Marijuana Use Can Impact Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Marijuana Use Can Impact Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Denver Workers Compensation

When it comes to marijuana use on-the-job, the best advice is “don’t do it!” Contrary to what you may believe, whether for medical or recreational uses, your right to toke is not protected by law in the work environment. Colorado has legalized both the medical and recreational consumption of marijuana, but our state laws still butt up against federal laws. And this makes for lots of confusion across the board.

Employers on Marijuana Use

Legal marijuana, whether for medical reasons or recreational use, is no mandate for use at work. Employers are well within their legal rights to prohibit consumption at work and to require drug testing to weed out users from their workforce.

Federal law prohibits the possession and consumption of marijuana for any reason. This supports the rights of employers in banning marijuana consumption in their employees. Now that the new Trump administration is in place, federal versus state law on marijuana may become even murkier. Currently, there is no clear-cut answer on whether the federal government will be cracking down on states that allow legal marijuana use.

Statewide Marijuana Use Laws

As of the November 2016 election, more than half of all the states in the union, plus D.C., now have medical and/or recreational marijuana use legislation on their books.

1. California passed legal recreational marijuana use last November.
2. Massachusetts joined the ranks of recreational marijuana use states this past election.
3. Maine will soon be allowing limited recreational marijuana use and on-site consumption in social clubs.
4. Though late to the party, Nevada is now a legal recreational marijuana state.
5. Washington, D.C. voted for nonmedical marijuana use in 2014.
6. Oregon came aboard on recreational use of marijuana in the summer of 2015.
7. Alaska passed recreational marijuana law in 2015.
8. Colorado passed legislation to allow recreational marijuana use in 2012. Recent ballot initiatives support public consumption programs in Denver.
9. Washington joined Colorado in groundbreaking recreational marijuana use in 2012.
10. Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware have all legalized medical marijuana.

Bottom Line: Colorado Statute on Marijuana and Workers’ Compensation

Regardless of what the future holds for legal marijuana consumption, for now, Colorado Statute, Article 42 of Title 8 limits your financial benefits under the workers’ compensation system if you test positive for a controlled substance. You can lose 50 percent of your income replacement benefits if marijuana use is detected. While you will still receive full medical treatment benefits, your finances will likely suffer greatly from this impact.

Note that the issue with federal vs. state laws on marijuana impact this area of the law as well. §8-42-112.5. C.R.S. excludes medically prescribed drugs from the identified controlled substances, but that’s the problem. Doctors in Colorado cannot prescribe marijuana. They can only advise their patients on its use.

If you have questions about marijuana and the workplace and workers’ compensation benefits, ask a lawyer. Your pot-smoking buddy probably has a lot of opinions and knows quite a bit about the legalities of smoking weed in Colorado. But workers’ compensation is a complicated system wherein state and federal laws often overlap. A Colorado workers’ compensation lawyer is your best source of information on this thorny subject. We’re always here to answer your questions- don’t wait- get a free consultation on your workers’ compensation case now.


Four Things That You Think Might Affect Your Workers’ Compensation Claim- But Don’t!

Four Things That You Think Might Affect Your Workers’ Compensation Claim- But Don’t!

Denver Workers Compensation

If you’ve been injured on the job, and are considering filing for workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado, you may be wondering how to file your claim, and what factors may affect your workers’ compensation case. Many injured workers believe that certain circumstances may affect whether or not their workers’ comp claim will be approved. Here are 4 things that many injured workers believe will affect their claim- but typically will not:

1- Your employer is at fault for the injury.  Workers’ Compensation is a hundred year law that reflects a compromise between injured workers and workers.  Employers must now pay for all injuries that happen on the job – even ones where the employee is negligent, or someone else is negligent, or there is no negligence at all.  In exchange, employers cannot be sued by their employees for work injuries.

2- You can’t go back to the work you used to be able to do.  Unfortunately we see this all too often.  The law in Colorado is incredibly indifferent to employees who cannot go back to doing the kinds of work, or earning the income, they used to do before the injury. There are only two “disability” benefits under Workers Compensation after the Doctor says you are at Maximum Medical Improvement.  The first is called Permanent Partial Disability and the amount is primarily based on loss of range of motion.  It does not go up or down depending upon whether you are still working.

The second is called Permanent Total Disability and it covers wage loss after the injured worker reaches Maximum Medical Improvement.  But it is incredibly difficult to get because the injured workers must be able to prove to a Judge that they are so disabled that that they cannot earn ANY Wages at ANY job in ANY location.  If you can do a temporary, part-time, seasonal job at minimum wage – then you cannot get any compensation for wage loss after MMI under workers compensation.

(You may be eligible for other benefits under other laws, for example unemployment benefits, or social security disability benefits.)

