“Somebody Call for An Expert?” I’ll Answer That Call!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I’ve written about my fondness for Eeyore and want you to know I’m a bit attached to Gopher as well, especially when he comes to the rescue! You’ve heard the story when Pooh eats too much honey (honey is often on Pooh’s mind) at Rabbit’s place, gets rotund, and subsequently gets stuck in Rabbit’s front door.

45 Awesome winnie the pooh bees clipart Winnie The Pooh Pictures, Cute Winnie The Pooh, Winnie The Pooh Birthday, Whinnie The Pooh Drawings, Bee Clipart, Friends Wallpaper, Cute Disney Wallpaper, Cute Animal Drawings, Pooh BearRabbit is not happy and help is needed! Gopher recommends using dynamite, and he’s an expert with that subject, but Pooh isn’t so hot on the idea. If dynamite was needed, Gopher was ready for the rescue!Gopher

Popping out, Gopher exclaims “Somebody call for an expert?!” 

After thinking it through, Pooh, with assistance from his friendly team, realizes how to get unstuck. He agrees with Christopher Robin’s recommendations to patiently wait until he gets thin. Time passes, and it works (he gets thin!), however, he still needs a good jolt to move through the door. The team is successful and Pooh ends up in a happy place filled with honey! 

Related imageHoney! Yummy! Yummy!

I hope you appreciate this Pooh story.  I do. When called, I too, will use my expertise to help you and your team out in complex cases. I’ll answer just like Gopher but am not an expert in dynamite, I am in forensic rehabilitation consulting

Several years ago, I made an executive decision to study forensic rehabilitation counseling at George Washington University.  I started the post-graduate level educational on-line program on April 15, 2013 and graduated on August 15, 2014.

The coursework taught me more about courtroom testimony and how to function more effectively, efficiently and confidently within the legal system. I gained valuable insight into personal injury, medical malpractice, marital dissolution, product liability, and catastrophic injury cases.

A good expert has more than expertise that you can appreciate! It’s important for me to stand up under questioning (here’s a post on intimidation), commit to my opinion, and stay within my area of expertise. Thankfully, all my training including my background in Community Health Education helps! 

I strive to educate others in a clear manner and explain a complex subject to a lay audience in simple terms.

And you know what else, a good expert like me cares. I love my career, and deeply care for my work.

There’s plenty of satisfying work to accomplish and life constantly moves forward at a really swift pace so it’s important to not slow down. I work hard for my customers, for myself and for my family.

When labeled “a firecracker” by a classmate during our 15th year high school class reunion, I had to look up what that meant!

Yes, I realize I can be a bit firecracker-like, mostly because I’m a bold individual and will do what I have to do to accomplish my goals. I believe it’s always beneficial for lawyers and experts to spend time getting to know each other.

Yep, attorneys think differently than counselors. So, please let’s spend a little quality time together before we meet in a courtroom! It will truly prove beneficial.

You’ll find I’m a genuine person who truly cares about serving as an expert in the field. I’m ready, willing and able to offer my voice to help you help your client.  

Give me, Amy Botkin, a call at 515-778-0634 or email me at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com to start a discussion about your case. Thank you for reading!

___________________

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

Conflicting Medical Opinions? Handle With Care!

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Upon referral of a vocational case, I review a variety of  medical data (for example: treating physician reports, Functional Capacity Evaluations, Independent Medical Evaluations) and/or psychological data (for example: psychometric testing, psychological evaluations, psychiatric evaluations) found within the file.

During a workers’ compensation litigated claim, or on any claim that involves work and disability, it’s important for me to understand the individual’s medical situation based on the data contained in these records.

Related image

Good thing I’ve had medical records training and enjoy the review!

If a file contains more than one FCE and/or IME, I can expect the reports to have conflicting opinions. For example, one physical therapist will recommend the claimant has the physical capacity for light work, while the other physical therapist says medium work. Often the therapists also have conflicting information about the individual’s maximal (or lack of) effort put forth during the evaluation.I Did My Best

The claimant needs to honestly and sincerely say “I Did My Best!”

Assisting the individual (who can be referred to as the injured worker, the claimant, the patient, the testee, the evaluee, and potentially the client)  in returning to work following an injury is a central role in my specialty of placement. This involves finding the best occupational match within the individual’s own labor market. A person’s “doctor imposed restrictions based on an FCE” should not direct the provision of placement services. A person’s knowledge, skills, interests and abilities should!

Image result for opinionWith conflicting opinions from professionals, what data should I rely upon to perform a beneficial service?

To resolve discrepancies I first ask myself, why is an FCE being used for this specific claim? The utility of this type of scientifically based evaluation, the training sources, performance methods, test protocols and standards to measure them are numerous.

Conflicting options are influenced by components of context and can be derived from subjective views. 

