Info Articles Archives - Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, L.C.
Menu

Archive for Info Articles

How Do You Get Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma

Thankfully, we live in a time where we fully understand the dangers of exposure to asbestos. While treatment options are still incredibly limited, and diagnosis frequently doesn’t occur until it’s too late, at least we understand what causes the asbestos-related cancer, otherwise known as mesothelioma. This guide will aim to look at how mesothelioma develops, what treatment options are currently available, and any legal action that can be taken if you discover that you might have the cancer.

Risk Factors

Anyone that has been in close proximity to asbestos is at risk of developing the cancer. According to the latest statistics, it is estimated that 3,000 people are diagnosed with the cancer related to asbestos every year. Unfortunately, just because you’re not currently suffering from the cancer doesn’t mean it hasn’t developed in your body. The cancer has a long latency period, meaning it can lay dormant for up to 20 years before finally developing.

The cancer itself is caused by asbestos fibers being inhaled and then sticking to the insides of a victim’s lungs and other vital organs. Since the body is incapable of breaking down these materials any further, they’re able to cause immense damage to the human body from the inside. This scarring and general bodily damage can eventually cause an aggressive form of cancer to develop.

Occupational Exposure to Asbestos

Since most people that suffer from asbestos-related cancer originally got it from a work site, it’ worth looking specifically at the risk factors associated to certain job types. As a result, those that worked in industrial or construction fields are overwhelmingly more likely to suffer from cancer than those in other fields. The only other field that had similar exposure rates were those that worked from home. Luckily, these risks are no longer present in these industries, or in homes, but these risks are still serious for anyone that worked in those fields roughly 30 years ago.

Symptoms

The cancer that develops from asbestos primarily takes the form of one of several types of tumors: pleural, pericardial, peritoneal, and testicular. The most common of these tumors is the pleural, which primarily affects the lungs. From here, it can spread to other parts of the body, which is why it has developed a reputation for being a lung cancer, despite that not actually being the case. Still, it’s worth paying attention to many symptoms related to the lungs to determine if you’re suffering from pleural tumors. This can include symptoms similar to pneumonia, such as shortness of breath, general chest pain, a persistent cough, or loss of appetite.

Pericardial tumors are much more lethal than their pleural counterpart, as pericardial tumors target the heart specifically. Although it has similar symptoms to pleural tumors, it is considerably more deadly.

The second most popular form of asbestos cancer is peritoneal, which targets the abdominal cavity. Unlike the other types of tumors, peritoneal tumors in the abdomen can cause the stomach to swell with fluid, causing immense pain to the victim. Victims of peritoneal tumors are also more likely to have a decreased appetite and experience much more pronounced weight loss.

The last form of cancer is testicular. Unfortunately, this type of cancer is so rare that it is difficult for researchers to come to a consensus on its symptoms or method of treatment. The only symptom that is generally agreed upon is a painful swelling that can result in the patient’s testicles, similar to the swelling experienced in the abdomen of those suffering from peritoneal cancer.

Treatment Options

Since this form of cancer is so aggressive, it has been extremely difficult to treat. Its long latency period also makes it difficult to diagnose, as its onset is both sudden and rapid. As all forms of the cancer are incurable, doctors instead focus primarily on reducing the pain of the victim and increasing their general life expectancy. Since at least two forms of the cancer involve a painful swelling of fluids in different parts of the body, many doctors will utilize surgery to help alleviate the swelling and release some of the fluid build-up.

In addition to surgical options, doctors will also often utilize traditional cancer therapies as a means of reducing the tumor’s growth and limit its damage to the body. This can take the form of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other new therapies that specifically target the cancerous cells throughout the body.

Unfortunately, a part of the cancer’s resistance lies in the different cells that comprise it. While the most common type of cell has had some success in being eradicated, its more resistant counterpart, sarcomatid, has resisted virtually all treatment types. It’s for this reason that an early and accurate diagnosis is vital to the survival of the patient, but this can still be difficult because of the nature of the affliction.

