You are confronted with a life altering illness or injury. You are anxious because you do not know how you are going to be able to support yourself and your family. You know that you cannot work. You know that you have some savings. You also know that your savings will not last more than a year. What do you do. One option is to file your claim for Social Security Disability benefits. You contact a lawyer and the lawyer helps you file, by telling you what information the Administration is looking for, and how to provide that information to the Social Security Administration so that the Administration can obtain the medical information from your treating doctors and hospitals. The lawyer tells you up front that the Social Security Administration is back logged and it may take as long as 18-24 months to have your hearing if you are turned down on your application. Often times your anxiety is so great about the process you either do not hear this or forget it. The lawyer tells you that there is little the lawyer can do to make the administration find that you are disabled more quickly, short of providing the proper information, sometimes provide the records, and in some instances filing a requests for determination on the record. The reason for this is that the applications are reviewed in the order they are submitted, and most, if not all the people submitting applications are facing financial problems.
The Social Security Administration contracts with the Indiana Disability Determination Service (DDS) to help them process the claims. While processing the claims, the DDS will send out for your medical records, set up appointments for you to see one of their doctors, and call you asking for additional information. This is a normal part of the process and is not a cause for alarm. You might say, well why aren’t the DDS talking to my lawyer? The reason is that talking directly with you, for simple information makes the process go more quickly. Certainly you should discuss what was said between you and the DDS with your lawyer. It is important for your lawyer to know what is going on. However, it is not something to be alarmed about, as it is a normal and necessary part of the review of your application.
We all rent cars and trucks to transport us on vacations and to help us move our stuff from here to there. Sometimes we get into automobile collisions or truck accidents while renting these vehicles. I want to take just a minute to point out some pitfalls associated with insurance and rental cars.
As we all know you can purchase insurance when you rent the car. It is always a question as to whether you should buy the insurance. If you do not own a car then you definitely need to purchase the insurance. Why you ask? Well if you own a car, I presume it is insured. If your car is insured, your insurance will most likely cover the rental car as well. I do not say it will always cover the rental car because some policies exclude coverage for a rental car. So you must read your policy carefully in order to know whether your policy will cover the rental. If you read the policy (and don’t fall asleep) but still do not know whether your policy covers the rental car, then I recommend that you purchase the coverage from the rental company.
If you do purchase the insurance from the rental company, then you must know that insurance will only cover the listed drivers on the rental contract. What I mean is this. Say you go to Florida with your spouse and rent a car. The rental company tells you that it will cost extra to have an additional driver on the car (They make more money this way). So, you being the frugal renter decide to only list yourself as a driver. You arrive at your destination, take your things into the rental property and then realize that your spouse forgot their bathing suit. So, your spouse, the one not listed as the driver takes the car to the swim suit store. On the way there is a collision. This is when you find out that because your spouse was not listed as a driver on the rental car the collision is not covered by the policy you purchased when renting the car. So be real careful about how you set up the rental agreement and the insurance, and make sure you stick with your agreement. Good luck, and be safe.
One of the most repeated comments I hear from people making claim for Title II Social Security Disability Benefits is that the Social Security Administration Application and Appeals process takes so long the administration must think it is the governments money. I fully understand their frustration. Title II Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) are earned by the American worker. Each week tax, in the form of the FICA tax, is withheld from every paycheck. For those who are self employed the money is with held through the Self Employment tax. The government does not ask the worker if they want to contribute, they simply force the contribution. Most workers do not begrudge the withholding because they know they are supporting the generation that did so much for us. However, it is frustrating when I hear pundits and talking heads on radio programs refer to SSDI as an entitlement. It is the money of the worker, earned through sweat of the brow. They earned every penny and are owed that money. It is not a gift. It is not welfare. It is their money.
I add the following with permission of the author:
CALABASAS, Calif., May 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — (SSDI), the safety net for disabled US workers, has come under recent scrutiny. Some critics suggest the program adds to the national deficit and is a drain on the US economy. They argue the program should be cut back or even eliminated. Industry experts however are asking for a more objective review of the national insurance program.
In fact SSDI adds nothing to the US deficit since the program is entirely funded by US payroll taxes. Another important qualification is that only those workers who have paid into the system are eligible for benefits. In addition, almost 70% of disabled applicants are denied benefits. And, even when maximum benefits are paid, the disabled worker earns barely above the Poverty Level.
“SSDI is an essential US Government system set up and administered for disabled American workers unable to work. Rather than abandoning our nation’s most vulnerable and deserved citizens, we encourage positive reforms that make SSDI stronger, and will maintain it for the coming generations.”
Motorists, tomorrow is Bike to Work Day. As a long time rider of my bike to and from work, I want to share with you some of the things that make life dangerous for a biker when dealing with cars. First, bikes are smaller and slower than cars. Therefore bikes will always lose in a bike car collision. When the bike loses in the bike auto collision, the biker is likely to suffer serious personal injury including broken bones, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, brain injury and possible wrongful death. So, be on the lookout for the bike rider.
