13 High Swartz Attorneys named to 2021 PA Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars Lists

The Pennsylvania Super Lawyers® List adds some new High Swartz Attorneys.

High Swartz is pleased to announce that 13 of its attorneys have been named to the 2021 Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars list. Congratulations go out to the attorneys listed below.

2021 Attorneys on the Super Lawyers® List

Judith A. Algeo: Judith joins the 2021 Super Lawyers list for the first time in her impressive family law career in Bucks County, PA.

Melissa M. Boyd: Missy again is listed as one of the 100 Top Lawyers in PA, Top 100 Lawyers in the Philadelphia area and top 50 female attorneys in Pennsylvania for Family Law.

David J. Brooman: 2021 marks the 3rd consecutive year for David’s inclusion in the Super Lawyers® list. David was listed for his outstanding environmental law work in Montgomery County.

Mary Cushing Doherty: Mary is no stranger to the Super Lawyers® list. She joins Missy on the 100 Top Lawyers in PA, Top 100 Lawyers in the Philadelphia area and top 50 female attorneys in Pennsylvania for Family Law.

Mark R. Fischer, Jr.: Mark was nominated for inclusion in his fourth consecutive Super Lawyers® list for his outstanding firm contributions in civil litigation defense work.

Gilbert P. High, Jr.: 2021 marks Gil’s 16th consecutive year on the Super Lawyers® list. His legal acuity in State and local Municipal work continue to keep him on the top.

Thomas E. Panzer: His third consecutive year on the Super Lawyers® List, Tom is recognized for his Workers’ Compensation Law practice.

Thomas D. Rees: Tom joins Gil as another top attorney with 16 consecutive years on the list. Tom was included for his work in Employment and Labor Law.

Joel D. Rosen: Our managing partner was included for the 5th consecutive year for his outstanding work in Business and Corporate law.

James B. Shrimp: Jim joins the 2021 Super Lawyers List after multiple years on the Rising Stars List. His work in Employment Litigation in Montgomery County, PA got him selected.

Richard C. Sokorai: Rich returns for his second year on the Super Lawyers® list and is recognized in 2021 for his business litigation legal work.

2021 High Swartz Attorneys on the Super Lawyers® – Rising Stars List

Elizabeth C. Early: Liz has been nominated to her 5th consecutive Rising Stars list for her legal work in Family Law in Montgomery County.

Stephen M. Zaffuto: Nominated to his second Rising Stars list is 2021, Stephen joins the others on the list for his experience in Real Estate law in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

How are Pennsylvania Super Lawyers® selected?

Super Lawyers® uses a patented multiphase selection process, including nominations, independent research and peer evaluations. Lawyers enter the candidate pool by one of 4 ways – by a managing partner survey, nomination by other lawyers, third party feedback, or identification by Super Lawyers® themselves.

Step two in the selection process is independent research and the evaluation is based on 12 indicators of professional legal achievement and recognition by peers. Those indicators are:

  • Verdicts/Settlements
  • Transactions
  • Representative Clients
  • Legal Experience
  • Legal Honors and Awards
  • Special licenses or legal certifications
  • Standing within the law firm
  • Bar Association or professional activity
  • Legal Pro Bono work and community service
  • Lectures and legal writings
  • Education and employment background
  • Other outstanding legal services/achievements

Step 3 involves the candidates with the highest total number of points from steps 1 and 2 which serve on a blue ribbon panel. These panelists then evaluate other candidates within their primary practice area.

Step 4 is the final selection. A representative number of top attorneys in PA from small, medium and large size law firms are selected. The Super Lawyers list recognizes no more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state. The Rising Stars list recognizes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in each state. To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less.

If you are in need of legal assistance, High Swartz is hear to help. Please call 610.275.0700 or use our contact form to email us.

Can You Get SSI for a Fibromyalgia Diagnosis?

Have you been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and unable to work owing to the severity of your condition? If so, you may be wondering if you can get SSI for Fibromyalgia.