Professionals may have opposing views for their own reasons but I must be able to articulate their reports into vocationally-relevant terminology and tell a story about meaningful and gainful work. And it can be challenging to do this if I don’t understand the conclusion of the FCE report to begin with!

WORK

I love reading medical data rich in detail about a person’s world of functioning!  And I love writing reports rich with detail about a person’s world of work! 

A functional capacity evaluation is actually a term with various definitions, purposes and constructs. The purpose is to  evaluate an individual’s capacity to perform work activities related to his or her participation in employment. It seems that in essence, by having a functional capacity evaluation a person is likely to be put in an unfortunate position of deciding whether he or she is willing to return to work. 

If willing, there’s a way. If not, there’s no way.

From what I know, there are approximately 10 different types of commonly used functional capacity evaluations. Here in Iowa, I am most familiar with FCEs with names like the Isernhagen Work System, the Blankenship, Matheson, WorkWell and X-RTS. The reliability or validity of any system is somewhat irrelevant to me because the testing is already entered into “evidence”. What is relevant to me is whether or not I comprehend the results and recommendations contained within the evaluation. Sometimes I can, sometimes I cannot. I always use a “Does This Make Sense to Me? test!

Image result for conflictingIt’s up to the dualing physical therapists to make their best points during litigation, I’m not in that ring!

I feel fortunate of connections with several physical therapists allowing insight into their clinical practice. I attend continuing education programs, and recall one that helped me understand various approaches to FCE’s specifically the X-RTS Lever Arm.

Thinking Cap

The X-RTS Lever Arm passes my make sense test!

So within the context of my vocational consulting work while cautiously putting any judgment aside (which seems hard when I know I know certain things), I analyze and compare each FCE while considering the testing results.

I note whether the FCE report is readable and user friendly. I assess if I understand terminology and methods used, how long testing was administered, what actually was administered, the claimant’s behavior during the test, and how the evaluator came to his or her conclusions about the results. Does the conclusion make sense?

Are there concrete and realistic recommendations regarding strengths and weaknesses in relation to performing physical demand levels of various work situations? In other words, are there recommendations regarding real jobs found within the person’s labor market? Do the recommendations make sense?

I definitely look for the goals and expectations for the evaluation, and whether maximum and consistent effort was made by the evaluee. Comments on the suitability of the testee’s future employment options along with the evaluator’s observations are valuable and should be included.

It’s important to note what body part/extremity the therapist focuses on in relation to what body part/extremity was injured. For example in one report, the therapist discussed lower extremity activities, when in fact it was an upper extremity injury. If the report cites examples or uses too many percentages, it’s important to understand how the therapist justifies examples. I’m familiar with a therapist who changes the percentages of the same examples from report to report. That doesn’t make sense to me.

No sense

I try really hard to make sense of most things and situations!  

If I am able to square an FCE in my mind after careful and prolonged study, is it possible the evaluee could do the same? That  would be  fortunate, especially if the therapist offers good recommendations that make sense!

How does the evaluee, when not truly the therapists’  patient when referred for an FCE by their own work comp attorney; with an additional FCE visit to a different physical therapist by the defense attorney  (that makes 2 different reports prepared by 2 different therapists) perceive discrepancies in the results? Sadly, in my eyes the FCE often gets “interpreted” through an attorney. The repeated pattern of thinking of one’s functional capacity as “poor” does not help anyone return to work.

If there is an IME (Independent Medical Exam), it may seem more geared towards one of the FCEs. Regardless, I try to comprehend all reports, noting the one I understand the most. I’m not so sure that an IME is really a “fresh set of eyes” in the workers’ compensation cases I’ve worked on. This topic is another blog in itself.

Putting both, or multiple opinions in a vocational report and making use of other documentation to support my ultimate and final opinion is a great idea, however I have to be cautious to not put myself in a role that isn’t mine (which is making a medical opinion which I can’t do).

If I am able to provide a doctor (ideally the most recent treating occupational health or rehabilitation doctor) detailed information directly related to a specific occupation or line of work and any resources that could help the doctor understand how such work is performed in a smart, safe and effective manner, many benefits arise.

Related image

Clean your lenses!

There’s a clearer understanding of the vocational rehabilitation process and with agreement from all involved, there’s a higher likelihood one could see a successful common outcome (return to work). This certainly helps solidify my vocational opinion and make reasonable recommendations. Yet, this type of opportunity is not frequently available (it is for me to though through processing a life care plan!). Please know I always search for a way to best express my vocational opinion.

