Beginning October 1, 2017, servicemembers who wish to resolve disability claims before leaving the military must enroll in the “Benefits Delivery at Discharge” program 90 days from separation rather than the current 60 days. Additionally, Quick Start, a program that allows troops with 59 or fewer days left to begin their claims process, will also end. Late filed claims will result in veterans waiting an average of 90 days after separation to get a decision on benefits. Many claims are not complete when service members leave active duty, and submitting disability claims between 90 and 180 days before separation will ensure claims can be fully developed.
When Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, it amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and made it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. There is currently limited case law on whether a male can bring a claim of employment discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act based on his partner’s pregnancy. Recently, a Mississippi man committed suicide after being fired for accompanying his high-risk pregnancy wife to a pregnancy-related appointment. His estate filed a complaint against his employer, alleging that he was fired because of his sex and his wife’s pregnancy. A 2007 case held that in order for a male to properly bring an employment discrimination claim based on pregnancy, he must allege that he was discriminated against because of his sex. The estate argued that he was “treated less favorably than male employees whose wives were not pregnant.” However, the court found that he must allege that he was fired because of his partner’s pregnancy and that a female would not have been fired because of her partner’s pregnancy.
The NY AFL-CIO is pushing back against a set of proposed Workers Compensation regulations, claiming they will slash benefits to injured workers. They claim the regulations would drastically reduce payments to workers who have suffered diminished use of a leg or arm. They would also place increased requirements on injured workers to show their future earning capacity would be diminished and make it harder for workers to contest their awards. The proposed regulations resulted from Governor Cuomo’s approved legislation that required the Workers Compensation Board to modernize its guidelines to reflect advances in medical technologies that get workers back on the job faster than in prior years. The proposed regulations are still subject to change, and the board is in the process of accepting public comments on them, and the board is required by law to have new regulations in place by January 1, 2018.
A Massachusetts subsidiary of Dell Technologies agreed to pay $110,000 in restitution and launch an employee training program to settle a former employee’s complaint of discrimination that she says she faced based on her sex and gender identity. The employee reported that she experienced hostility at the company, was denied job opportunities, and faced retaliation after she complained about the discrimination. As part of the settlement, Dell Technologies will pay $25,000 to TransCan Work, which promotes the employment of transgender people in Massachusetts and $25,000 to Girls, Inc.’s Worcester Eureka! that advocates for girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as well as $60,000 to the former employee.
Hundreds of veterans remain on the Social Security Administration’s payroll, despite being dead for years, and have received almost $38 million in benefits. This information comes according to a report from the inspector general of Social Security. The report cited inaccurate death records at the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as the VA’s failure to send monthly death reports to the SSA. Approximately 750 dead people continue to receive benefits. An audit found nearly 4,000 cases in which payments were sent to people listed as dead. In 2006, over $11 million was paid to deceased veterans, which underscores the VA’s history of confusing the living and the dead for over a decade.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says some veterans are waiting six years or more to appeal denied claims, while on average it takes approximately three years to receive a final decision. VA officials complained that case records never close, and this open-ended system causes the appeals to drag on for years. Veterans can claim new evidence at any time, and the VA’s duty to assist in compiling that evidence and seeking more files from government agencies or private physicians stalls the appeals process. Now, when a claim is denied, there will be three options to appeal. First, Veterans can request that a more experienced claims adjudicator review his or her case with the same evidence initially submitted. Second, a veteran with new evidence can ask the Veterans Benefits Administration to reconsider the merits of the original claim based on the new medical information. Third, veterans can engage in a formal appeals process where jurisdiction for the appeal transfers to the Board of Veterans Appeals. A veteran can also seek a hearing at this stage to review the case with potential new evidence. By late November, the VA must deliver a comprehensive plan to the House and Senate veterans affairs committee… Continue Reading Streamlining the VA Appeals Process
Veterans Affairs David Shulkin received an additional $2.1 billion for the Veterans Choice Program in a bill passed the beginning of August. Secretary Shulkin said the funds will be used for modernization projects, comprehensive public-private sector partnerships, and construction of new facilities. As Secretary Shulkin stated: “I think health care’s changed to become more ambulatory and people are getting more care using technology at home. We are trying to build a modern system, not replicating an old system.” He also said that partnerships are important when veterans cannot get care through the VA, either because they live too far away from the nearest VA facility, or the wait times at their nearest VA facility are too long. Secretary Shulkin further stressed the necessity of working more closely with the Department of Defense to obtain electronic health records to speed up the process of receiving care.
Imagine being constantly mocked by your supervisors for using too much toilet paper. That’s what Tracey Boudine, age 50 claims in her lawsuit against Wise Public Relations. Tracey claims she was teased about her need to use the bathroom and her need as a women to use toilet paper more frequently when using the bathroom. Further, her bosses put a limit on how much toilet paper she could use. No limitations were placed on male employees. She claims she was relegated to using bathrooms in nearby gyms and fast food restaurants. As a result she spent a lot of mental energy worrying about basic biological functions. She also claims she was denied by her supervisors access to more lucrative clients which were given to male employees. Tracey complained to the company’s founder and president but her concerns were ignored. Tracey’s lawyer then sent a letter to the company claiming Tracey suffered discrimination and possibly harassment on the basis of her gender. Within hours of receiving the letter she was fired from the company. The company claims they don’t tolerate any form of harassment or discrimination. They are confident there was no wrongdoing. Boudine in her suit is seeking lost wages,… Continue Reading Fired Over Toilet Paper
Debt settlement can seem like a better option than bankruptcy, especially now that increased regulation and enforcement have forced settlement companies to do what they promise and persuade at least some of a borrower’s creditors to forgive a portion of the debt owed. But in many ways, bankruptcy is a better option than debt settlement. Freedom Financial Network, which is the largest debt settlement company, states that half of its customers eventually settle at least three-quarters of their debt, but the process can take three to four years. Similarly, the amount of forgiven debt is usually reported to the IRS and is taxable as income. With a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, however, debts are erased in three to six months, and state laws protect most if not all of what filers own. Also, credit scores begin to recover immediately after the process is complete. And bankruptcy halts collections, including lawsuits, and can end wage garnishments.