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Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld

Relentlessly Protecting California Workers' Rights Since 1956
  • Workers' Compensation

    • What should I do if I got hurt at work?

      Immediately provide your employer with written notice of your injury (email, text, Slack, Chat, letter, etc). Next, ask to fill out a DWC-1 Form and give it to your employer. Then, get treatment if your injury requires it. The worker’s compensation carrier must provide treatment for your injuries until it denies liability. Third, schedule a free consultation with us to discuss your rights.

    • If I call about a workplace injury, what information should I be prepared to provide?
      • Name, DOB, address, email and phone
      • Employer, WC carrier/adjustor (if known), job duties, rate of pay
      • Date of injury, place of injury, body parts injured, how you got injured
      • Name, address, phone of all health care providers that you have seen for treatment
    • If I schedule an appointment for a workplace injury, what should I bring with me?

      It is helpful to bring basically any documentation regarding your workers’ compensation case.

      • The most recent letter from the adjuster and any denial or acceptance letter.
      • Panel QME (Request for a Qualified Medical Examiner) list of state doctors, if you have one.
      • P&S (Permanent and Stationary) report, also could be called a PR4 Report, if you have one.
      • Paystubs, claim forms, doctor reports, other correspondence from the adjustor
    • Can I get benefits if my condition developed slowly, not in an abrupt accident?

      Yes, workers’ compensation covers health conditions that develop over time, in addition to those that occur in catastrophic accidents. For instance, farm workers often suffer back injuries caused by bending and lifting over and over for years on end. Some office workers also suffer carpal tunnel syndrome from years of typing. No matter what industry you work in, you can seek benefits for such repetitive stress injuries.

    • Can I file a claim if I’m not a legal resident of the U.S.?

      Yes, you can still seek workers’ compensation benefits even if you are not a permanent resident or U.S. citizen. Your immigration status does not matter when it comes to obtaining benefits for work-related injuries. 

    • What happens if my doctor says I can return to work, but I don’t think I can?

      You have the right to disagree with your doctor’s evaluation. If you dispute the medical report stating that you can safely return to work, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney and get a second medical opinion. You have a strict time limit, however, so it’s important to act promptly. 

    • What does it cost to hire a lawyer to help me?

      We accept all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that we get paid only after we recover benefits for you. If we aren’t successful, we don’t collect attorney fees. It’s as simple as that. You pay nothing upfront and have nothing to lose. 

    • Do I have to fill out the form my employer gave me?

      Depends on the form. If it's an Employee's Report of Incident or DWC-1, yes. If it's a Release of Information, no. If it's a different kind of form, then it depends on the form.

    • Are my WC benefits taxable?

      Currently, WC benefits are not taxable to our knowledge. However, you should check with your tax preparer to be sure.

    • What should I expect during my workers' compensation medical exam?

      During your workers' compensation medical exam, the doctor is not there to treat you—they are there to evaluate your work injury. Do not exaggerate your symptoms because the doctor will be looking for inconsistent presentation. After the exam, the doctor will write a report regarding your injury/injuries and your attorney will go over that report with you. For more information on what to expect during your medical exam, watch this video.

    • How will I get treatment for my work injury if my employer doesn't have insurance?

      The Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund will provide workers' compensation in the event that your employer is uninsured. For more information, watch this video.

    • What can I do if my employer doesn't pay me while I'm recovering from my injury?

      You can apply for State Disability Insurance with the EDD. The workers' compensation carrier will reimburse the EDD if it is determined that your work was the cause of your injury. For more information, watch this video.

    • Can I get workers' compensation if I developed a mental health condition at work?

      Potentially, although it can be harder to prove. It depends on how much your job contributed to your psychiatric disability. For more information, watch this video.

    • Can I still work if I'm seeking workers' compensation?

      Yes. You can either work for a new employer or the employer you worked for prior to your injury. For more information, watch this video.

    • Can I get benefits if I already had an injury, but it got worse at work?

      Yes. If your injury got worse at over time due to an element of your job, you are eligible for workers' compensation benefits. For more information, watch this video.

    • What should I do if I contacted COVID-19 at work?

      If you contracted COVID-19 at work and are missing time from work as a result, you are entitled to temporary disability benefits, which will reimburse 2/3 of your wages. For more information, watch this video.

    • What kinds of benefits does workers’ compensation provide?

      Workers’ compensation can provide many types of benefits if you suffered a work-related injury or illness. You may be entitled to:

      • Medical care, completely paid for by the insurance company
      • Regular payments to help cover your lost wages if you have a temporary or permanent disability
      • Vouchers to pay for job retraining or education will allow you to change careers if you can’t go back to what you did before
      • Death benefits for the loss of a loved one, including burial expenses, and compensation for the wages that your family member would have earned
  • Social Security Disability

    • Do you help with the Social Security Disability application process?