In my reports, I document what medical records I’ve reviewed and then use the actual words from the individual during an interview (or deposition review) describing how s/he details their physical impairment.  Often I hear verbatim what one doctor wrote in their restrictions. The evaluee will respond to my open questioning about any physical limitations (sometimes after the evaluee refers to his/her doctor’s letter) and read or have it memorized saying: “no lifting over 20 pounds, avoid twisting, bending, stooping, sit and stand as needed.”  No sense

What do those words really mean in real life? The individual doesn’t seem to know either. Ask an employer if they have a job that involves no lifting over 20 pounds, no twisting, no bending, no stooping, no this, no that…and that’s not talking their language!

The evaluee who responds to me in this fashion (using verbatim restrictive words) needs future vocational counseling. Vocational counseling (which may or may not be provided depending on the nature of the litigation) helps to gain a clearer understanding of how the person’s medical situation has changed their daily living (especially in the context of their own world of work). This understanding leads to the ability to articulate the individual’s capacity for success to others (family, friends, job interviewers, etc.).

Please keep in mind, the term “restriction” is not conducive to a successful job search. The ability to explain who you are and what you can do from a functional perspective to help a business make or save money is what is conducive to a successful job search. Restrictions should never be the focus of job placement. Skills are!

Rehabilitation counseling is especially important if the individual is searching for a job, requiring job seeking skills training on how to or (how not to) disclose disability or any functional limitation. The personal attributes gained from training helps the placement process move forward with common goals avoiding getting stuck within a few words that don’t apply to working reality.

WORKWhile staying true to my convictions and firm beliefs that a person can work if the person wants to work and has the capacity to work, I need to understand the dichotomy between science and clinical practice is more imagined than real.

If healthcare professionals submit conflicting reports on the same individual, I need to be able to resolve inconsistencies to better understand and appreciate the opinions offered. It is not my role to determine which opinion is correct. It is my role to utilize available information, provide a beneficial service, and make a sound vocational opinion regarding the individual’s strengths and weakness in relation to work capacity and employability.

Matching People With Their World of WorkIt’s rewarding when I can clarify a person’s sense of their own world of work.

I strive to extend the value of FCEs in the litigation process. I am trained not only in understanding a client’s functional abilities at work, but at home and at leisure.  Together, my knowledge with those of other experts, contributes to decisions about the economic losses, or damages, for which the person receives compensation.

Thank you for reading this long post! I’m here to help attorneys like you help your client. Contact me at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com  and let me get to work for you!

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

It Happens, Things Go Wrong. Need Help with a MedMal case?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

[Original post date: March 29, 2018] Time for a health update blog, a personal one, difficult to write with a mix of questions and a couple stories about medical practice and procedures. The point is my attorney reader, I want you to think about me as a forensic rehabilitation consultant, and how I can help you help your client who is involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit!

Randy’s heart took a detour late last summer, 2017 when the ticker was running really fast.  Randy doesn’t participate in races (I’m the competitive one!), but his heart sure was! He does however donate blood on a regular basis. In fact, he was donating early on a Saturday morning (he’s donated 14 gallons according to the sticker on our front door!) when the nurse at the blood center told Randy she thought his pulse was “strange.” His precious blood was still drawn (double reds)!  

Randy is a popular Type A- donor.  

Questioning here ??? Should the nurse have continued with the blood draw knowing the pulse was “strange?” Well, she did! Luckily, no harm done. When Randy got home (rode his bike at what speed I don’t know! to/from his blood donation date which is common cuz he’s an avid biker!), I took his pulse and in fact, it truly was “not right”.

A couple days later, he had a doctor appointment (I scheduled it out of wifely concern); and sure enough, we got tachycardia…going 144 bpm. This means a cardiologist is needed. BTW, thank you to the nurse at the blood center for catching this.

Following an array of testing, diagnostic procedures, and preparations, he received an ablation early November 2017. Thank God it worked! Randy’s back down to a regular beating heart and a normal pulse (his BP was never a concern.)

His cardiologist did an excellent job and Randy was back riding his bike in a short period of time. He wasn’t happy to be told not to ride! In fact, I know he disobeyed his doctor’s orders one day.

We expect our doctor to always be right. We expect our nurse to always be right. We expect all our health care providers to always be right. We in fact, expect our bodies’ to become “right” whenever we receive treatment in the medical field.

But things can go wrong and a patient can become injured during the course of treatment. That’s why we have attorneys to help, right!?! And yes of course we expect our attorney to always be right, too!

“Dr. NeverWrong”, the cardiologist who performed the ablation on my husband’s heart has this nickname! Charlie the RN, one of Randy’excellent nurses while hospitalized told me of this nickname and the fact that the cardiologist has a fan base (being only one of few docs in town we were told who performs ablations).  Because the doctor was humble, gracious, and ever so respectful, I’m sure he would not want to be called  Dr. NeverWrong! Can you guess who I’m referring to? What? Attorneys don’t guess! 

Okay, now on to me. Recently, I was involved in a medical situation which could be worthy of a claim. How do you help your clients decide whether to file a claim? If there’s been harm done? Here’s the abbreviated personal story. 

