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What are dedicated accounts for Social Security?

I write for all three of our lines of business, but my background is predominantly in VA Disability. With that in mind, we didn’t have to deal with cases involving children in VA. Obviously, you have to be an adult to join the military, and thus the youngest person that can file a claim for VA disability is 18 years old. So when I started writing about Social Security Disability I started noticing that we represented minors. For the most part, there are a lot of similarities between a social security claim for adults and kids. However, one of the big differences is what happens when these individuals get approved. This was something that really made sense to me when I thought about what would happen if you gave a child several thousand dollars and let them be on their way. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea. Because children should not be held responsible for their Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, the SSA has something called Dedicated Accounts.

As a representative payee for a disabled child under age 18 who is eligible for large past-due SSI payments (usually any payment covering more than six months of the current benefit rate) you are required to open a separate account at a financial institution, which is referred to as a “dedicated account”.

The past-due payments will be deposited directly into that dedicated account. These funds can only be used for expenses directly related to the child’s disability.

The requirements of a dedicated account are:

  • It must be separate from the account used for the regular monthly benefit payment and can only be a checking, savings, or money market account.
  • Other funds, except for certain past-due SSI benefits, cannot be combined with the funds in the dedicated account.
  • It cannot be in the form of certificates of deposit, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, or trusts.
  • The title on the dedicated account must show that the child owns the funds, including interest.

Dedicated account funds can be used for the following expenses:

  • Medical treatment; and Education or job skills training.

The Social Security Administration will allow the following expenses if they benefit the child and are related to the child’s disability:

  • Personal needs or assistance (e.g., in-home nursing care); special equipment; housing modification; therapy or rehabilitation; or other items or services approved by your local Social Security office, like legal fees incurred by the child in establishing a claim for disabled child’s benefits.

Dedicated accounts may not be used for basic monthly maintenance costs such as food, clothing, or shelter. The regular monthly benefit received for the child should be used for all monthly maintenance costs.

The Social Security Administration requires you as representative payee to complete a yearly report on the use of the dedicated account funds as well as the regular monthly benefits received on the child’s behalf.

It is important to keep receipts, bank statements, and maintain an expense record for at least two years as verification of expenditures. You, as representative payee, should be able to provide SSA with an explanation of any expenditure and how it relates to the child’s disability.

If you’d like to know more about this subject, or if you’d like a free consultation, call us today. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we will call you at a better time.

Signs of Nursing Home/Elder Abuse

At the age of 14, when other teens were hanging out at the mall, going to dances, and being social, I was visiting my father in a nursing home. When most people realize that I was only 14 and had a parent in a nursing home, they assume that my father was one of those new age senior citizens who have children well into their sixties. Unfortunately, that was not the case with my dad. He was only 41. His body was weak from two years of battling brain cancer and having multiple surgeries. We had tried taking care of him in-house, but it became too much for us. We decided that a nursing home was our best bet to give him proper care. It turns out we might have been wrong. I recall going to the nursing home one day to visit my father and I saw what would eventually be the beginning of the end.

Due to my father’s chemo, and the fact that had tumors in his brain, he was weak. He could not get in and out of bed on his own. One day in August we were visiting him. The nursing staff was helping my father back into bed when they didn’t give him proper care. Instead of laying him in the bed gently they let go early, and his head went crashing into the headboard. I was sitting next to the bed and saw it all happen. My father’s head hit on an edge of the headboard, near where he had surgery recently. Granted, this was 18 years ago, and I am no Doogie Houser, but I believe this impact caused my father’s shunt to quit working. Five months later we were planning his funeral.

What I described was a not typical case of Nursing Home Neglect, but it’s too painful for me to discuss some of the other things I witnessed. At the time, nursing home neglect was not as mainstream as it is now, and we were not the type of family to sue anyone. We had just lost the patriarch of our family after a very long and stressful two-year battle with a terrible disease. Now, in 2017, the Statute of Limitations has passed, and all I can really do is educate other people about the subject, and tell you what to look for with your loved ones.

Nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect are broad terms used to define a variety of offenses within the nursing home abuse. They can refer to something as simple as not attending to patients on a regular basis, to sexual abuse and rape. The subject is truly disturbing to talk about too.

