• Ohio

    (513) 351-5997
  • Kentucky

    859-371-5997
  • Google Hangout | Facetime | Skype
    Upon Request
Inner Banner
Working Hard for the Working Class

We devote all our resources to getting the best possible result. Contact us today to start your FREE case evaluation.

Subrogation – How Your Ohio Worker’s Compensation Claim Can Take Money Away from Your Personal Injury Claim

Posted on Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 at 7:54 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Ian Fasnacht, a law student from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Worker’s Compensation allows employees to recover medical expenses and lost wages for injuries that occur on the job. When employees are injured on the job by a third-party, the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (BWC) may file a subrogation claim. Subrogation provides the BWC or a self-insured employer with the right to collect back costs of the worker’s compensation claim from the third-party who caused the injury if the injured employee receives a settlement or judgment from a third party.

This blog post is about Ohio Worker’s Compensation claims. If you have a Kentucky Worker’s Compensation claim that is also a personal injury claim – such as getting into a car accident while on the job – check out this subrogation blog post to find out more about the Kentucky system.

How Ohio’s Worker’s Compensation Subrogation Works

In Ohio, car accidents or construction projects are the leading causes of subrogation claims. For example, consider when an employee is stopped at a red light while driving his/her company’s car and is hit from behind. The employee files a worker’s compensation claim and receives lost wages and medical expenses. The Ohio BWC has the right to recover the lost wages and the medical expenses from the third-party who hit the employee from behind, if the injured employee sues the third-party who hit him/her. If the employee sues the third-party driver for medical expenses and lost wages, the Ohio BWC has the right to recover the expenses the Ohio BWC already paid, and the employee keeps any additional amount recovered.

Money recovered from a third-party is not automatically subject to subrogation. Rather, injured employees must be given the chance to demonstrate the money he/she received from a third-party was not for the same expenses already paid through worker’s compensation.

Unlike other civil actions brought against third parties, subrogation has a six-year statute of limitations. Typically, the statute of limitations is two years for actions brought against third parties.

The Ohio Subrogation Claim Process

In Ohio, subrogation claims begin with a referral – usually from a BWC claims service specialist. Once the referral is reviewed, Ohio BWC employees will mail a letter asserting a claim against all third parties. The BWC asserts a claim by placing a lien – or right of first access – to all money the injured employee receives from the third-party. If the third-party and the injured employee settle their dispute outside of court, the Ohio BWC will negotiate the settlement with the injured employee.

Ohio statutes limit the amount the Ohio BWC may recover to the amount of money the Ohio BWC has paid or is expected to pay due to the injury. If the settlement is less than the amount the Ohio BWC has paid then the Ohio BWC and the injured employee will negotiate a settlement. If agreed, the Ohio BWC will receive its portion and the injured party will receive the remaining amount. When negotiating a settlement, the Ohio BWC considers what expenses were paid through the settlement. Usually, the Ohio BWC is only able to recover a portion of its full lien if the settlement is less than it previously paid in worker’s compensation benefits.

If the claim remains unresolved, it may be referred to mediation. If mediation fails, the Ohio BWC gives all claims to the attorney general’s office.

Ohio’s Process is Slightly Different for Self-Insured Employers

Self-insured subrogation cases must often arise in construction projects when a subcontractor’s employee is injured. If the general contractor is self-insured, it is the employer of all employees, including subcontractors, for worker’s compensation purposes. Therefore, an employee of a subcontractor can recover against the general contractor, and any funds received by the employee would be subject to subrogation by the Ohio BWC.

An injured employee could also sue the subcontractor, which would be subject to subrogation. However, under Ohio law, a subcontractor is not liable for claims of employees of other subcontractors working on the same general project provided the claim would fall under worker’s compensation law. Subcontractors may still be liable for actions that do not fall under worker’s compensation, such as an employee dropping construction equipment on another subcontractor’s employee.

Should You Talk to a Lawyer about Subrogation Between Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims?

There can often be offsets to the subrogation rights that the Bureau of Worker’s Claims recognizes, which means you can keep more of your personal injury settlement or judgment than you might first realize. However, many of the important things done to create an offset are done before the settlement of either the personal injury or the worker’s compensation claims. Therefore, it is important to talk to an attorney early. By retaining an attorney early, you maximize your chances of keeping your money.

