Epilepsy and the Family Medical Leave Act

Posted on Friday, August 29th, 2014 at 10:29 am    

If you or a loved one suffers from epilepsy and is also employed, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may be able to help you overcome the challenges that you may face when working with a serious health condition. The FMLA was initially enacted to help working individuals deal with the stress and difficulty of balancing work and family life when health problems arise.

The FMLA applies to “qualified employees” of a “covered employer.” A covered employer is an employer in a private industry with 50 or more employees in the current or preceding year, and public agencies (including schools) with any number of employees. A qualified employee must meet the following requirements:

  • Employed by the employer for at least 12 months before the start of the FMLA leave;
  • Worked for at least 1,250 hours in the 12 month period immediately preceding the start of the FMLA leave; and
  • Worked at a site at which the employer has 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius.

If an employee is qualified and they work for a covered employer, he or she is eligible to apply for FMLA leave. Under the FMLA, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks per year of job-protected leave for the following reasons:

  • They need to care for a child, spouse, or parent who has a serious medical condition, which is considered to be an illness, injury or condition, either physical or mental, that requires care in a medical center or ongoing medical care from a medical provider;
  • Need to take care of himself/herself due to developing a serious health condition; and/or
  • Need to care for a newborn child, or a child that was recently placed under the employee’s care through adoption.

One common misconception is how the FMLA leave must be used. The 12 weeks per year do not have to be used in one block of time. The 12 weeks may be taken intermittently, in increments of minutes, hours, days, or weeks. Intermittent leave is typically appropriate for someone suffering from epilepsy. Such an individual would need to be absent from work only when they suffered a seizure, during any recovery time, or for doctor visits. At all other times the individual could be present and working. The same can be said for an employee caring for a child, spouse, or parent suffering from epilepsy. If you believe you need to request FMLA leave, you should promptly contact your employer and request the appropriate documentation.

If you or a loved one suffers from such debilitating epilepsy that you cannot maintain employment, the FMLA leave has expired, or the FMLA eligibility requirements were not met, another avenue you should consider is signing up for Social Security Disability. The Social Security Administration has “Listings” related to epilepsy. A Listing for a particular condition contains detailed requirements that the Social Security Administration uses to assess whether a condition is disabling. If an individual’s condition meets the severity requirements outlined in the Listing, he or she should be found disabled. The exact listings for epilepsy are as follows:

  • Listing 11.02 covers Epilepsy (convulsive type, grand mal or psychomotor). This Listing requires documented detailed descriptions of a typical seizure pattern, including all associated phenomena, occurring more frequently than once a month, in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment with: a) daytime episodes (loss of consciousness and convulsive seizures), or b) nocturnal episodes manifesting residuals which interfere significantly with activity during the day.
  • Listing 11.03 covers Epilepsy (non-convulsive type, petit mal, psychomotor, or focal). This Listing requires documented detailed descriptions of a typical seizure pattern, including all associated phenomena, occurring more frequently than once weekly, in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment with: alteration of awareness or loss of consciousness and manifestations of unconventional behavior or significant interference with activity during the day.

Even if the requirements of the above Listings are not met, an individual suffering from epilepsy might still be disabled if he or she is unable to complete a normal workday or work week due to the symptoms of epilepsy, symptoms from other treatment, side effects of medications, etc. For example, if an individual’s side effects from medication cause them to be off-task frequently while at work, or if an individual’s 1 seizure episode per month required additional days of recovery, the individual could still be found disabled under Social Security Disability rules.

If at any point your FMLA leave is violated in some manner, or if you are denied Social Security Disability benefits you believe you are entitled to, we recommend you promptly speak to an attorney. Hopefully you will never need our services, but if you find yourself in such a situation, we would be happy to discuss these matters with you in a free consultation. Call the Indiana Social Security disability lawyers of the Hankey Law Office today at (317) 634-8565 to learn more.

Disability trust fund to exhaust in 2016

Posted on Friday, August 22nd, 2014 at 10:38 am    

According to the Social Security Board of Trustees, the disability trust fund will be depleted in 2016, although the financial condition of Medicare has strengthened, the Washington Examiner reported on July 28.

Public trustee Charles Blahous said the disability program is heavily burdened as a result of increased rates of disability among baby boomers before retirement. In previous years, the Congress reportedly prevented the reduction of benefits. Though Medicare funds have strengthened due to slow increase of health care cost, trustees noted that the program should also be improved. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew stressed the need for immediate reform in the disability program to prevent future problems. Lew supported the idea of salvaging the disability program by getting funds from payroll tax.

The lawyers of the Hankey Law Office believe that many disabled Indiana residents should get their much needed Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits while funds are still available. If you are considering filing for disability benefits, call us today at (800) 520-3633 to find out how we may assist you along the process.