Image result for patient gown cartoonWhen preparing for a mammogram last October 2017 (sitting quietly in a heated gown!) and waiting for the machine set up, I informed the technician of an unusual skin issue I was experiencing thinking it was poison ivy. I’ve had my share of poison ivy issues, even a four day hospitalization for a severe case in the past (contacted through an outdoor camp fire.) Watch out when you burn wood, my reaction was horrible. Anyway, the technician dismissed my concern and we went ahead with the mammogram.

To not go into detail  uggh ; [   I ended up with a severe skin condition I believe was spread by the mammography machine.  Let it be known I truly love big machines, (especially cranes), yet this large machine is not one of my favorites following what I experienced.

I was absolutely miserable and the condition lasted too long. I ended up going to the ER once on a Sunday and urgent care twice during the weeks that followed. I made these visits because I couldn’t stand the physical and emotional toil…and my doctor’s office wasn’t open at the time of my needs!  Not until I went back to my personal MD to finally get the correct diagnosis and a prescription did I begin to feel a little better.  

Image result for skin cartoonBut the prescription did NOT help and in fact the condition worsened. I literally had to just wait this one out and deal over time with the largest organ in my system: the skin. I was so distraught I even sought mental health care. I’m okay now, thank you! Whew!

I didn’t file a claim, should’ve/could’ve I? The time, energy, money and definitely my mental health was compromised and consumed in a fashion that I certainly didn’t choose. The only time I have filed a legal claim was when my parents sued the railroad for their negligence leading to my car/train collision and subsequent injuries, hospitalization and rehabilitation (there’s much to this personal story).I think the key into what makes or doesn’t make a person seek a lawyer when they think they’ve been wronged has to do with respect (or lack of) by a medical provider. Of course, everyone makes mistakes. But negligence, followed by covering up issues and not telling the truth is where the wrongs and not the rights come in to play.  That’s not where I come in just yet, that’s where you, the attorney is on the field. I enter the game by sorting out what the plaintiff needs and the costs of those needs.

If you need a life care plan for a client who has filed a medical malpractice claim, please contact me.  Following a needs assessment and subsequent life care plan, my recommendations are grounded in rehabilitation. I’m not saying I’m always right myself.  But I will tell you I care and I will do what I can do to help you help your client.

Please don’t contact me if you will act more like the red devil lawyer on the left. Sorry, I’m not interested in helping. However, if you are a good attorney like the white angel on the right who truly cares about your clients, contact me! I’m here to help!

___________________

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

 

Got Questions? Ask the Vocational Expert!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

My work is helpful during litigation following an injury or condition that leads to disability.  In any type of litigation, if the disability or limitation is significant, more than likely there will be questions about work and future earnings. In fact, a multitude of questions will arise as the case develops. As a well-trained and open minded vocational expert, I love to answer (and come up with) questions!

Do you have questions regarding a person’s future in the workforce?

Answers

 I’d love to find your answers!

Solid and detailed answers will describe employment related issues relevant in workers’ compensation, wrongful death, medical malpractice cases, personal injury, family law and many other areas of civil litigation.

It is important to quantify the loss, but how about going further to qualify it and define the best course of action to remedy it? Let’s characterize what is really going on by providing the facts, then finding help in the best places and describing everything in detail! Keep in mind, I pay particular attention to rehabilitation, health and safety!

Questions involve a multi-layer approach & so do Answers!

PuzzlesQs

What, Who, How? Where, Why, When?

Start with concrete observations (What):

Continue on to the specific people involved (Who):

Move to understanding (How):

Describe the locality and environmental issues (Where):

Step out on a limb of interpretation (Why):

Specify timelines and approaches that make sense  (When):

QsI know, I know, as an attorney you don’t like to ask questions that you don’t have the answer to! But you need the facts backed up by an expert, like me!

Qs
Fire Away!

These are randomly generated great questions! Remember, your answer will be multi-layered!

What occupation(s) is this person qualified to do?

Is this person employable? Where?

What is the outlook for certain occupations over the next 5 years? 10 years? etc.

What are transferable skills and how are they applied?

What are this person’s key transferable skills? How in demand are they?

How many jobs has this person held? Is that “normal”?

What did the person’s job involve? (Is there a need for job description and/or job analysis?)

What was the real reason for termination? Why did it happen?

Why has the worker not found employment?

Is the job search reasonable and effective? How can you be sure?

Is the quality of the job search material (eg: resume and cover letter) effective? How?

Are there specific criteria when targeting key occupations? If so, what are they?

How long does a job search take in a particular field? Why?

Why is motivation a factor in a job seeker’s vocational goal?

QsIs this person motivated to find work? How is that so?

How is a person’s employability assessed?