As of right now, this type of cancer has developed a reputation for being an “orphan disease.” In the United States, an orphan disease is any disease that does not infect a large amount of the population. Despite infecting 3,000 people every year, it is still not enough to gain traction as compared to the more popular diseases that sweep the media every year. Still, even if it is considered an orphan disease, there is still hope for new treatments to develop and finally help undo all of the damage that asbestos exposure has caused over the years.

Compensation

If you’re suffering from Asbestos-related cancer, then you might want to consider hiring a West Virginia mesothelioma lawyer with experience in helping people get compensation for their affliction. Anyone exposed to Asbestos is, simply put, a victim of corporate negligence. In addition to the traditional lawsuit route, many companies that used Asbestos in the past have established trust funds specifically designed to help the victims of their negligence over the years. By contacting a West Virginia mesothelioma lawyer, you can get more information how to access these trust funds or what other legal steps you could take next to receive further compensation for your suffering.

 

Insurance Companies Are Out To Protect Themselves

Insurance companies

While everyone likes to believe that their insurance company will fight for them after an accident, the truth is that this is rarely the case. In reality, insurance companies fight to protect themselves first and foremost, which is why injury victims should always consult our attorneys before accepting any settlement offer from an insurance company. There are a number of different tactics that insurance companies will use to try and pay victims the least amount possible.  Here are just a few:

  1. The First Offer

When dealing with an insurance company, it is our injury attorneys’ standard practice to reject the first offer. It may be tempting for an injury victim to accept it, especially given financial circumstances after an expensive accident, but that is exactly what the insurance company is counting on. When injury victims are desperate, they are less likely to act in their long-term best interests. Our lawyers will ensure that you are treated fairly by the insurance company.

  1. Unrelated Injuries & Unnecessary/Excessive Treatment

Insurance companies will argue that any injuries that resulted from an accident were actually pre-existing or were not serious enough to warrant a hospital visit or follow-up treatment is unnecessary or excessive. Again, an attorney should be present for all communication between yourself and the insurance company, in order to ensure that nothing you’ve said can be used against you to deny your claim.

  1.  Insufficient Treatment

In the preceding paragraph we discuss how insurance companies will complain that treatment sought by the injury victim was unnecessary and excessive.  Likewise, insurance companies will argue exactly the opposite…saying that if an injury victim did not seek treatment, they are not really injured.  It is a double edged sword and often a no win situation for the injured victim dealing directly with the insurance company.

  1. Stalling

Insurance companies that feel particularly threatened by your claims may try to stall or completely ignore you. The best way to deal with this, simply put, is to have your attorney engage in all further communication with them. Having a West Virginia personal injury lawyer speak with your insurance company on your behalf sends a strong message that you aren’t willing to play games for the money you are owed.

Insurance companies may have a number of tricks at their disposal, but so do the attorneys at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law. This is why it is so important to always have an advocate to fight on your behalf when the insurance companies try to look after their own interests.

Disability Benefits for Stay at Home Moms and Dads

 

Plenty of women and men make the decision to forego a career and stay home with the kids. Choosing to be a homemaker is a perfectly honorable decision, but if a stay at home spouse becomes disabled they might have a hard time qualifying for social security disability benefits.

The problem is that stay at home moms and dads typically don’t have the employment history to get Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and their combined household income is too high for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSDI

To qualify for SSDI applicants must have a medical disability and enough work credits for your age. Work credits are earned by paying taxes into the Social Security system over time. Your age at the time of your application will determine how many work credits you need.

The problem stay at home moms and dads run into is that they haven’t worked, and therefore haven’t earned work credits in a long time. This lack of work credits is what prevents stay at home parents from getting SSDI.

A stay at home spouse can still qualify for SSDI if they have work recently and have earned enough credits.

SSI

When one spouse chooses to stay home it typically means that the other spouse makes enough money to support the entire family their income alone. The main difference between SSI and SSDI is that SSI is income based. The SSA sets strict limits on the total income a family can have, which include monthly income, savings, investments, and other assets.

