Re-opening Workers Compensation Permanent Disability Awards under New Jersey Law

Reopening Workers Compensation Cases

In New Jersey, if a worker is injured in a work-related accident or incident, the injured worker can file a claim petition in the Workers Compensation Court which is a division of the NJ Department of Labor. If the worker receives an award of partial permanent disability, that award can be modified (or “re-opened) to obtain additional disability benefits if disability has increased, subject to certain time and proof requirements.

Here are some basic questions and answers concerning re-opening of a workers compensation permanent disability award

Question #1: What is involved in obtaining additional workers compensation benefits after I receive a permanent partial disability award?

Reopener petitions are filed by claimants seeking more medical, temporary or permanent disability benefits. You will need a copy of the court order awarding you the permanent disability benefits. You can re-open your case more than once if permanent disability increases

Question #2: How long do I have to file a reopener petition?

The claimant has two years from the last payment of disability benefits or the last date of authorized treatment, whichever is later, to reopen the award. This applies even if the permanent disability award has previously been re-opened and an additional award has been made. The first thing to do is consult your attorney to obtain additional authorized medical treatment or an evaluation as to whether you would benefit from additional medical treatment.

Question #3: What is the legal standard to prove entitlement to further permanency payments?

The claimant must show objective proof that his or her condition has materially worsened since the last award. That kind of proof is the same as proof required in any claim for partial permanent disability such as MRI or x-ray evidence of an impairment, but in a reopener the proofs involve a comparison between those offered at the initial hearing and those at the time of the settlement of the reopener petition. Employers or their workers compensation insurance carriers often take the view that mere complaints of increased pain do not satisfy the legal standard for a higher award because pain is subjective. The workers employer or their insurance company will likely have a copy of the transcript created at the time of the initial settlement or last award and then compare those complaints with current complaints given by the worker. If those complaints have not changed, there may be no basis for additional compensation. However, if there is objective evidence of a deterioration of the condition or conditions that resulted in the previous award, generally the reopener claim will be considered as viable.

Question #4: How long will the re-opener process take?

The workers compensation courts are very busy, and depending on the venue of your case, once a petition is filed, it can take from six months to several years to resolve the reopener petition. If the claimant is getting authorized treatment, generally the case will not be resolved for at least six to 8 months after the treatment has concluded and the claimant is evaluated by doctors chosen by his attorney and the employer. There is always the possibility that there will be a dispute as to increased disability, or that the current problem is related to the original condition for which partial permanent disability was awarded. In those cases, either the court will hold a trial, taking testimony from the claimant, the evaluation doctors, and if applicable, from other witnesses. Sometimes, to avoid a trial, the claimant and employer will agree on a lump sum award (called a Section 20 settlement) to close out the case, and in those cases, no further workers compensation benefits will be paid in the future, including medical treatment.

Should you have any questions concerning the workers compensation process, please contact Robert E. Goldstein, Esq. of Drescher & Cheslow, P.A. (732) 972-1600.

Cohabitation Clause In Divorce Settlement Agreement Will Be Enforced By NJ Courts

Cohabitation Clause in Divorce Agreement –

Middlesex Monmouth Union Ocean NJ

The Cohabitation Clause is a precedential ruling has been handed down by the New Jersey Supreme Court on May 3, 2016 enforcing a settlement agreement between divorced spouses that provided that alimony would terminate when the recipient of the alimony payments resided with another man, also known as “cohabitation”.

In a 4-2 ruling, the majority upheld a property settlement agreement that mandated the termination of alimony for a woman who lived with another man for a little more than two years after she divorced her husband of 23 years.

Appellate Division Judge Mary Cuff, writing the Court’s opinion in Quinn v. Quinn, said both divorcing spouses in this case voluntarily entered into the property settlement agreement and that both were represented by counsel at the time.

“Marital agreements, including PSAs that clearly and unequivocally provide for the termination of alimony upon cohabitation, are enforceable when the parties enter such agreements knowingly and voluntarily,” Cuff said.

Justice Barry Albin, joined by Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, dissented, stating that “A property settlement agreement in a divorce action should address the economic consequences of a marriage’s dissolution; it should not contain shackles that deprive a spouse of the right to seek love and companionship,” he said.