Are there places this person could work? How does one connect to that type of work?

Has this person sustained any career damage? How?

Are job seeking skills critical to the job search? Why?

What barriers influence this person’s hireability? employability? placeability? *Key Placement Factors*

What factors influence compensation and/or earnings?

What vocational services are available to assist with return to employment?

Why is this person underemployed? Will retraining for a different occupation help? How?

What are Soft Skills? (See Soft Skills Matrix) Does this person have many?

What motivates this person to work? (See Motivational Assessments)

What is the wage range for a particular occupation (or field/grouping of jobs?)

What are the statistics reporting in on this particular job?

What resources are useful for a job seeker?

Is the work physical demanding? How so?

Are there ergonomic issues in regards to this work? What are they?

What assistive technology or work tools would allow the work to be performed differently?

Qs

What markets employ this vocation? Is it viable?

What is the effect on smoking and pain? Or to overall injury recovery? Why?

Is age discrimination occurring? Why is this?

Is this person’s mobility in the workforce good or not good? Why?

What accommodations are available for work? How are they accessed?

What are the job requirements or essential functions of this work?

Does the work environment affect productivity? How?

What does this person’s future employment outlook look like?

Has this person sustained any career damage? How?

What is this person’s earning capacity? How is that calculated?

Qs

Just one more question…

Why not call me ~ Amy ~ at 515-778-0634 or email me at  amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com for help? 

FREEFree 15 minute consultation offering!

If you have questions on a case that have anything to do with work and serious disability, you need solid and detailed information to base your decisions!  Additionally, life care planning that encompasses forensic vocational rehabilitation consulting is a unique concept. It offers you, the judge and jury with information guaranteed to help your litigated case move along. 

If I could help you help your clients, please let me know! Contact me at 515-778-0634 or amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com. Thank you for reading.

___________________

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Employment Discrimination and Help With a Litigation Fix!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As a vocational expert, I can help sort out the consequences of employment discrimination cases in many ways and from “both sides of the fence”.  To me, this phrase means I will be fully instrumental to help serve your client without falling off and hurting the case because I have a full grasp of what I’m on to. To accomplish this goal, I balance your case with your client’s story and use all my instincts and brain power…kinda like a cat!

Black Cat on FenceCats’ tails are instrumental in balance!

Cats’ tails serve as a counterbalance when cats walk on narrow spaces, such as fences. However, one of my felines from long ago, (Max 1987 – 2002) was a Manx, henceforth no tail but he was well able to manage cat life with his strong body shape in every way! I asked my vet, and yes, even cats with amputated tails have proven to re-learn how to balance.

Employment discrimination cases need plenty of proof and evidence. Loss of salary, loss of benefits, and lengthy unemployment can be quantified pretty easily. Other qualitative issues are more difficult to assert. For example, if there is a claim the loss of job adversely impacts income and questions surface regarding economic realities, I can help with educating the individual on how to engage in a meaningful and productive job search, or I can assess the extent, quality, and reasonableness of a current job search. It is important to keep employer attitudes towards hiring an individual terminated from previous employment in mind.

Further, I can help to determine the impact on earning potential and perform a beneficial vocational assessment and evaluation that provides data, and offers qualitative detail such as, for example ~

  • results of a labor market survey providing local job availability along with wages and benefits associated with those jobs
  • qualifications for a variety of  jobs in a person’s labor market
  • vocational training options following the discrimination or termination

Image result for meow

I can also help uncover whether or not a good cause for termination of employment existed. That’s why documenting real time employer and/or employee comments proves helpful to sort out the nuances of the case. I’ll take a deep look at a behavior or situation that any reasonable person agrees would or would not warrant discharge. I can help determine the ramifications of ~

  • Attendance
  • Dishonesty
  • Endangerment of health and safety*
  • Illegal conduct
  • Insubordination
  • Personality/attitude problems
  • Poor interaction with subordinates
  • Work performance and productivity
  • Violation of work policies and rules

*If disability is involved in the case, under the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title I of the ADA), I can assess for qualifications, physical demands and work-related attributes; and identify reasonable accommodation(s). Keep in mind, I believe that for every disability there is some form of assistive technology to allow continued employment. Most times there is more than one way to do a job!

If necessary, I can provide expert testimony to help prove the loss of job was or was not accountable, understandable, or reasonable. Do you have a case where I might help? Give me a call and let’s talk! I hope you’ll find our conversation interesting (I can give you a couple recent case examples). And if you like cats, let me know why, really! And if you don’t like ‘em, I really want to know why!

DudeCats have other unique advantages besides their beloved / not so loved personalities.

If falling (which doesn’t happen much based on my own personal cat ownership research) a cat’s head twists to inform the brain exactly how to restore alignment in a millisecond and a perfect landing is guaranteed!

