“Just the Facts Ma’am” on SSI

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program managed by Social Security and funded by the U.S. Treasury’s general fund instead of the general Social Security Taxes. The program is intended to provide financial assistance in monthly payments to disabled people with limited income, earnings or property.

Our legal team can help you navigate the complicated bureaucracy of both federal and state governments to ensure your best chance of being approved for your SSI disability benefits.

Have you or a loved one been turned down for SSI benefits?

Filing for SSI is a long process, which is why you should file for your benefits as soon as possible. A judge may grant back pay of benefits depending on your case and condition, but that is not always the case. Studies show that candidates for SSI who have an attorney familiar with the SSI procedures, set forth by Social Security have a greater possibility of application acceptance. Typically, less than half of all applications filed are approved in the initial stages and less than a quarter of claims sent back for reconsideration are approved at the hearing stage.  Our expert SSI Attorneys can review your case and advise the best course of action to get your claim approved.

SSI is available for persons that are:
• 65 years-of-age or older
• Totally or partially blind
• Unable to work due to a medical condition
• Disabled and their condition is expected to end in death
• Under the age of 18 and disabled
• Disabled children under the age of 18 can qualify if the parents earn less than the limit set by Social Security. The requirements for disabled children are similar to the requirements for disabled adults

The requirements for SSI benefit qualification include:

• The individual must be either unemployed or earning less than the limit amount.

• The individual must suffer from a physical and/or mental condition that severely limits his/her abilities and/or activities.
• This condition must last over 12 months or lead to death.
Affleck and Gordon’s SSI Attorneys can help you deal with SSI’s complex appeal process and forms and help you get your life back sooner.  Call us today at 404-373-1649.

Myths and the Truth About Social Security Disability

Many people are under the mistaken assumption that Social Security benefits are only available once they retire. However, Social Security encompasses more than just retirement income, as it provides compensation for those who have become disabled due to a variety of physical or mental impairments that prevent them from being able to earn an income on their own. Any person who suffers from a disability is considered eligible for benefits if the disability is expected to last for at least 12 months or end in death for the sufferer. If you have a disability that lasts less than a year and/or is not inevitably fatal, it is considered partial or short-term disability by Social Security and would not be eligible for benefits. Factors such as your age and your work experience count toward how much coverage you can receive.

According to Social Security, 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching the age of 67. Did you know that Social Security doesn’t pay for the first 5 months? That’s called the 5-month waiting period, and  it may take a lot longer than 5 months before you get to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. In today’s economy, even two-income families struggle to make ends meet. If you’re disabled or your family is supporting a disabled person, it’s a fine line between making ends meet and hanging by a thread.  You then have to turn to social services and charity and/or family and friends for financial help while waiting for your Social Security disability hearing which can take as long as 2 ½ to 3 years.

If you’re disabled, you can’t work. If you can’t work, you should get Social Security Disability benefits. All you need is a statement from your doctor that you’re totally disabled from work and you’ll get Social Security Disability benefits easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, those benefits are not easily won. In fact, more than 2/3 of all initial applications are denied.

Q. Why are a majority of Social Security Disability applicants turned down?
A.  Because many applicants don’t quite understand Social Security’s requirements it has set down.  You must be unable to do any type of work, not just what you are trained to do. For example, you probably don’t qualify for SSDI if you can do a sit-down job answering a phone. However, you may qualify if you have to elevate your leg above your heart for 2 hours in a 8-hour period that knocks you out of nearly all sedentary jobs.

The government provides Social Security Disability benefits for conditions that include:

–        Diabetes
–        Heart disease
–        Arthritis
–        Blindness
–        Orthopedic injuries
–        Paralysis
–        Neurologic disorders, and even
–        Depression and anxiety.

On your own it can be difficult to meet Social Security’s definition of disability, even if you are truly suffering from a debilitating condition that prevents you from working. As such, many people are turned down on their first try to obtain benefits. However, it is possible to appeal the decision, which in legal terms is asking for reconsideration. This will not automatically ensure that you receive benefits and if you are turned down again, you can then request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge to plead your case. This is where the legal team at Affleck & Gordon comes in. We can help you appeal your case and prepare for a successful outcome.The sooner you start receiving disability benefits, the sooner you can get on with the life you deserve. Contact us today for your no cost, no obligation consultation.

Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid If You Are Injured At Work

1. Keeping it a Secret
You should always report your injury to your supervisor immediately and document who you told. Many people don’t want to cause a fuss at work. If they’re injured, they try to work through the pain, hoping it will go away on its own. Often, they’re worried that if they report the injury they’ll lose their job or they just don’t think it’s a serious injury. However, a reluctance to report an injury normally comes back to haunt the client if the injury does not improve on its own. There are two reasons this is the case. First, employees are required to report their injuries within 30 days. If an employee does not report the injury within 30 days the employer can use that as a defense to covering the injury even if it’s clear that he/she was injured at work. Second, employers are skeptical of injuries when they are not reported right away. Instead of appreciating the attempt to work through the pain, employers assume people made the story up if they wait to report it. The logic we hear from employers and insurance adjustors is that if the injury was serious the employee would have reported it immediately.

If you are injured, report it right away or you risk not having your injury accepted as a workers’ compensation injury. Even if you think the injury is minor, you should tell your employer so that your employer is not surprised if you get worse. You should also document who you told and when you told the person so that you can recall the circumstances later if you’re asked.

2. Assuming Your Boss Reported Everything to His Insurance Company.
Just like workers, employers sometimes put off reporting injuries to their insurance companies. Clients often come to us stating that they reported the case to their boss but they still haven’t heard from the insurance adjustor. Then, we’ll contact the insurance adjustor and find out they know nothing about the claim. If you do not hear from an insurance adjustor shortly after notifying your boss of your injury, contact us and we’ll help you file a notice of claim with the insurance company that will put them on notice that you were injured at work. Again, if the adjustor finds out about the case months after it occurs, the adjustor might be skeptical of the case and the employer is under no incentive to convince the adjustor that he knew about the case and didn’t report. Furthermore, if your employer does not report the case, it will delay treatment. Don’t let your boss’s procrastination keep you from getting immediate treatment.

3. Letting your employer pick your doctor
Employers are required to post a panel of physicians on their wall and employees are allowed to choose one of those doctors. However, most of the times, our clients tell us they were just told to go to a particular doctor. Often times, this is an industrial clinic like Caduceus or Concentra. Other times, clients come to us after they have had a bad result with a surgeon they were sent to by their employer. We can help clients get a change of physician. However, the damage is often already done at that point. The poor choice in physician either delays treatment or an insurance doctor gives an opinion that sinks the case.

You have the right to choose a doctor from the panel of physicians at the beginning of the case. However, even then, you should call us to get our opinion on the doctors on the panel. It’s unlikely that your employer put our first choice on the panel. However, even with the limited choices on the panel, some are better than others and through years of working on these cases, we know their reputations. We’ve seen which doctors always send people back to work right away and we know which ones always seem to think an injury is a pre-existing condition. Give us a call and we’ll help you pick a doctor from the panel of physicians.

4. Giving Your Employer an Excuse to Fire You
If you think your employer is mad because you got hurt at work and doesn’t really want to accommodate your work restrictions, you are probably right. Your employer is probably just looking for an excuse to get rid of you. However, you should make sure you do not give the employer an excuse. Show up on time for work. Call in if you need to miss work because of a medical appointment or your injury has increased your pain.

If you have work restrictions and your employer is unable to offer you work within those restrictions, the employer has to pay you income benefits. However, employers don’t have to pay you benefits if you were terminated for reasons unrelated to your work restrictions. If you give your employer that excuse, he/she will take it. We can still get you benefits if you were fired for cause by showing that you looked for work and couldn’t find it due to you restrictions, but this takes time and leaves it in the discretion of a judge to determine if your job search was good enough. As a result, you should just avoid getting terminated if at all possible. If your employer has already fired you for cause, contact us and we’ll advise you on how to do a job search in order to get benefits.

5. Not calling an attorney at the beginning of your case
I know it seems self serving to say you should call an attorney early in your case, but it’s not. Workers’ Compensation attorneys do not get paid by the hour. We get paid based on benefits we get for you. This often comes through a settlement of your case or by going in front of a judge to get your benefits started. Therefore, there’s no additional cost to getting an attorney early in the case rather than after a few years. However, if you wait to come to us, your case will likely already have problems that we’ll have to work to fix. The case will go much more smoothly if you have an attorney advising you from the beginning. As such, please give us or another workers’ compensation attorney a call shortly after you’re injured. If we do not think you need our help, we’ll tell you.