Answering Questions – Full Disclosure – Confident Cases

Answering Questions - Full Disclosure - Confident Cases“I have been working with Ms. Laffoon for a couple of years now. She has done everything she can to help me with my case. She has answered every question that I have. She makes sure I fully understand what is happening and what my options are. I fully recommend her to everyone.” – Anonymous

Helping folks out. That’s what we do. We’ve been doing it since 1980 and fully know the laws and rules behind SSI and Disability cases.

“She is very knowledgeable in the field of s.s.i., also easy to talk to she explains things so that everybody can understand.”

We don’t discriminate but we listen to your case and situation. EVERY situation is unique and different so what worked for one may not for another. We have to evaluate everyone on a case by case basis so where you may have been turned down somewhere else, you may be accepted here. You never know unless you call and talk to us.

“Very nice lady. Works hard for you. Would recommend to anyone but especially women.” [Lawyers.com]

While we do not discriminate, we know that some places can and do. We listen to everyone regardless of their situation and determine the best steps to take for individuals.

Should You Call Us?

We start with the premise that if you have not been working because of a medical condition, and you truly believe that you are disabled, you are probably eligible to receive Social Security disability or SSI disability benefits. For this reason, we are always willing to sit down with you and hear your story, without charge. If your application for benefits has been denied by the SSA, please give us a call to discuss the merits of your claim. Because you have only 60 days to appeal the adverse administrative decision, you should call us as soon as possible after you get an adverse decision. You need to make certain that the 60 day appeal period does not run out, because if it does it is difficult and sometimes impossible to reopen your prior claim.

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The Politics of Fees for Medical Records

The Politics of Fees for Medical Records

Although I have been a practicing lawyer for 30 years, my focus has been on the judicial process, and I have given little thought to the law-making process. This year that changed, as I have dipped a toe into the legislative pool and would like to share that experience with others. Every WA resident has the power to make their voice heard and contribute to changes in the State laws that we must all follow.

My journey started with a problem faced by my clients, as we try to convince the Social Security Administration that they are disabled. When their appeals reach the hearing level, SSA requires that they produce copies of all their medical records. Under WA state law, medical providers can (and do) charge a $25 administrative fee PLUS $1.12 per page to produce the records. Patients are charged this amount, even if the records are provided in electronic format and there are no actual costs to produce these “pages.”  These copy fees are often $200-$600 per case, and I had one client with so much medical evidence that it cost him $1300 to update it.

Many medical providers use national copy companies to comply with records requests, so these big fees from WA patients end up lining the pockets of out-of-state corporations. Since disabled people are, by definition, unable to work, these fees are being borne by the very people who can least afford them. They have no other source from which to obtain the medical records that they must produce, and these are records that actually belong to the patients. Many law firms, including mine, can front these fees, but the client must ultimately pay for them. The high fees for medical records can make it impossible for applicants without lawyers to prove to SSA that they are disabled. Fed up with this problem, I decided to try to do something about it.

The first step in changing the law is to find a State representative or senator who is willing to take up your cause and introduce a bill. I was fortunate to find a sympathetic ear from Representative Pat Sullivan. Next, make sure that the legislator is aware of all the issues connected with your requested bill. Their staff will then draft a bill for introduction into the appropriate committee. In my case, it is HB1239, and it was introduced through the House Health Care & Wellness Committee. The committees hold public hearings, so make sure that you track your bill and sign up to testify. This is important, as it may be the only opportunity you have to speak with the people who will be deciding whether or not to pass your bill. I found the members of the Health Care & Wellness Committee to be very kind and interested in what I had to say. If your bill gets out of committee, it will be voted on by the Chamber in which it was introduced, in my case the House. If passed, your bill will then go on to the other Chamber, where the committee and floor vote process is repeated.

You can track the status of your bill, and learn more about the committees, at leg.wa.gov.

As of this writing, the Medical Records bill has passed the House and is on its way to the Senate. Hopefully, by the end of this legislative session, we will have a law that gives all disabled people who are pursuing their Social Security disability claims a free copy of their medical records. If you wish to support this particular bill, contact your local State Senator and ask them to vote for it.  And if you see something in your community that needs changing, consider talking with your Representative or Senator about it!