Law Blog

Tag Archives: OWCP

Surviving spouse benefits for federal employees

Posted on March 31, 2015 by Michael McCready
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A question I’m occasionally asked whether a surviving spouse, with or without dependent children, will receive wage-loss payments after a claimant’s death. The answer is yes—if the claimant has died from the work-related medical condition(s). If the cause of death is not due to the work injury—the answer is no. Other dependents may be eligible depending on the circumstances. See a new regulation (8/29/11) at 20 CFR § 10.410. Surviving spouse benefits can vary and it is best to consult with a lawyer familiar with federal workers' compensation as well as the Office of Workers' Compensation Program (OWCP). McCready, Garcia & Leet have been representing injured federal workers as well as advising surviving spouse benefits since 1994. Contact us at 855-327-7012 for a free consultation.

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Back Injuries / Spinal Cord

Posted on March 31, 2015 by Michael McCready
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Back Anatomy 101: There are 5 vertebral sections in your back, these 5 sections make up your spine. It is important to understand what area of your back is suffering from pain.

  1. Cervical Vertebrae- 7 vertebrae forming your upper spine. (Neck)

  2. Thoracic Vertebrae- 12 vertebrae forming the center of your back.

  3. Lumbar Vertebrae- 5 vertebrae. Your largest, weight bearing vertebrae. L4 & L5 are most commonly injured. (Slipped disk)

  4. Sacrum Vertebrae- Is made up of 5 fused vertebrae. These are at the lower section of your vertebrae. It provides your spine with the foundation.

  5. Coccyx Vertebrae (tailbone)- Is formed from four fused vertebrae.

Causes of Back Injuries

Back Injuries can be brought on by numerous reasons. Some of the more common causes for back injuries include accidents, muscle pulls and exercise related injuries. Be aware what possible hazards your job could pose to your back. If your job requires heavy lifting, bending or twisting over for long periods of time, you may be at a greater risk for back injuries. However, office life comes with its own problems. If you have poor posture or your chair does not properly support you, you could be susceptible to back pain.

Signs & Symptoms of back pain:

  • Constant aching or stiffness from the base of the neck to your tailbone.

  • Sharp, localized pain in the neck, upper back, or lower back -- especially after heavy lifting or engaging in other strenuous activities.

  • Chronic ache in the middle or lower back, especially after sitting or standing for extended periods.

  • Back pain that runs from the lower back to the buttocks, down the back of the thigh, and into the calf and toes.

  • Inability to stand straight without having severe muscle spasms in the lower back.

  • Warning: (Pain in the upper back can also be a sign of a heart attack or other life-threatening conditions.)

What movements are painful?

After an injury it is important to be aware of movements that are painful and a decrease in range of motion. The two types of moves your back performs are extension and flexion of the back. When these motions are injured

Flexion - Bending forward, you stretch and engage your back and hip muscles.

Extension - Bending backward, you engage the muscles that support your spine.

What test will help diagnose my pain?

Some injuries can be diagnosed by a physical exam completed by your doctor. For more serious back injuries your doctor may request you take one of these 3 exams, or a combination of exams may be required.

  1. X rays- Will provide feedback if the bone structure is compromised or if there are tumors or fractures present in your back.

  2. CT scans- Will identify specific conditions, a herniated disc or spinal stenosis.

  3. MRI scans- Will provide insight about the vertebrae discs and nerve roots. MRI scans are most commonly used for presurgical planning.

  4. SSEP- (Somatosensory evoked potential) testing or magnetic stimulation

A number of other exams may also be used to help identify specific back problems. In some instances injections are used for diagnostic purposes as well as for pain relief.

Spinal Cord Trauma

The most serious type of back injuries are when the spinal cord is affected. If the spinal cord is injured the effects can be a life altering injury. Effects can range from numbness in the tips of your fingers all the way to being a quadriplegic. The spinal cord can be injured in many back injuries. Brunt force or violent twisting of the head or neck are the most common reasons for spinal cord injuries.

When the spinal cord is injured it normally forces the patient to rely on a wheelchair for day to day life. In some cases the patient will restore feeling and mobility in a matter of days or week. Most side effects that last over 6 months become permanent. In many cases patients will have to make changes to their home as they learn to navigate their new life.

To learn more about back injuries, visit McCready, Garcia & Leet or call 855-327-7012 for a free consultation.

by Michael McCready

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