      Yes! Unlike many law firms, we help with the Social Security Disability application process. We know that applying for Social Security can be confusing, so we offer application help for our clients. If you're approved for benefits after we help you with your application, we waive our fee, so you do not have to pay for our help! If you're denied benefits after we help you complete your application, we will help you appeal your denial.

    • What is the difference between SSI, SSDI, and SSA?
      The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two different types of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is for disabled or blind people with a certain amount of previous work history who need assistance because they are now unable to work. SSI is available to  disabled, aged, or blind people who need assistance because of low income and assets. Additionally, younger children may also be eligible for SSI even they have not previously worked.  You can compare the different types further on our Benefits page.
    • Do I need to hire a disability lawyer?
      While a lawyer is not necessary to obtain disability benefits, having a lawyer can increase your odds of securing benefits. If you receive a denial, if you’d like help with the application, or if you have questions, we're here to provide you with guidance and ensure your rights are protected. We offer free consultations, so there is nothing lost if you just want to learn more about your rights and options. We also put together a guide that explains how a lawyer can be helpful. You can learn more about Applying for Disability Benefits on the SSA website.
    • What is a lawyer’s role in disability benefits?
      Disability lawyers can help prove disability. So if you are injured or disabled and unable to work, but the SSA says they think you are able to work, that’s where disability lawyers can help be your advocate. We can meet with you to evaluate your claim and explain your rights and options.  If you choose to hire a disability lawyer, we would advocate for you, and help you demonstrate your situation to the SSA in hopes to help you get the benefits you need. But disability lawyers are not able to prove other qualifications based on other factors than disability, such as not working enough years (insufficient credits), not having paid into the SSA system (self employed without the taxes being taken out), or having too many resources (level of income or assets increased).
    • Am I eligible for Social Security Disability?

      There are many qualifications you would need to meet to determine if you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefit. You may be eligible if:

      • You are 65 or younger
      • You are disabled to the point that you are unable to work or only able to earn $1,310/month or less
      • Have stopped working in the last 5 years
      • Have a work history of 10 years or more (sometimes less) for younger individuals and have worked at least 5 out of the last 10 years earning a paycheck

      Even if you do not meet these qualification, you may still qualify for SSI (not SSDI) benefits if you are disabled and have less than $2,000 in valued resources available to you.

    • Could my child be eligible for Social Security Disability?

      Yes, children can be considered for SSI even though they don’t work if your household has less than $3,000 in valued resources.

    • Can I be eligible for SSI and SSDI?

      Yes, you can be found eligible for both benefits if you meet the SSDI requirements and you have less than $2,000 in valued resources.

    • How long do I have to be disabled before I can apply for Social Security Disability?

      You typically have to be disabled for at least one year. However, if you are blind or the illness or injury may result in death, the one year may be waived.

    • How long do I have to have worked to qualify for Social Security Disability?

      If you were denied because of insufficient credits, that means you did not work enough quarters to qualify for the SSDI benefit. To be eligible for the SSDI benefit, you need to have been employed receiving a paycheck with SSDI deductions, or paid self-employment taxes, in at least 5 out of the last 10 years. A disability lawyer can’t help prove disability if you haven’t worked enough to qualify for the benefit.  You can learn more about Work Credit Requirements on the SSA website. However, if your assets are below $2,000 you may still be eligible for SSI. If that's the case, you can call us to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your rights.

    • What is the maximum income I can earn while on SSDI?

      In 2021, the maximum one can earn is $1,310.00 before the benefits will stop.

    • Why would I be ineligible if my resources are above $2,000?

      If your available resources exceed $2,000, you would be ineligible for SSI.  But you may still be eligible for SSDI in the event you meet the earnings and disability criteria.

    • What if I am over 66 years old?
      You may not need a lawyer to receive Social Security benefits. SSD lawyers help prove disability, whereas you may be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits at this time simply based on your age alone without the need to prove disability. You simply need to apply. You can apply for Social Security benefits as early as age 62 and the disability benefits equal the retirement benefits if you apply after age 66. You can learn more about SSA Retirement on the SSA website.
    • What if I’m only able to work part-time?

      Good question. You may still be eligible to receive Social Security Disability if you are incapable of work that would produce more than $1,310 per month in income for at least 6 months.

    • What if I was denied benefits because I haven’t worked enough?

      If you were denied because of insufficient credits, that means you did not work enough quarters to qualify for the SSDI benefit. To be eligible for the SSDI benefit, you need to have been employed and receiving a paycheck with SSDI deductions, or paid self-employment taxes, in at least 5 out of the last 10 years. A disability lawyer can’t help prove disability if you haven’t worked enough to qualify for the benefit. You can learn more about Work Credit Requirements on the SSA website. However, if your assets are below $2,000 you may still be eligible for SSI. If you are eligible for SSI, call us to schedule a free consultation!