Stay at home moms and dads can still get Social Security disability, but it’s typically hard. Jan Dils Attorneys at Law will give you a free consultation to see if you’re a good candidate for social security disability.   

Administrative Law Judge

In the United States, an administrative law judge or ALJ, is a judge who is designated to preside over trials, proceedings and hearings involving claims or disputes involving administrative law. An administrative law judge functions in essentially the same manner as a judge presiding in a court in the judicial system although with more limited authority.

There are a number of unique features associated with being an administrative law judge on the federal level. The same holds true for administrative law judges that serve in different states across the United States.

The Federal Administrative Law Judge Appointment Process

The appointment of federal administrative law judges is governed by a law called the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946. The law requires that administrative law judges be appointed via a comprehensive testing process. The law also spells out the basic components of that testing system associated with the appointment of administrative law judges by the federal government in the United States.

The testing process itself includes a written examination that lasts for about four hours. There is also an oral testing component as well.

The oral examination is taken before a panel consisting of specific governmental employees. The panel must include a representative of the Office of Personnel Management and a representative of the American Bar Association. The panel must also include a currently serving administrative law judge.

Federal administrative law judges usually are considered to be part of the executive branch of government rather than the judicial branch. The process of appointing administrative law judges is undertaken within the executive branch.

Typically, an administrative law judge has a juris doctorate degree, particularly on the federal level. There are positions in different states that do not necessarily require this level of education. However, having a legal education is beneficial to a person serving in the capacity of an administrative law judge because of the need to apply specific laws and governmental regulations.

Authority of Federal Administrative Law Judge

The authority of administrative law judges is limited. They do not have the same breadth of authority of judges serving in courtrooms within the federal or state judicial systems. Administrative law judges preside over specific cases involving application of certain administrative laws.

For example, administrative law judges in the Social Security Administration preside over cases in which individuals are seeking to obtain certain types of benefits from the Social Security Administration.

Merit System and the Administrative Law Judge

Administrative law judges are part of a merit system. They cannot be forced or removed from their jobs without appropriate or due cause. Provided they maintain the requirements of their office, the merit system prevents administrative law judges from removal from office. In other words, once an administrative law judge makes it through the initial screening process and is appointed to office, the term of service is indefinite.

Independence of Administrative Law Judge

An administrative law judge is an independent hearing officer. An administrative law judge is not subject to supervision by other employees in the agency in which that individual presides over administrative proceedings. The independence is central to an administrative law judge’s ability to make independent and unbiased decisions.

In essential terms, no other employee of an agency, including the agency chief, are legally able to influence or dictate the decisions of an administrative law judge. If that occurs, a violation of the law has occurred and can have serious consequences on those involved as well as the status of the subject case.

Appeals from an Administrative Law Judge

In the federal system, an administrative law judge does not have the ultimate say in a case. Once an administrative law judge has made a determination in a specific case, a party to that case can appeal that decision. Typically, the initial appeal goes to the agency head.

Once the agency head has made a decision in the appeal of a particular case, a party who is not satisfied with that determination has the ability to appeal into the judicial system. The initial appeal goes to a district court judge.

Further appeals in the federal system can go to the United States Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court. There can be deviations in this general system depending on the governmental agency involved in the process. For example, some agencies maintain a multi-step appeals process within the agency itself before a case moves into the judicial system for further review.

State Administrative Law Judges

Unlike in the federal system, not all states utilize a merit system in the selection of administrative law judges. In some jurisdictions, administrative law judges are appointed without specific regard to specifically delineated criteria. These can include individuals who are selected to serve as administrative law judges by an elected official.

Two types of systems exist on the state level regarding the manner in which administrative law judges are organized. In some states, a specific state agency is charged with overseeing all administrative law judges serving in that jurisdiction. The common agency oversees the assignment of administrative law judges to preside at hearings for other departments and agencies in the state system.

