Understanding the Process of Social Security Disability Mediation
If a dispute arises in the context of Social Security Disability, the judge assigned to the case may order mediation or one of the parties may ask for it. Mediation is a confidential process in which the parties involved in a dispute try to resolve their differences through open communication with the assistance of a trained mediator.
Mediation is an opportunity for the claimant and Social Security representative to meet face to face. This can humanize the process and make the representative more aware of the claimant’s situation. Because the mediator is not a judge, he or she cannot impose a decision on the parties. Instead, the mediator’s role is as a facilitator. The mediator is an impartial person who helps the parties improve their communication. He or she encourages the parties to reach an amicable decision outside of court.
Mediation typically begins as a joint session. The mediator discusses ground rules and the confidentiality aspect of the proceeding. Each side then gives an opening statement about their view of the case. Then, the mediator may divide the parties into separate rooms. The mediator meets with each party individually, expresses his or her opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of their position and learns more about their side of the case. The mediator conveys offers and information back and forth between the parties. This is all conducted in order to help the parties reach an agreement of their case.
If the parties reach an agreement, this agreement is memorialized in writing and states the terms of the agreement. Important aspects of the agreement may include the finding of the disability onset date, the amount of back payments, the requirement for any additional medical evaluations and the payment of attorney’s fees from the award.
Student Loan Mediation Gives Parties Creative Options to Resolve Disputes
As the student loan crisis continues, some borrowers are looking for ways to better manage their student loan payments. Student loans are notoriously difficult to discharge, so students who want to make their payments must look to other alternatives if they encounter financial difficulty. More students are now taking advantage of the mediation process to resolve their student loan dilemma.
Mediation is a private and confidential process in which two parties involved in a dispute work together to reach a solution. A neutral mediator helps the parties understand the other’s position better and uses conflict resolution skills to improve their communication.
During mediation, the parties may be able to reach a mutual decision that benefits both of them. Often, mediation allows the parties to communicate more openly than they had before so that the lender can become better informed about the borrower’s situation.
The parties can explore creative options and are not limited by the decision that a court would make. For example, the student loan provider may be able to grant a special forbearance or deferment so that the borrower can get on better financial footing before resuming payments. Another option may be to extend the payments in order to make the monthly payment lower.
The lender may agree to modify the loan to make payments more manageable to the borrower. This may involve lowering the interest rate, increasing the repayment period, decreasing the monthly payment or taking other action that makes payments more manageable. In some situations, consolidating the loans may help the situation. In other situations, the lender might adjust the student loan structure so that the borrower can pay based on his or her actual income and expenses.
Legal Issues Resolved through Nursing Home Mediation
Since federal law prohibits nursing homes from requiring families to agree to pre-dispute arbitration, nursing homes have looked to other alternatives to resolve disputes. One effective alternative is mediation, a private process in which a neutral third party helps those involved in a dispute reach an amicable decision through open communication and collaboration.
Mediation has been used for years in the nursing home setting to resolve disputes, such as:
- Liability cases – Mediation is often used in cases involving liability, negligence and medical malpractice. Mediation can evaluate what the standard of care was and if it was breached. It is also used in intentional tort cases when a nursing home employee assaults or otherwise harms a nursing home resident.
- Breach of contract – Nursing homes enter into contracts with residents, their families, vendors and employees. Mediation often helps the parties better evaluate their position and reach an amicable decision.
- Third party responsibility claims – In some situations, a third party may be to blame for a resident’s injury and the nursing home may be liable for this party’s actions. Mediation may be able to help the parties devise ways to better protect the resident.
- Consumer protection claims – In some states, nursing home legal issues may involve consumer protection statutes. These statutes may provide an additional basis for recovery and may include the payment for attorney’s fees.
- Employment disputes – Issues between employees and with employees may be resolved through mediation, which encourages better communication.
Because nursing home cases often involve heightened emotions and private issues, mediation is the ideal forum to resolve these disputes. A mediator with experience in these types of cases can ensure that all parties feel heard and respected so that they will be more likely to reach an amicable decision.