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McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC

If your Social Security disability application is denied, you may have to appear before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for an independent decision on your request for benefits. But how does the ALJ go about determining whether someone is disabled?  The process is complicated and technical, and does not necessarily involve common sense.  The ALJ makes his disability determination on what is called a “hypothetical” basis.  It has very little to do with the real world and nothing to do with the fact that employers will not hire you because of your medical conditions.  The ALJ looks only at whether you are capable of doing jobs, not whether you would be hired. Therefore, you may have to prove that you are unable to do jobs that you know you would never be hired to perform.

In most cases, you will have to prove two things to show that you are disabled:  First, you have to prove that your medical condition(s) prevent you from performing any job you have done in the past fifteen years.  Second, you have to prove that there aren’t any other jobs you are capable of doing considering your age, education and past work experience.  Think about all the jobs you have had in the past 15 years, and pick out the easiest one.  You will have to prove that you cannot do that easiest job even if you were never hired for that job again, or even if the company where you worked no longer exists or the job is not available for some other reason.


The civil attorneys of McNamara Phelan McSteen often consult with homeowners who either paid a contractor to do work which was not completed, or was done but done poorly and not in accordance with industry guidelines.  Fortunately, Illinois has laws in place to protect homeowners–most importantly, the Home Repair and Remodeling Act. The law requires businesses/contractors engaged in the home repair and remodeling business to give the homeowner/customer certain notices, notably:

For every contract over $1,000.00 the contractor shall provide the customer with a written contract, which must contain the following:  1) The total cost — including parts and materials listed with “reasonable particularity,” along with any charge for an estimate; and 2) The business name and address of the person engaged in the business of home repair or remodeling.


Recently, the Will County Circuit Court has been relying on Guardians at Litem to assist in investigating and making recommendations in order to resolve disputes between parents centered on the issues of parenting time, the determination as to who will make major parenting decisions for the minor child(ren), and other parenting issues.  Previously, judges were routinely appointing experts to investigate and make recommendations on these types of issues.  Unfortunately, even though these experts provided comprehensive, and at times exhaustive, reports and recommendations on what were formerly referred to as custody and visitation disputes, the amount of time it would take to finish their investigations and submit recommendations, along with the expense incurred for their work, made the appointment of such experts unattractive to most parents.

The appointment of a Guardian at Litem (GAL) to represent the minor child(ren) in these disputes is routinely a quicker and more cost-effective way to address the issues involved, and helps provide the Court with guidance in considering the best interest of the child(ren).  It is important to keep in mind that GALs do not represent the parents, and parents should not expect a GAL to treat them as a client.  Parents must always rely on the advice of their own counsel, especially when dealing directly with a GAL.  Most importantly, parents should discuss with their own attorney the subject matter that they may be asked to address when speaking with a Guardian at Litem, as well as how best to present their position to the GAL, while at the same time deciding how to minimize the weaknesses in their case when questioned directly by the GAL.  Many parents make the mistake that a GAL is somehow co-counsel in advocating for their position.  Many times the GAL receives information from parents that most attorneys would caution against disseminating.  Therefore, interacting with a GAL is an important subject that should be thoroughly discussed with an attorney before such communication begins.


Every day, people find themselves injured due to the negligence of another, whether it be in an auto accident, at the grocery store, or walking into an office building. Illinois law allows an injured person to be compensated financially for his or her damages under those circumstances.  Unfortunately, the incident that causes the injury may be traumatizing, and the injured person may find himself or herself overwhelmed and uncertain what to do next.  Often, he or she does not know whether they can or should make a claim for the injuries, and does not know what steps to take to do so.  Consulting with an attorney can help.

Ideally, your attorney would prefer that you, (or someone you know), takes contemporaneous photos of the scene of the accident, and jots down pertinent information, including the names and contact information of witnesses to the incident. If the accident involved motor vehicles, photos of the vehicles and the area where the accident occurred can be very helpful in evaluating a claim of negligence and presenting evidence at trial, if that becomes necessary.


When injured while working in Illinois, you are entitled to the all the protections offered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Section 12 of this Act allows the respondent (your employer) to send you for an examination by a non-treating doctor.  A respondent will use this examination to determine if you should continue to receive benefits, such as payment of medical bills or temporary total disability payments.  Before heading into this type of exam, there are some things you should know.

A respondent has a right under the Act to send you to an independent medical examination, (IME), provided that they pay for your reasonable expenses of attending the examination. This usually means paying for mileage and a meal, but depending on the circumstances, could involve arranging transportation or compensating you for having to miss work.  These expenses and arrangements should be provided to you before the exam takes place.  Notice must also be given and it must be reasonable.  Once notice is given, if the appointment needs to be rescheduled, this should be communicated to the respondent so that a non-appearance fee is not generated.  While attendance at this appointment is mandatory, you do have some say as to when it should occur.

Will County Bar Association Illinois State Bar Association Lions Minooka AV 2019 Rotary DuPage County Bar Association
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