16 Claws

If a cat falls from a porous surface, 18 hooked claws do their work in an instant!

Do I have you more interested in cats or my work as a vocational expert!?!

Felix Feeling Loving 5-30-2010

Felix (2002 – 2015)

I very much miss my Felix. As mostly a cool outdoor cafe’ kitty, you were quite a lover! Felix shared his feline life with me through many a fix (both his and mine) over the years.  Keep me, Amy Botkin (and Felix with his secret bag of tricks) in mind to help in dubious or even in basic situations involving employment discrimination. I definitely can help your case through a litigation fix! 

Thank you for reading my blog post!

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * 515-778-0634  * amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Time to Get Level During the Divorce Process With an Earning Capacity Evaluation!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As an Attorney, do you work with divorcing couples? If so, have you utilized vocational expertise to help level out the uncharted territory for your client? 

Postit marriage

My company, Vocational Resources Plus LLC, offers vocational consulting services, and specifically, an earning capacity evaluation will benefit parties in a divorce in many ways.

Whether employed, unemployed or underemployed, an earning capacity evaluation offers valuable information regarding a person’s working world. 

If you need a clear, objective picture of a divorcing husband’s or a divorcing wife’s earning potential, and not just what he or she is currently earning during the divorce process, but how their vocational background could unfold with options and corresponding wage information, let me help!

As a vocational expert, I know what skills are in demand in today’s employment market, and what income these skills can command in various careers.

Career pic

I report on the evidence and am always prepared to back it up through expert testimony!

An evaluation provides recommendations on the person’s functional capacity, personality, work skills and abilities, transferable skills, work values, aptitudes, interests, motivators,  work readiness and ideas for employment.

Any recommendation or opinion is backed up with supportive data that highlights the individual’s vocational presence.

Based on individual circumstances of employability, hireability and placeability (3 of my favorite ability descriptors!), other factors are assessed, for example, job seeking skills and job search records.

Most importantly, during a divorce your client’s personal story deserves to be heard, especially when discussing talents that include job skills and the career the person gravitates towards.  

Results of all assessments and analyses are explained accordingly in a clearly written report.

Tell Your Story | Anxiety Sufferers Canada - Physical Abuse

I can help tell your client’s vocational story realistically and persuasively.

In one case I’m aware of, the divorcing woman declined to hire her own expert (umm: me) and found herself at a serious disadvantage. The “opposing” vocational expert sure did a number on what he declared she would earn in today’s workforce in central Iowa, even though she hadn’t worked anywhere in 12 years (and when she had worked it was in a different country!)

There were inaccuracies, false statements and numerous errors in this expert’s report on a specific career (it was teacher). This made made me wonder if he (the opposing expert) had actually ever talked to a teacher about their job in real life! (Ahh, try being married to a teacher like me!)

The opposing expert did not make sense! In central Iowa, a teacher does not start out the first year earning a $50k salary (especially when the individual has an outdated bachelor degree from a non-accredited college, no teaching license, no certification(s), and no recent teaching experience)!  The person wouldn’t even qualify to interview!

Talk about needing a true earnings capacity!

Earnings $

Knowing your client’s earnings ability will directly impact the resolution of the economic aspects of the divorce case.

Even following divorce, my services can help an “ex” find appropriate work. With the results of interest and aptitude tests, along with professional guidance, the value of hiring a vocational consultant is enhanced should the cost of placement services be included in the alimony proceedings.

Contact me to discuss how I can help level the playing field so the divorce process moves in a fair and equitable manner. It makes sense to have a person’s earning capacity known early in the proceedings.

Know what you need to know about your client before a different report may try to say otherwise! Having valid and reliable information on earnings directly impacts the resolution of the economic aspects of any divorce.

Time to Get Level

Call me ~ Amy ~ at 515-778-0634. If I don’t answer, please leave a message! Or  email me at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com and I’ll get back to you.  Thank you for reading and I look forward to helping you help your client!

___________________

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Employability, Hireability and Placeability ~ Got Ability? Need Proof?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

To continue on with my post on getting level during divorce, I’m offering working definitions of 3 of my favorite ability descriptors which are:

Employability, Hireability and Placeability

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Although my vocational assessment and evaluation assignments span a variety of jurisdictions and are designed to meet referral needs, the concepts of Employability, Hireability and Placeability remain constructively intact.

~ Employability ~ Can try to prove

employabilitySimply put, employability is about being capable of getting and keeping fulfilling work. It refers to the capacity to function in a job and to be able to move between jobs the person could actually do considering personal circumstances. There may be an overlay of disability, physical or mental limitations, or specific work-life needs that come into play when determining a person’s employability.

Employability depends on the knowledge, skills and abilities and how these assets are used within the context which work is performed or is sought. To evaluate employability, it helps to break the concept into manageable pieces. I take a look at the skills, attitudes and behaviors the person has developed through their work background and a variety of other life experiences.