3- You worked many years for the employer.  While it may make you more sympathetic to treating or evaluating doctors, the law does not provide injured workers with more or less benefits simply because they have worked ten years, ten months or even ten hours with the employer before your injury.

4- Your employer closes.  Your employer paid premiums to an insurance company to cover all your benefits for your injury. It does not matter what happens with your employer.


Workers’ Compensation in Colorado can be complicated. Let our experienced Denver area workers’ compensation attorneys help you navigate your claim and help get it approved. Call Us Toll Free! (866) 356-9898 or click here for a free consultation!

Long Term Compensation and its Relationship to Workers’ Compensation

Long Term Compensation and its Relationship to Workers’ Compensation

Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation Social Security Blog Workers Compensation Blog

Let’s say you have a workers’ compensation claim in Colorado and your Denver workers’ compensation attorney has worked with you to get you as much help as possible. You’ve gone through the process of healing and your workers’ compensation doctor has placed you at maximum medical improvement after the injury. Your Denver workers’ compensation lawyer and you have discussed the question and you’ve both decided you feel as good as you’re going to and it’s time to wrap up your case. Do you qualify for long-term workers’ compensation disability benefits?

Well, as Denver and Greeley workers’ compensation lawyers know, it’s not a matter of being completely unable to work ever again. Actually, most injured workers eventually return to work, depending on the severity of their injuries and the type of work they return to. For example, if you have a limited ability to work as a result of your work-related injury, you may be eligible to collect long-term disability benefits through workers’ compensation insurance. These beneifts are called permanent disability benefits.

If your medical treatment was good enough to allow you to recover fully from your work-related injuries, however, you will not be able to receive long-term benefits through workers’ compensation.

During your case, you probably enjoyed the benefits that came with workers’ compensation claims. You saw doctors who treated you for your injuries and didn’t have to pay because workers’ compensation covers all care related to workers’ compensation claims. If you miss work for your medical care or as a result of the injury, workers’ compensation reimburses you for 66.66% of your lost wages. This compensation is tax free and based on what you argue is your income prior to the injury. Workers’ compensation also covers travel expenses for workers under compensation claims who need to travel to see their doctors and receive medical care related to the work injury. If you don’t recover fully from the injury, however, workers’ compensation also provides some money to help compensate you for the permanent disability your work injury caused.

Related: Social Security Disability Benefits and Long Term Disability Benefits

To get what’re called permanent disability benefits, you have to be permanently, totally disabled or permanently, partially disabled. Lots of states define permanent total disability as a certain number of injuries which include loss of both hands/feet, paralysis, or permanent loss of sight in the eyes. Permanent total disability is rare so if you qualify for permanent disability benefits through workers’ compensation, they probably fall under the category of permanent partial disability.

Permanent partial disability is defined as a worker not being completely recovered from his or her work-related injury. Each state calculates the amount of permanent disability differently. Generally, though, once a worker reaches what’s called maximum medical improvement, the doctor sets a number to the individual’s injury. This is usually a percentage and meant to symbolize the amount a worker is disabled. The percentage can either be a partial or full body impairment rating and a worker’s final settlement amount often depends highly on this number.

One of the off-putting things about workers’ compensation is definitely this tendency toward numeralizing injury. The system itself seems arbitrary and counter-intuitive. After all, how can you really put a price on your left hand versus your right hand. How can anyone put a price on a limb at all? However, the fact is law requires us to make pragmatic decisions based on systematic, if somewhat arbitrary, factors. These factors are related to what we commonly believe is the approximate numerical value on injuries. Otherwise, how could we systematically help people who need it? The percentage of injury or permanent disability rating is an attempt at making the loss of limb right.

Workers’ Compensation can be difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact us here or call us at(866) 356-9898 for your free consultation.


Pinnacol Celebrates 100 Years of Protecting Colorado’s Workers

Pinnacol Celebrates 100 Years of Protecting Colorado’s Workers

Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation Social Security Blog Workers Compensation Blog

Pinnacol Assurance is the State Compensation Insurance Agency for the state of Colorado. One hundred years ago, Colorado was one of the first states to create a state agency responsible for compensation to have a safety net for Colorado employers and workers. Denver disability attorneys and Denver disability lawyers work with Pinnacol to give workers the compensation benefits they deserve.

On March 12th, Governor Hickenlooper honored Pinnacol with a cake-cutting ceremony and a proclamation at the State Capitol. The ceremony introduced individuals who symbolize the protection of the rights of Colorado businesses and workers. There was an injured worker, a policy holder who is 100 years old, Pinnacol employees, and an agent partner.