However, not all attorneys are created equal. Make sure the attorney you hire works in a firm that practices in both personal injury and workers’ compensation. A lack of experience in either field could limit the attorney’s understanding of subrogation issues. Further, you should sit down with your attorney and ask the attorney what possibilities exist for limiting the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation’s subrogation rights. Although the attorney will not be able to give specific numbers at the beginning of the case, he or she should have the ability to explain the basic avenues that he or she will use to try to limit what you have to pay in subrogation. And if the attorney won’t take the time to sit down and explain things to you, that is probably not the attorney you want to use.

If you’ve been injured and have either a personal injury or a worker’s compensation claim, please call one of our attorneys for a free consultation. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!


What Are The Primary Reasons Social Security Disability Benefits Are Denied?

Posted on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 at 8:48 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Jessie Smith, a law student from the University of Kentucky.

Many people suffer from debilitating injuries or conditions that prevent them from working at all. Others’ conditions so severely limit the amount of time that they can devote to work each month that they, effectively, are prevented from earning a livable wage. Oftentimes, the only place for people in these positions to turn is the Social Security Administration in an attempt to obtain Social Security Disability benefits. Unfortunately, requests for these benefits are often denied. This blog post will explore the primary reasons that such requests are denied.

1. Lack of Adequate Medical Documentation to Support One’s Claim

When one applies for Social Security Disability benefits, his or her request will be solely decided upon the proffered medical documentation. What this means for someone who has applied, or is going to apply, for disability benefits is that the more medical records one has to demonstrate that they suffer from the condition claimed, the more likely it is that their request will be granted. Practically speaking, of course, one would have to make regular visits to a physician to obtain treatment for their medical condition. Such frequent visits will result in the accumulation of medical evidence to support one’s claim, which will, in effect, make it more likely that the Social Security Administration will approve a request for disability benefits.

The problem many people face, however, is that frequent visits to a treating physician can be cost-prohibitive and time-consuming. Medical treatment, for any condition, rarely comes cheap. Even if one has medical insurance, deductibles for many plans are high – too high for some to take advantage of frequent medical treatment. Those who do not have insurance at all are in a worse condition; paying for medical treatment, relying solely upon out-of-pocket resources, is an option few can afford.

For those who find themselves in such a position, it is wise to pursue low-cost or free medical treatment options that are available in their community. Many communities have cheap or low-cost medical clinics where they can obtain treatment, and thus amass medical records. Others can seek out treatment from physicians that offer low, monthly payment plans, or offer services based on a sliding scale fee basis (a “sliding scale fee basis” is a plan under which a physician bases the costs of his or her services on the patient’s ability to pay). Finally, few communities are without a hospital, and therefore an emergency room. Therefore, if no other option exists, visits to the local ER are another way to build a portfolio of medical evidence that can later be used in making one’s Social Security benefits determination.

Ultimately, if an applicant has not sought and obtained medical treatment for their condition recently, the Social Security Administration will require said applicant to have a “consultative medical exam” performed. These exams are performed by physicians hired by the Social Security Administration; they are performed so that Social Security disability examiners can have recent medical records at their disposal when making disability determinations. The problem with these “consultative medical exams” is that they are often performed hastily, are oftentimes not thorough, and rarely reveal many of the symptoms that a disability applicant is claiming. In other words, they are a poor substitute for obtaining medical records via one of the aforementioned means, i.e., private physicians, local clinics, and emergency rooms.

2. Once One’s Claim is Denied, They Fail to Fully Pursue the Appeals Process

The vast majority of disability claimants are denied benefits upon initial application. In fact, one source provides that nearly 70% of all Social Security Disability claims are denied under the first application. Many people do not realize that an appeals process exists under which they can continue to pursue receipt of disability benefits.

The first step in the appeals process is to file a “request for reconsideration.” Such a request must be filed within sixty days of the date one receives their letter denying disability benefits. For those who pursue this option, close to 15% are ultimately approved for benefits.

If a request for reconsideration fails, the second step in the appeals process is to file a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This hearing typically involves a review of existing evidence, but new evidence may be considered, as well. At these hearings, a disability claimant, as well as witnesses, including medical experts, may be questioned by the ALJ. For those who pursue this second step in the appeals process, around 60% are ultimately approved for the receipt of disability benefits.

