unsafe pharmaceuticals, including testosterone gels and other forms of testosterone therapy, can be held accountable for their products and you may be able to recover money damages for medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress caused by dangerous testosterone side effects. Additionally, doctors who negligently and unnecessarily prescribe testosterone replacement therapy could be liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

    The Chicago testosterone attorneys at Ankin Law Offices, LLC are committed to protecting the victims of unsafe pharmaceuticals, such as testosterone replacement therapy. We have considerable experience representing clients in a wide variety of personal injury and product liability lawsuits, including class actions lawsuits based on unsafe pharmaceutical drugs. If you have suffered serious testosterone side effects, contact the skilled Chicago unsafe pharmaceutical drug law firm of Ankin Law Offices, LLC at (800) 442-6546 to discuss a possible testosterone lawsuit.


    Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

    Chicago Workers Compensation | Chicago Personal Injury | Chicago Motor Vehicle Accidents
    Chicago Wrongful Death | Chicago Social Security Disability | Chicago Class Action Lawsuits

  • Marriage and SSD benefits

    Just married couple in poplar background

    Most Chicago residents know that changes in living situation, such as increases in income or a return to work, can affect a person’s eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. However, many people do not realize marital status can also determine whether a person receives disability benefits. Under some circumstances, SSD beneficiaries may lose their benefits after they get married.

    Distinct eligibility criteria

    SSD benefits are not awarded based on financial need, so the increase in income and the other financial benefits associated with marriage do not affect a person’s eligibility for benefits. However, people who collect benefits based on another person’s earnings record may lose those benefits after marrying. Depending on the type of dependents benefit the individual receives, the following rules typically apply:

    • Ex-spouse’s benefit — a dependent ex-spouse’s new marriage always results in the loss of this benefit. However, if the new marriage ends in death, divorce or annulment, the ex-spouse may be able to start collecting this benefit again, if a greater benefit is not available through the earnings record of the more recent spouse.
    • Survivors benefit — a person who receives a survivors benefit based on the earnings record of a deceased spouse or a deceased ex-spouse may lose eligibility for the benefit after remarrying, though this depends on age. Surviving spouses and former spouses may remarry after age 60 without losing their benefits. If these spouses are disabled, they may marry again after age 50 without losing their survivors benefits.
    • Adult disabled child’s benefit – an adult child who has a disabling condition and collects a benefit based on a parent’s earnings record generally loses the benefit upon marrying. However, a disabled adult child who marries another disabled adult child may be able to keep his or her benefit.

    People who collect SSD benefits based on their own earnings records can continue collecting benefits regardless of marital status, as long as they meet other Social Security criteria. After marriage, a beneficiary’s new spouse and stepchildren may even be eligible for dependents benefits. However, total benefits for family members are capped at between 50 and 80 percent of the disabled worker’s benefit amount, which may limit the benefit amount that new family members can receive.

    Anticipating changes

    Anyone who currently receives SSD benefits, whether as a direct beneficiary or as the dependent family member of a beneficiary, should understand that marriage might impact entitlement to the benefit. These individuals can often benefit from speaking with an SSD attorney who can explain how marriage may impact the benefits the individual and any new family members receive.

  • Illinois accident highlights adverse weather risks for drivers

    pKidsGetOnBus_6215772_sThe small community of Fisher, Illinois was recently rocked when a local school bus was involved in an accident while transporting students to school. The News-Gazette reports that the bus was accelerating out of a four-way stop and heading east on U.S. 136 when it was hit near its driver’s side rear wheels by a southbound sedan. Four students and the bus driver were taken to the hospital for treatment of their injuries. The 56-year-old driver of the sedan skid through the intersection when he caused the crash, and law enforcement officers cited him for failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident. A dense fog advisory was also in effect at the time of the crash, and officials believe it was a major contributing factor in the accident.


    Adverse weather conditions cause accidents


    According to the Federal Highway Administration, the weather is a major causal factor in thousands of automotive accidents every year. Out of an average of 5,870,000 car accidents that occur annually, 23 percent, or almost 1,312,000 crashes, are weather-related. According to the FHWA, any collision that occurs in adverse weather is a weather-related accident. Adverse weather includes the following conditions:


    • Rain, sleet or snow
    • Fog
    • Severe crosswinds
    • Blowing sand or debris
    • Icy pavement


    Although crashes similar to the one that occurred in Fisher only account for 1 percent of the total crashes that occurred from 2002 to 2012, they included nearly 31,385 accidents, 11,812 injuries and 511 deaths. Overall, weather-related crashes claimed the lives of over 6,000 people in the ten year period.


    Additional data from the FHWA shows that most crashes that occur due to the weather happen on wet pavement and during rainfall. Seventy-four percent occur when the streets are wet and 46 percent occur during rain storms. These accidents account for nearly 1 million crashes and 4,789 deaths from 2002 to 2012.


