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How Do Auxiliary Benefits Work in Social Security?

Social Security disability is often confusing. Further, there are a ton of special programs and rules that many people don’t realize exist. Recently, while talking Lawyer and Clientwith one of our senior employees, one of these common situations came up. She asked me if I knew anything about “auxiliary benefits.” I must have had a confused look on my face because she immediately started to explain them to me. As I returned to my desk later I realized that if I was confused by this, then surely a lot of our clients were confused by the term too. So, I did what I always do in a situation like this, I turned to Google.

Let’s get the easy part out of the way. What are auxiliary benefits? Essentially, auxiliary benefits are paid to dependent spouses and children of individuals receiving social security.

Who is eligible? This program is only for those individuals pursuing SSDI, not SSI. SSI applicants are not eligible for auxiliary benefits. For a dependent spouse to receive auxiliary benefits, they must be at least 62 years old or have a child who is either under the age of 16 or disabled. For a child to receive auxiliary benefits, they must be a minor (under 18) be found completely disabled before turning 22 or be a high school student under the age of 19.

You may also wonder how much a person will receive when they are granted auxiliary benefits. For the most part, an eligible dependent can receive up to 50% of the disabled person’s benefits. For instance, if a mother was granted SSDI at a rate of $800 per month, her dependent child could likely receive $400 per month. It’s important to note that there is a cap on how much a family can receive. This is referred to as a family maximum. Traditionally, auxiliary benefits are payable to spouses and children of disabled workers.be aware that these benefits are limited. The family maximum for the family of a disabled worker is 85 percent of the worker’s Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). However, it cannot be less than the worker’s PIA (primary insurance amount) nor more than 150 percent of the PIA.

Auxiliary benefits can be very beneficial for a large family, a single parent, or really anyone with dependents. It’s important to remember that these benefits can be altered if your family size changes. For instance, if you have a child, your benefits may go up. If your child leaves for college or reaches an age higher than the set limit, your benefits may go down.

If you weren’t aware that you could receive auxiliary benefits, or if you did, but need assistance with your claim, give us a call. We’d love to talk to you. Our consultation is free. Just call via our toll-free number, 1-877-526-3457. Or, if you can’t call right now, fill out this form, and we will call you at a better time.

Springtime Driving Hazards

It’s March here in West Virginia, and that can only mean one thing; the weather will change practically on the hour. Many people only think that winter brings driving hazards, but that’s not true. The onset of spring can cause trouble for a lot of motorists too. The flowers may be in bloom, and the birds may be chirping, but that does not mean that the roads are any safer. Let’s look at some driving hazards motorists need to be aware of in spring.
1. Changing weather conditions. We had a very mild winter this year and I am the first to kick on a pair of shorts for the spring. However, weather patterns during this time of year fluctuate quite a bit. We can have bright sunshine one day with temperatures in the mid 60’s while the next day may see snow flurries and temperatures below freezing. These sudden changes can catch a lot of drivers off guard. Further, with the onset of more rain in the early spring, and continuing low temperatures, there is still a major possibility for black ice.
2. Keeping excess rain in mind, flooding of rural roadways is quite common in the spring. A flooded roadway is a danger for many reasons. Obviously, if the water is deep enough, your car can be carried away by the current, and a driver can easily be killed by this neglect. However, even a roadway that is barely covered by water can have many hidden dangers. There may be hidden debris in the road, large pot holes, or even missing pieces of the road.
3. Distracted driving is still a problem in the spring. You’ve likely heard countless times about how so many people use their phones while driving. However, warm weather brings out the old school distracted drivers too. As the weather becomes more pleasant, drivers are more apt to roll their windows down, turn their stereos up, and pay less attention to the road in front of them.
4. Animals don’t take the spring off. If you live here in West Virginia, you are used to deer terrorizing our roadways. Most people associate these animals with the fall, however, they are still a hazard. Other animals are also more prominent during the spring. Some animals may be coming out of hibernation during the spring, and thus are more active, and likely to be crossing the road during the spring.
5. After a long winter people are suffering from cabin fever and have a desire to leave their homes. This means people are more active on the roadways. People are more likely walking on the roads and engaging in outdoor activities. You may encounter more people riding bikes and motorcycles.
6. Poorly maintained vehicles. After a long winter, many people have worn out parts on their cars that need replacing. People may have windshield wipers that need repair, worn brakes, even bald tires. Too often a motorist will let these repairs go because they don’t associate spring with poor driving conditions.
7. Severe storms are more likely to occur between March and May. This means that there is a greater chance for fallen trees, downed power lines, and other road hazards. Further, driving in severe storms can be difficult due to visibility.
Take some time this year to make sure your car is in good driving condition and be sure to make yourself aware of these additional road hazards this spring. A little preventative maintenance can go a long way. Making a plan before you leave, and avoiding driving in adverse conditions can also be beneficial. If you are involved in an accident, be sure to give us a call to learn about the services we provide. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form to talk to one of our associates at a more convenient time.