Speed kills and impatience maims. The bike rider has an equal right to use the roads as do cars. I think everyone knows and understands this on a logical level, but the idea can get lost in the need to pick up the kids, get to work on time or to arrive anywhere that is important to the car driver. Know first that these concerns are equally important to the bike rider. Hopefully the bike rider will have budgeted sufficient time to get where they are going so that they follow the rules of the road. When you are in your car, give the bike room. Usually I am pressed by cars that seem to be in a hurry. When I say pressed, I mean squeezed tightly by the moving car and the parked car. I, on my bike are in further danger by this situation because the parked car may suddenly open a door causing me to choose whether to hit the door or the moving car. Whenever the squeeze is put on me, I always think to myself that I hope another motorist will give the squeezer’s children more consideration than the squeezer is giving me. I think this because I know the squeezer would want their children to be safe, just as I want to be safe.
I think that when motorists put bikers in danger it stems from two situations. The first is negligence, that car driver is just not paying attention. Hopefully people will become more aware. The second reason really scares me. It is the idea the “What is good for me is good, it does not matter how it affects anyone else.” This person thinks only of their own interests and cares little for anyone else. Bikers know that these folks are out there. Be careful.
Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes a good driver is in the path of a drunk driver and becomes seriously injured in the drunk driving accident. Some times that good driver is in a semi tractor-trailer collision and suffers a broken bone, a brain injury, paralysis because of a spinal cord injury. If that person is a Medicaid recipient, or a recipient of Supplemental Security Income because of the injuries they sustain in the car accident, a monetary settlement may make that same person ineligible for those vital programs.
As you know, in order to be eligible for Medicaid, you cannot have more than $1,500.00 in assets. If you do, you must spend those assets down to $1,500.00 in order to be eligible for the Medicaid program. To make things even more difficult, those assets must be spent won to the $1,500.00 level in the same month they are received, or that person will be ineligible for Medicaid. There are similar asset provisions for SSI (Supplemental Security Income). This is so because Medicaid (not Medicare) and SSI are entitlement programs. As such the asset restrictions are designed to prevent the use of the program by those with assets which can and should be used for medical care. If, however, you are a Medicaid or SSI recipient you have an option. That option is the ARC of Indiana Trust. I am providing the reader with two website addresses which will allow you to get a better understanding of the benefits of the trust. www.thearctrust.org, www.arcind.org. The trust helps injured Hoosiers by taking control of the money they receive from their settlement, which would otherwise be required to be spent down to maintain eligibility for Medicaid or SSI. By taking control of the money, the trust relieves the injured party of the spend down provisions of the two programs so that all the money can be used to improve the quality of life of the injured Hoosier. The trust will make payouts to the injured Hoosier to supplement costs of living and health care.
As I have told you before, the Social Security Administration issues a list of Injuries, Illnesses and Diseases which they consider when assessing your Disability claim. In order to qualify under this set of guidelines, you must have one of the listed injuries, illnesses or diseases, and the symptoms caused by that illness, injury or disease must be severe enough to cause you to be disabled. You, as the claimant have the initial burden of proving that you have one of the listed medical conditions. You also have the burden of proving that your symptoms are severe enough to cause you to be disabled.
You meet your burden of proving that you have one of the listed medical conditions, and that it is severe by providing medical documentation. The idea is that if you are that sick, you will be seeing a doctor, and your records will confirm the diagnosis and severity. On the other hand, if you claim to be disabled, but you have not seen a doctor, you are unlikely to meet your burden of proving that you are disabled.
Social Security Disability and Heart Issues
Today, I am dealing with a client who has cardiac (heart) issues. The client’s complains of symptoms including chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, and syncope (a kind of dizziness). The patient is seeing a doctor, because the symptoms are severe enough to make it impossible for the patient to do any of his former activities, including work. The other day, the patient had a heart test which found that the heart was not working very well. In fact, the percentage of blood the left side of his heart was pumping out was about 5%. Normal ejection from the left ventricle is 50% or more. So you can see the patient is very sick. We are pursuing the claim under Listing 4.02 Chronic Heart Failure. The specific listing is 4.02A! in that his left ventricular ejection fraction is below 30%. The claimant was turned down initially. I think this was because the records were not sufficient to prove the level of the ejection fraction. I am confident that we now have the proper records to the Social Security Administration and that the claim will soon be approved.
Need Help Claiming Social Security & Disability?
I can help you too. I know the rules, I know the procedures, and I know my way around a hearing room. After 25 years representing claimants before the Social Security Administration, I am ready to help you.
We all know that drunk drivers cause drunk driving accidents. We also know that most drunk drivers are also irresponsible when it comes to getting car insurance. Most don’t have it or if they do they have the state minimum coverage of $25,000.00. There are also lots of folks who just cannot afford more insurance than the State minimum. We also know that a serious personal injury can easily run up medical bills of more than $25,000.00 dollars. This does not even take into account the lost wages caused when you are seriously injured or suffer wrongful death.