Instead of examining specific cases of nursing home abuse, let’s look at things in a little more general fashion today. What are some signs of Nursing Home/Elder Abuse you should be on the look out for with your loved ones?

–      Emotional or social neglect, where the elder person is repeatedly ignored, left alone, or accidentally snapped at by an overstressed nursing home staff

–      Personal hygiene neglect, where patients do not receive adequate help with laundry, cleaning, bathing, brushing their teeth, or other forms of hygienic practices

–      Basic needs neglect, where the nursing home neglects to provide reasonable food, water, or a safe and clean environment

–      Medical neglect, where the nursing home fails to provide adequate attention, prevention, or medication for concerns such as bed sores, infections, cuts, diabetes, cognitive diseases, and mobility concerns

Warning signs of nursing home neglect include:

–      Sudden weight loss

–      Bedsores, or pressure ulcers

–      Injuries from nursing home falls

–      Dehydration

–      Malnutrition

–      Withdrawn elder behavior, or unusual changes in behavior

–      Changes in personal hygiene or appearance efforts

–      A growing lack of friendly interaction with the nursing home staff

–      A growing lack of friendly interaction with the other nursing home residents

–      Environmental hazards, such as poor lighting, slippery floors, unsafe mobility equipment, or unsafe furniture in the nursing home patient’s room

If you suspect a loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect or elder abuse, report it to the proper authorities. If you’d like to know more about your legal options, give us a call today for a FREE consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we will get back to you.

5 Tips to Keep Your Social Security Case On Track This Summer

Memorial Day just passed, all of the kids are out of school, and we no longer need to pack a hooded sweatshirt when we venture out for the day. Though summer officially starts in three weeks, the unofficial start is here. I just got back from a weekend road trip, and I am eagerly planning a trip to central Ohio later this month. There is so much to do in the summer time regardless if you are planning trips, being one with nature, or even getting pumped for all of the great shows on Netflix. Summer is a lot of fun, but it’s also an ideal time to get distracted from your social security claim that can have negative ramifications in the long run. Today, let’s talk about 5 ways to keep your social security case on point during the summer.

  1. Schedule your appointments accordingly. Just like you and I can’t wait to go on vacation, your doctor likes to go on vacation too. For many smaller offices, the entire staff usually goes on vacation at the same time. So, there may be weeks during the summer that your doctor’s office is not available. However, if your doctor’s office is open during holiday weeks like the 4th of July or Labor Day, you may be able to get in at the last minute if you need to. The bottom line is to keep your appointments up during the summer. You need to have evidence to get approved, so don’t let your appointments slip due to distractions.
  2. Keep up on paperwork. My post office box is about to burst. I am probably the last person who should talk to you about getting the paperwork back into an office. But, once again, it’s easy to get distracted.
  3. Attend your hearing. It takes a very long time to get a hearing scheduled in the first place. If you cancel your hearing with the SSA, it may be several months or more before you actually get rescheduled. Is that extended time worth skipping?
  4. Take your medication as prescribed. This can be difficult for someone like me to preach, but it can negatively impact your health if you don’t take your medication on a regular basis. Now that everyone has smartphones, it’s easy to set an alarm to remind yourself to take your meds.
  5. If you move, tell someone. Most people move in the summer, especially July, so if you happen to move, call your attorney or the SSA and let them know. Failing to do so can result in lost paperwork and missed appointments. A simple phone call can alleviate these issues.

We know summer is supposed to be a time of fun and great memories, we just don’t want your case to slip by the wayside. If you want to have some help with your claim for social security disability, give us a call today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we will call you back at a better time.