5 Tips to make the Social Security Process Simpler

We know that no one pursues a Social Security disability claim because they think the experience is going to be fun. In fact, it’s the furthest thing from fun. FilingWhy does Social Security Have a 5 Month Waiting Period for Social Security disability is going to be long, frustrating, and at times, it may even upset you. Sure, maybe it’s not as difficult as climbing Mt. Everest or exploring Antarctica. However, when you think about what you are actually doing when you file for social security, it can be downright scary.  Simply, if you’re filing for Social Security disability, your future is really dependent upon the outcome of your claim. Don’t fret, though, there are some ways to make things less scary and put you at ease. In the past, we called these things tips. Now, people refer to them as hacks. Regardless, here are 5 ways/tips/hacks to make your disability claim process simpler.

  1. Ask questions. It’s just like going to the doctor or learning a new subject in school. It’s important to ask questions. Asking will help you better understand the process. A lot of people hesitate to ask questions because they are afraid of sounding unintelligent. There is no need to worry about that. The person you’re speaking to at the SSA may be well versed in social security disability, but they too have been in situations that were unfamiliar to them. I consider myself to be very knowledgeable about cars. However, when I go to the mechanic, I still ask plenty of questions so that I better understand what repairs are being made to my car. Keep in mind, part of the job of the people you deal with at the SSA is answering your questions.
  2. There are so many good online resources for social security disability. Even the SSA website has good information. Researching topics within social security will help you better understand what will happen. Our firm, Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, started practicing back in 1994. Over the past 22 years, we’ve heard a lot of the same questions from new social security clients. So, we decided to make a book to help people learn the basics of social security. It’s really helpful, and many of our clients have claimed to understand more about the process once they read the book. If you’d like a FREE copy of this book, click here to request one.
  3. Talk to people who have been through the process before. You’ll often hear us say that every case is different. That is true. However, a lot of cases have a lot of the same aspects too. Talking to someone who has been through the process before will help you in many ways. First, it will help you realize that you’re not alone. This can be a friend, a family member, or any person who has been through the process. I’ve had several family members file social security Now, they often help each other. This is especially helpful when a younger person files.
  4. Get continuous treatment. Regardless if you’ve just filed your claim, if you’ve been denied, or if it’s months after you were approved, continuous treatment will be beneficial for your case at all stages. The way any person gets approved for social security is by means of medical evidence. Some argue it’s the most important part of any case. Often, the more medical evidence you have the better it is for your Plus, better understanding your disability will help you better communicate with people at the SSA.
  5. Look into hiring an attorney. Granted, we are a little biased here, but we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe it helped people. Also, after 20 years, and thousands of satisfied clients, we must be doing something right. However, hiring an attorney isn’t just about winning or losing a claim. It’s about peace of mind. For instance, we can assist clients with filing claims, fill out paperwork, pursue appeals, representation at hearings, and much more. Plus, each of our clients is assigned case managers to help them with questions every step of the way.

While the process can be daunting, review these 5 tips to see if they will help you. Try implementing them. Start with one of the simpler tasks, like researching social security disability online, and then go from there. If you want to know what it’s like to have an attorney, call us. We’d be happy to give you a free consultation. Just click here, or call 1-877-526-3457.

How Cars, Boats and ATVs Impact your SSI Claim

I take a lot of pride in the work that I do. March will be my six-year anniversary with the firm, and I still find this work rewarding. Something that a lot of my fellow coworkers will tell you is that we often get stopped outside the office by citizens who have questions. Many of us own garments that read “Jan Dils Attorneys at Law.” So, we get stopped a lot. We are always happy to answer questions. Recently while shopping at a grocery store, I was approached by a woman who had questions about her son receiving Social Security. Naturally, I was happy to help her.