Social Security process for determining disability eligibility

Posted on Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 at 11:52 am    

The Social Security Administration (SSA) utilizes strict guidelines to determine whether a disabled person filing for benefits can no longer do his or her job.

The SSA initially checks the work history of disabled individuals for the past 15 years, including the activities they may still be capable of to earn income. The SSA will need a full detailed account of applicants’ work tasks to determine how they performed their job before they became disabled. The SSA denies applications by individuals that can perform their jobs, even if they are disabled. If the SSA was convinced that the applicant’s disability hindered the person from doing his or her job, they would still attempt to determine if the individual could perform other jobs.

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can be a complex and time-consuming process if you are not familiar with the procedure. If you are a disabled worker applying for benefits in Indiana, the lawyers at the Hankey Law Office may work for you. Find out how our lawyers may assist you in the filing process today by calling (800) 520-3633.

Different parties represent different interests in workers’ compensation cases

Posted on Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 at 2:16 pm    

Anytime a workers’ compensation claim is filed, there are numerous different parties that play a role in handling that claim, all of which approach the issue with very different perspectives. As an injured worker, it is important for you and your attorney to understand these different perspectives and to act accordingly. To learn more, you can click here.

Workers’ Rights and Employment Law

Posted on Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 at 9:52 am    

Despite an abundance of laws and regulations that are meant to protect workers’ rights, the sad reality is that companies regularly take advantage of their workers and subject them to illegal treatment. If you believe that you have been the victim of an employment law violation, you likely have a number of questions about your legal rights and options. For more information on employment laws and workers’ rights, please click here.

Senator urged progressives to improve Social Security

Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 at 11:12 am    

A senator recently gave a speech to a nonprofit group in Washington urging progressives to improve Social Security to help Americans who are in need–not reduce it for budget reasons, an article by the Columbus Dispatch stated on July 9.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in a speech told the Center for American Progress that politicians should be discussing Social Security as a means to promote retirement security instead of debating to offset government funds by reducing the agency’s budget. Brown last year proposed to increase Social Security benefits and to increase the Social Security taxes of upper-class citizens. Nearly 58 million citizens depend on the retirement benefits and 9 million on the disability benefits managed by the agency.

The attorneys of the Hankey Law Office work for disabled individuals in Indiana who wish to file for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits. The application process for benefits can be complicated, but you do not have to face this situation alone. Call our offices today at (800) 520-3633 to learn about how we can help.

SSA closes offices as applications increase

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 at 1:54 pm    

A Social Security Administration (SSA) official explained to Congress that the agency has closed down many field offices due to past budget cuts, although retirees and disability applications continue to grow, ABC News reported on June 18.

Though the SSA encouraged people to file their applications online, lawmakers criticized the agency, saying many applicants are uncomfortable utilizing the internet and wish to speak to officials in person. According to Nancy Berryhill, the agency compensated for budget cuts by closing some of their offices. SSA is one of the government agencies that has suffered from regular budget cuts. At least 64 SSA offices were closed by the agency in the last four years and more than 500 mobile offices in secluded areas were also closed. The office shutdown resulted in millions of applicants waiting longer for an appointment.

Although the SSA has closed some of its locations, an experienced attorney can help you complete your application correctly and begin the process of applying for benefits. Find out how the Indiana-based lawyers at the Hankey Law Office may work for you today by calling (800) 520-3633.

Avoiding Accidents with Bicycles

Posted on Thursday, June 19th, 2014 at 2:56 pm    

There are a number of things that both car drivers and cyclists can do in order to avoid dangerous and damaging collisions between cars and bicycles. Learn more about some of these important safety tips by clicking here.

Tips for Meeting with Your Doctor

Posted on Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 at 9:11 am    

There are a number of ways that you can take a more active role in your health care, and one of the easiest and most important is to fine tune the way that you communicate with your doctor. Click here for some quick tips on how you can improve communication with your doctor.

Committee criticizes disability judges for easily approving claims

Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2014 at 11:17 am    

The House Oversight Committee’s report revealed that almost 200 Social Security disability judges easily approve claims, an article by the ABC News stated on June 10.

According to the report, at least 191 administrative judges approved the vast majority of the claims they handled from 2005 to 2013. Though judges approved many claims, last year’s approval rate declined by 56 percent compared to the 72 percent recorded in 2005. The Social Security Administration only has an estimated 1,400 judges to decide on hundreds of thousands of pending cases. Social Security Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin stated that their backlogs tend to pile up due to budget cuts and the rigorous considerations involved in reviewing disability claims.

If a disability hinders you from working, you may be entitled to receive Social Security disability benefits to sustain your everyday expenses and medical treatments. The lawyers at Hankey Law Office work for disabled people in Indiana. Find out how we may assist you in the filing or appealing process today by calling (800) 520-3633.