    • What if I didn’t appeal the denial within 60 days?

      If you have applied for SSDI/SSI, but it’s been more than 60 days since you were denied, you may not be too late.  A good cause exception can be granted for an appeal filed after 60 days provided that you provide a good reason for the delay. To do so, you may want to submit a Good Cause Request along with the Request for Reconsideration or Request for Administrative Law Judge Hearing. If you want help re-applying, you can also contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss further.  

    • Can I work while receiving SSDI?

      SSA disability is based on an evaluation about whether or not you are capable of performing Suitable Gainful Activity or SGA. If you are able to consistently work, usually for a period of 60 months or more, and earn more than the annual minimum SGA amount, SSA may find you ineligible for disability benefits.  In 2021, the annual SGA is $1,310 per month. You can learn more about Substantial Gainful Activity on SSA’s website.

    • I am on Social Security.  Can I still get workers compensation?

      Possibly. When an employee suffers a significant injury or disability, there may be many benefits that they are entitled to. The two most common longer-term benefits include Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability benefits.  Workers’ Compensation is a State run program paid to employees through their employer’s insurance coverage. Social Security Disability is paid to employees from the Social Security Administration through coverage payments withdrawn from your paychecks. There is a saying in the law however that the law abhors a double recovery. In other words, while benefits may attempt to make you whole from your loss, you should not receive benefits that pay you twice for the same disability. Because of this, certain benefit programs will get credit for other benefits you receive.

    • How long is the SSA hearing process?

      You can expect to wait anywhere from six months to two years for a hearing date. Disability applicants who have already gone through the initial application and reconsideration phase of a Social Security Disability (or SSI) case need to request an appeal hearing to get a judge to hear their case.

    • Who will be there with me during the date of the hearing once scheduled?

      Once a hearing date is scheduled with SSA and we are representing, our office will check the attorney’s availability and schedule the hearing on an attorney’s calendar. We will also schedule a time to prep for that hearing with the attorney at least a month or two before the hearing date. The attorney will be with you the entire duration of the hearing.

    • Where will the hearing take place?

      Due to COVID-19, SSA is not holding hearings in person. However, they are conducting hearings by phone or by video.

    • I already went to a Social Security Hearing before an Administration Law Judge and received an Unfavorable Decision. What can I

      As attorneys, our role is generally to develop the record in a case and present that case at a hearing. Since your hearing has already occurred, you do have a right to appeal by asking the Appeals Council to take another look at your case. In the event that you are able to secure a new hearing, we would be happy to discuss your claim with you. Also, if your condition worsens, you may be able to re-apply. You can re-apply on your own, or contact us if you want us to examine why the decision was unfavorable and help you re-apply.

    • What if the Social Security Administration has terminated my benefits?

      If SSA terminates your disability benefits because they believe your condition has improved, that’s where disability lawyers like us might be able to help demonstrate your condition remains so severe that you continue to be unable to work. However, if the SSA terminates your benefits for any reason other than your disability or condition (such as too much income, too many assets, or an overpayment), you might want to speak with an accountant (to prove financial need), not a disability lawyer (to prove disability).  You can learn more about Resources and Eligibility on the SSA website.

    • Where can I find more information about SSDI benefits? is the primary resource. Here is a link to a pamphlet about work and SSDI:

  • General

    • How Are You Paid?
      There is no charge to speak or meet with us. It’s free! Our fees are on a contingency, meaning we only get paid if we obtain a recovery for you that comes out of the recovery. If we don’t get you a recovery, we don’t get paid.
    • Can Consultations Be Over The Phone?

      Yes. Due to COVID-19, our offices are currently closed, but we are able to schedule an appointment over the phone or video conference.

    • Does Anyone at Your Office Speak Spanish?

      Si, hablamos Español. Todo nuestro personal de apoyo y la mayoría de nuestros abogados hablan español. Cuando nos llame para programar una cita inicial, infórmeles si prefiere hablar en Español.

    • Where Are Your Offices Located?
    • Are Attorneys Willing to Travel to Other Offices?

      Yes. Our attorneys frequently travel among our seven offices and sometimes into areas where we don’t have an office.

    • Do I Need to Meet With a Particular Attorney?

      No, we work as a team. All of us can help guide you through the process and assess whether we will be able to assist you in your situation.

    • What Should I Expect From an Initial Appointment?

      Your initial appointment will be scheduled for 1.5 hours. We will ask detailed questions about your claim to determine if we can help you. You should bring written questions to the meeting to help you obtain information about your rights. If we are able to help you, then we will discuss the paperwork necessary for you to retain us.