Are your Workers’ Compensation Benefits Taxable?

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Another year, another tax season. Every year at this time we receive lots of questions about whether our client’s workers’ compensation income is taxable. After all, the most a claimant can receive for workers’ comp here in New York is 66% of his/her gross income, and that is only if he/she is totally disabled. The financial consequences of taxing workers’ comp benefits could be dire for many struggling to pay the bills. Bills don’t go away just because someone isn’t working!

The good news is that Publication 17, issued by the IRS, states “Amounts you receive as workers' compensation for an occupational sickness or injury are fully exempt from tax if they are paid under a workers' compensation act or a statute in the nature of a workers' compensation act. The exemption also applies to your survivors.”

However, the attorneys here at Vincent Criscuolo and Associates always recommend double checking with an accountant. There is an exception for claimants who receive social security or railroad retirement benefits. If a claimant’s workers’ comp benefit reduces his/her social security or equivalent railroad retirement benefit, then the amount the benefit is reduced by is considered to be social security or railroad retirement and may be taxable.

Remember, if you return to work after an injury, even light duty, salary payments you receive are likely taxable as wages.

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Medical Care and Disability Management: How Workers Compensation Insurance Companies Are Getting it Wrong.

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We talk to injured workers every day who have had much needed medication, therapy, or even surgery denied. To many claimants it must seem like their health is taking a back seat to insurance company profits. However, it may be that insurance companies are putting their own financial health at risk by not focusing more on providing great medical care.
Joseph Paduda over at recently wrote a compelling article essentially stating that insurance carriers are throwing away money by focusing on reducing short term medical costs at the expense of the injured worker’s long term health. Instead, Paduda argues, carriers should be focusing on providing high quality medical care and disability management. Some insurance company employees, with no medical background, frequently deny or delay treatment requested by experienced doctors. Since workers’ comp insurance carriers view medical costs as an expense to be avoided instead of part of the process of returning an injured worker to health – and hopefully employment – these denials are too often encouraged. This all leads to years of lost time benefits and medical expenses that might otherwise have been avoided if the injured worker had received the treatment he needed, when he needed it.

“they think it is providing financial protection from industrial accidents, when in reality it is preventing losses and delivering quality medical care designed to return injured workers to maximum function.”

So what should insurance companies be doing to improve service, and their bottom line?
  • Encourage a larger doctor network by making it less cumbersome to bill and request treatment.
  • Utilize medical experts, not just actuaries, and put them in positions of authority.
  • Change the focus from short-term cost savings to long-term disability management.

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If You're Sick From a Customer, is Your Employer Responsible? Rochester Workers Comp Lawyers Explain

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Everyone gets sick sometimes, but when employees get sick on the job, lost work and lost wages cause serious hardships.
Employees often wonder whether employers can be held liable for costs associated with illnesses caught on the job and, specifically, sickness caused by customers. The experienced workers’ comp and disability attorneys at Vincent Criscuolo & Associates in Rochester have decades of experience helping injured New Yorkers receive the financial support and settlements they deserve.
If you contracted an illness after contact with sick customers, you may have a variety of claims, including:

Workers Compensation Claims:
Workers comp insurance exists to provide compensation to workers injured on the job. Workers comp doesn’t cover diseases and illnesses in every state, and it can be difficult to prove that many illnesses were contracted from a customer while on the job (a requirement for workers compensation), but you should consult an experienced workers comp lawyer to determine whether your circumstances justify a workers compensation claim.
Negligence Claims:
Employers have a legal duty of care to their employees. If the employer violates this duty, and an employee suffers injuries (including illness) as a result, the employer may be legally obligated to compensate the employee. While the employer doesn’t have an absolute duty to protect employees from all potential harms, the failure to provide safe working conditions and the failure to provide proper training (for example, to hospital staff who handle contaminated equipment) may give rise to negligence claims.
Never try to evaluate your own legal claims without the assistance of an experienced lawyer. If you have suffered an injury, illness, workplace accident, or need a social security disability lawyer to help with disability claims, call Vincent Criscuolo & Associates, Rochester’s hardest-working workers comp and disability lawyers. Give us a call at (585) 232-3240 for a free consultation.