    Motorists can protect themselves


    The most important thing drivers can do to increase their safety on the roads is to make sure that their cars are in good operating condition and have adequate tread on their tires. Tires are the first line of defense on the roads, and when motorists fail to take proper care of them, they risk their safety and the safety of those all around them.


    Individuals will always be safest when they can avoid dangerous situations. If there is not a pressing need to drive on icy roads or in dangerous conditions, they should simply wait for a break in the weather before driving. Additionally, keeping a proper distance between cars and always using a safety belt are both key to safe driving in these conditions.


    Motorists who have been injured in a car accident in Illinois should seek the advice of a personal injury attorney. With their help patients can overcome the effects of their injuries and move on with their lives.

  • 5 types of injuries which would be considered catastrophic

    While every individual who is injured in Illinois deserves to receive compensation for their damages, those with catastrophic injuries experience such devastating consequences that they are considered to be in a class of their own. They often have life-long physical, emotional and financial consequences that leave them without any hope for a different future. Although many injuries could be considered catastrophic, there are five that are commonly seen by every Chicago auto accident lawyer.

    Brain injuries

    Brain injuries occur when an individual experiences a severe bump or blow to the head that leaves parts of their brain bruised and damaged. They can have long-lasting, unpredictable effects on an accident victim, and no brain injury is the same as another. Although individuals may damage identical areas of their brains, the resulting limitations and symptoms that they experience can be significantly different. These limitations often include the following:

    • Difficulty talking or understanding language
    • Impaired reasoning, cognitive function and memory
    • Limited or no ability to use the arms or legs
    • Increased depression and anxiety
    • Confusion and reduced attention and concentration

    In some cases, patients experience many or all of these symptoms and are left unable to care for themselves in any way. Young victims may be forced to drop out of school because of an inability to perform the necessary tasks required of them. Additionally, as brain injury patients age, they are more likely to have a stroke or experience dementia and receive an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.

    According to the Brain Injury association of America, over 2.4 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries every year. The number two cause of the condition is motor vehicle accidents, which were second only to falls.

    Spine injuries

    Spinal cord injuries can be as devastating as traumatic brain injuries for many of the same reasons. Although cognitive functions are not impaired with these types of injuries, patients do often lose the ability to lose their limbs because of damage to the spinal column. When the spinal cord becomes damaged, the nerves that are responsible for sending signals from the brain to the legs and arms are no longer able to work properly. Other systems may also be affected, including the lungs, urinary tract and gastrointestinal systems.

    The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that there are roughly 276,000 individuals living with one of these catastrophic injuries in the U.S. today and an additional 12,500 new cases are diagnosed every year. Forty-five percent of those with the condition are diagnosed as having incomplete tetraplegia, where a break in the neck vertebrae results in semi-paralysis below the area in which the break occurred. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46 percent of all spinal injuries occur due to injuries sustained during car accidents. These spinal injuries costs accident victims $15,000 – $30,000 annually and can reach more than $3 million for lifetime care.


    Although not all burns are considered catastrophic, when the area that was burned is large and deep enough, it can result in a lifetime of pain and long-term side effects. Burns are rated on severity. A first-degree burn only affects the outer layer of the skin while a third-degree burn reaches all the way through the layers of the skin. In some severe cases, accident victims sustain fourth-degree burns where the skin and underlying tissues, including the bones, tendons, muscle and fat, are damaged. When patients survive these terrible injuries, they are left scarred and disfigured and in tremendous amounts of pain. According to the American Burn Association, around 300 people die annually due to the burns they sustain in car accident fires.


    A Chicago auto accident lawyer must often witness what happens when accident victims lose their limbs following a crash. The loss may occur at the site of the accident due to the body coming into direct contact with materials at high speeds, or doctors may decide that for the health of the victim, the limb should be removed. This is often done to prevent infection from moving to other parts of the body.

    The Amputee Coalition Limb Loss Resource Center reports that almost 2 million people in the U.S. live with limb loss. African-American men are four times more likely to have an amputation than Caucasians and trauma is the cause of 45 percent of cases, with 185,000 amputations occurring annually. These injuries cost patients a total of $8.3 billion in 2009, a figure which is likely to have steadily risen since that time.

    Loss of the senses

    Some car accidents cause patients to lose the ability to hear or see. The loss of either of the senses can be a devastating, life-altering thing to deal with. Although these injuries can be associated with a traumatic brain injury, they also occur on their own when the eyes or ears are damaged individually. The loss of one of these senses does not have to be complete to be considered catastrophic, although the loss must be significant.

    Choosing the counsel of a Chicago auto accident lawyer can make all the difference in cases where motorists sustain catastrophic injuries due to the negligence of other drivers. Unless an accident victim receives the maximum amount of compensation possible, they may be left with rising medical bills and years of treatment ahead of them with no way to pay for it. Those who have been injured in an accident should contact a personal injury attorney immediately to review their matter and begin the claims process.