The third step in the appeals process is to request a review by a Social Security Appeals Council. If an Appeals Council reviews one’s case, it may decide the outcome of one’s case on it’s own, or, alternatively, may return the case to the ALJ for further consideration. It is important to note that an Appeals Council may deny one’s request for review; however, if this occurs, or if the Appeals Council decides the case on it’s own, and denies one disability benefits, a lawsuit may be filed in a federal district court. This suit represents the last step of the appeals process.

Ultimately, based upon the aforementioned numbers, the more one appeals their decision, the more likely it is that they will ultimately be approved for receipt of disability benefits. Statistically speaking, if one is initially denied benefits, the appeals process is likely to reverse this negative outcome. However, failing to pursue any of these options, whether due to lack of knowledge of the process, or an unwillingness to engage in these often lengthy processes, would result in never receiving disability benefits.

3. One’s Disability is Not Included in the “Social Security Impairment Manual”

The Social Security Impairment Manual provides a list of many conditions that the Social Security Administration considers to be disabilities. It also provides a list of the specifications that must be met to constitute being afflicted by these disabilities in the eyes of the Social Security Administration. Many people whose disabilities are not listed in this manual are often denied Social Security Disability benefits. However, the simple fact that one’s disability is not included in the manual does not mean that they are not eligible for disability benefits. In fact, most disability claimants that are provided benefits do not suffer from any of the conditions listed in the Impairment Manual.

Ultimately, suffering from a disability listed in the Impairment Manual is typically sufficient, but is, by no means, necessary, to obtain disability benefits. If one suffers from a disability not included in the Impairment Manual, the Social Security disability adjudicator is required to apply other rules to determine whether an applicant is, in fact, disabled.

An Attorney May Be Able to Help You for No Out of Pocket Charge

In sum, the three primary reasons Social Security Disability benefits are quite often denied stems from a lack of medical documentation to support one’s claim of disability, failure to fully pursue the entirety of the appeals process, and, to a lesser extent, suffering from a disability not included in the Social Security Impairment Manual. Ultimately, however, each of these problems stems from the lack of medical evidence to support a claim of disability. The more medical evidence one accumulates, the less likely it is they will be denied their initial application, the less likely it is they will lose during the appeals process, and the less likely it is that they will be denied benefits simply because their condition is not listed in the Social Security Impairment Manual.

A good social security attorney is trained to prove your disability for you whenever possible. Further, social security attorneys do not charge a fee out of pocket to you, so you never have to worry about paying one. Rather, the attorney’s fee is a percentage of your back due award, if any. If you think you may be able to claim disability, call Lawrence & Associates today and ask for a free consultation. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!


Social Security Timeline: What Happens After Denial

Posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017 at 2:33 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Linda Long, a Juris Doctor student at the NKU Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

Social Security Timeline: What Happens After Denial

So, you’re looking into getting Social Security Disability benefits, but you were denied. The frustration can be very disheartening and confusing. This blog post is intended to show a person seeking Social Security and the attorneys that help what to do after benefit denial.

The Appeal Process

After a person is denied SSDI benefits he or she has the option to appeal the decision. There are four levels of appeal. Those levels include: (1) Request for Reconsideration; (2) Administrative Law Judge Hearing; (3) Appeals Council; and (4) Federal Court Review.

Request for Reconsideration

This level has two avenues. A person either requests reconsideration of the original claim or reconsideration of an ongoing claim. If the claim is original, you must start with contacting the local field office and to start the appeal process. All new medical experts are needed to complete the reconsideration process. Because this is an all new determination, none of the original medical doctors, psychologists etc. are allowed to review a patient again. The reconsideration is completed at the Disability Determination Services Level (DDSL). Typically, only 5-10% of reconsideration claims are granted. If an applicant is denied again, then the appeal process begins again with the added step of review by an administrative law judge.

An ongoing claim can be denied if a reviewer finds, after a periodic check, that the beneficiary is able to work and does not need SSDI benefits any longer or if the beneficiary is not complying with procedures.

Administrative Law Judge Hearing

The next step to take after the Request for Reconsideration is review in front of an administrative law judge. This is the next step to take after denial of reconsideration of either an original claim or an ongoing claim. To continue with an appeal, a request for a hearing with an administrative law court needs to be filed within 60 days. Administrative law judges go through a process called Sequential Evaluation to determine whether an applicant can actually work. This process occurs at a hearing that can often take as long as 18 months to schedule. It is highly recommended that you have an attorney help you at a hearing – for more information, follow the links to more information from our website.

