NY Workers Compensation Board Chairman to become Social Security Disability JudgeTuesday, June 16, 2009
I should have picked up the clues! A few weeks ago I was speaking at the New York Social Security Disability Bar Association Annual Dinner in Manhattan. This is always a great night for the Bench and the Bar break bread and have a few laughs. I was there to speak about one of my favorite Social Security Judges, Andrew Weiss of the Long Island Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, who was receiving the prestigious Hon. Lester Rosen Award. I have known Andy since his early days as a Workers Compensation Law Judge in Hempstead and he has a singularly unique blend of compassion and humor.
Much to my surprise, in attendance was the current Chairman of the New York Workers’ Compensation Board, Zachary S. Weiss (no relation). Having attended these dinners for at least the last 15 years, I had never seen the Chair of the Workers’ Comp Board enter the somewhat more calm sanctum of the Social Security Bar. The Chair and I had a pleasant conversation over cocktails and it was my honor to introduce him later from the podium. Other than that, I thought nothing more about the Chair’s presence.
It all clicked last Friday when the New York Times reported that Chairman Weiss was resigning from the Workers’ Compensation Board to accept a position as a federal Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for the Social Security Administration in the Jericho office. My friends who are ALJ’s had told me that offers went out to the new class of judges right about the same time as the Social Security Bar Dinner. It was not a coincidence that Chairman Weiss was at the dinner – he was simply getting to know his future colleagues and the attorneys who might be appearing before him in the future! Smart man!
As I said in an article published in WorkersComp Central regarding Chairman Weiss’ resignation, he is quite simply a brilliant man. I have spoken to him on many occasions. Although we have disagreed in the past on the substance of a few workers’ compensation system issues, there is no question that his formidable intellect combined with compassion will directly benefit the individuals appearing before him in the future claiming Social Security Disability benefits. Out of the often times murky waters of the NY workers’ compensation system (click here for an interesting post from the Workers Comp Insider Blog), Zachary S. Weiss has emerged untarnished and renewed as a federal judge. I wish him success and happiness in his new position adjudicating Social Security disability claims.