  • Will Illinois create a hazardous materials training law?

    Road construction, teamwork

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one in 30 workers in America reported a disabling work-related illness or injury in 2012. Many of these disabilities are caused by exposure to hazardous materials. Employees in a wide range of professions, from factory work to medical care, are endangered by harmful substances on the job. A new Illinois bill currently under deliberation, SB 2918, aims to prevent injury and illness through the proposed Illinois Hazardous Materials Workforce Training Act. This act is designed to educate workers about the dangers they face in high hazard facilities.

    How does the Illinois Hazardous Materials Workforce Training Act function?

    The Illinois Hazardous Materials Workforce Training Act implements a safety training curriculum to decrease the risk of workplace accidents among employees who work full-time or part-time at high hazard locations. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is charged with developing a program of training that applies to the entire range of workplace situations. All contractors and subcontractors are required to use only workers who have successfully completed the training mandated by the Act. If SB 2918 passes in the Illinois legislature, the Act will be effective immediately.

    What happens if an employer refuses to follow the requirements of the Act?

    If an employer refuses to comply with the provisions of the Act, each violation is subject to a penalty of up to $10,000. When the Act is violated on multiple days, each day incurs a separate fine. A full week of non-compliance could cost an employer as much as $70,000. All fines are paid to the Illinois EPA and placed directly into a fund dedicated to improving on-the-job safety training in Illinois.

    Are there any exceptions to the Act?

    The Hazardous Materials Workforce Training Act does not apply in the following situations:

    • Emergency situations that make it impossible to assemble a sufficiently trained workforce
    • Immediate threats to public health or environmental safety
    • Acute workforce shortages that prevent an employer, contractor or subcontractor from finding qualified labor within 48 hours of the initial request

    The 48-hour rule does not apply on weekends or holidays. Employers must make a good faith effort to seek qualified workers for two full business days before resorting to untrained labor.

    Increased safety for Illinois employees

    If SB 2918 is successful and the Hazardous Materials Workforce Training Act is implemented, Illinois employees will enjoy a higher standard of safety training and protection on the job. Call a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney today to find out more about the rights of injured workers.

  • How much Social Security tax do you pay?

    taxSocial Security Disability benefits are usually awarded to people cannot perform work with monthly income over $1,070. Many benefit recipients in Chicago do not earn enough income to pay taxes. However, about one-third of beneficiaries currently pay taxes, according to the Social Security Administration. People who receive lump sum payments or earn other forms of income may have to pay taxes on SSD benefits.


  • Will rules involving Social Security Disability be tightening?

    Uomo con depressione fisica

    The Social Security Administration follows strict rules when evaluating whether a person meets the definition of “disabled” and qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits. As many Chicago residents know, this can make securing benefits challenging even for people with serious conditions. Proposed rule changes the SSA is currently considering could make obtaining benefits even more difficult for some disabled Americans.

    Full disclosure

    The new rules would explicitly require SSD applicants to supply all medical evidence pertaining to their cases, according to The Wall Street Journal. This includes evidence that could harm the applicant’s case. Congress has encouraged the SSA to consider these changes in the wake of a 2011 Wall Street Journal investigation. The investigation alleged some legal representatives withhold medical evidence if it could reduce a claimant’s likelihood of receiving disability benefits.

    SSA claim examiners are responsible for collecting all evidence relevant to each claim. However, they may sometimes overlook or struggle to find necessary evidence. This may especially be true of administrative law judges, who hear claims that have been denied and appealed twice. According to The Wall Street Journal, these judges often decide several cases a day, so they may lack time to look for information to supplement the documentation applicants submit.

    The new rules would require applicants, rather than legal representatives, to submit all relevant medical records. Professionals have previously debated whether representatives are ethically bound to submit full medical evidence or focus on winning their clients’ cases. The new rules avoid conflicts with attorney-client privilege by addressing applicants directly.

    Supporting evidence

    The SSA is accepting feedback on the proposal and may implement changes in the near future. However, even if the new rule is not adopted, people seeking Social Security Disability benefits are still expected to provide necessary medical evidence. In many cases, doing so also benefits applicants.

    Medical evidence helps establish the duration, severity and prognosis of a disabling condition. This evidence helps prove an applicant meets the terms of a “Blue Book” impairment listing or cannot work gainfully because of the medical condition. Personally submitting medical information offers applicants benefits during the application process:

    • Applicants can be certain the SSA won’t miss important evidence.
    • Applicants can ensure the records the claim examiner reviews are accurate.
    • Applicants can document information that might not be clear during a consultative examination.
    • Applicants may receive a faster decision, since they eliminate delays in obtaining records.

    Even if medical evidence contradicts or undermines an applicant’s claim, the applicant should submit it and prepare to explain the apparent discrepancy. Sometimes, applicants may clarify the issue with more detailed evidence. Applicants can also consider meeting with a legal representative who can provide advice on properly documenting and presenting the claim.

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