Social Security Disability and Mental Disorders

Social Security Disability and Mental Disorders

Let’s talk about mental health problems and how Social Security reviews them and whether you can be approved based on mental health problems. It is always advisable to consult with a professional social security disability attorney as laws as well as disability judges in your state may slightly differ from other states.

Many people have some form of depression or mental health issues sometimes due to chronic pain, sometimes due to a genetic predisposition, sometimes due to an event in their lives, but overall, for whatever the cause, Social Security looks to see that you’re treating and getting help and perhaps medications for the problem, so an example would be disability for depression, bipolar disorder, either one or two, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, disability for fibromyalgia you may have agoraphobia as an element of that, Social Security also looks to see if there’s an element of chemical dependency in any of those.

The big idea here to keep in mind is that Social Security looks at the depression or mental health problems the same way as they look at physical problems, it’s just there is less objective evidence as there is for let’s say a low back problem. A low back problem, you can get an MRI, and you can see that there’s a herniated disc. Just because you can’t measure it with an imaging study doesn’t mean that depression isn’t just as disabling. The question is, is depression a disability and HOW are you disabled with it?

is depression a disabilitySome people work with depression or bipolar or anxiety disorder, some people can’t work. The question is severity. So keep in mind that it’s best to try to get better, the best you can, use your primary care doctor to get perhaps a psychiatrist, use a psychologist to be able to get better, take medications, but work with your doctors about side effects. Make sure that if you do have side effects, that you talk to your doctors about perhaps switching medications.

Social Security disability lawyers see some people stopping medications without talking to their doctor, so, what’s important for Social Security to know is, you’re doing your best to get better, okay, so with that in mind, Social Security reviews mental health issues, and they would include someone with low IQ in this.

If you have mental health issues like depression that affect your ability to work full time, consider applying for Social Security benefits especially if you have a good work history. The reason is this, at some juncture, mental health problems are disabling and what is the drawing line between when you are disabled and when you’re not. It isn’t always so clear, even if you’re denied at the first level and even the second level, those state agency denials are, in my opinion, quite poor. Make sure that if you know you can’t work and you have legitimate diagnosed impairments and you’re doing your best to care for them and taking your medications or having other people help you get your medications, make sure to get to a Social Security disability hearing.

If a Social Security disability attorney can help you, more the better, because if you don’t feel very well, you may not be inclined to advocate on your own behalf. So keep these things in mind that they could offer great help to prove that your mental health issue or depression is a disability, and hopefully it impresses on you that if you’re denied or don’t think that you could get approved for Social Security based on mental health problems, that is entirely inaccurate. It is a question of degree and the only way Social Security knows how bad they are it is if you treat for them.

Mental illness due to chemical imbalance

can I get disability for depressionAnd we’ve mentioned chemical dependency. Some people have seen by Disability Attorneys in their experience, anxiety disorders and bipolar, they see chemical dependency issues arise. With that in mind, Social Security will discount how bad your mental illness is if they think the chemical dependency is exacerbating the mental illness.

Another element that they’ve learned as a disability attorney is that the psychologist experts at hearings will testify that your mental illness is worse because, let’s say, alcohol or drugs is reducing the effectiveness of your medication. So, if you catch what they’re saying, it definitely is healthier to talk to a doctor about any dependency but what in particular you need to do is know that Social Security will look at chemical dependency as perhaps a factor very negatively in your claim and it can in the case of mental illness cause Social Security to deny you so by all means get the help that you need.

 

senior living san diego

Nursing Homes New Policy from Department of Public Health Restores Some Visitation Rights

On June 26, the California Department of Public Health released a new policy regarding visitation that, for the first time since March, REQUIRES senior living communities to permit visitors for outdoor and indoor visits. Facilities with no current COVID-19 outbreak must permit outdoor visitation. Indoor visits must be permitted if a facility meets six criteria: 1. no current COVID-19 outbreak, 2. a decline in cases in the community, 3. no new COVID-19 cases in the facility for the past 14 days, 4. no staffing shortages and not using a COVID-19 staffing waiver, 5) an adequate testing plan per AFL 20-53, and 6) an approved COVID-19 Mitigation Plan. For indoor visits, only one designated visitor allowed per resident (per visit – more than one visitor may visit, just not at the same time). All visits (indoor or outdoor) must be scheduled in advance with visitors screened for fever or COVID-19 symptoms. All visitors must comply with social distancing (6 feet or more physical distancing), wear facial coverings, and permit staff monitoring to ensure compliance with infection control guidelines.