Appeals Council

To appeal a denial of an administrative law judge, a person can request their case be heard by the Appeals Council. Success at this level is unlikely because the council does not take every case submitted, but randomly selects them. The Appeals Council’s job is to determine if the administrative law judge made any mistakes, rather than to re-litigate the facts. There is, according to some sources, a 3% chance of victory at this level.

Federal Court Review

This is the last step. This suit is filed in a U.S. district court, and it is heard as a bench trial. There will be no jury. Less than 1% of applicants have their case make it to this level. Federal court review in social security disability is exceedingly rare, and victory is exceedingly difficult. You should not attempt this process without an attorney by your side.

If you have been denied social security disability, don’t hesitate to call Lawrence & Associates and ask for a free consultation today! We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we’d like to help you.


Just the Facts (and the Conclusion) of Kentucky Retirement Systems v. Jamie Harris

Posted on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 at 10:07 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Linda Long, a Juris Doctor student at the NKU Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

Just the Facts (and the Conclusion) of Kentucky Retirement Systems v. Jamie Harris

gavel-judgeKentucky Retirement Systems v. Jamie Harris, is a case that is simply about a woman who tried to obtain disability benefits and was denied at every turn. This is a story about physical disabilities versus mental disabilities, and how they are treated differently sometimes. It is important to remember that Ms. Harris is a real person and her problems are very real for her and this is her battle with the legal system and her story of trying to convince the powers that be of her physical and mental disabilities.

Question to be answered

This case brings this issue to light: “Whether the Franklin Circuit Court erred in reversing the final order (that Ms. Harris was in fact disabled) of the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Retirement Systems denying Appellee Jamie Harris’s application for disability retirement benefits.” To put it simply: was the court wrong when it denied Ms. Harris’s application for disability payments?

Facts

The facts here are on a timeline that follows Ms. Harris’s application and her attempts to convince decision makers at each level that her claims were valid. Here is a summary in bullet point form:

  • Ms. Harris initially claimed that she suffered from fibromyalgia, along with a host of mental disorders including depression
  • Ms. Harris’s job was a Student Affairs Assistant when she was diagnosed with each of her ailments
  • The Board of the Kentucky Retirement Systems decided to discount Ms. Harris’s mental disabilities; further, the Board determined that there was objective scientific evidence that she was suffering from fibromyalgia, but she was not so disabled from her illness that she could not work in her current job as a Student Affairs Assistant
  • At this point, Ms. Harris’s disability payments were denied
  • Ms. Harris then got a doctor (Dr. Samuel J. King) to write a letter stating his opinion that Ms. Harris was in fact disabled
  • However, Dr. King’s letter did not specify that Ms. Harris was disabled due only to her fibromyalgia because he was treating her for her depression and mental illnesses
  • The letter that Dr. King wrote did not help prove Ms. Harris’s ailments because it did not give enough facts that rose to the level of “Objective Medical Evidence” which is defined statutorily in KRS 61.510 (33); it reads as follows: “means reports of examinations or treatments; medical signs which are anatomical, physiological, or psychological, or psychological abnormalities that can be observed. . . “

Analysis

So, Ms. Harris had a fight on her hands. She was up against the Circuit Court and she had to convince it that she was no longer able to work. Ms. Harris testified that she had neither sought treatment for, nor experienced active symptoms of, the depression she had at the time of the Circuit Court hearing. This cut against her argument. Also, there are no medical records prior to 1994 that indicated she was affected by or afflicted with depression. She faced an uphill battle. Without the objective medical facts proving her suffering, she continued to not be able to convince the Circuit Court of her disability. Ms. Harris then went to the next level and had her case heard in the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Conclusion

Overall, the Supreme Court of Kentucky ruled that the Board of Trustees is the ultimate body that decides if a person is disabled. It gets to interpret if Dr. King’s letter provides legitimate objective medical evidence. The Supreme Court ruled that the Circuit Court over stepped its authority. It reversed the decision of the Circuit Court and reinstated Ms. Harris’s disability.


How Can Lawrence & Associates Help Me If Another Lawyer Drops My Disability Claim?