Do I have to pay taxes on a Personal Injury Settlement?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are over, spring’s not quite here, and a lot of us are preparing for tax season and all the pomp and circumstance that accompanies this time of year. I’m a simple fella from Parkersburg, West Virginia. It only takes me about 30 minutes to complete my tax return. As a single person with no kids, I keep my expectations low regarding returns. If I am lucky, I’ll have enough money in my refund to buy some new bedding and possibly get some new sconces for my bedroom. Not everyone has it as simple as I do. For instance, my sister once won a “Rock, Paper, Scissors Contest” sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. Yes, you read that correctly. The result of her “championship” was a free trip for two to Las Vegas for the national Rock Paper Scissor Championship Tournament. Once again, this is all real. It was on TV and everything. Between the flight, hotel, and other prizes, the trip was valued at over $4,000. Come tax time, my sister had to count this as income and pay taxes on the prize. Luckily for my sister, she didn’t have to pay too much on a $4,000 prize. However, if you are awarded something like a new car, or a fancy vacation, or really, most prizes valued over a specific amount, you must pay taxes on the prize. This is why so many people forfeit whatever base model car they win on “The Price is Right.” Recently, a friend of mine asked me if she would have to count her personal injury settlement as income the way prize winners do. I honestly didn’t know, so I thought I’d dive into this topic deeper.

I was hoping to find a simple yes or no answer when I started researching this topic. However, I realized I was dealing with both taxes and law, so I was a tad naïve to think anything would be simple. The quick answer no, you don’t have to pay income tax on your personal Injury settlement. So, you may be thinking, “are there exceptions to the rule? We’re dealing with the government, so, of course, there are exceptions.

The official statement from the IRS is as follows:

If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness and did not take an itemized deduction for medical expenses related to the injury or sickness in prior years, the full amount is non-taxable. Do not include the settlement proceeds in your income.

If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness, you must include in income that portion of the settlement that is for medical expenses you deducted in any prior year(s) to the extent the deduction(s) provided a tax benefit. If part of the proceeds is for medical expenses you paid in more than one year, you must allocate on a pro rata basis the part of the proceeds for medical expenses to each of the years you paid medical expenses. See Recoveries in Publication 525 for details on how to calculate the amount to report. The tax benefit amount should be reported as “Other Income” on line 21 of Form 1040. (read the entire IRS Publication here)

If you have received a settlement from a personal injury claim, and you’re not sure if you used any of your settlement for medical expenses, or if you just have general tax questions, it may be beneficial to consult an accountant. Keep in mind that many accountants focus on taxes just like we focus on Personal Injury Law. Another option is a step by step accounting program. Many of these pop up during tax season, and some offer live help either by text chat or video conference.

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 personal injury 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.

Blind Spot Monitoring Leading the Blind

As I look back on 2016, I realize that it has been my busiest travel year by far. I know this because of the number of cars I have rented according to my phone’s Bluetooth pairings. My phone has been paired with more cars than Taylor Swift has been paired with bad guys.  Whether it was a trip for business or pleasure, I was in and out of a lot of different cars this year. I am also in the process of buying a new car, so I have test driven many cars, too. Not to mention all the fun I had looking at cars while attending auto shows. While I have never driven anything too exotic, I did get to drive and see a variety of cars. I drove everything in 2016 from a Ram 3500 dually, to a Hyundai Tucson that was clinging for every last ounce of life it may have had. Along the way, there were a few things that really stood out about these various vehicles.

One of the greatest things I noticed was that the Nissan Altima is a fuel miser. It’s a midsize sedan yet it managed almost 40 mpg on the highway when I drove it to Cleveland, Ohio. However, because it had a CVT transmission, there was a constant whine. It was most noticeable at low speeds. The whine was at its worst when I drove around downtown Cleveland. The city of Cleveland hadn’t experienced that much whining since The Indians lost the World Series.  I also drove a Jeep Cherokee. While it was not as efficient as the Altima, it was much more comfortable. Plus, it had heated seats and a heated steering wheel. However, at a toll booth, the emergency brake accidentally activated and I thought for sure the car had been hacked. Overall, my favorite car to drive was the Camry. I never thought I would say that, but it was very quick and fun.

The worst car driving experience for the thus year was when I took a Mazda 3 to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with my friend Shawn. I want to be very clear, the Mazda 3 is not a bad car. It just was not the car for us. We are both tall, large men and this compact car is not made for larger people. I hit my head every time I entered the vehicle, it was very underpowered, and during a very heavy rainstorm, I was certain we wouldn’t make it back home. While the overall experience with the tiny Mazda was not favorable, it did have one feature that no other car I drove this year had…Blind Spot Monitoring.

