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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.
Barbara B. Comerford has been practicing law in Bergen County, New Jersey for over 25 years primarily in the area of ERISA long-term disability insurance claims and litigation; and Social Security Disability claims and litigation. Ms. Comerford is a graduate of Seton Hall Law School. She has lectured extensively on ERISA Long term disability insurance and Individual Disability Insurance law, as well as, Social Security disability law throughout the United States on behalf of many organizations including the American Association of Law Schools, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives, the American Association of Trial Lawyers (now the American Association of Justice), the Association of Administrative Law Judges; the American Bar Association, the New Jersey Bar Association, The New York and New Jersey Institutes of Continuing Legal Education, and the Bergen County Bar Association (where she founded the Social Security Committee which she continues to Co-Chair).
She has represented thousands of clients seeking social security disability, long term disability insurance and government disability benefits. She is one of the co-authors of the CFS Physician Manual (she wrote the Section on proving disability) which was published jointly by the New Jersey Academy of Medicine, the New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services and UMDNJ. Until recently, it was the only such publication in the United States. It has been utilized by physicians and patients throughout the country to recognize and properly diagnose CFS. Ms. Comerford recently co-authored a medical journal article on ME/CFS for Frontiers. She is also awaiting notification of publication of another medical journal article on ME/CFS which a leading medical journal requested she submit for consideration.
Ms. Comerford has testified before the U.S Department of Health & Human Services CFS Scientific Advisory Committee on Education Law Recommendations for Adolescents diagnosed with severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For more than a decade Ms. Comerford chaired the annual Women’s Luncheon for the Northern NJ Multiple Sclerosis Society to raise funds and awareness for individuals with MS. She has been a Disability Commentator for Tru TV (formerly Court TV). She has been a member of a number of non profit Boards including: The Community Health Law Project, Northeast New Jersey Legal Services, the Fair Housing Council of Northern New Jersey, the CFIDS Association of America, the AACFS (a national scientific advisory committee focused on CFS which is now the International Association of CFS (IACFS)) and the Roy White Foundation. She has served on the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Committee; and she has served as a member of the Legal Committee for the national pediatric traumatic brain injury foundation: The Sarah Jane Foundation in Manhattan. She has co-hosted the “Three Circles of Life” radio program on WMCA in New York City which focused on insurance issues and government disability programs, and political topics related to those issues. On October 17, 2019 she will be presenting a paper for a Lawline seminar to a national audience of lawyers on ERISA Long Term Disability Insurance Claims. On October 26, 2019, Ms. Comerford is also moderating and speaking about Careers in the Law at the request of the National Association of Women Judges for the “Color of Justice” Program at Rutgers Law School. She is also moderating a seminar at the Bergen County Bar Association in November 2019 on Social Security Disability law.
In 2018, Ms. Comerford’s law firm was in the national news for successfully representing a Washington Post reporter in litigation against Prudential for failure to award long term disability insurance benefits under an ERISA LTD policy: Vastag v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America, No. 15-6197 (KSH) (CLW) (D.N.J. May 31, 2018).
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.