She mentioned that her son was in his mid-thirties and had some developmental disabilities. He never really worked for a company or paid taxes. He lived on her property but in a trailer of his own that was recently given to him. A few months back he hurt his back while working on a car. She said she didn’t think that he’d ever be able to work.

When an individual comes to us to seek representation, we will complete a formal review asking a series of questions. However, when someone stops you in the middle of Kroger, you have to use your knowledge of the process. Two things immediately stuck out to me. For one, since he never had a traditional job, he wouldn’t have any work credits. Thus, Social Security Disability Insurance would not likely be a route he could pursue. Instead, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a needs-based program, would be his best option. However, when she stated that he hurt himself working on a car I asked a follow-up question. “Did he enjoy working on cars?” She responded that he did, and he had several old vehicles on their property that he had restored. This was a big red flag for me. It actually pertains to a rule with the SSA that I am not a fan of, but I understand why it is in place.

Under the SSA’s rules for assets, an individual may own one vehicle, regardless of value, and not be required to count that vehicle as an asset. However, if he or she owns two vehicles, one will, in most cases be counted as an asset. In the eyes of the SSA, you can own a brand new $90,000 Cadillac Escalade, and face no penalty, but if you own two 2004 Toyota 4Runners valued at $20,000 you will face a penalty.

SSDIWhen you call us or come see us in person regarding a Social Security claim, we discuss everything regarding assets in more detail. However, I want to focus on vehicle ownership because this one impacts a lot of our clients. It’s not just a car that can be counted against you, though. Many people here in Parkersburg, and really, most of the people in West Virginia, like to ride ATV’s. Thus, a lot of people own them. Well, an ATV can be counted as a vehicle, and it can be counted as an asset if you’re applying for SSI. The same can be true for certain types of motorcycles, RVs, and even animals.

I understand why the SSA has to have certain limits for assets. It wouldn’t be fair to let someone who has 10 cars worth over a million dollars draw SSI. Once again, it is a needs-based program. Then again, it’s not fair that a person with an $8,000 truck and a $3,000 ATV are penalized. I wish the SSA would simply set a monetary limit for all vehicles. For instance, why not say all vehicles can’t exceed $50,000?

Overall, it’s important to be educated about how all assets can impact your claim for SSI. If you are interested in learning more about the process, call us today for a FREE consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a later time.

How to document migraine headaches for your doctor

I am one of the lucky ones in life because I’ve never broken a bone. It’s possibly the result of being an overly cautious child, and the fact that I always drank my milk to ensure healthy bone growth. While other kids in my elementary school were coming to class with casts and fun stories to impress strangers, I was preserving my bone health for later in life. Broken bones are painful, and I’ll be ok with the way my life turns out if I never experience a broken bone. That may not happen, though. However, as an individual who likes to look on the bright side, it’s usually easy to tell if you have a broken bone. A simple x-ray will determine if your bone is broken, and how severe it is too. If you tell people you have a broken bone, most people won’t question if you are suffering or not. That’s not the same for every condition, though. This can cause an issue for some Social Security Claims.

When the other kids were having issues with their broken bones, I was suffering from a quite a different type of pain, migraine migraines. Migraines aren’t as easy to detect as a broken bone. First of all, you don’t get a colorful cast for your classmates to sign. Second, there isn’t really a good way to diagnose a migraine condition, especially in situations in which head trauma does not occur. Trust me, I know this from experience. I had to have x-rays on my head to make sure I didn’t have a TBI. There I was, a first grader, suffering from excruciating pain.  Twenty-five years later I’ve only experienced pain worse than that once in my life. However, that we will be something I talk about when we cover kidney health. So, stay tuned.

With extensive testing over the course of the year, my doctor said that I would simply “grow out of the condition.” He was right. Eventually, the migraines went away, and I could live like a real boy again. If you’re reading this, you’re likely an adult suffering from migraines and have had issues getting your Social Security claim approved. You likely relate to my struggle to find a cause. There is also a good chance that you are struggling to convey the gravity of your pain to your doctor. If so, one thing we encourage our clients to do is document all their migraines in a log.