If you’ve never driven a car with Blind Spot Monitoring, it’s neat. A Bling Spot Monitoring system is self-explanatory. It’s a system that uses sensors to detect other cars or objects in your blind spots. For most vehicles, an icon in your side view mirrors will illuminate when there is an object in your blind spot. In the Mazda, the system is a little more advanced because it chimes if the driver activates a turn signal while something is in the blind spot. I will admit, this feature took some getting used to for me. By the end of my trip I was really starting to like the feature, and possibly getting too used to using it.

Earlier, I mentioned that I was in a rain storm so bad that I wasn’t positive that I’d make it back alive. Well, it was on the way home from Philadelphia, near the city of Baltimore, when the heavens opened up, and my little compact car didn’t want to play in the water. Trying to drive in the storm was nearly impossible. The rain was so strong that visibility was reduced to mere inches in front of the car. Looking back at the situation now, I can see that we should have simply pulled off the road. However, I was on an adrenaline high from meeting Television’s Stephen Amell at the Philadelphia Comic Con and was not about to sit idly by as other motorists beat me to the West Virginia line.

One thing I did not realize in advance was that the sensors for the Blind Spot Monitoring system don’t work well in adverse weather. For instance, if the sensors are dirty, covered in snow, or, ssi benefitsas in my situation, surrounded by torrential downpours, they won’t work as intended. I learned my lesson after I nearly sideswiped a Chevy Cobalt. It’s safe to say that most consumers are not aware of this issue. We tend to become too reliant on these driving aids. I think it’s safe to assume that few people under 25 have ever driven a car without ABS or traction control. While these aides to make driving easier and safer, they take control away from the driver. It’s possible that a driver may panic in a situation when a driving aid fails because they are not accustomed to driving without it.  Most manufacturers will list these limitations in the owner’s manual; but, let’s be honest…a lot of people don’t read those. This, however, may not be the biggest issue with driving aids.

If you’ve read my blogs in the past you’ll likely know that I have an obsession with cars. I stay up way past my bedtime most nights researching cars on YouTube and Autotrader. Because of this obsession, I have a bank of useless car knowledge. With that in mind, you can imagine my surprise when I learned how some cars are sold without all of the available safety features. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet though. All cars sold today now have airbags, seatbelts and the like. The issue is when cars are sold without electronic driver’s aids, but the owner believes that the car is equipped with the feature.

I am not trying to say that certain car companies are trying to do a bait and switch on consumers. There are few reasons why this disconnect can happen. One of the main reasons is that car companies have special names for each feature. Let’s use Subaru as an example. Subaru has one of the best Crash Avoidance Systems according to the IIHS. It’s called EyeSight. This feature is an automatic braking system for the car that works well. Subaru has something similar for the back of its cars which is similar but sold and packaged differently. It’s called the Reverse Autobrake. Here’s where things get tricky.

EyeSight is not standard on our example car, the Legacy, at any trim level. However, the Reverse Autobrake is standard on the most expensive trim levels, the 2.5i Limited, and the 3.6R Limited. To add EyeSight to these two trims, there is an additional cost of over $1,500. To complicate the matter, even if the car is not equipped with the EyeSight feature, it can still be marketed as auto/self-braking because of the rear system. This can easily create confusion for the customer. Consumers see that they have semi-autonomous features and they think that it’s for every aspect of the car. Some may say that it’s the responsibility of the consumer to make an educated decision about the car they are buying. I consider myself very educated when it comes to the automotive industry. However, I struggled to interpret Subaru’s website and available features.

As cars evolve, we need to make sure we have a better understanding of how their autonomous features work. Be sure to do your research, and ask lots of questions when you purchase your next car. However, if you’ve believed you were injured in an accident because of faulty driving aid, give us a call for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you aren’t available to talk now, fill out this form so that we may contact you at a better time.

