Social Security Disability: My Cousin Got It. Why Can’t I?

Persons that apply for Social Security benefits often become frustrated when they are denied. They are particularly frustrated when they feel that their relative or friends received benefits so easily while they themselves have been denied.

Persons should be careful to avoid comparing their cases to the cases of others.

  1. All cases are different! Every case has a unique set of facts and evidence.

Different claimants have different kinds and levels of disabilities.  It is almost impossible to attempt to compare one case to another.

  1. The decision makers are different! Different fact finders with the Social Security

Administration may view cases differently. They may have a different opinion on credibility or evidence submitted.

Rather than focusing on other cases, more time, money and effort should be utilized to develop and present your own case to the Social Security Administration.

If you have any questions concerning Social Security benefits, you should consult an experienced Social Security attorney. Kent S. DeJean

 

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Divorce: Be Careful What You Ask for In Property Settlement with Your Spouse If You Are An SSI/Medicaid Recipient!!!!

If a spouse is receiving Social Security Income benefits and Medicaid, they should be extremely careful in settling and litigating their partition (division) of community property under Louisiana law. SSI and Medicaid are needs based programs. Generally, a recipient is only allowed one car, one house, furniture, clothing, and less than $ 2,000.00 in any other assets.

The assets that a spouse received from the division of community property may not be exempt assets for eligibility purposes. This can have serious consequences by rendering you ineligible for SSI and Medicaid benefits.

The SSI/ Medicaid recipient should make sure that:

  1. The assets they are receiving from a partition of community property are exempt assets for SSI and Medicaid eligibility purposes, or
  1. They must have a specific plan to immediate convert assets or spend down assets within the month that you receive the settlement to maintain your eligibility for SSI and Medicaid benefits.

If you are an SSI and/or Medicaid recipient that is involved in divorce litigation regarding division of property, you should consult a Medicaid planning attorney as soon as possible. Losavio & DeJean

 

 

Will an Inheritance or Personal Injury Settlement Effect My Social Security Benefits?

It is not unusual for person’s receiving Social Security benefits to come into money or property by way of inheritance or personal injury settlement or judgment. To determine whether the receipt of this money or property will adversely affect your benefits, you must determine what type of Social Security benefits you are receiving.

There are two types are Social Security benefits: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and the other is called Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.

Social Security Disability benefits are paid to persons that have put in the required number of quarter payments over a specified period of time and is not needs based. A person drawing Social Security Disability benefits has no limits on what property they can own.  Therefore, the receipt of an inheritance or personal injury settlement will have no effect on a person receiving Social Security Disability benefits.

On the other hand, Supplemental Security Income benefits is a needs-based program. Claimants are entitled to these benefits only if they do not exceed certain property limits.  Therefore, the receipt of an inheritance or personal injury settlement may have an effect on a person receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits.

If you are unsure what kind of benefits you are drawing, you can obtain this information the Social Security Administration in order to take preventive actions to avoid losing eligibility of your Supplemental Security Income benefits.

 

 

Important Upcoming Free Seminar

Our next free seminar on How to Plan for Long Term Care is scheduled for Tuesday August 21, 2018 at the Ascension Parish Library – Gonzales 708 South Irma Blvd. Gonzales, LA 70737 at 9:30am, 12:00pm, and 6:00pm.  To reserve your spot please call 877-868-8907

Social Security Disability: Don’t Avoid Treatment

It is not uncommon for people that have physical or mental disabilities to avoid treatment. When the medical records are reviewed, you will find long time periods where the claimant did not see a doctor for examinations or treatments.

These gaps, in the medical records can cause significant problems in proving a Social Security Disability (SDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Without ongoing office visits, it will be difficult for a doctor to state whether your condition got better, worse or remained the same. It will be difficult for the Social Security Administration to assess your ongoing disability and determine its severity.  It will also be difficult for your treating doctor to assist you in providing an accurate diagnosis, determination of disability and plan for treatment.

Further, your medical treatment may require testing, treatment and therapy. All of these elements can also be used to prove your Social Security Disability case.

If you are seeing a doctor, you should continue to make and attend recommended office medical visits. You should also comply when your doctor prescribes testing, treatment and therapy.

Avoiding treatment can not only adversely affect your health and wellbeing, it can also hurt your claim with the Social Security Administration.

If you have any questions concerning Social Security claims, you should consult an experience Social Security attorney.

 

Kent S. DeJean

 

Communicating with The Social Security Administration

A Social Security claim is extremely important to any individual. To facilitate this claim, communications are a must.

I do not recommend that claimants communicate by telephone as a general rule. The reason I do not recommend this method of communication is the Social Security Administration is an enormous government entity. It is unlikely that your telephone message to a general number will be returned. It is fine to communicate by telephone if you have a specific worker and extension number to call.  Otherwise, I would not rely on this method.