Before applying for SSD benefits, you should be aware of how the Social Security Administration views Fibromyalgia. The SSA requires rigorous evidence that you will need to provide to be considered disabled under the administration’s guidelines. It may be helpful to have an SSDI attorney available to support your claim.

Can I get Social Security Disability Benefits for Fibromyalgia?

First, let’s start with a breakdown of Fibromyalgia, its symptoms, and how covid can impact its severity.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), Fibromyalgia (FM) is a complex medical condition characterized by widespread pain in the joints, muscles, tendons, or nearby soft tissues that persists for at least three months. In addition to chronic pain, Fibromyalgia presents other conditions like difficulty sleeping, memory, and cognitive problems otherwise known as “fibro fog,” chronic fatigue, depression, recurring migraine headaches, irritable bowel problems, muscle fatigue causing twitching and spasms, and temperature sensitivity.

For those who have Fibromyalgia, COVID-19 may have a significant impact on their health. The effects of COVID-19 on our everyday life have increased stress, depression, reduced physical activity, and weight gain for many people. While these changes are not unwanted for anyone’s health, they are particularly concerning for those with Fibromyalgia as they can result in painful and debilitating flare-ups of their condition.

What do I need to know before I apply for SSI benefits?

  • Establish diagnosis and treatment. First, you must establish the diagnosis and treatment for Fibromyalgia by a medical or osteopathic doctor. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will review the doctor’s treatment notes, findings on physical examination, and the diagnostic studies. Then, the SSA will evaluate whether the doctor’s records are consistent with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and whether your reported symptoms over time have been severe enough under the Social Security Administration’s requirements to find you disabled.
  • A Rheumatologist is vital. Social Security Administration evaluates Fibromyalgia through the criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology. If you have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia by a physician and not a rheumatologist, documentation may be insufficient to meet the requirements the SSA uses to evaluate claims.
  • Evidence. There are three critical pieces of evidence that the Social Security Administration will look for in your medical records to establish the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. An SSDI attorney can help support you during the process.
  1. Your Records. Records must establish that you have had widespread pain that has persisted for at least three months. Widespread pain involves pain on both sides of the body and in both upper and lower halves of the body.
  2. Tender points. There are 18 tender points identified on the body and addressed in evaluating Fibromyalgia. Of the 18 tender points, you must have pain in at least 11 of them. If your doctor is not documenting delicate point testing, meeting this criterion will be difficult.
  3. Ruling out other diagnoses. There must be documented evidence ruling out other disorders likely to cause the same symptoms.

Symptoms. Considering the severity of Fibromyalgia, the Social Security Administration looks for evidence of having repeated manifestations of six or more fibromyalgia symptoms or co-occurring conditions such as fatigue, cognitive or memory problems (“fibro fog”), waking unrefreshed, depression, anxiety, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Is it challenging to get SSD benefits if you have Fibromyalgia?

Obtaining Social Security benefits based on a fibromyalgia diagnosis can be extremely difficult for several reasons. First and foremost, diagnosis typically occurs between the ages of 35 to 45. At that age, the Social Security Administration considers you to be a younger individual and presumes that you are not disabled based upon their regulatory guidelines. Fibromyalgia diagnosis relies on a combination of subjective symptoms which cannot quickly be established and are not always well documented. The SSA relies heavily on medical records when making disability determinations. If the medical records do not substantiate your complaints, the SSA will most likely disapprove the claim.

Should I Work with an SSDI Attorney?

While you are not required to utilize the services of an SSDI attorney during the benefits application process, it is crucial to put your best case forward from the very beginning. If Fibromyalgia is your primary disabling condition, you should consider consulting with an experienced SSDI attorney near you before entering your claim. If you are denied benefits at the initial stage, it then takes a significant time to get a hearing date before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), with some offices reporting a wait of 18-months.