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A Personal Injury Lawyer Answers 3 FAQ’s About Filing a Claim in Rochester

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Filing a personal injury claim can sometimes be complicated, so it’s important to be knowledgeable about the process before you move forward. Luckily, the personal injury lawyers at Vincent Criscuolo & Associates in Rochester are always on hand to help you develop a more well-rounded understanding of how the legal system works.

If you’re looking to file a personal injury claim, here are the answers to three common questions about the process:

  • What Exactly Is A Personal Injury Suit?
    A personal injury suit is a claim made by an individual who has been hurt or injured in an accident. These types of suits result from a variety of situations, like auto accidents and workplace mishaps. In a personal injury suit, the injured individual typically files a claim against the individual or company that is perceived to be responsible for the harm caused in the accident.
  • What Is The Statute Of Limitations?
    The statute of limitations on personal injury claims varies from state to state. In New York, the statute of limitations typically ranges from one to six years. Waiting longer than this timeframe to file a personal injury suit may result in an unfavorable outcome, so it’s essential to get the process started as soon as possible.
  • How Do I Know If I Have a Case?
    It’s always best to consult with a personal injury lawyer about your case. Since legal experts know the ins and outs of personal injury law and worker's comp, they are the most equipped to help you understand your case and reach a satisfactory settlement.
To learn more, be sure to contact the attorneys at Vincent Criscuolo & Associates by calling (585) 232-3240.

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Protecting the Value of Your Workers' Compensation Case

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We get calls all the time from folks who have suffered work injuries over a year ago, but never contacted an attorney. The number one mistake being made by many of these claimants is not calling an experienced attorney right away. An attorney who handles workers’ comp cases, day in and day out, will be able to ensure that his client’s case is set-up for success from the very beginning.

One example of an issue an experienced attorney can make sure is correct, from day one, is the average weekly wage (AWW). This number is supposed to represent how much an individual makes in the average week. Down the road, this number is a huge part of a settlement or award. Often, someone without an attorney will be stuck with a low number because the insurance company will use a simple average of weekly pay for the last 52 weeks. However, this isn’t always accurate. For instance, if someone is out sick without pay for two weeks or took an unpaid vacation, then that number will be much lower than the true average pay amount. This is just one way that the insurance company can lower your AWW. Only by calling an experienced attorney can you be confident that you are being paid fairly.

Another issue that must be addressed as soon as possible after a work injury, is establishing the correct body parts. This seems like an issue that you shouldn’t need to worry about, but we see cases all the time where someone is trying to get treatment for a body part they hurt at work a year or more after the injury but the insurance company won't pay. Since it was never added into his/her case in the beginning, the insurance company won’t pay. Sometimes this issue stems from doctors’ offices not sending in their medical reports to the Workers’ Compensation Board. In other cases, a claimant will “tough it out” and not seek treatment right away for something they think is minor. An experienced attorney can provide the right advice and work to ensure that the insurance company is required to pay for all related body parts.

Don’t let yourself or a loved one make a huge mistake with their workers compensation case, their health, or their livelihood. Call an experienced attorney right away after an injury, don’t wait!

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Vincent Criscuolo & Associates Explains Workers' Comp Coverage Regarding Second Jobs

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Many of us have to work second jobs just to make ends meet, and this is especially so in states like New York, where cost-of-living expenses are higher than average. In our state alone, more than 400,000 people work two jobs concurrently. But what happens if you get injured at one of your jobs? Will your workman's comp coverage help cover the wages you lose from your second job? Vincent Criscuolo & Associates provides the Rochester area with quality workers' compensation lawyer services, and here they answer your questions about workers' comp and concurrent employment.