A migraine log, or journal,  is quite easy to keep. Simply get yourself a small notebook and keep track of all of your migraines or migraines. Be sure to make note of when a migraine occurs, how long it lasts, the pain intensity, and what you did to alleviate the pain. A log like this can be used to help prove that your condition is disabling. This is especially true if your migraines interfered with your work performance. In other words, if you ever missed work or had to leave early because of your migraines, that will also help your argument. If you take prescription medication for your migraines, note that in your log as well. Our office can also provide you with a migraine log that it already set up.

While I mostly discussed migraines today, a log is a great way to document other conditions too. If you have issues with panic/anxiety attacks a log will be a great way to show your doctor how frequently they occur. This is also true for individuals who have seizures. I’ve even been told to use a log to document my blood pressure.

Simply put, a log is just another piece of evidence that can be used to help your case. Medical evidence is what wins cases, and this is one of the small ways you can provide more evidence to support your claim. If you’d like to know more about our services, or if you’d like to sign up for a free consultation, call our toll-free number now. It’s 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

When You’re Pursuing Social Security Disability, the Waiting is the Hardest Part

The Great American lyricist Tom Petty once wrote that “the waiting is the hardest part.” Mr. Petty, who I believe is wise beyond his years, states that this song is Why does Social Security Have a 5 Month Waiting Periodso popular because it applies to many situations. While I believe we are safe to assume Mr. Petty was not actually writing about Social Security Disability when he wrote his song, it does apply. Recently, while talking to some colleagues about Social Security, I was curious about what the hardest part of a Social Security case was for our clients. They responded, almost in unison, by saying that waiting is the hardest part of a Social Security case. Many individuals seeking Social Security disability are aware that waiting is a big part of a case, but they may not be aware as to why. Further, the wait appears to be getting longer. Let’s discuss this in more detail now.

The problem.

When examining the Social Security timeline, it’s important to know that there is not one single issue contributing to the long wait. There are actually several different reasons why cases take so long and why the wait seems to be getting worse. When most people hear that the backlog of cases is getting worse, they assume that there must just be more people filing for disability claims. That is not the case, though. As a firm, we have not seen a dramatic uptick in cases, and the industry as whole backs this up too. New applications are steady, but there is a not a dramatic difference between now and years past.

The Huffington Post reported the following in October of 2015. The number of requests for hearings has increased, the federal judges who hear appeals have become less productive, there are fewer attorneys on staff who could decide cases without going through the lengthy hearing process and fewer judges overall. All of these reasons are contributing to a longer wait for a hearing. Here we are a year later, and not much has changed. It’s still over 430 days for a hearing. For most of the clients we represent, we tell them to expect at least a 12-18 month wait after the hearing request is filed.

Can anything be done?

A lot of people assume that hiring an attorney will automatically get them approved for their Social Security benefits. Trust me, we wish this were true. A lot of people also assume that hiring an attorney means your case will get fast tracked. This is not true either. Hiring an attorney can be beneficial for your case in many ways, but we can’t guarantee a win, and we can’t speed up your case. What we can do is help you file for your benefits, file appeals, review/submit medical records, represent you at your hearings and answer questions you have along the way. We also keep our clients on track by creating follow up letters and help you get secondary opinions when necessary. The development of your case is key and our office has over 20 years of experience to do so.

You may also wonder if the problems are going to be fixed by anyone. Well, it’s complicated. We can’t really speculate on why judges aren’t being replaced. Obviously, the budget is a concern. With our country going through a transition in leadership, it’s hard to tell what the future holds for the SSA. We hope that the problem is resolved soon.

What should I do?

We are very upfront with all our clients regarding the Social Security backlog. We try to keep expectations in check. We’ve been doing this since 1994, so we know what to expect. However, we understand that this is a difficult time for you and there is a lot of uncertainty during this time. With that in mind, there are a lot of things you can do to help your case during the backlog. For one, continuous treatment will be beneficial for your case. Making and keeping appointments with your medical care professional are among the top things you can do help your case. Being up front with your healthcare provider about how your disability is impacting you will also help you with your case.

If you work with an attorney, it’s important to stay in touch with their office. We encourage our clients to let us know if they move, change phone numbers, have changes in their household and any updates regarding their medical treatment. Our offices utilize case managers too. Case managers are great because they can answer questions for our clients and assist in the development of our clients’ claims throughout the entire process. We encourage our clients to contact us if they have any questions. We want our clients to be educated in the claims process and know we are by their side the entire time.

