Archives for October 2015

The Four Levels of a Social Security Disability Appeal

If you suffer from an injury or illness that makes it impossible for you to work for at least 12 months, you can seek benefits through the federal Social Security Administration. Unfortunately, even if your claim seems clearly to fall within the guidelines established under the law, your application may be denied. If so, though, you still have options. Here are the four levels through which a Social Security disability claim appeal will travel.


The first step you can take after the denial of an Social Security disability claim is to ask for a reconsideration. This is generally a matter of formality, as, in most states, you cannot move any further up the appeals process unless you have asked for a reconsideration. The reconsideration is conducted by a claims examiner at Disability Determination Services, and is more often than not denied.

A Social Security Disability Hearing

If, as most often happens, your request for reconsideration is denied, you can ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge. The judge will fully review your claim, as well as any new medical evidence you may have, and will render a decision based on all testimony and evidence presented. The judge may take testimony from a vocational expert regarding whether you have the capacity to work in a comparable job. Though the Social Security disability hearing offers the best chance of the reversal of a denial of benefits, it can take a long time to schedule a hearing.

The Disability Appeals Council

If your claim is rejected by the administrative law judge, you still have options. You can ask the Social Security Appeals Council, a group of more than 50 appellate judges, to review the findings of the administrative law judge to determine if any errors were made.

An Appeal in Federal District Court

The final avenue of appeal in a Social Security disability case is to the federal district court. You must file your appeal within 60 days of the decision by the Appeals Council. Technically, though you are appealing the decision of the administrative agency, your filing in federal court is in the form of an initial civil complaint. Federal law prohibits the filing of a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration, so you must name the Social Security commissioner as defendant. Once you have filed a complaint in federal district court, you have the right to appeal through the federal court system, to the U.S. Court of Appeals and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Contact the Law Office of Taylor & Boguski

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 856-200-8989.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Workers’ Compensation

Under the laws of every state, if you have suffered an injury on the job, you can seek benefits through the state’s workers’ compensation laws. While certain types of injuries are clearly covered—traumatic injury and repetitive stress/motion injuries are almost always covered—some are less certain. For workers who have been exposed to conditions that cause post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, many states have struggled to determine whether workers’ compensation should be provided.

The Sources of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Work-related PTSD has been reported as resulting from a broad range of events, including:

  • Witnessing work-related acts of violence, including co-worker attacks
  • Working in jobs that necessarily involve danger, violence or frightening activities, such as law enforcement, fire prevention, paramedic services or emergency medicine
  • Exposure to threats of violence by co-workers

The Basis for Compensation for Mental Disability in New Jersey

Under established New Jersey law, an employee may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for mental disability or injury (which covers PTSD) if five requirements can be shown:

  • The employee’s working conditions were stressful
  • Credible evidence must show that the employee found the working conditions stressful
  • The identified “stressful working conditions must be unique to the specific workplace
  • There must be medical testimony demonstrating a “psychiatric disability”—the finding cannot be based on the mere statement of the employee
  • The workplace must have been a (not necessarily “the”) material cause of the psychiatric disability

The Impact of a Pre-Existing Condition

One of the principal challenges in successfully prosecuting a workers’ compensation claim for PTSD or almost any other mental disability is the concept of a “pre-existing condition.” With most compensable workplace injuries, the employer is said to take the employee as they found them, i.e., if an employee has brittle bones or a weak heart, the employee can still seek workers’ compensation benefits if the condition is aggravated at work. However, in a recent New Jersey case, the court of appeals found that such is not the case with respect to mental disability. The court held that a potential claimant, who had experienced sexual abuse as a child, could not recover workers’ compensation benefits because of psychological injuries suffered when a threatening environment at work triggered reactions tied to the childhood sexual abuse.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured workers throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce Mediation

Q: Will I have to represent myself or can I have my attorney present at mediation?

A: You always have the right to have your attorney present during mediation. In fact, it’s generally in your best interests to work closely with a lawyer throughout the process, so that you understand what your rights are and what you can expect.

Q: How long does divorce mediation typically take?

A: In mediation, unlike litigation, there are no witnesses (other than the parties) and the mediator does not consider exhibits or other evidence. As a result, most divorce mediation can be completed in a day or two.

Q: What if my ex has been abusive or threatening? Is mediation still a good option?

A: Both parties must agree to the terms established by mediation. Your ex may be unwilling to do so, if he or she is accustomed to intimidating you. However, if you have a strong mediator, you shouldn’t have to worry about the outcome being affected by your former spouse’s actions. The mediator is required to help bring about a solution that is in the best interests of both parties. If the mediator perceives that you are only agreeing under duress or undue influence, the mediator can and should intercede to make certain that the outcome if fair to both parties.

Q: Should I hire an attorney to be my divorce mediator?

A: You can, but there’s no requirement that you do so. An attorney will have a solid understanding of your rights, as well as the responsibilities of both parties, and can make certain that all important issues are addressed. However, there are many skilled divorce mediators who are not lawyers.

Q: What happens if my ex doesn’t honor the terms of the mediation?

A: Typically, when you complete mediation, you sign an agreement that is entered with the court. If your ex fails to abide by the terms of the agreement, he or she can be found in contempt of court. In addition, you may be able to bring an action for breach of contract.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to men and women throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.