The Colorado General Assembly passed the Workers’ Compensation Act in 1915. The fund ensures state’s workers can receive benefits that cover lost wages and medical costs when workers are injured on the job regardless of the cause of injury. Denver disability lawyers rely on these funds to cover the cost of work injuries. In 1987, the Fund became the State Compensation Insurance Authority and in 1999, the Authority changed to Pinnacol Assurance.

Related: Workers’ Compensation & The Americans’ with Disabilities Act

Pinnacol insures over 50,000 employers and covers nearly 1 million workers. Every year almost 40,000 injured workers receive care from Pinnacol. Recently, a study showed Colorado to have the 11th lowest workers’ compensation rates in the United States. While other states have required statutory and regulatory rollbacks reducing care and benefits for injured workers, Colorado has managed to avoid such regulations.

Workers’ Compensation can be difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact us here or call us at (866) 356-9898 for your free consultation.


How the Pain Diagram Can Help (Or Sink) Your Work Injury

How the Pain Diagram Can Help (Or Sink) Your Work Injury

Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation Social Security Blog Workers Compensation Blog

Don’t underestimate the power of a “Pain Diagram”. At the very least, a Pain Diagram should be completed every time you see the primary care physician. Ideally, a Pain Diagram should be completed any time a physician or therapist examines you.

A Pain Diagram can be helpful in a couple of different ways.

First, the diagram can help the physician track the progression of injured workers’ symptoms in relation to the treatment modalities being provided.

Second, the diagram can help the physician keep track of the areas of the body that are injured/symptomatic. It is not unusual for treatment for a Colorado work injury to be concentrated on one part of the body at a time. As long as the Pain Diagram continues to document the original injuries/symptoms, the relatedness of the symptoms to the original work related injury should be much easier to prove.

As always, how this or any other issue we discuss in this blog would apply to your case depends on many more factors. We urge you to call us to see if you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers Compensation is difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact Denver Workers Compensation Attorneys or call us at (866) 356-9898 for your FREE CONSULTATION.

Social Security Guidelines on Fibromyalgia and Disability

Social Security Guidelines on Fibromyalgia and Disability

Social Security Blog

The Social Security Administration published new guidelines for evaluating fibromyalgia in its disability cases on July 25, 2012.  The purpose of the Ruling is to assist SSA’s decision makers in evaluating disability claims with allegations of fibromyalgia.  According to the  Ruling,  fibromyalgia “is a complex medical condition characterized primarily by widespread pain in the joints, muscles, tendons or nearby soft tissue.”  The Ruling outlines what medical evidence SSA’s staff need to look for and how to evaluate it in a disability claim involving fibromyalgia.

See Why When Doctors Rely Too Much On Painkillers, Colorado Workers Suffer

Fibromyalgia is considered a controversial diagnosis for some doctors who may not be clear about its many symptoms.  Social Security’s new guidelines help clarify the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia.  These guidelines could help many people here in Colorado and across the country who suffer with fibromyalgia with their Social Security disability cases.

If you have fibromyalgia or any medical condition that prevents you from working, one of the best ways to improve the chances that your disability application will be approved is to hire a qualified Colorado Social Security disability lawyer to represent you. The knowledgeable disability attorneys at Kaplan Morrell have over 15 years of experience helping workers get the benefits they deserve, and offer free, immediate consultations.  Click here or call (866) 358-9696 to arrange a no-obligation meeting with a helpful Colorado disability attorney who will be happy to answer your questions and assist you throughout the entire Social Security disability process.

Social Security Benefits and Debit Cards – Some things to consider

Social Security Benefits and Debit Cards – Some things to consider

Social Security Blog

Starting March 1, 2013, all Federal benefits, including Social Security payments, went electronic. There are no more paper checks. Social Security beneficiaries here in Colorado as well as across the country will receive their payments by direct deposit or on a debit card. For any Social Security beneficiary who does not choose an option for an electronic payment, they will get a debit card. Nothing will change for current Social Security recipients who already get their benefits electronically. This change is part of the the United States Department of Treasury’s GO DIRECT program.

For beneficiaries without a bank account, they will get their benefits on these government-issued debit cards. While these Direct Express debit cards are very convenient, accessing your money isn’t necessarily free. For example, with these Direct Express debit cards, you are allowed one free ATM withdrawal per month from an ATM from a participating bank. After that, each ATM withdrawal from a participating bank is 90 cents. You can, however, go to a teller at any credit union or bank that shows the MasterCard acceptance sign and get cash with no charge. For more information and tips about using these Direct Express debit cards, go to: .

Getting Social Security Disability can be a long and complicated process. Having an experienced knowledgeable attorney helping you understand the process and your rights can make the difference between getting benefits and losing your claim. Contact our Denver Disability Lawyers for your FREE CONSULTATION. We help disabled individuals all over the United States obtain the benefits you deserve.