To know if those skills, attitudes and behaviors are in demand, I then research and survey the person’s labor market to identify jobs that match the person’s background and capacities.

It works best for me to highlight the person’s skills and capacities in the best possible light! Skills are transferable regardless of disability, especially with creative adaptation and accommodation.

In addition, if there are avenues to match the person more closely with jobs (eg: short term training), further vocational research is performed with the results offered in a helpful way.

Using all this type of data allows me to try to prove the person is employable. It’s not easy, but I can certainly explain my opinion of a persons employability.  In fact, I’ve evaluated many people and have testified to my opinion many times!

~ Hireability ~ Cannot prove

Hireability

The term hireability is a way of describing the likelihood an individual might get hired for a job they are physically and psychologically capable of performing.

The most prevalent method of hiring is the interview, therefore, it is always helpful to view how a person presents their skills. The individual’s presentation is critiqued, job searching skills are assessed and other issues are addressed relative to the potential to attain employment in various environments.

Further, hireability is about a person’s soft skills, including their style of communication, level of self-confidence, initiative, tact, and motivation. All these elements are important to a business who has hiring needs!

Throughout my placement experiences, I find businesses look to hire individuals who are responsible, trainable, friendly and able to work on teams. Reliable transportation, good references, a neat appearance, and a pleasant personality are commonly preferred.

Throughout my placement experiences, I also understand often is not necessary to assess an individual for hireability, and to rely on the person’s natural ability to succeed without the need to administer a “test”.

So the reason I can’t prove hireability (unless the person actually gets hired during a specific time frame) is because I am not a business who employs people and therefore I don’t hire people. Yet I have experience hiring people when I was employed for a staffing agency in my past!

~ Placeability ~ Can try to prove

Placeability is the likelihood that a person will actually access, secure and maintain work within his or her labor market, usually in a specific job or occupation. Placeability is affected by labor market conditions (outside of an individual’s control) and is partly about how in-demand the individual’s transferable skills are and how well she or he can present those skills.

The dynamics of placeability include the availability of jobs in a certain geographic area; employer attitudes and policies, the evaluee’s age and culture; and specific occupational hiring requirements. I’ve had many years of work experience placing people and there are numerous variables!

If the person has barriers to employment, for example a functional limitation that would benefit from accommodation, resources are discussed to avoid unnecessary conflicts in the person’s working world. Please realize all functional limitations are restrictions but NOT all restrictions are functional limitations!

So you can see here how I can try to prove whether or not a person could be placed. In fact, I have placed many people in my past! 

Here’s another rather important variable: 

~ Willingness to Work ~ Can definitely prove!

I have testified to this several times. I can definitely prove whether or not a person is willing to work. All this take is for the person to be engaging in a valid job search, which means they would have documentation of what businesses they have been in contact with and the results of their efforts.

If you are a job seeker and need proof that you are validly looking for reliable work, let me know if I can help. I have lots of experience providing job seeking skills training and have helped many people secure work!

Thank you

The bottom line for any business usually involves making and/or saving money! Are you doing that? If you are employed, yes you are! I thank you! And I’m sure your business thanks you too.

Need a vocational evaluation consultation? Contact me at 515-778-0634 or amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Thanks for Thinking of Me! Why Wait to Place Me Into Action? Need A Vocational Expert on Your Case?

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I enjoy consulting with attorneys. It involves learning about your questions; then using my expertise to provide an answer or two!  The fact is consulting work involves extraordinary amounts of mental processing.  Let me tell you, my brain gets a lot of action and yes, I work out physically, too! 

I don’t know about your specific style of learning or pattern of thinking is (give me time!), but for me, when I accept a case assignment, I don’t want to feel rushed about researching and finding solid answers to good questions.  No, I meant to write great questions, those formed to help you with answering your client’s difficult problems, surrounding certain situations, while considering all necessary detail.

In my eyes, “problems” are opportunities in disguise. Something “thinks” it needs  a solution. The thinking could be well thought through or it could be downright faulty, and that’s why education becomes a consulting strategy.  A good way to look at a problem is to compare it against an opposing problem and ask, which “opportunity” presents first? Will there be an order that makes sense? Is it really a problem or just defined as one?

For every problem under the sun, there is a solution or there is none. If there be one, think til you find it. If there be none, then never mind it!” ~ LeGrand Richards

My problem solving approach develops as the research is gathered relevant to the situation. How a situation is defined is just as important in the problem equation, considering virtually every situation can be defined in more than one way. Because of this fact, tremendous opportunity to educate becomes available, and negatives turn into positives resulting in the implication of how one feels and acts toward the situation!