Overall, the backlog does not appear to be going away anytime soon. Once again, we’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and we know there is light at the end of the tunnel. Which reminds me of another Tom Petty lyric, “I won’t back down.” Social Security cases are tough, but you can’t give up. We are upfront with our clients. If we identify obstacles in your case that makes an approval difficult, we will be upfront with you. However, if we took your case, we believe in it. So, don’t give up. We’ll do whatever we can to help you get approved.

December 2016 Golden Apple Award Presented to Waverly Elementary Teacher

December can be a difficult time for the Golden Apple Award. Often, we aren’t able to present it to a deserving teacher during the month of December because of snow days, and the long Christmas break. That was the case this year. The benefit is that we get to visit two schools in the month of January. On Tuesday, January 24th, the Jan Dils team present the December Jan Dils Attorneys at Law Golden Apple Award to Morgan Trout of Waverly Elementary School in Waverly, WV.

While this was not the first time a Golden Apple Award has been presented to a teacher from this facility, we have not visited the small school in several years. While Waverly is one of the smaller schools in the area, they are not short on heart. One benefit of a smaller school is the sense of community everyone has, and how teachers really impact all the students. That’s one of the reasons that Ms. Trout was not just praised by students of her own grade, but really the entire student body stopped to congratulate her. We later learned that Ms. Trout recently started an after-school tutoring program, a first for the school.

Ms. Trout is new to the area, but this happens to be her fourth-year teaching. She mentioned that she loves teaching, but that is also a very demanding job. Parents happen to love her, though, and many of her colleges state that she often goes above and beyond for her students.

Ms. Trout is a very deserving teacher and we appreciate her dedication to her students. We can’t wait to award the January 2017 Golden Apple Award next week.

4 Resolutions to Help You Get The Social Security Benefits You Deserve in 2017

It’s a new year and that means that many people are making a lot of New Year’s resolutions. While most people will resolve to lose weight or to save money, it’s Why does Social Security Have a 5 Month Waiting Periodalso a good time to make resolutions for your social security claim too. Now that may seem silly to some, but starting the new year with good habits can help you get a favorable decision. Here are four resolutions to make in 2017 to help your social security claim.

  1. Keep getting treatment. I understand that most of the people reading this blog post hate going to the doctor. I hate going to the doctor too. It’s tough. I believe most people hate it because they fear the unknown or are worried about what news may be delivered. However, neglecting to go to the doctor can mean more issues down the road. When it comes to your social security claim, gaps in treatment can mean an unfavorable decision for your case. Simply put, medical treatment and records are among the most important factors for an individual getting their social security claim approved. Take a moment to think about social security disability in its simplest form. I know that the process is complicated, but think about what it is at its core. Simply, Social Security Disability is a program to aid individuals who have disabilities that no longer allow them to work. To prove you have a disability that prevents you from working, your medical records must show limitations in work-related activities that prevent you from seeking gainful employment for a minimum of 12 months. For that to happen, you must go see a doctor first. Further, it can’t just be once or twice. You need to have consistent treatment.
  2. Keep the SSA and your attorney up to date. Many cases are lost because a client goes missing. Now, these clients do not really go missing, but rather they quit communicating with their representatives and/or social security. If you’re working with a lawyer, you need to let them know when you move, change phone numbers, and have new doctors’ appointments. There are times in a social security case where it may seem as if nothing is happening for months, but then there will be instances in which you’ll need to be contacted multiple times. It’s just the nature of how social security works. If we can’t reach you by phone or through the mail, then we are unable to properly develop your case. In recent years, we’ve made large strides in making communicating with us simple and adaptable. Of course, our clients can call us, but we also make use of an answering service after hours and we have two options for contacting us on our website. Some clients even make use of our Facebook and Twitter profiles to stay in touch with us.
  3. Get organized. This is a tip all of us could stand to benefit from this year. The SSA sends out a lot of paperwork that you should keep in a safe place. There’s also a good chance your doctor sends you a lot of paperwork too. If you’re represented by a firm like Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, you’ll receive a lot of documents from us as well. Take some time this year to organize all of your documents and records in one place, and make them easy to navigate. It can seem like a daunting task, but you’ll be glad you took the time to do it down the road.
  4. Educate yourself about the process. Social Security is long and complicated. It’s also frustrating. I doubt you’ll get through the process without getting upset a few times. It’s simply the nature of the Social Security disability claims process. If you find yourself in a situation like this, don’t give up. We find that a lot of people get frustrated and then eventually quit pursuing a Social Security claim because they simply don’t understand how it works. Currently, it takes at least 12-18 months to receive a hearing date after requesting one. That does not count all of the time beforehand. That means that many claims last over two years! There are numerous reasons why, but what’s most important is that you know this is likely going to happen to you. Also, you are likely going to be denied. As a firm with over 20 years’ worth of experience, we know this impacts most of the people who file for Social Security. Knowing what to expect ahead of time will better prepare you for the rollercoaster that is the Social Security process. So, how do you prepare? There are a lot of great resources online. The SSA website is a great start, but there are other options. The Jan Dils website features a great blog and many FAQs regarding Social Security. We like to take our clients a step further, To help aid your claim, even more, request a copy of our social security how to guide. There are both physical and electronic copies available.