New Report Recommends Changes to Social Security Disability Programs

Social Security Blog

According to an August 8, 2012, PRNewsire press release, D.C.-based advocacy group “Our Generation” has released a report entitled “Social Security Disability Insurance – an Entitlement in Need of Reform.” In the report, the non-profit think-tank elaborates on the problems with the current Social Security disability system and suggests ways that the federal disability program could be reformed in the coming years.

Large Number of Americans are Receiving SSD or SSI

Per the report, there are currently over 8.7 million people receiving either Social Security disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. This constitutes around 5.9% of work-aged Americans, and all indications are that both the number of disability applicants and disability recipients will continue to rise. Our Generation points out that disability benefits were originally intended to provide an income for permanently disabled older individuals, while the scope of the program has seemingly-widened to cover a large number of marginally-disabled workers of all ages.

The large number of individuals applying and being approved for Social Security disability puts an economic strain on the program – and the taxpayers who support it. Our Generation asserts that making relatively minor modifications to the SSD and SSI programs could save $50 billion over the next 18 or so years.

Recommendations include Stricter Eligibility Standards

The changes recommended by the Our Generation report include:

  • enforcing stricter disability eligibility requirements
  • performing more “continuing disability reviews” (to weed out disability recipients who may not continue to qualify)
  • making changes to the way employers contribute to Social Security taxes
  • requiring employers to provide private disability programs that cover an initial period of time before SSD benefits would kick in

The Importance of Hiring a Qualified Social Security Disability Lawyer

Whether or not the government decides to implement any of the suggestions outlined in the report, it is likely that the Social Security disability system will see some changes in coming years. This very well could include making it harder to get approved for disability benefits. Currently, around 75% of those who apply for Social Security disability in Colorado have their applications denied. While some of these disabled Colorado workers will win disability benefits upon appeal, the SSD appeals process is often lengthy and stressful.

If you’re applying for disability in Colorado, one of the best things you can do is to hire an experienced Colorado disability attorney early in the application process. Even if you’ve already received one or more disability denials, a qualified Social Security lawyer at Colorado disability law firm Kaplan Morrell can ensure that your claim is being properly evaluated and processed and can determine how to best get you approved for disability benefits.

There’s no up-front cost to hire one of Kaplan Morrell’s knowledgeable Social Security attorneys – in fact, you’ll only pay us if you are approved for benefits.

Click here or call 1-800-356-9898 to contact us to arrange a meeting with a helpful disability attorney in the Denver or Greeley, Colorado area.

Senate’s Report Misses the Point on Social Security Disability

Social Security Blog

A report from the US Senate Subcommittee on Investigations minority staff released this month alleges that SSA erroneously awarded disability benefits in more than 25% of the claims  it processes.   The investigation looked at 300 cases over three counties in the US to come to this conclusion.  The very small sample size is the first problem with this investigation.  The subcommittee’s report states that 5.9 million Americans have been approved for Social Security disability benefits since 2009–reviewing 300 in three counties is unlikely to give a true picture of the entire program.

The report states that SSA fails to “properly address insufficient, contradictory or incomplete evidence” in many of these cases.  Most Social Security disability claims have contradictory  medical evidence.  Ask two doctors about a head cold and you could get two different answers!  Social Security’s adjudication and appeals process is designed to address these issues.  It has been our experience that Social Security doesn’t ignore evidence that an applicant is not disabled but rather they miss clear evidence that an applicant is disabled.

Getting Social Security Disability can be a complicated process.  Having an experienced knowledgeable attorney helping you understand the process and your rights can make the difference between getting benefits and losing your claim.  Call us at (866) 356-9898 or click HERE to arrange for your FREE CONSULTATION.  We help disabled individuals all over the United States obtain the benefits you deserve.

Social Security Administration Stops Mailing Paper Statements Again

Social Security Blog

SSA has suspended mailing out their Social Security earnings and benefits statements effective October 1 due to their very tight budget. The Social Security statements showed a person’s earnings covered by Social Security and estimates of the person’s potential retirement and disability benefits. SSA had previously suspended mailing out the paper Social Security statements as of April 2011 to save money. In February of this year, SSA had begun mailing the Social Security statements to people over 60 years old and to people in the year of their 25th birthday.

Earlier this year, SSA started offering an online version of the Social Security statement. It is a good idea to get a copy of your Social Security statement yearly to make sure your earnings are accurate. It is much easier to make corrections to your earnings statement now than in 10 years.

Getting Social Security Disability can be a long and complicated process. Having an experienced knowledgeable attorney helping you through the process can make the difference between getting benefits and losing your claim. Call us at (866) 356-9898 or click HERE to arrange for your FREE CONSULTATION. We help disabled individuals all over the United States obtain the benefits they deserve.