senior living homesException to Visitation Restrictions

The following are exceptions to a skilled nursing facility visitation restrictions:

  • Healthcare workers: Facilities should follow CDC guidelines for restricting access to healthcare workers. Healthcare workers, including those from the local county public health offices, should be permitted to come into the facility if they meet the CDC guidelines for healthcare workers.
  • Surveyors: CMS and CDPH are constantly evaluating their surveyors to ensure they do not pose a transmission risk when entering the facility. Any surveyor entering the facility are subject to screening for fever and COVID-19 symptoms and must wear appropriate PPE.
  • Ombudsman: Facilities not experiencing an outbreak (i.e., one or more confirmed positive cases) should permit ombudsman representatives in the facility. Any ombudsman representative entering the facility is subject to screening for fever and COVID-19 symptoms and must wear appropriate PPE.
  • Nursing students: Students obtaining their clinical experience as part of an approved nurse assistant, vocational nurse or registered nurse training program should be permitted to come into the facility if they meet the CDC guidelines for healthcare workers.
  • End of life visitation: For permitted visitors for end of life situations, those individuals:
    • Must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms
    • Must wear a surgical facemask while in the building
    • Restrict their visit to the resident’s room or other location designated by the facility
    • Should be reminded by the facility to frequently perform hand hygiene

Resuming Other Visitation

To resume visitation, facilities should refer to the “Recommended Nursing Homes Phased Reopening for States” attachment in QSO 20-30 (PDF) and work with their local health department in determining the general community’s current reopening phase. Due to the elevated risk COVID-19 poses to SNF residents, CMS recommends that facility reopening should lag behind the general community by 14 days. Facilities experiencing an outbreak (i.e. one or more confirmed positive cases) should not resume visitation.

senior rehabilitation centersFacilities that meet the following conditions shall allow residents to designate one visitor per resident for inside facility visitation:

  • Case conditions in the community – There is a decline in the number of new cases, hospitalizations or deaths in the community.
  • Case status in the facility – Absence of any new COVID-19 cases in the facility for 14 days, either residents or staff.
  • Adequate staffing – No staffing shortages and the facility is not using a COVID-19 staffing waiver.
  • Access to adequate testing – The facility has a testing plan in place in compliance with AFL-20-53.
  • An approved COVID-19 Mitigation Plan- The facility must maintain good regulatory compliance for safety.

Facilities unable to meet the conditions specified above may not resume in room facility visitation, but they shall provide outdoor and other visitation options, including but not limited to:

  • Allow scheduled visits on the facility premises where there is 6-feet or more physical distancing, and both residents and visitors where facial coverings with staff monitoring infection control guidelines. (i.e. large communal spaces, outdoor visits, drive-by visits or visit through a person’s window).
  • Offering alternative means of communication for people who would otherwise visit, such as virtual communications (phone, video-communication, etc.).
  • Creating/increasing listserv communication to update families, such as advising not to visit.
  • Assigning staff as primary contact to families for inbound calls and conduct regular outbound calls to keep families up to date.
  • Offering a phone line with a voice recording updated at set times (i.e. daily) with the facility’s general operating status, such as when it is safe to resume visits.

