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Posted by on Mar 6, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Applying For Social Security Disability: Understanding The Process

Experiencing a disability is a devastating time, and if you are unable to work, you worry about how you’ll pay for your bills and support your family. Luckily Social Security disability is designed to assist disabled people who cannot work. However, the process to apply for benefits is long and may seem overwhelming, so understanding a breakdown of the general process may calm your nerves.

Initial Application

The first step in getting disability through Social Security is to file a claim. Once the claim is received, it is processed by local Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices and Disability Determination Services (DDSs). First, SSA field offices verify your personal non-medical information, including your name, age, marital status, etc.

Once that information has been verified as correct, your claim is passed on to the DDS. It is the DDS’ responsibility to confirm your disability. They use your medical sources to determine the extent of the disability. If there is not enough information, you may have to go in for a special examination. This is usually performed by your regular doctor, but in some cases, a specialist is used. Using all this information, the DDS makes a decision to either reject your claim or approve it and determine the benefit amount.

Preparing for a Hearing

In many cases, this first claim is denied. Even if you genuinely are disabled, you may not have provided enough information. In this event, an appeal hearing is your next step. It’s best to hire an attorney or advocate at this time to help you prepare for the hearing. Firstly, your social security attorneys will work with you on what you should say at the hearing. This is designed to help you clearly state your condition and not mislead or confuse the judge.

During this time, your lawyer will also get in contact with your doctor. The lawyer’s goal is to gather all necessary medical records, test results and doctor statements to create a clear and unbiased view of your medical condition. If there is missing information, your lawyer may have you revisit your doctor, so a clear and complete picture of your disability can be presented.

Attending the Hearing

At the hearing, expect to be questioned on your disability. This is where your work with your lawyer to help form your answers will come into play. However, you won’t be the only person questioned. In many cases, your doctor may be called to answer questions regarding your condition.

This is another reason you need a lawyer or an advocate. They have experience with disability law. They know what questions to ask and what information the judge wants to hear to help make a ruling. During this time, your attorney or advocate will also fight to get a fair disability onset date, so you get more back pay.

Appealing the Claim on a Federal Level

Hopefully, the judge finds in your favor at this first hearing, but if not, you’ll need to appeal your claim on the federal level. If you’ve been working with an advocate, you’ll now need to hire a lawyer as an advocate cannot appeal on a federal district court level.

This process is much like the original hearing, expect you’ll be presenting to the federal district court. Your lawyer may gather additional information or speak with other specialists about your disability to help prove your case this third time around.

Filing for Social Security disability is scary, but it doesn’t have to be. This breakdown shows the steps you can expect when applying. Just make sure to have a good lawyer or advocate who can help you through each step. For more information about applying for disability, contact a disability lawyer in your area today. 

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Posted by on Feb 18, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Interested In Private Disability Insurance? What Should You Know?

Although many Americans are aware of the importance of life insurance coverage (with approximately 44 percent of households carrying at least some coverage), the number of American households with short- and long-term disability coverage is much lower. The paradox of this coverage gap is most individuals are much more likely to suffer a debilitating injury than an untimely death — and such an injury can have a permanent impact on your long-term earning potential. Luckily, there are a number of short- and long-term disability insurance policies available.

Read on to learn more about what these types of disability insurance claims will cover to determine whether they are a worthwhile addition to your portfolio. 

What do short- and long-term disability policies cover?

These policies are generally complementary — in many situations, the only coverage difference is the length of time for which you can receive benefits. Once your short-term disability coverage has been exhausted, your long-term disability coverage should kick in.  

  • Short-term coverage

In general, short-term disability policies will cover a portion of your salary (usually between 50 and 70 percent) while you are unable to work due to your injury or illness. If your policy is paid by or purchased through your employer, you may be required to use up paid sick days or other leave before you become eligible for short-term disability pay.

Depending upon the specific policy and your state’s minimum coverage laws, you can expect to receive coverage for at least 10 weeks, but generally no more than 26 weeks (or 6 months). 

You may also be subject to lifetime maximums. For example, if you receive 6 weeks of short-term disability pay after an operation, and then a few years later take 26 weeks of short-term disability after a heart attack or serious injury, you may be prevented from filing further claims under your policy. Not all policies have these maximums, but you should be aware of your policy’s specific coverage to ensure that you don’t do anything to jeopardize your receipt of future benefits.

  • Long-term coverage

Once you’ve exhausted your short-term disability coverage and it appears you will not be able to return to work soon, your long-term disability coverage should kick in. This insurance can include coverage for long-term care (such as a nursing home or assisted living facility) as well as payments to help supplement the loss of income that can result from a chronic illness or other disabling condition. 

Like short-term disability coverage, long-term coverage can provide a portion of your salary for an extended period of time. Many long-term disability policies are designed to help bridge the gap in time between the onset of your illness or disability and your qualification for Social Security Disability (SSD) payments. 

What about maternity coverage?

Many short-term disability policies also cover maternity leave, and may even kick in before the baby is born if you need to be on bedrest or have another complicating condition. In general, you’ll be eligible for 6 weeks of paid short-term disability leave if you have a normal delivery, and 8 weeks or more if you have a c-section or other complications. 