Posted on Tuesday, August 30th, 2016 at 3:10 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by James Haney, a Juris Doctor student at NKU Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University.

It is always interesting when seemingly unrelated topics can be brought together to make a point, through some less than obvious comparison. With that in mind, consider the free agency period in any sport. For those unfamiliar, this is the time during the offseason in which teams make offers to players who are no longer under contract in order to entice the player to come play for them. With millions of dollars on the table for the player, and even more on the line when considering the success of the team, finding the right match is important. A team wants a player who will add not only talent to the team, but also work ethic, tenacity, teamwork, and a desire to win. The player is looking to join a team for the right price, as well as putting themselves in the best position to succeed.

Choosing your lawyer is no different.

Attorneys are often seen somewhat as lawyers first, and people second. That is to say, aside from the few famous names, most attorneys are seen as being comparable, if not the same, as any other. Any old name will do. Like with any profession, though, this is far from the case. In choosing a lawyer, one is hiring someone in whose hands they will place their very life. This becomes of great issue, very specifically, during claims for Social Security.

medical-781422_640As with any legal process, requesting Social Security consideration is a lengthy and labor intensive process. This is particularly true if an applicant has been denied at both the initial applications, as well as the Request for Consideration phases. Once denied at both levels, a claimant must begin a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). In Cincinnati, the regional office in this area, the average wait time from request to hearing is something around twenty (20) months. For a person in need of Social Security, twenty months is a very long time.

Unfortunately, attorneys will sometimes drop clients during this time. This can even happen within only a few months of the hearing.

The hearing stage is the most complex and time consuming for an attorney. After years of filling in forms and sending records, the attorney must now know a claimant’s records inside and out and begin to apply solid statutory and case law to the issues. A good attorney will write detailed briefs on behalf of the client, outlining the facts of the case, and steering the narrative for the judge in a favorable direction, acting as the chief representative of the client in a time of great uncertainty and stress.

Regardless of how strong or weak a case may be, an attorney may deem that the time and effort required during the hearing phase does not balance out with the potential benefit. This is not necessarily due to any issues with the attorney, the case, or the client, but is rather, more often, a result of the culmination of various factors between the three.

Due to the rigorous nature of the field of Social Security Disability, it is very important to choose an attorney who practices in the field regularly, as opposed to one who handles the odd case here and there on the side. An attorney whose focus is in the area is much more likely to see the entire process through, as they will be familiar with the system, and prepared for any eventuality that may arise.

Think of it from a personal perspective: are you more likely to do well in something you know and are passionate about, or in something you were assigned off the reservation by your boss whom you already aren’t particularly fond of? This becomes even more true if the process becomes more complex than originally anticipated.

In the unfortunate event that your attorney drops you during the hearing phase, it is of utmost importance to act quickly, as whomever replaces your previous attorney will have a lot of catching up to do, but only a little time to do it. Contact a new disability attorney immediately, and secure representation.

It is also important to not allow Social Security representatives to set a hearing for you during a period when you do not have representation. When Social Security calls to schedule a hearing, if you are at the time without representation by an attorney, you should do one of two things: 1) ask them to schedule for several months out, or 2) refuse to schedule until you have attained representation.

If you are already scheduled for a hearing when your attorney drops you and you do not have time to find a new attorney, go to the hearing and immediately explain the situation to the judge. If the judge is made aware, in a timely manner, that you do not feel capable of representing yourself, and that you need more time to obtain representation, they are almost certain to grant your request. Remember, the judge is there to ensure that the legal system is upheld correctly, and that justice is sought. It would be considered unjust by most to deny a person an opportunity to be represented in such a tumultuous time.

When you finally meet with your new attorney, it is important to get them up to speed as quickly as possible. Be sure to explain that a hearing could be imminent so they will be able to take the necessary steps. Your new attorney will get access to your Social Security file promptly and begin preparing for the hearing. It is always a good idea to get your medical records straightened out, as well. The easier your attorney’s job is, the more likely you are to win.

An attorney and the client are a team; they come together with a common goal, in order to be successful. Such is the case with any team, working together is highly important. Choose your team wisely, and be a good teammate. Doing that will set you both up for the best chance of success.