senior living facilities near meVisitation Guidance

  1. For all visitations, facilities should make efforts to allow for safe visitation for residents and loved ones.
    • Ensure visitor screening for fever and COVID-19 symptoms
    • Visitors and residents should have facial coverings (cloth masks or surgical face masks)
    • Staff should monitor to physical distancing is practiced with no hand-shaking, hugging, and remaining six feet apart.
    • If possible (i.e. pending design of building), creating dedicated visiting areas near the entrance to the facility where residents can meet with visitors in a sanitized environment. Facilities should disinfect rooms after each resident-visitor meeting.
  2. Advise visitors, and any individuals who entered the facility (e.g., hospice staff), to monitor for signs and symptoms of respiratory infection for at least 14 days after exiting the facility. If symptoms occur, advise them to self-isolate at home, contact their healthcare provider, and immediately notify the facility of the date they were in the facility, the individuals they were in contact with, and the locations within the facility they visited. Facilities should immediately screen the individuals of reported contact, and take all necessary actions based on findings.
  3. For medically necessary trips away from the facility, the resident must wear a cloth face covering or a surgical facemask and the facility must share the resident’s COVID-19 status with the transportation service and entity with whom the resident has the appointment.
  4. All staff must wear appropriate PPE when they are interacting with residents, to the extent PPE is available and consistent with CDC guidance on optimization of PPE. Staff should wear cloth face covering if surgical facemask is not indicated.
  5. Once baseline testing is complete implement either surveillance or response driven testing based on the conditions at the facility in accordance with AFL-20-53.
  6. Have dedicated space in the facility for cohorting and managing care for residents with COVID-19; plan to manage new/readmission with an unknown COVID-19 status and residents who develop symptoms.

Additional Guidance

senior living near meThe following are additional CMS guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This guidance is subject to revision by CMS at any time.

  1. Cancel communal dining and all group activities, such as internal and external group activities. For COVID-19 negative or asymptomatic residents, communal dining should be limited, but residents may eat in the same room with social distancing (limited number of people at tables and spaced by at least 6 feet).
  2. Remind residents to practice social distancing and perform frequent hand hygiene. Residents must wear cloth face covering or facemasks as mandated in CDPH’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings (PDF).
  3. Facilities should identify staff that work at multiple facilities (e.g., agency staff, regional or corporate staff, etc.) and actively screen and restrict them appropriately to ensure they do not place individuals in the facility at risk for COVID-19.
  4. Facilities should review and revise how they interact with vendors and receiving supplies, agency staff, EMS personnel and equipment, transportation providers, and other non-health care providers (e.g., food delivery, etc.), and take necessary actions to prevent any potential transmission.

CDPH understands the importance of maintaining contact with family and friends to LTC residents. If you have any questions about this AFL, please contact your local district office.

Sincerely,

Original signed by Heidi W. Steinecker

Heidi W. Steinecker
Deputy Director

 

SSI Supplemental Security Income vs. SSDI Security Disability Insurance?

ssi disability lawyersSocial Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) a federal insurance program of the United States government. It is managed by the Social Security Administration and is funded by a payroll tax. SSDI is designed to provide income to people who are unable to work because of a disability. In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked 5 out of the last 10 years (with a few exceptions.)

Your SSI Lawyers will explain that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a monthly stipend provided to aged, blind, or disabled persons based on need, paid by the United States Government. The program is administered by the Social Security Administration. Payments are made from the US Treasury general funds, not the Social Security trust funds. In order to qualify for SSI benefits, you must not have assets that are worth more than $2,000 for singles or $3,000 for couples (with some exceptions like a single home or a single car).

Difference SSI vs. SSDI:

The type of medical insurance differs between SSI and SSDI. A SSDI Attorney will explain that under SSI, a person found disabled will receive Medi-Cal (if living in California, otherwise it is Medicaid). Under Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, a person will qualify for Medicare after having been found disabled for 2 years. If a person qualifies for both SSI and SSDI, they will receive the Medi-Cal and decide whether they want the Medicare or not.

best social security disability attorneys near meThe amount of money is usually different depending on the type of disability benefits you are receiving. Under SSI, you receive the Federal Government supplement and depending on what state you live in, you may also receive a state supplement to go along with the federal. Due to cost of living adjustments made annually, the amount of money one can receive changes. For an up to date amount, please contact Disability Help Group at our toll free number (888)939-4692. SSDI amounts are based on how much you earned over the past 10 years. For an exact amount you may either check your statement that you usually receive around your birthday each year or contact your local Social Security Administration.

The amount of back pay also differs under each program. Under Supplemental Security income (SSI), an injured or disabled claimant can only seek retroactive benefits beginning with the date of the application filing. Under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, a claimant can receive retroactive benefits involving money up to 12 months prior to the application date. Although there are not back-pay incentives for seeking disability benefits beyond what a claimant can receive benefits for, other considerations may warrant going back further. Some of these include: Medical Insurance (Medicare) to be started immediately, locking in your disabled status for retirement purposes, trying to re-open an old denial etc.

If you have additional questions about the differences between SSDI and SSI, please contact our office at (888)939-4692 or fill out our Free Evaluation Form.