How can you purchase this insurance?

Many employers offer short- and long-term disability coverage as a fringe benefit — similar to health or life insurance. Because employers are able to purchase this insurance in “bulk,” it can be available at a deep discount when compared to the purchase of a policy on the open market. However, this insurance is often not “portable,” so if you lose your job, you may also lose coverage at a time when you need it most.

However, you should be able to purchase private disability insurance on the open market. Although this coverage may be a bit more expensive than the coverage offered by your employer, you have the advantage of being able to keep this coverage while changing jobs, moving, or even divorcing.

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Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

When Incretin Mimetics Kill: What Bereaved Families Need To Know

People with type 2 diabetes commonly use one of several prescription medicines known as incretin mimetics. These drugs can help control the symptoms of the disease, but they can also cause serious side effects, and some type 2 diabetics have even died as a result of these medications. In some cases, the bereaved families of the victims can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Learn how incretin mimetics can kill, and find out what you need to do to file a lawsuit over your loved one’s death.

How incretin mimetics work

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects your body’s ability to process the sugar you need for energy. Type 2 diabetics may not produce enough insulin to regulate sugar in the body, or they may become resistant to the effects of the hormone. Over time, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health issues, including heart disease, kidney damage and problems with the feet.

Incretin is the hormone that tells your body to release insulin after food, which then lowers the blood sugar. Incretin mimics take the place of these hormones in your body, prompting your pancreas to produce more insulin. The drugs also stop the pancreas producing too much glucagon, which forces the liver to release stored sugar.

When you use the drugs as part of an active, healthy lifestyle, incretin mimetics can effectively help people with type 2 diabetes keep up safe levels of blood sugar.

FDA approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved several incretin mimetics as a way to treat patients with type 2 diabetes. Patients can receive these prescription medications under several brand names, but they all act in the same way. The FDA approved sitagliptin phosphate in 2006, and another form of the drug (sitagliptin/metformin hydrochloride) in 2007.

People with type 2 diabetes account for up to 95 percent of all cases of the disease. With 29.1 million diabetics in the United States, this represents a significant part of the population. As such, doctors have prescribed incretin mimetics to millions of Americans, and the problem continues to grow worse.

Side effects

Some patients have developed pancreatic cancer after using incretin mimetics. Experts believe that this disease will become the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States by 2030. This type of cancer is difficult to diagnose, and spreads aggressively. Doctors also have few available treatments, and the five-year survival rate is only around 5 percent.

Pancreatitis is another serious side effect that can occur in people who use incretin mimetics. The disease occurs when enzymes from the pancreas start to digest pancreatic tissue, instead of food in the small intestine. Chronic pancreatitis gets worse over time and causes permanent damage. Death from pancreatitis is not common, but the symptoms can kill.

FDA response to reports of side effects

In 2013, the FDA issued a drug safety communication about incretin mimetics. The FDA stated that they would investigate some research that suggests a link between these drugs and side effects like pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. The FDA had already issued a warning about reports of acute pancreatitis with some of these drugs, but this was the first time the organization had mentioned the potential risk of cancer.

Incretin mimetics carry warnings on the drug labels about potential side effects, but the FDA has advised patients to continue to take the medication.

Why people are filing lawsuits

A lot of people who have used incretin mimetics allege that the drug makers failed to warn them about the potential side effects from these medications. The lawsuits claim that the drugs are dangerous, and that the manufacturers actively marketed them, even though they knew they were potentially deadly.

The families of incretin mimetic victims have successfully filed wrongful death lawsuits. The families allege that the manufacturers should have known the potential risks of these drugs, and have claimed that their loved ones suffered grievous bodily injury and untimely death.

You can claim compensation as part of a wrongful death lawsuit. Your family may face large, unpaid medical and home health care bills that you can’t afford. You may also face an uncertain future, particularly if the deceased was the family’s main income earner.

If someone in your family has died after using an incretin mimetic, you should contact an experienced wrongful death attorney. An attorney cannot bring back your loved one, but he or she can help you get compensation for the financial losses you face. Look at more info about finding and hiring a good attorney for your situation.

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Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

What To Do If Your Loved One Dies During Bankruptcy Proceedings

Bankruptcy is designed to help people struggling with financial difficulties obtain a fresh start. Though it doesn’t occur often, sometimes petitioners pass away before the bankruptcy proceedings can be concluded. This can have unfortunate consequences for heirs if they don’t take action as soon as possible. Here is what you need to do if your loved one dies during active bankruptcy proceedings.

Chapter 7 or Chapter 13

The options available to you for resolving your loved one’s open bankruptcy depends on whether the person filed a chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy.

A chapter 7 bankruptcy is simply a liquidation of assets and a distribution of funds to creditors. The petitioner’s presence is not required for the court to do this. Therefore, the bankruptcy will usually proceed as normal even though the person who filed the petition is deceased.

If the person was married but his or her spouse was not included as a co-debtor, the surviving spouse will be allowed to stand in the person’s stead and speak on his or her behalf. For example, you will be allowed to attend the meeting of creditors and testify about your loved one’s state of finances. Once you obtain a bankruptcy discharge, you can continue administrating the person’s estate like normal.