A claimant should also be careful in using the mail to communicate with the Social Security Administration. It is easy for your correspondence to be misplaced. Therefore, I strongly urge that you always keep a copy of your letters and information mailed to the Social Security Administration. Never assume that the office has received your information. Follow up if you have not heard from the office. By keeping a copy of all documents sent to the office, you can avoid unpleasant delays and problems in re-constructing documents which were already sent.

I find the best way to communicate with the Social Security Administration is to go personally to the local office to speak to a worker. This can take some time and effort but, you are guaranteed to speak to someone about the status of your claim or it’s facilitation.

The Social Security Administration also allows you to make claims online. If you use this method, make sure that you save your claim or confirmation number as well as copies of your claim either electronically or in hard copies. If you haven’t heard from the Social Security Administration within a reasonable period of time, you should go into the local office to follow up.

 

Don’t Forget to Evaluate Possible Mental Disabilities

In applying for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, attorneys and claimants generally focus on physical disabilities. These physical disabilities can include heart problems, back disorders, or respiratory problems.

Many times, possible mental disabilities are not considered. There can be many reasons that this failure to consider occurs. Claimants may not bring the mental symptoms up in applying or to the attorney’s attention. Claimants may be embarrassed or fail to acknowledge that they have a mental condition.

It is important to remember that mental disabilities can qualify a Claimant for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits just as physical disabilities can. Therefore, mental disabilities should not be ignored.

It is not unusual for persons with major physical disabilities to develop severe depression or anxiety. The Social Security Administration does not consider what caused the mental disability. The fact that the mental disability may have been caused by a physical disability does not matter.

If you are experiencing unusual symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleeping problems, changes in eating, lack of energy, or isolation, you need to bring these symptoms to the attention of your attorney or Social Security worker.

 

The Biggest Mistake Made by Social Security Claimants

 

One of the biggest mistakes that people make in applying for Social Security benefits is that they believe and assume that the Social Security Administration is their advocate. They believe that the Social Security Administration is advocating for them and taking care of their cases. The truth is that the Social Security Administration is a federal administrative body to administer claims. Don’t get me wrong. The people that work with the Social Security Administration are good hard-working people.

But the Social Security Administration is not the claimant’s attorney. Although the Social Security Administration will assist to some degree in getting medical evidence, it is the responsibility of the clamant to obtain and submit medical evidence. The Social Security Administration will not assist a person in advocating the claimant’s claims. Without an attorney, claimant’s find that they are representing themselves. They will find that their claims have been denied because evidence was not received or important parts of their cases were not submitted. To add insult to injury, it is difficult to appeal these decisions.

It is very important that a claimant consult with an experienced attorney that handles Social Security cases. A claimant’s case is important to them. The process in obtaining benefits is a long one and often times, the claimant is experiencing financial distress. Time is of the essence. So, it is important that claimant make the most of their opportunity to make sure that their cases are being properly presented.

Kent S. DeJean

 

Putting Off Getting A Will till You Fly? Think Again!

 

One of the biggest things that motivates people to our law firm to engage in estate planning or updating their wills is when they go on an airplane trip. The thoughts to traveling high in the air in a large aircraft scares people into executing wills and powers of attorney. The perception is that flying is very dangerous. However, human perception is sometimes not based in reality.

 

What is your probability of dying in a commercial airplane crash? According to statistics, you have a one in 3.5 million chance of being involved in a commercial airplane crash where at least one person dies (not necessarily you).

 

In comparison, statistics show that you have a one in 100,000 chance of dying in an automobile accident. That’s right. You are at least 35 times more likely to die riding in a car accident today than if you got on a commercial aircraft.

 

So, what is the moral of the story? Instead of waiting to estate plan when you are taking a trip on a plane, you should be much more worried about estate planning today if you are riding in a car. One should not put off estate planning or the execution of powers of attorney. Our health and/or capacity is not guaranteed. Plan today!

 

If you have any questions about wills, estate planning or powers of attorney, contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

 

Kent S. DeJean

What Is A Living Will?

A living will is probably the most misnamed legal document.It has nothing to do with “living” and it’s not a “will”.

To put it bluntly, it is a directive to be allowed to die. A person that signs a living will is declaring that they be allowed to die if certain facts are present.  In Louisiana, euthanasia is illegal. Certain elements have to all be met before a living will becomes effective.  The required elements are as follows:

  1. The person must have an incurable injury, disease or illness
  2. This injury, disease or illness must be certified to be a terminal and irreversible condition by two (2) physicians (one of whom is the treating physician of that person) who have personally examined the person

 

  1. The physicians must determine that my death will occur whether or not life-sustaining procedures are utilized; and

 

  1. The application of life-sustaining procedures would serve only to prolong the dying process artificially

If all of these elements are met, the person may direct that all life-sustaining procedures be withheld or withdrawn. The person can also express a directive as to whether to allow food and water to be administered invasively if all the above elements are met.

The most common example of where all these required elements are met is if a person is in an incurable coma and whose life is being artificially prolonged by the use of a respirator.

A person interested in executing a living will, powers of attorney and a will, should consult an experienced estate planning attorney.