For experienced legal representation and an aggressive pursuit of your SSDI or SSI claims, contact Disability Help Group with offices in Mesa, Phoenix or Tucson, Arizona. For assistance, schedule a free consultation at our office by email or by calling (888)939-4692.

Representing SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY and SSI claims in the following counties and cities: Mesa, AZ | Chandler, AZ | Gilbert, AZ | Glendale, AZ | Paradise Valley, AZ | Peoria, AZ | Phoenix, AZ | Scottsdale, AZ | Tempe, AZ

Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability:  Two Frequently Asked Questions

Social Security disability benefits can play an important role in your life. However, you may be confused about what it takes to get these benefits. If so, you are not the only one. Many individuals find the disability benefits application and appeals process to be difficult to understand.

Fortunately, you can contact Disability Help Group Arizona. We can answer all questions you may have about your disability claim. Our disability lawyers can go to work promptly on pursuing the benefits you deserve.

To help you start, we present the following answers to the most common questions that our lawyers receive about disability benefits in Arizona.

What is the difference between SSDI and SSI benefits?

The key difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits concerns work requirements. https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/

SSDI benefits are depended on your work history. You must have earned a sufficient amount of  “work credits.” These credits show that you have worked enough time and recently enough to be eligible for this type of benefit.

SSI benefits are not depended on your work history. Instead, they are built upon financial need. Generally speaking, to receive SSI benefits, you must have lower than $2,000 in assets and resources ($3,000 if married).

People who fail to qualify for SSDI benefits because they lack required work credits may be eligible for SSI benefits. An experienced disability benefits lawyer can review your circumstances and determine which option(s) you should pursue.

What happens during a disability benefits hearing?

Whether your hearing is conducted personally or by video, you should expect it to primarily function as an information-gathering process for the administrative law judge (ALJ) who will decide your claim. Because of this, you should consult with a lawyer who recognizes  the different forms of information that ALJs in Arizona desire to review.

During the hearing, the judge will learn through witnesses like a medical expert and/or vocational expert. You (or your attorney) can cross-examine these witnesses and present your own witnesses. You can also testify by yourself behalf.

Although the judge may announce a decision by the end of the hearing, you should expect a few more weeks or months to pass until you receive the official notice in the mail.

Contact us today and schedule a free consultation with our social security lawyers

Top Las Vegas Nevada Social Security Lawyers

If you, or a loved one, are unable to work due to a disability you may qualify for aid from the Social Security Administration and have the right to be represented throughout the application process.

Supplemental Security Income

Social Security DisabilityIf you are an adult with a physical or mental condition that is likely to keep you from working for at least 12 months, or result in death, you may be eligible for benefits. You may also qualify if you are over 65 years of age or blind. Additionally, children with physical or mental conditions that result in severe functional limitations may also receive supplemental income. As of this year, a person may earn up to $1481 per month and still be eligible for benefits if all other requirements are met.

Disability Benefits

As with supplemental security income, a person is considered disabled if they have a condition that will keep them from working for at least 12 months. This program does not give benefits to people suffering from partial or short term disability and requires that the person applying has worked a certain number of years depending on when he/she became disabled. If approved, you will be able to receive monthly benefits that are calculated based on your average lifetime earnings.

At the Disability Help Center Nevada, our social security lawyers are available to help you navigate the complicated process of applying for benefits. We can:

  • Fill out the extensive paperwork and required forms
  • Gather medical records
  • Keep the Social Security Administration up to date on changes in your life that may affect your claim
  • Prepare witnesses for hearings and appeals and
  • Attend hearings and meetings on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

While many initial claims for benefits are denied, we develop the medical and vocational evidence needed for the Social Security Administration’s reconsideration of your case.

Social Security LawyersIf the reconsideration were also denied, our attorneys are willing and able to request a hearing and represent you before an administrative law judge. If necessary, we will continue to gather additional documentation of your disability and to contest even the administrative law judge’s decision at the court of appeals.

We will work diligently on your case from the initial claim through any potential appeals but will do so on a contingency basis. What this means for you is that:

No win no fee – You will only have to pay for our services if we are able to get your benefits.

It can take three to five months for the Social Security Administration to process an application for benefits so it is important that you choose a representative as soon as you, or a loved one, become disabled in order to begin this process.