If you’d like to know more about the types of services we offer, or if you’d like to talk to someone about your social security claim, call us today for a FREE consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’re not available to chat now, fill out this form so that we may contact you at a later time.

Jan Dils hosts 5th Annual Spaghetti Dinner for Veterans

Four the 5th consecutive year the Jan Dils Team hosted a dinner honoring Veterans. Our annual event was held on November 10th at the Parkersburg Knights of Columbus. Originally a cookout, the event changed to a spaghetti dinner in 2015, and the tradition continued for 2016. The changes were made to accommodate poor weather conditions, and to make our guests more comfortable. 2016 was by far the biggest and most popular event to date. Over 250 individuals showed up to take part in the spaghetti dinner.

In 2016 the event expanded. This expansion was due in large part to community partners. O’Brian’s Catering of Ripley supplied sauce for the event. Our friends at the Parkersburg Knights of Columbus played host, and as always, did an excellent job. In addition to our attorneys and staff, we also had members of the Jackson Middle School National Honor Society in attendance to assists with our guests.

While the Spaghetti was a big hit, attendees were equally as excited for their chance to win prizes from our raffle. Several local businesses donated items for the raffle. Proceeds from the dinner benefited the Jan Dils Attorneys at Law Walk4Vets Foundation. Since 2011, the Walk4Vets foundation has donated more than $60,000 for local Veterans Charities. This year, the Walk4Vets foundation selected Operation Transportation as the beneficiary of the funds from the dinner. Operation Transportation provides Bus Passes for Veterans in need in the Mid-Ohio Valley. The dinner raised just over $1,000 for the local cause.

We love working with Veterans, and this is one way in which can give back to those who give so much.

 

Special Thanks to our contributors, donors, and everyone who made this event a success

The Parkersburg Knights of Columbus

DJ Wingrove and Sons Jewelers

O’Brian’s Catering

Woodridge Plantation 

The Little Stir Bakery

Olive Garden

Super Suds Car Wash

Comfort Inn Marietta, OH

Steel City Vets

Firehouse Subs

Napoli’s Pizza

Mike Penn

Crown Florals

Woodcraft

JP Henry’s

10 Driving Tips for the Last Minute shopper

It’s Christmas Eve, a Saturday, and our economy is doing better than it has in years. If you need to shop today, you may be experiencing the perfect storm of shopping hazards. It’s no secret that conditions on the road get worse as the Christmas Holiday draws near. People are impatient, traffic is a mess, and no one wants to pay attention to their surroundings. However, with a little preparation, and a clear mind, you too can shop safely this weekend. Here are 10 Driving Tips for the Last-Minute Shopper.

