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Using Neuropsychological Evaluations in Cognitive Disability Claims

(215 reviews)

Produced on February 20, 2020

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Course Information

Time 1h 30m
Difficulty Advanced

Course Description

Cognitive dysfunction in some health conditions cannot be documented using medical or radiological procedures such as lab results, MRIs, or CT scans. Examples of these cases can include concussions/mild traumatic brain injury, medical conditions defined by case definitions and not biological markers, but also cognitive sequelae following cerebrovascular events in high functioning individuals. Cognitive dysfunction reported by individuals and/or observed by family members is often questioned by insurers when not accompanied by “hard” evidence. Neuropsychological disability evaluations can be a helpful tool in such cases.

This program will acquaint legal practitioners with the basics of neuropsychological assessment within the context of legal cases where cognitive deficits are in issue. This includes providing a basic overview of aspects of cognitive function, the types of testing measures administered in a typical battery used in disability determinations, what these measures document and what conclusions they allow to be reached. Finally, case studies will be provided to show what types of cases neuropsychological disability determinations may prove vital for.



Learning Objectives:

  1. Review the facets of cognitive function
  2. Discuss the neuropsychological measures used in neuropsychological disability determinations
  3. Identify how different aspects of cognitive the function can be affected by health conditions such as mild traumatic brain injury or cerebrovascular events 

Credit Information

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Faculty

Barbara B. Comerford

The Law Offices of Barbara B. Comerford

Barbara B. Comerford is an attorney in Paramus, New Jersey, whose firm represents ERISA Long Term Disability Insurance clients, and Social Security Disability clients throughout the United States and has for more than 25 years. She is a frequent lecturer on those topics and has conducted seminars throughout the years at the request of the American Bar Association, the New York and New Jersey Institutes of Continuing Legal Education, the Honorable Anne E. Thompson, American Inns of Court, the American Association of Administrative Law Judges (AALJ), the National Association of Social Security Disability Claimants (N.O.S.S.C.R), the American Trial Lawyers Association (now the American Association for Justice), and local Bar Associations.

Ms. Comerford has co-authored articles on Medically Documenting Disability in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for Frontiers Medical Journal (Frontiers in Pediatrics/Pediatric Neurology) https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fped.2019.00231/full; and Documenting disability in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) for the Journal WORK: Work 2020;66(2):339-352.doi: 10.3233/WOR-20 and cited at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32568153/. She is currently working on an article for another medical journal on proving Long Haul COVID 19 cases. Ms. Comerford was recently quoted in an article published in August 2020 in Atlantic Magazine on Long Haul COVID 19 cases, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/08/long-haulers-covid-19-recognition-support-groups-symptoms/615382/. She also co-authored the Chapter on Proving a CFS disability case for the first Physician Monograph ever in the United States which was jointly published by the New Jersey Academy of Medicine, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Ms. Comerford has sat on a number of professional Boards including the American Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (now the International Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome-a medical research Board); the CFIDS Association of America, The New Jersey CFS Association, the Roy White Foundation, the Northeast New Jersey Legal Services Association, the Fair Housing Council of Northern New Jersey and the Lewis Sanks King Justice Fund.

Ms. Comerford and her senior associate, Sara Kaplan-Khodorovsky, represented the plaintiff Brian Vastag, the science writer for the Washington Post in VASTAG v. PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, No. 2:2015cv06197 - Document 44 (D.N.J. 2018) before the Honorable Katherine Hayden. The plaintiffs prevailed in that case by carefully medically documenting symptoms and limitations in that chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia case. Ms. Comerford has represented hundreds of such claimants throughout her professional career.



Dr. Gudrun Lange’s career as a Clinical Neuropsychologist has spanned over 24 years. She earned her degree in Clinical Neuropsychology from the CUNY Graduate Center.  Her postdoctoral experiences at Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical Center and The Kessler Rehabilitation Institute fostered her research interest in investigating brain behavior relationships with neuroimaging techniques including functional neuroimaging in civilian and military populations that were diagnosed with “medically unexplained” illnesses. Her work over the years included research with populations that experienced concussion/mild traumatic brain injury, Gulf War Illness, ME/CFS and FM, as well as more conventional diagnoses including cerebrovascular events,  neurological conditions, and cancer-related cognitive dysfunction. Throughout the years, her federally funded research work has been informed by her continuing clinical activity. Dr. Lange has published over 50 peer reviewed articles, has served on many federal grant review boards, and continues to sit on advisory panels at the Centers for Disease Control and the NIH/NINDS as she has special expertise in cognitive function in ME/CFS.



Reviews

SM
Sherry M.

really good presentation

PF
Patricia F.

excellent presenters and material presentation.

JB
Julie A. B.

The presenters acquaint legal practitioners with the basics of neuropsychological assessment within the context of legal cases where cognitive deficits are in issue.

AM
Amy M.

Extremely interesting!

AS
Albert S.

Both presenters were excellent.

LB
Lisa B.

very informative and instructors knowledgable

JH
Joe H.

This was one of the best presentations that I have seen on Lawline to date. Both presenters were excellent and meshed their respective areas of expertise together in an extremely effective manner. It was a longer presentation but did not seem like it. I learned quite a bit.

KK
Kim K.

Great presenters and content!

RJ
Robin J.

I found this very informative!

EC
Erin C.

fascinating hearing from the PhD

EH
Emanuel H.

Very informative

LT
Lynne T.

ty

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