Initial Interview: Our first meeting with you will be very important. During this initial interview, one of our attorneys will sit with you to learn your detailed work and medical history.

By the end of the meeting, you will know whether you are likely to qualify for social security benefits. At that time you can also decide if you would like us to be your qualified representative.

Social Security ClaimsIn order to make the most of this first meeting it is important for you to know that our conversations are confidential so that you can provide us with the following information:

  • The date on which you stopped working full-time as a result of your medical condition and details about any attempts to become employed or vocational training sought since you last worked full-time
  • Your medical diagnosis, and a description of the symptoms that prevent you from working
  • Names and contact information for doctors visited within the 12 months prior to discontinuing your employment
  • Estimated date on which you began treatment with each treating doctor, the date of your last visit, and the date of the next scheduled appointment
  • A list of any tests that you have had performed and the approximate date of the test;
  • Exact dates of all inpatient hospital visits and emergency room visits
  • Exact dates and descriptions of any surgeries you have undergone
  • A list of all medications you are currently on
  • A list of jobs that you have performed for the past 15 years
  • Information about any income you or your spouse receives, including workers compensation, unemployment, etc
  • Names of any other attorneys that are representing you for any reason, including Workers’ compensation, Personal Injury, Family Court, and Criminal Matters.

If you have already started applying for benefits, or have been denied, it is important that you also provide the following:

  • A copy of the receipt that was provided by the Social Security Administration
  • Copies of all documents that have been received from the Social Security Administration and copies of any medical records that you have, and
  • A copy of the Social Security Administration’s denial notice.

Disability Help Center Nevada services the following suburbs and areas in Las Vegas Nevada: Summerlin, NV. Henderson, NV. Boulder City, NV. Enterprise, NV. Laughlin, NV. Blue Diamond, NV.

Social Security Claims

Miami Expungement Program Gives Second Chance

A program started last year in Miami-Dade has helped over 600 local residents have their criminal records sealed or expunged. Sealed cases are closed and can only be reopened with a court-ordered subpoena. Expunged cases are erased completely.

A “One-Stop” Program

The Sealing and Expungement One-Stop Program was implemented in December 2006 by Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney for Miami-Dade, and workshops are held monthly for residents who want to learn more about qualifying for the program.

According to public information officer Ed Griffith, the workshops are popular—one held in September drew nearly 1,000 residents. More than 3,000 people have applied to the program since it began, but the process is not a simple one.

“It’s not as easy as signing up for your driver’s license,” said Griffith.

Guidelines & Qualifications

Each case is handled individually, and the qualifications for having a record sealed are different than those for having a record expunged. Generally, people who qualify for either are those who have been charged with an offense but have not received a conviction.

Program guidelines also require a person to have completed probation and/or paid any court costs or court-ordered fines.

Individuals who attend the workshops can receive counseling from the public defender’s office to learn which option might be best for them.

The American Civil Liberties Union also attends to help those who are not eligible for the program but who need help having their civil rights restored. For those who need job-placement assistance, the South Florida Workforce is on hand to help.

(Source: Miami Herald online)

Interested in learning more about expungement? Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney near you to discuss your options.

Sheriff Hopes Pink Chain Gang Will Deter DUIs

A sheriff in Arizona is hoping a new tactic will act as a deterrent to driving under the influence—those who are convicted on charges of DUI will end up on a chain gang, wearing pink, and conducting burials for alcoholics.

“Maybe this will warn people – knock it off, don’t drink and drive,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who already has a reputation for housing convicts in military tents.

“Clean(ing) and Sober”

Last Tuesday, 15 DUI inmates donned pink shirts with “Clean(ing) and Sober” printed on the front and “Sheriff D.U.I. Chain Gang” on the back. On Thursday, the inmates conducted burials at a local indigent cemetery where many homeless alcoholics are laid to rest.

One inmate said the uniform was a “little embarrassing,” but added optimistically, “Hopefully it keeps someone from drinking and driving.”

Increase in DUI Deaths

The number of alcohol-related deaths in Arizona increased 15 percent last year, with a total of 585, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Legislators strengthened the state’s DUI laws in June, mandating harsher penalties for first-time offenders, including increased fines and ignition interlock devices.

