July 2007


Not everyone who needs Social Security Disability can come to a lawyer’s office.

You may not feel well enough to get out. I have had a client who had a recent operation on his legs who could not leave the house.
Some people with fibromyalgia ache all the time. Others have conditions where they are afraid to go out in public. I concentrate in Social Security law so I am more than willing to meet with you in your home, or anywhere else that is comfortable to you.

Another problem with Social Security disability is that a person must travel to the hearing office for the trial. In Central Illinois, the hearings are held in Peoria, Champaign or Springfield. Once again, people often cannot drive themselves to the hearing or get a ride from someone. I am happy to take you to the hearing and home again. The ride often gives us more time to discuss your case and what is going to happen at the hearing.

Please call me if you have any questions or suggestions for ways I can help you. Dirk May at 309-827-4371.

The question often isn’t whether you should file for disability, but whether you need a lawyer to win your social security case.

When I make a decision, I look at what is at stake and the cost invovled.

If you win your social security disability case you are entitled to monthly benefits for the rest of your life, and you are entitled to medicare coverage.

You only have to pay your lawyer if you win your social security case. Attorney fees are limited to 25% of back benefits or at most $5,300. There is never a fee on your monthly payments. Assuming, you are found disabled when you are 50 years old and you live to age 75 and you are paid $1,000 a month this would mean you would be paid close to $300,000 in benefits over your lifetime for a fee of $5,000.

As you can see, the social security system is set up to provide you representation for a small cost.

Access to medical treatment is absolutely critical for your social security disability claim. Everything Social Security does is based on your medical records.

The problem is many people filing for disability have very limited access to medical care. This makes the debates over healthcare at the national level and in the states very important. With Democrats in control in Congress and the presidential election coming up in 2008 there appears to be a good opportunity for change in access to healthcare. In Illinois, the Governor is advocating for greater access to medical care for people without insurance. While it does not appear his proposals will be adopted, the Governor’s involvement raises the visability of the healthcare issue.

In addition, some states are experimenting with different approachs to providing medical access to its citizens. This environment encourages other states to come up with new ideas and can only help the situation.

If you are experiencing problems with access to healthcare, I encourage you to let your elected officials know what is happening to you. Check the links on this blog for contacting members of Congress and State of Illinois officials. This is important so they know what is happening to real people. Lawyers, lobbyists, and interest groups all have their say in this debate. Citizens also need to let their voice be heard.

 

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI? When you apply for disability, Social Security will look at your eligibility for both programs. Social Security disability is an insurance program. Only those who have paid in enough quarters can receive benefits. When you receive income and pay your social security tax and medicare tax you receive credit for it and Social Security records these credits throughout your work history. If you do not work outside the home, or do not pay the Social Security tax you will not be eligible for Social Security disability. For instance, some universities do not have their employees pay into the Social Security system.

If you do not have enough work credits for SSD, you can still be eligible for SSI. The problem with SSI is that it is limited to the range of $600 per month currently, and it is an asset based program. This means if you earn other income or someone in your family earns income or you have certain assets such as savings accounts or retirement accounts Social Security starts subtracting from your monthly benefits and you can end up with very little per month.

If you have any questions about whether you are eligible for SSD please feel free to give me a call.

Often, someone will be injured at work and it will aggravate a a condition that had been in existence before the work accident. Such as a bad back, arthritic knees, or fibromylgia. In Illinois, you can still recover Workers’ Compensation benefits for such an injury.

In Illinois, the rule is that you must have been injured in the course of your employment, or you must have aggravated a previous condition. The aggravation must be considered permanent in order to recover. Some other states have a stricter requirement, however, if you have jurisdiction in Illinois you can use the more liberal rule.

 

 

 

Meeting with a client before his social security hearing today, in a client waiting room, and he commented and laughed with his girlfriend about how old the SSA computer was.

Makes you think about government priorities doesn’t it? And it fits with the theme. Old equipment. Not enough staff. Large backlogs. Your disability case will be reviewed some day.

Some days all you can do is laugh.

 

In Illinois Workers’ Compensation cases the only way to have lifetime medical benefits is to have a trial. The reason is that very rarely will an insurance company agree to settle a case and offer medical coverage for the rest of your life. Insurance companies do not know what the cost would be for such an item.

When you go to trial and win you are automatically entitled to what is called open medical. This is not an insurance card or automatic authorization of future medical treatments. The insurance company can continue to deny coverage of future medical, and then you have to file another case before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. At this stage, you must prove your current treatment needs are related to your original injury. It is a time consuming process, but necessary if you want to enforce your rights.

Many people think this second step to obtain your future medical needs is unfair, however, this is the procedural framework the Illinois legislature has established. In any event, the only way you have an opportunity for lifetime medical pursuant the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is to take your case to trial. If you settle your case, then any future medical problems are your responsibility.

If you have any questions regarding whether to try for lifetime medical benefits or settle your case please feel free to call me.