What You Need To Know About Medical Payments Coverage

When I was younger I always hated paying my insurance. The cost was always extremely high, and the people I interacted with were very rude. I always tried to get the bare minimum jan dilscoverage. It wasn’t until I was much older, and had spent some time working around personal injury attorneys, that I realized how wrong I was about insurance coverage. Though my car is 12 years old, paid for, and worth less than stock in Samsung, I still have full coverage on the car. I also carry high property damage coverage and high underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. Though I’ve been proactive about my insurance, I’ve learned that it may not be enough. Recently I learned about Medical Payments coverage. It turns out that my current policy may still not be adequate.

Medical Payments coverage is a good supplement for many insurance policies because it is often affordable, and it can help pay for medical bills if you are injured in an accident. If you are hit by a driver with state minimum coverage, this could be even more beneficial because their insurance coverage likely won’t be enough to pay for your medical bills. It get’s better, though. Depending on your insurance provider, Medical Payments coverage may also cover the following:

  • Passengers in your car
  • Injuries sustained while you are walking or riding a bike
  • Prosthetics
  • If you’re injured as a passenger in another person’s car
  • Dental care
  • And more

In addition to providing coverage for medical bills, some Medical Payments coverage will also cover funeral costs. Once again, every provider is different, so it’s important to check your policy.

You may still be asking yourself if this is something you really need. Well, It can be helpful if you look at the numbers. If you are hit by a driver with perfect insurance coverage, then you are pretty lucky. However, the number of people who drive without insurance is staggering. It is as low as 4% in Maine and Massachusetts. However, that is much lower than the national average of 12% and far better than the worst state in the union, Oklahoma, at 26%. Nationally, there is a 1 in 8 chance that the person who hit you doesn’t have insurance.

Federal Help for DisabledSome may look at the numbers over the years and state that the average is trending downward. That’s true, but it’s not just uninsured motorists you have to worry about. Underinsured motorists are also an issue. There are a lot of cut-rate insurance providers currently. Many motorists will join these insurance providers because of cheap their coverage is, and how accessible they are for individuals with bad credit. In other words, there may be more people with insurance now then there was ten years ago, but many of these insured drivers have very little coverage.

If you’re intrigued by Medical Payments coverage, be sure to talk to your insurance provider about it. Most agents will agree that you want at least $25,000 worth of coverage. If you’ve been injured in an accident, call us today to learn more about the services we provide. Our consultation is free. Simply call 1-877-526-3457, If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

 

 

Car Value Depreciation, and your Personal Injury Claim

When I was in college I drove a first generation off-red Dodge Neon. I loved the car. It was not the prettiest thing in the world, but it was fun to drive. As I owned this car during the height of the “Fast Furious” craze, I decorated it with neon lights, an aftermarket exhaust, and I even had a vanity plate that read “NeonJon.” The car was not without flaw. One day, on the way to my local mall, a lady hit me, and in the process killed NeonJon. So, it was time for a new car. The process of financing my first car took a lot longer than I expected. I eventually found a 2002 Kia Optima at a local dealer. I wasn’t in love with this car, but I was desperate, and it made a cool sound when I left the keys in the ignition. So, I bought it. In my haste to buy a new car I didn’t take the time to properly review the car’s actual value nor did I take the time to research the depreciation value. It turns out that this information was really important four months later when I totaled the car by hitting a tree on Valentine’s Day.

Like a good motorist, I called my insurance agent to let them know what was going on. A few weeks later I met with an accessor, and then the bad news came shortly after. My insurance provider, who was supposed to be on my side, would not cover the total cost of the vehicle. Further, I even purchased gap insurance through my lender, and that was not enough to cover the cost of the totaled Kia. I was lucky, though, I only had to pay $25 out of pocket to cover my car. Granted that was in 2006 dollars, and I was a poor college student, but still, I was lucky. This is not always the case. Most people won’t get away with paying fewer than $30 to cover the cost of their totaled car.