So how do you protect yourself and your family from this potential financial disaster? One method is to buy high limits of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage. This coverage will kick in to cover those damages that the driver who caused the collision cannot pay because they either have no insurance, and no job, or little insurance and almost no other way to cover the costs caused by the car crash they caused. Uninsured pays when the cause of the car crash has no insurance. Underinsured pays when the person who caused the auto crash has low limits of liability insurance. UM/UIM coverage is inexpensive compared to the cost of liability insurance and is even more inexpensive when compared to not being able to work and having medical bills that drive you into bankruptcy. Please talk to your insurance agent about how to protect yourself with high limits of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage.
The yellow traffic signal, you know, the one that is between the green light and the red light, which everyone seemingly ignores, means “caution, clear the intersection”. It is intended to give traffic already in the intersection time to clear the intersection so that the traffic on the cross street can cross safely when their light turns green. When the light for the cross traffic turns green, the light for the traffic with the formerly yellow signal turns red. So if you enter the intersection on the yellow light, you are likely to be in the intersection when the light turns red and the chances of causing an automobile collision greatly increase.
Relax, Slow Down & Stop
I know we can all agree that we want to avoid car crashes. I know we can all agree that we all want to avoid causing serious personal injury to ourselves and to others. I know we can all agree that broken bones, brain injury, spinal cord injuries and paralysis all are to be avoided. I know we can also agree that our chances of avoiding a car crash or even a semi tractor-trailer collision are much better if do not enter an intersection on yellow. Instead, take a deep breath, relax and slow your car as you approach the yellow. You will get home safe and sound if not just a few minutes later.
Prevent Near Misses or Worse!
As an addition to my “If it’s good for me it’s good, no matter how it affects you” file, today I witnessed a person enter a major intersection on a yellow light. The person had a cell phone to the ear with one hand and a travel cup in the other. The person must have been steering with the knee. The light turned red while the car was in the intersection and when the cars on the cross street pulled out, because they had the green light, there was a very near miss. Be careful out there, we all have the right to enjoy our lives without injury.
I ride my bike to work about two times per week. I do it for the exercise, to reduce my carbon footprint and to enjoy the fresh air. I love it. One of the unexpected consequences of riding is that I see drivers from a whole different perspective. I see, for the most part down into their cars and can see what they are doing with their hands.
Let me step back a minute and tell you why I am telling you the above. Distracted driving causes auto accidents. Car crashes cause serious personal injuries such as broken bones, brain injury, spinal cord injuries, and even wrongful death. Serious personal injury causes people to lose time from work and cause the injured person to not be able to provide for their families. All this leads me to conclude that distracted driving is bad and must be avoided. I understand that distracted driving (using the cell phone, texting, et cetera) impairs the drivers attention to the road to the same extent that alcohol impairs a drivers mind resulting in drunk driving collisions. We know that drunk driving is bad, lets also know that distracted driving is bad.
Now let me get back to what I see on my bike. I see drivers doing dumb things including rolling stop signs when children are present. I see people changing lanes without signaling and cutting off other drivers. I see people moving into lanes when there is a car already there. I see drivers turn left out of the right lane. I see much much more. What is the common theme among all these actions, about 60 percent of the people who are making these dumb maneuvers are staring at a cell phone. They think they are clever by holding the phone low in the car so that the police and other drivers can’t see it. They keep looking up and down as if everyone can’t tell what they are doing. While they are doing this they become engrossed in the phone and forget what is on the road near them. God help the rest of us.
What these people are actually saying is this “What’s good for me is good, it does not matter how it affects you or anyone else.” Of course this myth is shattered when they miss a stop sign and kill a family member.
We have been representing claimants before the Social Security Administration for over 25 years with great success. Although we do not guarantee success, we are well aware of what it takes to prove your case to the administration. The first priority for us is you. This means that I, John P. Young, your attorney will meet with you when completing your application, in preparing for the hearing and at the hearing. I will personally take your calls and answer your questions.
We feel it is necessary to get to know you in order to make the best case for your benefits from the Social Security Administration. While I am speaking with you, I will carefully explore with you your medical condition and the names and addresses. The reason for this may seem obvious, but what may not be obvious is the procedure the Social Security Administration uses in analyzing the claim. First the claimant is responsible for providing objective medical evidence which demonstrates the existence of the a disability or disabilities. Next, the symptoms expressed by the claimant must be consistent with the disease process or injury causing the disability. When you go through your claims process you will receive from the Social Security Administration questionnaires which seek information about your condition and everyday living experiences. The Social Security Administration will compare the records to these questionnaires and make determinations about your credibility. The more the symptoms correspond with the known or expected symptoms of the disease causing the disability, the more credibility the claimant is given and the greater the prospect of winning the claim.
If you are filing a claim and feel overwhelmed by the process give me a call. I can help.