New Developments in Disability Law

Accessibility and mobile apps: new Ninth Circuit decision, Robles v. Domino’s Pizza, applies ADA to mobile apps

In Robles v. Domino’s Pizza, the Ninth Circuit held that Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to both websites and mobile applications. This decision reversed the district court’s dismissal of a class action lawsuit which asserted that Domino’s Pizza violated the ADA and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act (UCRA) by failing to make its website and mobile app accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Even though customers primarily accessed the website and app away from Domino’s physical restaurants, the panel stated that the ADA applies to the services of a public accommodation, not services in a place of public accommodation. The panel stated that the website and app connected customers to the goods and services of Domino’s physical restaurants.

The Robles decision did not rule on whether Domino’s website and mobile app comply with the ADA.  The court concluded “We leave it to the district court, after discovery, to decide in the first instance whether Domino’s website and app provide the blind with effective communication and full and equal enjoyment of its products and services as the ADA mandates.”

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2019/01/15/17-55504.pdf

Analysis of Supreme Court Opinion in Culbertson v. Berryhill (Social Security Cap on Attorney’s Fees)

Click here for an analysis of the recent Supreme Court opinion in Culbertson v. Berryhill holding that the Social Security Act’s fee cap of 25 percent of past-due benefits imposed on attorneys who successfully represent Title II benefit claimants in court proceedings applies only to fees for court representation and not to aggregate fees for both court and agency representation.

Opinion analysis: Social Security cap on attorney’s fees applies separately to successful representation before a court

Veterans Often Eligible for Both VA and SSDI Benefits

It’s helpful sometimes to be reminded of things. For example, most of us probably already know that disabled veterans are often eligible for BOTH Social Security disability benefits and VA service-connected disability benefits. We know this, but it’s helpful to be reminded, which brings us to today’s link:

Receiving Social Security Disability at the Same Time as VA Disability (via DC Military Magazine)

Personally, while I KNOW this, articles like this are a helpful reminder for me to make sure my CLIENTS know this. I can’t count the number of times I have spoken to someone about one type of case, only to find out they should also be pursuing a different kind of case. Social Security and VA disability, Long Term Disability and Social Security, Social Security and worker’s compensation, and so on.

(hat tip to Terisa Page Gault for the link)

Tax Law Change Benefits Disabled

It’s nearing October 15th, and for some of us (who weren’t quite ready six months ago and filed for an extension), taxes are on the brain. And as we near the end of the calendar year, next year’s taxes are worth thinking about, too.

With that in mind comes today’s article, discussing a positive line item from the new tax law. As you may remember from tax class in law school, not only is income taxable, but forgiven loans count as taxable income, too, in many cases. And some types of student loans can be discharged when the recipient becomes disabled. That forgiveness has been taxable before, but not under the new tax law!

Changes to Student Loan Death and Disability Discharge Tax Rules (via Forbes.com)

(hat tip to Terisa Page for pointing out this article)

Denied disability? Just go to work! Not so easy…

Anecdotally, those of us who represent disability claimants know that when they are denied, they rarely just go right back to work. Even if they truly don’t meet the requirements for Social Security disability, the realities of the labor market can be pretty harsh, especially for unemployed people over age 50 with a serious medical condition. The article below discusses this:

Denied Disability Applicants Fare Badly in the Labor Market

Social Security benefits we don’t often think of, but should!

Social Security has a lot of different benefits, for a lot of different people. Most everyone knows the SSA offers retirement and disability benefits to people that worked and paid into the system (and to some who didn’t, via SSI), but many don’t know that there are many ways for family members to receive benefits based on each other’s work records. Parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, widows and widowers, disabled adult children, etc.! Here are two articles discussing some of these benefits:

Social Security benefits for grandchildren

A local man’s fight at the Social Security office reveals spousal benefits you may not know about

(h/t to Terisa Page for the former article, and to Charles Hall’s Social Security News for the latter)

High cost to individuals, local governments, when jailed persons lose their Medicaid coverage

Many of us know that when people are sent to jail they are not eligible for Medicaid while incarcerated. What we don’t always think about is the systemic cost-shifting that occurs when those people’s healthcare is no longer covered by Medicaid, but by the state and local governments responsible for providing healthcare inside the jails and prisons. This article from CNN discusses that phenomenon, as well as the varying practices of the states in how hard they make it for the individuals to regain Medicaid coverage when they’re released:

The high cost of taking away prisoners’ Medicaid coverage

There’s also this this handy map that shows the impact of incarceration on Medicaid benefits in all 50 states. (Fair warning, some policies may have changed since the map was last updated in 2016).

(hat tip to our own Terisa Page Gault for finding the CNN article!)