Talk to the attorneys at our law offices in Doylestown for advice. They’ll make sure you the best advantage of winning your claim.

Elizabeth C. Early appointed as Hearing Committee Member Serving the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

High Swartz Law Firm of Southeastern PA and New Jersey is pleased to announce the appointment of Elizabeth C. Early as a Hearing Committee member in the District II disciplinary district. Ms. Early is a family Law Attorney, parenting coordinator and partner at the firm’s Norristown office. Ms. Early’s appointment will begin on July 1, 2021.

As a Hearing Committee member, Liz will conduct hearings and review cases to determine a particular course of discipline. While the Disciplinary board consist of 10 attorneys and 2 non-attorneys, the Hearing Committee is comprised of 150 members who may dedicate their time for up to six years.

“I am honored to be appointed to this position as I believe our first and most important obligation as attorneys is to uphold our Rules of Professional Conduct. I look forward to serving the aims of the Disciplinary Board and giving back to my community and peers in this important role.” Says Ms. Early.

A Brief Explanation of the Discipline Process

The discipline process in Pennsylvania consists of many moving parts. It begins with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) receiving a complaint. A request for more information and documentation is made and of course, notification of the Complainant of case disposition.

At this point the ODC prepares a Petition for Discipline which acknowledges charges. The matter is then assigned to a 3-member Hearing Committee. The ODC presents evidence of the misconduct and the Respondent present their defense. After the possible filing of a brief by the ODC And Respondent, the Hearing Committee issues its Report and Recommendation which includes the recommended disposition, or punishment. The process can be concluded by dismissal, private or public reprimand, or even an informal admonition.

The Emerald Ash Borer Killed a Tree on My Property Line. Who is Responsible For Its Removal?

The Emerald Ash Borer insect has wreaked havoc throughout much of PA and is migrating to surrounding Mid-Atlantic states. Dead ash tree removal is a must for property owners, but the responsibility burden can sometimes cause friction between neighbors.

I live in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and I’m trying to resolve a dispute with a neighbor about a dead ash tree that sits directly on our property line. When I moved into my house a few months ago, I had an arborist inspect the tree, and planned to have it trimmed.

I was advised that the ash tree is infected by the emerald ash borer beetle and is nearly completely dead. The arborist advised me to remove it quickly so that it does not fall on my shed directly under it and was given a quote of $1700.The thing is, the tree sits approximately on 25% of my property and 75% of my neighbor’s.

My understanding is that in PA, if a dead or dying tree sits on the property line, both the neighborly and legally required thing to do is to split the cost of removal. However, my neighbor stated that he did not care if it came down in my yard as it would be my responsibility to remove it if that occurred. The dead tree would not hit his house if it fell on his property, and he was not willing to contribute to its removal.

I was hoping to determine with a real estate lawyer familiar with tree removal laws if I had any legal recourse against him with regards to this removal. Or,f the cost of removal is low enough that I am better off just paying for the tree removal myself rather than trying to take legal action against my neighbor At the end of the day, I’m arguing with him over $850 and the principle of the matter. – Matthew P.

I believe your understanding of the PA tree law is correct. A property line tree is the joint and equal responsibility of the two property owners. If one party refuses to accept equal responsibility, legal action would have to be started – normally before a Montgomery County magistrate judge. The cost of commencing the action is not great, but, the cost of your relationship with your neighbor could be.

You might have some success in having a real estate attorney write to the neighbor, but that could be costly as well. The additional issue is that in order to remove the tree, your arborist may requires the neighbor’s permission, since going onto his property would be a trespass.

For you to be successful, legally you have to be able to prove where the property line is and prove that the tree was a hazard tree because it was dead. You’ll need a written opinion from the arborists and good pictures.

Many arborists in PA are rightfully reluctant to climb up an ash tree in order to remove it because it dies from the top down – so the top becomes very brittle and thus dangerous to climb. You have to deal with this right away. Best of luck!