The Injured Plaintiff’s Bankruptcy — Pitfalls for the Civil Litigator

Posted on Friday, June 24th, 2016 at 11:21 am    

Justin Lawrence recently wrote an article for the Advocate, Kentucky’s trial lawyer community’s premier publication, about what needs to be done when a person who is injured by an automobile accident, slip and fall, or workplace injury files for bankruptcy while their lawsuit is still pending.

Justin regularly advises other attorneys on the best course of action to take when personal injury, workers’ compensation, social security disability, and bankruptcy claims come together, so injured men and women get the best results possible.

Click here to read his article on the injured plaintiff’s bankruptcy.


Does a Back Injury Qualify You for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Posted on Monday, August 10th, 2015 at 2:40 pm    

A spinal disorder can cause chronic back pain and limited mobility. Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati residents with a spinal disorder may be eligible for disability benefits. Figuring out whether your back pain qualifies you for social security disability requires a multi-step process. The most important step is the determination of whether or not your back pain meets a “listing” as determined by the Social Security Administration.

What Are the Most Common Back and Spine Conditions that Lead to Disability?

backpainIn the Greater Cincinnati area, the most common spine disorder diagnoses that lead to back pain are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated Discs
  • Osteoporosis
  • Tumor
  • Arachnoiditis
  • Sprain or strain
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the canals through which nerve roots travel)
  • Scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine)
  • Kyphosis
  • Osteomyelitis (bony growths on the spine)

Northern Kentucky residents with one of these conditions should keep in mind that many of them are the natural process of aging, so there is no need to prove that you were hurt in an accident in order to get disability benefits. Also, bear in mind that the condition causing your pain has to show that the condition and its debilitating symptoms are going to last more than one year. Thus, a lumbar sprain is less likely than a herniated disc to result in disability benefits. Sprains resolve over time, while herniated discs do not. If you have one of these conditions, please call Lawrence & Associates’ Northern Kentucky office or read more from this resource.

How Can an Attorney Help Me Get Disability for Back Pain?

There are three main ways that an attorney can help get disability. The first is by proving that you meet a listing for spine disorders under the Social Security Administration’s regulations. If you do, then you get benefits. Meeting a listing usually is not straightforward, and requires interpretation of both your medical records and the applicable law.
If you do not qualify for a listing, you can still get benefits if your residual functional capacity. Again, this requires a medical, and sometimes an expert, opinion that is best solicited from a doctor or vocational expert and filed by an attorney. It also requires an in-depth knowledge of the rules and regulations promulgated by the Social Security Administration, and it is best to have an experienced attorney research and argue these issues to the Administrative Law Judge.

At Lawrence & Associates, we help Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati residents just like you get disability every day. We are Working Hard for the Working Class, and we can help you. Call us today!


What Are My Chances of Being Granted Social Security Disability?

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2015 at 1:50 pm    

ss-disabilityThe Social Security Administration keeps very good records regarding the ratio of total filers for social security disability and the total number of people that are successful. The story this number tells is not pretty. Between 2003 and 2014, only 24% of applicants were granted disability on the initial application. Even after appealing to a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (an ALJ), only 41% of applicants nation-wide are granted disability. Although people often think that the disability system is abused, with undeserving people receiving disability, those abuses mostly ended over ten years ago. In fact, the rate of fraud is relatively low and most fraud is committed by people with actual injuries that are working on the side, rather than people who are not hurt at all but also are not working. Today it is statistically more likely than not that an applicant will never receive a disability payment!

How Can I Maximize My Chances of Receiving Social Security Disability?

First, getting the right attorney can drastically increase your chances, although getting a lackluster attorney won’t help you much. Although it’s rude to brag, at Lawrence & Associates we can statistically say that our approval ratio far exceeds the averages set forth above – in fact, our attorneys’ approval ratio is in excess of 90% approvals over the ten-year lifetime of the firm at the time of this writing. So we encourage everyone to seek counsel but to research the lawyer they hire before signing a representation agreement. (Our bar association requires us to say that all cases are different and there is no guarantee of victory, so the mere fact that we have a 90% approval ratio does not mean your particular case has a 90% chance of success.)

Another way to maximize your chance of approval is to enlist your treating doctor. A good treating doctor is worth his or her weight in gold during a disability hearing. A treating doctor can write a Residual Functional Capacity report for you, which can be valuable proof of disability. The doctor may also be willing to write you a letter that you can submit to the Social Security Administration that explains your medical condition and its effect on your life in better detail than you can.