Here is a better example of how extreme this type of situation can be. Currently, the manufacturer on the market with the worst depreciation value is Nissan. There are several reasons that contribute to this, but one of the main factors is the number of cars that manufacturer makes. Nissan sells a lot of cars each year, and many of them are sold to fleets. This causes the value to depreciate quickly. Let’s say that in October of last year you purchased a new Nissan Rogue SL from your local dealer. Currently, the retail value of that car, per NADA, is $27,800. According to my local dealer, the price for an equivalent new model of this car (2017) is $33,835.  So, that car is worth $6,035 less than it was 6 months ago. Granted, in this example, you are buying this car with no money down, and no dealer or manufacturer incentives. While this is never recommended by lenders, many people still purchase vehicles this way.  If you total your vehicle, or if your hit by another motorist and the vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company is likely only going to pay you what the car is currently worth, or even less than that. Further, car financing is becoming unstable right now. More people are getting longer loans with higher interest rates than ever before. If you financed your Rouge at a high-interest rate for a long period of time, you could owe even more. Worst of all, you could be making payments on a car you don’t even own any longer.

So, what are you to do? One of the best things you can do is get GAP insurance on your car. While GAP may not cover the entire value of the car, in my situation listed above, the GAP insurance was the difference in me paying thousands for my totaled car, and just $25. Some lenders may require you to get GAP insurance when you finance the car. In this situation, it may be possible to finance the additional cost into your loan. However, not all lenders offer GAP. Your insurance provider may offer it to you when you register your new car.

Regardless of whether it’s your insurance company or the insurance company of the individual who hit your car, you don’t have to accept the offer that is made for the property damage. Do not cash the check until you are satisfied. Be sure to get your own estimates on the value of your car, and even get repair estimates. Some companies are quick to total a car, even when it is not beyond repair.

One of the smartest things you can do is to research the car you want to buy in detail before you sign the loan paperwork. You definitely don’t want to get upside down in a car loan. Try not to finance negative equity from a previous car. This can cause a lot of issues if you quickly total your new car. Also, look at residual values and see which cars depreciate the best. This is also true if you lease a car. You will likely get a better lease term if you choose a car with a high residual value. It’s also smart to put some money down on a car and finao make smart decisions and to be aware of what you’re getting yourself into with financing. Also, research your insurance company too. If you are hurt in an accident, be sure to give us a call to learn more about the services we provide. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fnce for a shorter term.

Buying a new car can be a lot of fun. However, it’s important till out this form so that we can call you at a better time.

April 2017 Golden Apple Award goes to a Yellowjacket

The April winner of the Jan Dils Attorneys at Law Golden Apple Award was a popular win among the student body. The children prepared signs and banners for the winner in advance of the Tuesday Morning Announcement. Jack Waugaman, a 7th-grade math teacher, was named the April 2017 winner. It didn’t take long to see why this win was so popular. His dedication goes far beyond the classroom. Mr. Waugman should really be awarded a medal for getting young people excited about math. However, it’s his passion for the subject that spills over to the students. We were told that Jack often drives his students to math competitions on his own so that they may compete. We also learned that one of his students will soon be competing at the national level.

Jack was nominated by the mother of a couple of former students. She stated that even though they are no longer in his class, Mr. Waugman still keeps in touch with them. We also learned from his nomination that he stays after school to help his students, and he even gives up his weekend sometimes to help them prepare for competition. Great work Mr. Waugman! Thanks for everything you do.

Taxes and Your Personal Injury Settlement

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are over, spring just arrived, and a lot of us are preparing for tax season and all the pomp and circumstance that accompanies this time of year. I’m a simple fella from Parkersburg, West Virginia. It only takes me about 30 minutes to complete my tax return. As a single person with no kids, I keep my expectations low regarding returns. If I am lucky, I’ll have enough money in my refund to buy some new bedding and possibly get some new sconces for my bedroom. Not everyone has it as simple as I do. For instance, my sister once won a “Rock, Paper, Scissors Contest” sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. Yes, you read that correctly. The result of her “championship” was a free trip for two to Las Vegas for the national Rock Paper Scissor Championship Tournament. Once again, this is all real. It was on TV and everything. Between the flight, hotel, and other prizes, the trip was valued at over $4,000. Come tax time, my sister had to count this as income and pay taxes on the prize. Luckily for my sister, she didn’t have to pay too much on a $4,000 prize. However, if you are awarded something like a new car, or a fancy vacation, or really, most prizes valued over a specific amount, you must pay taxes on the prize. This is why so many people forfeit whatever base model car they win on “The Price is Right.” Recently, a friend of mine asked me if she would have to count her personal injury settlement as income the way prize winners do. I honestly didn’t know, so I thought I’d dive into this topic deeper.