This case points out how important it is to carefully review with your attorney and to make sure you understand each and every clause in your matrimonial settlement agreement. The Court is telling parties that if they make a deal and agree to a provision which may have harsh consequences to one of the parties, it will still be enforced.

 

Protecting your Marital Separation Rights in New Jersey

Divorce law clients of Robert E. Goldstein, Esq. can be assured that they will be treated with diligence, compassion and with knowledge of the law and the consequences unique to their cases. Call (732) 972-1600 today to speak to one of our skilled Divorce & Family Law Attorneys, or Contact Us via our contact form. Located in Manalapan (Monmouth County, NJ), Cranford (Union County, NJ) and Midtown Manhattan (New York, NY)

Manalapan NJ is not the only community we serve, we also provide Divorce attorney services for all of Monmouth County including but not limited to:

  • Cohabitation Clause in Divorce Agreement for Colts Neck NJ
  • Cohabitation Clause in Divorce Agreement for Farmingdale NJ
  • Cohabitation Clause in Divorce Agreement for Red Bank  NJ

We take Cohabitation Clause in Divorce Agreement cases throughout New Jersey, to include Monmouth, Middlesex, Ocean, Somerset, Burlington, Mercer, Morris, Bergen, Essex, Union, and Hudson Counties.

Divorce and Money

A Collaborative Divorce Can Help Protect Your Assets

Making good financial decisions during divorce is critical to the outcome of a fair and just settlement. These decisions can be particularly overwhelming to a spouse who has not handled the finances in the marriage, the professional with too much going on, or for a family that has a special needs child. These decisions can also be difficult for someone overwhelmed with the emotion aspects of a divorce. In today’s times of high stress jobs, long commutes and little time to breathe, it can be difficult even for the financially savvy to ensure all assets and debts have been properly accounted. With the guidance of a neutral Collaborative Financial Professional, you can have peace of mind as you navigate through the potential minefield of financial issues in your divorce. The Collaborative Financial Professional can help you and your spouse or partner make the important financial decisions that will have a short and long term impact on your future financial security.

Overview of financial implications in divorce

The neutral Collaborative Financial Professional can help you with:

  • Determining how much money you need to maintain your lifestyle
  • Deciding what would be a proper and reasonable child support and/or alimony amount
  • Valuation of businesses, licenses and degrees
  • Income tax issues including residence sales, capital gains, AMT
  • Equitable distribution of assets and tax consequences
  • Budgets, financial planning and adequacy of resources
  • Retirement savings and projections
  • Tax ramifications for paying and/or receiving alimony
  • Present value for buyout and other purposes
  • Determination of marital and separate property components of assets
  • Understanding complex financial documents
  • Preparation of Net Worth Statements

 

Tips on how to make good financial decisions during divorce:

 
Considerations in dividing or selling the marital home:
Deciding whether to sell the home now or at some future time can be very emotional for the couple, as this decision will deeply impact the financial stability of the family. The Collaborative Financial Professional can provide you and your spouse with options regarding the affordability of keeping the house and the tax impact of transferring assets.

What to do with the debt in your marriage:
The accumulation of debt in the marriage can be challenging for clients. The Collaborative Financial Professional can provide you and your spouse with unbiased information so that you are knowledgeable of your debt picture and can determine how best to handle marital debt.

Planning for the children’s financial needs:
Consideration should be given to ensuring that your children’s financial needs are met and addressed in a plan to minimize the potential for future conflict.

Planning for retirement needs:
The retirement savings accumulated during the marriage is often one of the largest marital assets aside from the marital home. The Collaborative Financial Professional can help you and your spouse determine how much money you both will need to live on and project future retirement needs.

Planning for insurance for the parties and children after divorce:
It is important to plan for the insurance needs of the family, in case one spouse does not have insurance and the other spouse has an employer-provided health insurance plan covering the entire family. In addition, it is important to ensure that adequate life insurance is available to meet the needs of the family. Additional insurance may be needed if there are child support, spousal support and special needs requirements in the divorce agreement.

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Our law office is located in Manalapan. Contact us by contact form or call (732) 972-1600 to schedule a convenient appointment. Evening and weekend appointments are available.

We take cases throughout New Jersey, to include Monmouth, Middlesex, Ocean, Somerset, Burlington, Mercer, Morris, Bergen, Essex and Hudson Counties.