Finally, the claims examiners with the Social Security Administration are trained to analyze a “typical day” in the life of an applicant and measure by hours what the applicant can or cannot do compared to what an “average” person can or cannot do. Write a letter to the examiner breaking down your day into what you think your most important limitations are. For example, can you only stand for an hour before having to rest? Make a note of that in your 24 hour chart. Someone who has to sit down frequently for rest is less hirable than someone that can stand for long periods of time. Limitations can add to up to the point where a social security disability award seems reasonable.

Overall, Don’t Give Up

The road to disability approval often has many stages. Giving up at any particular stage means starting all over again, so don’t let things fall by the wayside! At Lawrence & Associates, we are Working Hard for the Working Class and that means helping worthy Northern Kentucky residents get the disability they paid for through years of taxes. If you need help, call us today.


How Much Work History do I Need to Have Before I Qualify for Social Security Disability?

Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2015 at 10:07 am    

Lawrence & Associates consults with many clients each week regarding potential social security disability claims. One of the most common reasons we have to reject a potential claim is a lack of work history for the disabled person. In addition to meeting the definition of disability set forth by the Social Security Administration, you also need to have enough “work credits” to form a basis for a disability payment. In this post, we’ll talk about how a work credit is measured.

calculatorSocial security work credits are based on your yearly wages or your reported self-employment income. The amount of income needed to earn a credit changes annually; in fiscal year 2015, one work credit equals $1,220 worth of wages. Of course, if you are getting paid under the table to avoid paying income taxes, you are not recording any work credits. This is one reason that it is a good idea to report all your income (in addition to the obvious fact that the law requires you to do so).

Here is a rule of thumb for whether or not you have enough credits to qualify for social security disability: You must have 40 credits, and 20 of those credits must have been earned within the past 10 years. Although younger workers can get disability with fewer credits, it is also harder to qualify as disabled when you are younger. You can find a handy chart detailing the number of credits required for any given age here: Social Security Administration Work Credit Chart

At Lawrence & Associates, we represent Kentucky and Ohio clients in all forms of social security claims, from disability to SSI claims for income benefits. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we’d be proud to represent you. Call today!


Can My Social Security Disability Be Garnished by Someone I Owe? It Depends Who You Owe…

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 4:21 pm    

Social SecurityAt Lawrence & Associates, many of our clients come to us with garnishments already in place. Those clients are usually at the point of desperation, because a garnishment is the death sentence for the careful balance we strike with our creditors. Suddenly, instead of staying one step ahead of the bills, we are one step behind and losing more ground every day.

What Can Be Garnished?

When a judgment results in a garnishment, it’s important to know what can be garnished and what cannot. Everyone knows that a paycheck or bank account can be garnished, and that the IRS can withhold a tax refund to repay past due income taxes from a prior year. What many Northern Kentucky residents don’t realize is that social security disability checks can also be garnished under special circumstances.

Private Debt Collectors Can’t Garnish Disability Benefits But They Can Go After Bank Accounts

First, let’s start with private – as opposed to government – debts. Generally, private creditors such as credit cards or medical providers (think Capital One or St. Elizabeth Hospital) cannot garnish social security disability benefits. They can, however, garnish bank accounts that hold these benefits if the benefits are deposited by check or if the bank that holds the disability funds is also the bank you owe money to.

The U.S. Government Can Garnish a Percentage Your Social Security Disability Benefits

The amount of the garnishment depends on what kind of debt you owe. If you owe money to the IRS for back due taxes, the IRS can garnish up to 15% of your disability check. If you owe money for student loans, the government can also garnish up to 15%, although it cannot touch the first $750 of disability payments. If you owe child support or spousal support, your social security disability benefits could be garnished by as much as 50% to 65%!

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Stops Private and Government Garnishment of Your Social Security Disability Benefits

In Northern Kentucky, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a good way around a social security disability garnishment. Even the government has to obey the automatic stay, which is the bankruptcy court’s order that requires all creditors to stop collecting their debts once a bankruptcy is filed. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can pay off non-dischargeable debts – such as student loans, taxes, or child support – over a three to five year period without those debts incurring interest or penalties in the meantime.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

Relevant Posts

Super Lawyers
Avvo
Top 100
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
ASLA
Badge

Ready to get started? Contact us today!