Or Maybe It Was The Ice Cream…

Happy Thoughts & Happy Days
Happy Thoughts & Happy Days

Each day I start work I flip the page to my happy thoughts calendar called “365 Happy Days! A happy thought for every day.” Sometimes it’s a famous quote or a little bit of a poem or just a happy thought that puts a smile on your face and helps you start the day out right. I just turned over the page in my happy thoughts calendar and I thought I’d share this thought with you:

“Take time out to think about an enjoyable occasion from your childhood – a birthday party or a trip to the zoo or making sandcastles on the beach. For a few moments let yourself be that child again.”

Now think back. Take a journey with me. What is your favorite childhood memory?

First I thought about birthday parties. I never had a birthday party when I was a kid. I think it was because my birthday is in August and I couldn’t hand invitations to my classmates since school was not in session. I should add that I did eventually have a birthday party when I was 18 years old. It was a surprise party at my aunt’s house. I thought my best friend and I were going to the lake and my mom asked me to drop something off at my Aunt Martha’s house. Surprise!

But before I stray off topic it got me to thinking about all the times when I was young my family went swimming at the lake on the weekend. We’d take a day trip on a Saturday to Atwood Lake or Tappan. Mostly we’d go to Atwood because it was closer. I remember from those summer lake trips that the days were hot and the lake was cool. We’d spend hours swimming and playing in the lake like a bunch of water babies. By the end of the day when the sun was setting and the earth was starting to cool and feel green again, we’d wrap up in big colorful sun-warmed beach towels and climb in the backseat of the green station wagon in our wet swimsuits and before we’d reach home we’d drive up to the local Dairy Queen and get a chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream cone or a Cherry Misty Slush for the ride home. There was nothing like it to capture the feeling of a drowsy, tranquil happiness.

Before Summer ends make time for a beachside walk, a summer lake trip or float in your local YMCA pool. There is something magical about being near or in the water that makes you feel calmer, more relaxed and happier. Or maybe it was the ice cream.

By Marci McKenna

Three Keys to Win a Social Security Disability Hearing

In representing someone In a claim for Social Security Disability Benefits, oftentimes an attorney representative will find themselves in a hearing, representing their clients in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

When appearing before an ALJ, preparation, detail, and precison is vital to a case’s success. Balancing these three areas is also just as important.

Almost every ALJ at hearing will be expecting an attorney to present their theory of the case, how and why their claimant is disabled, based on evidence and regulations. This is where the balancing act becomes even more critical.

This is because an ALJ offers a limited amount of time for you as an attorney to make an opening statement. A client’s file can be several thousand pages long at times, and you may only have minutes to get your point across as an attorney representative.

I listed Preparation as the first topic because everything else that follows comes from this. If an attorney prepares the case thoroughly before the hearing, they will hopefully have many pages of notes that point out the most important facts of the case. They will hopefully have waded through thousands of pages of information, being ready for questioning by the ALJ about the factual record.

From proper preparation comes great Detail. This does not mean attempting to recite an encyclopedia’s worth of information to an ALJ. What it does mean is to know your record forwards and backwards, being able to refer to the exhibits, pages numbers, imaging studies, doctor opinions, and other facts of importance in your conversation with the ALJ why your claimant is disabled.

At this moment, Precision becomes all the more important. You can get lost in thousands of pages if you don’t know how to proceed in your argument. Your preparation, before the hearing, has given you the confidence to know what present, to know what to highlight, what facts and regulations are really going to make the difference in your client’s case – good or bad. A prepared attorney should be a precise attorney because the ALJ is a busy person with many hearings to handle each day, and will only allow you so much time to present your argument. However, with the confidence of a detailed preparation, a Social Security Disability attorney will be ready to give specific and precise analysis and commentary to an ALJ – thus setting a positive tone for the rest of the hearing.

Harry Brenner, Attorney at Law

Affleck and Gordon, P.C.



Do You Have to Pay Your Attorney Up Front?

The answer is no. You don’t pay your attorney for social security disability up front. We work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay an attorney fee unless we win. The attorney fee is also limited to 25% of your past-due benefits that you are awarded. Therefore, you would not owe an attorney fee if you are not awarded past-due benefits or “back pay.” For example, the judge may find that you are disabled as of today instead of two years ago when you filed, and award benefits beginning today and continuing into the future. In that instance, you would not receive any past-due benefits or “back pay,” and therefore, you would not owe an attorney fee.

Now let’s look at another example where you are awarded past-due benefits or “back pay,” and an attorney fee would be deducted from your benefits. For instance, you applied for disability two years ago with an onset disability date of May 1, 2106, and you were just awarded a favorable decision by the judge and benefits at $2,000 a month going back to the onset of disability date of May 1, 2016. First of all, you don’t receive any benefits for the initial five months of disability. This is called a five-month waiting period. Out of the two years of back pay minus the five month-waiting period, you are owed 19 months of benefits or $38,000 in back pay. And 25% of $38,000 is $9,500. However, the attorney fee on back-pay is capped at $6,000. Your back benefits that you will receive is $32,000 and your social security disability attorney will receive $6,000.

You and your attorney will sign a contingency attorney fee agreement. This is filed with Social Security to ensure that it meets Social Security’s guidelines.

At Affleck and Gordon, our social security disability attorneys are dedicated to one end – ensuring that you and your loved ones receive the benefits you deserve.

FREE CONSULTATION – Contact Affleck & Gordon today to schedule a free case review.