Things are not as simple, though, in chapter 13 bankruptcy cases because these proceedings require petitioners to make monthly payments to trustees. A deceased petitioner cannot make payments, which can lead to the case being dismissed by the court. Without a bankruptcy discharge, the debts will be considered still owing and creditors will attempt to collect from the estate and heirs.

How to Proceed with the Chapter 13 Case

There are a few things you can do to resolve a chapter 13 bankruptcy case where the debtor has died. The first option is to let the court dismiss the case. As noted previously, creditors can then attempt to collect from the estate. However, if the person is truly indigent with no money or assets, then the outcome is likely to be the same as if the person had filed a chapter 7.

The other option is to request the court convert the case to a chapter 7 bankruptcy. This may be the best option for spouses who were also involved in the bankruptcy proceedings. If the deceased person was the primary breadwinner, the loss of income may be enough to convince the court to make the change.

Even if you’re not a co-petitioner, you may still be able to get a chapter 13 bankruptcy switched to a chapter 7, but this option is not available in every state. You will need to consult with a bankruptcy attorney for information about and assistance with pursuing this option in your area.

A third option is to petition the court to discharge the debts anyway based on hardship created by the debtor’s death. To qualify for a hardship discharge, the case must meet three provisions:

  • The repayment plan cannot be modified
  • The debtor is unable to continue making payments because of circumstances beyond the person’s control
  • Creditors received payments totaling the amount they would have received had the debtor filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy

If the court grants the request, all debts will be discharged, including debts that wouldn’t normally be eligible for discharge such as student loans.

A last option courts will only consider if it’s in the best interests of the estate and the survivors is to allow the case to proceed as normal. This means the person’s estate will need to continue making payments to the trustee as if the individual were still alive. This is another complex alternative that may require the assistance of an attorney to pursue.

Although dealing with the court may be the last thing you want to do after your loved one has passed away, it’s essential you make contact with the trustee to resolve the issue as soon as possible. If you’re having difficulty proceeding or need help settling problems that crop up, contact a bankruptcy attorney for assistance. Click here to find out more.

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Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Recovering Property Seized During Civil Forfeiture

There are many laws on the books designed to prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes. While these laws were developed with good intentions, some government agencies are exploiting the statutes to steal from innocent civilians. In recent months, law enforcement agencies have come under fire for abusing civil forfeiture laws to wrongfully seize millions of dollars in money and assets. If you’re the victim of civil forfeiture abuse, here is what you can do to reclaim your money and property.

What is Civil Forfeiture Abuse?

Civil forfeiture occurs when the government (or one of its agents) seizes money and property from citizens. This legal maneuver is typically used to cripple drug traffickers by taking money found during searches and busts. However, it has been used to hinder other forms of crime including prostitution and theft as well as to punish convicted criminals.

Unfortunately, some law enforcement agencies have been using the law as a fundraising tool. People who have not been convicted of or charged with a crime have had their assets confiscated for dubiously legal reasons. For example, police seized $1 million from a woman during a traffic stop in 2012. The police took the cash because a K-9 unit indicated there were trace amounts of drugs on the bills, but that is true of the majority of currency in circulation in the United States.

The woman had proof that the money was acquired in legal ways, but the police refused to return the cash. Mind you, the woman was not charged with or convicted of a crime, but she had to file a lawsuit against the police department to get her money back. She was also awarded an additional $39,035 to cover her legal costs.

A Nationwide Problem

Civil forfeiture abuses are not just limited to state agencies. The federal government has also stretched the limits of its authority on numerous occasions. The latest example involves a business owner who deposited money into her company’s bank account in small increments. The IRS seized all the money in her bank account because it believed she was trying to skirt reporting laws. Again, this citizen was never charged or convicted of a crime, but she still lost almost $33,000 to the tax organization.

Getting Your Property Back

It is unfortunate but true that the laws as they are currently written allow for this type of abuse. However, you can also use the law to fight back and reclaim your property. The best legal strategy for getting your property returned to you will depend on the circumstances of your case. For example, the Constitution protects against illegal searches and seizures. If you can prove the agency violated your rights, then the courts may rule in your favor and return your assets.

This was the outcome of a case involving the seizure of $28,000 from a California man by federal agents. The judge ruled that because the agents didn’t Mirandize the man or have a search warrant or the man’s permission to enter the home, the search they conducted was unlawful and the money was returned to the individual.

Proving the agency’s allegations false is another way of winning back your assets. In the case of the woman who had $1 million seized, she was able to prove to the court’s satisfaction that she had legally obtained the money and was using it for business reasons. The judge in the case found that the negligible amounts of drugs detected on the money was not reason enough to validate the law enforcement’s agency’s claim to the cash.

Outside of a courtroom, though, it can be difficult to reclaim your property from a government agency. Sometimes going to the media and bringing unwanted attention to the issue will prompt the agency to reverse course and return what it took. This is not always a slam dunk though. If you’re the victim of civil forfeiture abuse, it’s best to contact an attorney, such as a personal injury attorney, to help you get your money or property back.

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