  • What Does "Concurrent Employment" Mean?
    Concurrent employment is simply defined as holding more than one job at the same time. You may have two part-time jobs, two full-time jobs, one full-time and one part-time job, several part-time jobs, or any combination thereof. You might also work for the same employer in more than one position.
  • Will Workers' Comp Cover Lost Wages From Both Jobs?
    In New York State, the law is on your side in such cases. Your workers' comp lawyer at Vincent Criscuolo & Associates will help you figure out your Average Weekly Wage, which is the combined total amount of your income from both jobs. As long as you have proof that you were working those jobs when you were injured and both employers hold workers' comp coverage, you can request compensation for the time you are injured and out of work.
  • Will There Be A Hearing?
    Yes. New York State requires that concurrent employment cases be brought before a judge for consideration. Vincent Criscuolo & Associates will guide you through this process and will accompany you throughout every step.

  • Call Vincent Criscuolo & Associates at (585) 232-3240. With this trusted legal team on your side, you can start getting the compensation you deserve.

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3 Differences Between Workers' Comp & SSDI

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If you've been out of work due to an injury, you understand how challenging it can be just to make ends meet. Two of the most common resources injured parties pursue are workers' compensation and Social Security Disability (SSDI). But it's important to understand the differences between these two options in order to find the solution that is best for your situation. Vincent Criscuolo & Associates, a Rochester, New York, SSDI and workers' comp lawyer, discusses these differences.

  • Were You Injured At Work Or Outside Of Work?
    If you were involved in an injury in the workplace, workers' compensation would be the appropriate path to pursue. If you were injured outside of the workplace on your own personal time, SSDI would be a more fitting choice. Your workers' comp attorney at Vincent Criscuolo & Associates will help you compile the necessary information to file for either workers' comp or SSDI.
  • Where The Money Comes From:
    The sources of the benefits you receive are different for workers' comp and SSDI. With workers' comp, your employer pays you, typically from their workers' comp insurance fund. With SSDI, the benefits come from tax dollars and money you've already paid into the system throughout your working life.
  • How The Benefits Are Paid:
    Workers' compensation recipients are usually not paid in regular weekly or monthly increments; they are paid more sporadically as medical bills and the like are submitted and approved for payment. SSDI, on the other hand, pays a regular amount, typically on a monthly basis, based on an intricate system of points and work history. Your Social Security Disability lawyer at Vincent Criscuolo & Associates will work with you to make sense of
Call Vincent Criscuolo & Associates at (585) 232-3240. When you've been injured at work, you have the right to seek compensation for your setback. Let Attorney Vince Criscuolo and his team help you get the support you deserve.

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New Injury on Top of an Old One—What This Means For Your Workers' Comp Claim

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Being injured at work is complicated enough, but being injured when you already have an injury can result in additional complications for your workers' comp claim. The law firm of Vincent Criscuolo & Associates is well aware of this, as their firm specializes in workmans’ comp cases in New York, and also represents clients facing new injuries of the same type or locality where former injuries have occurred.

In these types of situations, new injuries can be conflated with old injuries by insurers that seek to restrict their liability for them. Thus, the new injury workers’ compensation claims are frequently denied, and require the expertise of a skilled lawyer to advance the case for new injury compensation.

Often cited by insurers is the argument that the new injury is a result of, or has been caused by, the old injury—and therefore they do not have to pay for the current injury. Another situation that occurs is where an insurer will attempt to blame a different insurer by stating that they are responsible for the old injury, and the current injury is merely an extension of the former.

A good workers' compensation lawyer will also introduce workers’ comp claimants to the procedures concerning an “only temporary” commitment on the part of the insurer to concede, within certain limitations, their liability in the injury. When these agreements occur, there is often a complex injury, or sets of injuries, that requires the research and the opinion of medical experts to weigh in on the facts, and “only temporary” agreements allows the claimant some preliminary coverage for medical necessities.

Escape from liability is essentially what the insurer is seeking in these types of situations, and that’s where the skills of a reputable workers’ compensation lawyer is required to advance the claimant’s entitlement to compensation.

To receive expert advice and assistance on your workers’ compensation claim, call Vincent Criscuolo & Associates at (585) 232-3240.

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