I find that pulling too quickly for an answer or a fact won’t turn up the best results.  Pulling carefully yet relentlessly on the stem/root system will produce reliable, intact, organic results to share with others.  Through testimony, I can educate others on how to understand the specific facts I gathered and why they are important to this case, facilitating the information and helping them to “figure out” their own solution.

Thanks  for thinking of me (as Eeoyre says)!  Please contact me to get me involved early in the proceedings. Do so before you plant any seed, and I’ll help with preparing and weeding the ground, the hard part of the action! Even if you only need a file review, I can offer recommendations. And, we’d be better off to a good start!

I believe it’s always healthy to think of the humor in most situations. Truly, our emotions will benefit. Contact me at 515-778-0634 to discuss your case needs, and learn about my consulting style and policies. Again, thanks for thinking of me and for reading! I look forward to helping you help your client!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Happy New Year! Do You Know Where This Sculpture is?

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A few years back, I took this photo while hanging out downtown on a Sunday morning after Mass. I’ve always been fascinated with this bronze sculpture that revolves like a globe! To find out more about it, I did a little research to share with you:

Sphere Within a Sphere

“Sphere Within a Sphere” by Amaldo Pomodoro, 1999

The sculpture “Sphere Within a Sphere” (Sfera con sfera) was placed in 1999, the same year my business, “Vocational Resources Plus, LLC” was born. The sculpture is intended as a metaphor for the coming of new and a promise.

If you didn’t watch New York City’s time ball drop on t.v. because you fell asleep or if you didn’t watch it at all because you had other interests in mind, enjoy this blog as my gift!

Do you know where the Sphere is located and yes, it’s in Des Moines, Iowa, but do you know where it specifically resides? Just fyi: another “Sphere Within a Sphere” by this same Italian artist can be found in the Vatican; and he has another sculpture like it in New York City, too.

But wait! Stay here in town with me, and let me know, did you get my question correct? The sculpture above is located at the American Enterprise Art Park 601 6th Avenue and Watson Powell Jr. Way in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.

 

Here’s my daughter in the East Village…DSM not NYC!

Enjoy our beautiful city’s artwork! Here’s a link where you can learn more about our city’s public art Des Moines Public Art Foundation

Cheers to your legal work and to our New Year!Champagne GlassesI can only handle one glass of bubbly, if that!

I’m not sure where I found this, but it rings true ~ Visual art is the expression of an emotion in a particular language—words, sculpture, paintings, photographs, ceramics—so that we come to understood the emotion better.

Enjoy art and embrace how your emotions can shape your new year!  Btw, did you know of the plans for steel art work on the 6th Avenue bridge over the Des Moines River on our city’s North side? Looks very cool to me!

Enjoy, embrace, and reminisce about this past year. And after that, I hope you make time to think about me and how I can help you help your client on a case involving work and disability!   

I look forward to hearing from you this year!

Give give me a call at 515-778-0634 or email me at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com to start our discussion about your case.

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

Working on a Litigated Case Involving Work & Disability? A Job Analysis Can Help!

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Are you working on a litigated case involving work and disability? If so, I believe a job analysis can help you and your client, and in many ways!  A job analysis involves the process of gathering and recording objective data about a specific job.  

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Capturing what the job is all about helps to evaluate what an employee does, why the work is done, how the work is done, results of the work, the skills, knowledge, and abilities required to perform the work, and the context in which the work fits into the organizational structure.

And, as an analyzing kinda person, I’ll find direct connections to ways of the trade, and possibly record direct comments from incumbents or a worker who knows what’s going on!

JA

A Job Analysis is helpful in many ways. Plus they’re fun to perform!

A complete analysis involves visiting the job site to witness the job being performed and interviewing supervisors and employees  about the accuracy of existing job descriptions. (And that’s a story in itself!) It sure can be an interesting tour and communication experience! 

For me to find out what actually takes place on a pertinent day to day basis (without being there obviously because I have my own job to do), consulting with management and incumbents of the job along with digital video recording (right!), if helpful, allows for a critical analysis of the parameters of performance at a work place, including common physical demands of duties of a job. And trust me, a video can produce some humor too when’s it’s needed  at work! 

Image result for humor job

Once the job analysis describing the critical duties of the job, an evaluation of the work environment is completed, and a report written is prepared and presented, there, hopefully will be a greater understanding of the essential functions of the job. And to each person the job can be functionally different. Right yes, so it just depends on how one goes about doing it!

JA Matrix

This understanding allows me as a vocational expert to make recommendations for reasonable accommodations and to testify to the efforts of the employer to provide reasonable accommodations.

Need help with a litigated case involving disability and work?

I help with plaintiff/claimant and defense cases! I am not one sided

Contact me, Amy E. Botkin, to discuss your client’s claim.

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * lcpresourcesplus.com * 515-778-0634  * amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com

___________________

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.