I was hoping to find a simple yes or no answer when I started researching this topic. However, I realized I was dealing with both taxes and law, so I was a tad naïve to think anything would be simple. The quick answer no, you don’t have to pay income tax on your personal Injury settlement. So, you may be thinking, “are there exceptions to the rule? We’re dealing with the government, so, of course, there are exceptions.

The official statement from the IRS is as follows:

If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness and did not take an itemized deduction for medical expenses related to the injury or sickness in prior years, the full amount is non-taxable. Do not include the settlement proceeds in your income.

(BUT)

If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness, you must include in income that portion of the settlement that is for medical expenses you deducted in any prior year(s) to the extent the deduction(s) provided a tax benefit. If part of the proceeds is for medical expenses you paid in more than one year, you must allocate on a pro rata basis the part of the proceeds for medical expenses to each of the years you paid medical expenses. See Recoveries in Publication 525 for details on how to calculate the amount to report. The tax benefit amount should be reported as “Other Income” on line 21 of Form 1040. (read the entire IRS Publication here)

If you have received a settlement from a personal injury claim, and you’re not sure if you used any of your settlement for medical expenses, or if you just have general tax questions, it may be beneficial to consult an accountant. Keep in mind that many accountants focus on taxes just like we focus on Personal Injury Law. Another option is a step by step accounting program. Many of these pop up during tax season, and some offer live help either by text chat or video conference.

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 personal injury 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.

Attorney Fee Misconceptions

It’s probably safe to say that filing for social security disability is one of the most difficult things you can do. It likely ranks up there with marriage and moving as the most stressful things a person may take on in their life. Unlike a move or getting married, there is a lot of uncertainty that comes with pursuing a claim for social security. This is especially true if an individual has filed a claim and can’t work because of their disability. You’re looking at months without an income, and you may be nervous about how you will pay your bills. We understand that difficulty. We’ve been representing clients for more than 20 years. And unfortunately, we have seen the wait for benefits increase.

As a law firm, we work hard to get our clients their benefits as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, we can’t speed up the process. It’s beyond our control. However, since our compensation is based on back pay, some people assume that we will drag a case out to make more money. That’s not true. In all honestly, it makes a lot more sense for us to get our clients approved as quickly as possible. Let’s look at a few reasons why it makes no sense for us to wait.

  1. Our fee is a contingency fee. Simply, a contingency fee means that we only win if you get approved. So, the quicker we get a client of ours approved, the quicker we get paid. However, if we are not successful in your case, we don’t charge any attorney fees. So, if we aren’t successful, we will lose money on your case.
  2. There is a cap on the amount we can receive. For social security, the cap is 25% or $6,000 for cases at the administrative level. (We receive the lesser amount of the two.) So, in other words, at a certain point, It would make no sense for us to make a case last longer. If we were to make a case last longer intentionally, it would be of no benefit to us. Most people don’t see the amount of work that actually goes into a case. Keep in mind, the longer a case goes on, the longer we have to pay employees to request records, review files, and manage cases. So, if you consider overhead, we actually have a lot invested in each case.
  3. In other fields, attorneys charge by the hour, and they charge a lot. If we were to charge by the hour for our cases, the amount would far exceed what we charge with our contingency fee. So, once again, it makes more sense for us to get our clients approved as quickly as possible.
  4. The big elephant in the room regarding a law firm purposely waiting for a client’s case to enhance their back pay is unethical. As a law firm, we are subject to review under the West Virginia state bar and ethics committee. If it were true that we were doing this, we would lose our law licenses.

When we went into business 20 years ago, there were countless areas in which we could practice. We chose to focus on social security because we believed that there were a lot of people who needed help getting approved. We are passionate about the law, and we work hard to help people get the benefits they deserve.

If you’d like to know more about our services, of if you’d like to ask us questions about becoming a client, call us today. Our number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we will call you at another time.