(Source: Associated Press)

Charged with DUI? An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you plan a course of action. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation with a lawyer near you.

NJ Governor To Sign Law Abolishing Death Penalty

The governor of New Jersey is expected to sign a bill approved by the state legislature to abolish the death penalty. Once signed into law, New Jersey will be the 14 states without capital punishment.

The state has not put anyone to death since 1963. In January 2007, a legislative commission concluded that the death penalty was “inconsistent with evolving standards of decency” and recommended it be abolished.

First Legislative Ban in Decades

This week both the state Assembly and Senate voted in favor of the ban, making New Jersey the first state to legislatively end capital punishment since it was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976.

Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat, is an opponent of capital punishment and will likely sign the bill into law. In lieu of the death penalty, those convicted of the most serious crimes will receive life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Declining Use of Capital Punishment

Thirty-six states, the federal government, and the military still retain the death penalty, though its use is declining. In 2006, executions reached the lowest they’ve been in the past decade, with 53 total. That total is expected to fall even lower this year.

(Source: Reuters)

Facing criminal charges? An experienced defense attorney can help you minimize the negative consequences you may be facing. Contact us today for a free consultation.

19,500 Convicted Crack Offenders Await Commission Decision

Approximately 19,500 federal inmates serving time on crack cocaine-related charges could see a reduction in their sentences if the U.S. Sentencing Commission decides to make recently implemented punishment guidelines of drug possession retroactive.

The commission made new guidelines effective November 1, 2007. The revised guidelines were implemented as part of an attempt to reduce the disparity in punishment between crack cocaine and powder cocaine crimes.

100-to-1 Disparity

In the 1980s, Congress wrote into law harsher penalties for crack offenses. Commonly referred to as the 100-to-1 disparity law, it mandates a five year minimum prison sentence for trafficking in 500 grams of powder cocaine compared to 5 grams of crack.

The law has been criticized as racist because crack is a drug predominantly used by blacks and powder cocaine primarily used by whites. Of the 19,500 inmates who could be affected by the commission’s decision, 86 percent are black.

Supreme Court Decision

On Monday, the Supreme Court upheld the right of judges to impose more lenient sentences for crack cocaine offenses than those outlined by the sentencing commission. The high court ruling could affect the outcome of today’s commission meeting.

In recent years, the seven-member commission has revised the sentencing guidelines, making the penalties less harsh, for drug crimes involving LSD, marijuana, and Oxycontin. Those drugs are largely used by whites, and the commission’s decision was made retroactive.

(Source: Associated Press)

Charged with a drug crime? An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you. Contact us today to arrange a FREE consultation.

Nation’s Busiest Crime Lab Reviewed after Mistakes

A New York state official has asked the district attorney of Queens to consider criminal charges against four former employees of the New York Police Department’s crime lab because of mistakes made in 2002 that could have skewed evidence in drug cases.

“The integrity of evidence is a cornerstone of law enforcement. These lapses were a threat not only to the prosecution of drug crimes but to the public’s trust in our criminal justice system,” said Kristine Hamann, the state inspector general.

Appeals Expected

Prosecutors use drug evidence collected during raids and seizures to secure a conviction, and the amount or weight of drug found has a bearing on the severity of sentencing.

Criminal defense attorney and co-founder of the Innocence Project, Peter Neufeld, said the findings “undermine God knows how many convictions,” and legal experts said the review could prompt appeals by those who want their sentences reevaluated or their convictions overturned.

Incompetent Lab Analysts

The police department acknowledged the sloppy work by three of the lab’s analysts, all of whom were either transferred or dismissed when they failed lab accuracy tests five years ago. The lab has since been overhauled with new staff and procedures.

However, the lab failed to disclose the drug testing errors to state officials until 2007 and also failed to report the mistakes to the Laboratory Accreditation Board of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors.

According to Hamann, much of the original evidence has been destroyed or tainted in the five-year lapse, making new testing extremely difficult. She added that it is also now impossible to know if any other of the lab’s 100 analysts took shortcuts during the tedious drug testing process.

In addition to the three former analysts, Hamann has recommended that the former director, W. Mark Dale, of the lab also be charged. Dale retired in 2004.

(Source: The New York Times online)

Charged with drug possession? Contact us today to arrange a free consultation with an experienced attorney who can ensure your rights are protected.