  1. Plan your trip in advance. Too often people waste time and get distracted by heading into a shopping center without a plan. Any major shopping center will be congested this weekend. Try to plan where you want to go in advance. I made the mistake of trying to buy a gift on my lunch break yesterday. This was a huge mistake. I had no time to get what I need and I was almost involved in two accidents. Plan your route out before you go, and try to make use of surface roads or roadways that may be less congested. I personally have a special way of getting to my local mall that saves a lot of time and avoids dangerous intersections.
  2. Don’t drive distracted. This is a perfect rule for any time of year, but especially the holidays. You’re going to be experiencing much more congestion than you are used to. There will be a lot more opportunities to wreck. No one needs to see your Snapchat photo of what it’s like to sit in traffic. From a social media standpoint, that’s basic. We all know what it feels like to sit in traffic. From a safety standpoint, you’re acting in a dangerous way that may end with you getting a ticket.
  3. Lock your doors. This may seem obvious, but take a second to make sure your key fob is actually locking your doors. A few years ago, my key fob failed, but I was unaware of it for several weeks. I used it to lock and unlock my doors. But I would always wait until I was a few steps away from the car to hit the button. It turns out that my car was still honking when I pushed the button, but the doors were not locking. As soon as you get out of your car, hit your lock button, and make sure your doors are indeed locked.
  4. Don’t rely on your driving aids alone. Backup cameras are fun, but they are meant to aid you in your reversing. Be sure to use your mirrors and look around you as well when backing out of a parking lot. Also, if there is a bunch of salt on the road, your cameras will probably
  5. Don’t show off your purchases to potential thieves. My car is always a mess and I don’t utilize my storage space properly. I have a lot of stuff in the back seat taking up space and my trunk is full. So, most thigs that I buy are out in the open for everyone to see. Further, my car has very large non-tinted windows. It’s almost as bad as putting a sign on the roof that reads “please rob me.” It is easy for thieves to look in my car and see my purchases. So, you and I both need to see what we can do to hide our stuff. I’ve always been jealous of SUV owners because so many of these vehicles have shades for the back of the vehicle. Plus, many SUVs have dark tinted windows in the back. Between the dark tint and the cargo shade, it’s almost impossible to see in the back of most SUVs. There are other ways to hide your belongings, though. Hide things under the seat, make use of glove boxes, or even simply cover your items with a coat or tasteful sweater.
  6. Try not to leave your auto in one spot for too long. I love shopping at the Easton Town Center in Columbus. It’s not so much a mall as it is a shopping destination. It’s kind of like Jurassic World meets retail therapy. I’ve been there for more than 8 hours in one trip before. I’ve left my car in the same are for the entire time too. In fact, I walked back with my purchases to the car, put them inside and then left to go have dinner and watch a movie. If a thief was watching my activity, he/she would notice that my car had sat for a while, and it would be a good opportunity for them to break into my car. As a side note, I claim to have been cursed with amazing taste, so criminals definitely want my purchases.
  7. Good lighting is a must for perfect selfies, safe parking. I tend to park as far away from the entrance of stores as possible. It keeps my car from getting scratched up by irresponsible motorists and rogue shopping carts, but it usually means poor lighting. If you’re in an area with poor lighting you’re more likely going to be a target for someone to attack you or break into your car. Plus, the closer to the store you park, the more likely your car will be on a surveillance camera. Thieves are less likely to steal if there are witnesses or cameras nearby.
  8. Shopping Buddies make great friends and security guards. It’s no secret that shopping alone during the holidays can be difficult. It’s always a good idea to take someone with you. A lot of men will likely ignore this because they feel as if they are invincible. I am a large guy who is 6’4.” But if I am by myself and have to fight a group of people or one Rhonda Rousey, I am not going to win. Teamwork makes the dream work.
  9. Be aware of where you’re shopping. Once again, I travel to Columbus to shop often. I know which communities to avoid. In larger cities, there are places to shop that are in safer areas than others. Try to avoid areas with higher crime rates if possible.
  10. If you’re going to use Social Media, don’t tag your location. I am a social media guru. I love it all and know how to use it quite well. Let’s say we were all hanging out at a large shopping center like the Easton Town Center in Columbus. Well, if I get on Instagram, I can simply type Easton Town Center and Instagram will show me all the most recent photos taken there. As luck would have it, the third picture that showed up was a photo of someone’s vehicle, parked next to a sign for the garage they were in. Their caption said that they would return in an hour. So, in one post, I knew exactly where their vehicle would be, how long they’d be gone, the license number, and when I clicked on his account, I saw exactly what he looked like, so I would know if he was near his vehicle. Plus, he parked in an area where there would not be many witnesses. This is not smart. Do not geotag yourself.

Use these tips, common sense, and do a little planning this weekend and you’ll likely be fine. However, if you are involved in an accident, or if you’re injured, call us for a free consultation. Our Toll-Free number is 1-877-526-3457. If now isn’t a good time, fill out this form and we will be happy contact you at your desired time.