In other states, each department or agency that undertakes administrative proceedings or one type or another has its own cadre or administrative law judges. There is no central agency charged with overseeing administrative law judges in the state governmental system.

Professional Organizations for an Administrative Law Judge

A number of different organizations and associations exist for an administrative law judge. These include the Federal Administrative Law Judges Conference and the Association of Administrative Law Judges. The Association represents only Social Security administrative law judges.

Other organizations for administrative law judges include the Forum of United States Administrative Law Judges, the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary, the American Bar Association, National Conference of Administrative Law Judiciary and the National Association of Hearing Officials. Some of these organizations permit federal and state administrative law judges into their groups while others focus on those in service to one or another level or government.

 

Medical Opinions from Non-Doctors

When you’re getting treatment for a disability, you’ll most likely get help from a variety of medical professionals. You might see doctors, nurses, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, or a physical therapist.

Although a medical professional might not be an traditional doctor, they can still offer valuable help and opinions. It’s important to know that the SSA ruled in 2006 that non-doctor medical professionals are acceptable sources of opinion for a disability hearing, but despite this ruling, Administrative Law Judges will sometimes favor the opinion of a traditional doctor over another medical professional. They might see the opinion of a nurse practitioner or chiropractor as less persuasive though it is in direct violation of protocol.

According to SSA regulations, medical professionals can be credible sources of opinion depending of the following factors:

  • How long the source has known and how frequently the source has seen the individual
  • How consistent the opinion is with other evidence
  • The degree to which the source presents relevant evidence to support an opinion
  • How well the source explains the opinion
  • Whether the source has a specialty or area of expertise related to the individual’s impairment(s)
  • Any other facts that tend to support or refute the opinion

It’s important to note that in some cases a doctor will be needed to make a proper diagnosis, but there are cases when other opinions are acceptable.

If you’ve been denied benefits because the medical opinion wasn’t from a doctor, you may be able to appeal. The appeals process isn’t short or easy, but it’s not impossible. With our help you can get the benefits you deserve.

What to Expect at an Administrative Law Judge Hearing

 

The Administrative Law Judge hearing (ALJ) is the third step in the appeals process. It takes about two years to get to this point in the process, but it’s worth it. These hearings are different than going to see the a Social Security claims manager so you need to do your homework.What to expect at an administrative law judge hearing

One of the most important things to remember about an ALJ hearing is that you have the right to representation. Again, these hearings are different than other meetings you’ve been to so far, and having an experienced attorney with you will give you peace of mind.

Before the hearing happens you can submit any new evidence that the SSA does not already have. If you have evidence to submit, you should submit it as soon as possible in order for the judge to have plenty of time to review it.

During the hearing, get ready to answer a lot of questions. Here are some commonly asked questions.

  • When did you last work?
  • What keeps you from doing any kind of full time work?
  • How do you spend an average day?
  • Why did your last job end?

You won’t be the only one answering questions. Witnesses, including doctors, might be called in to answer questions as well.

After the hearing the judge will write their decision after they consider all the evidence and testimonies. A copy of this decision will be sent to you.

Going through an ALJ hearing can be intimidating, but if you know what to expect you can get through it. One of the best things you can do to prepare for an ALJ hearing is to invoke your right to use an attorney. By doing so, you’ll have a friend in your corner who knows the system and works for your best interest.

 

Why You Should or Shouldn’t Apply for Disability Benefits

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits is no small task. The Social Security Administration has strict rules for being eligible to receive disability benefits. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration does not offer benefits on a short-term basis; therefore, knowing these rules will help you determine whether you should apply.social security benefits

The team at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law can help you determine if you’re a good candidate for disability benefits. To get a head start, here are a few of the basic rules of eligibility;

  • You have a diagnosed mental or physical disability that prevents you from working and has lasted or is expected last a minimum of 12 months
  • If you are working, you are unable to earn more than $1,130 gross wages per month. This amount is known as substantial gainful activity (SGA)
    • If you were off work for at least 12 months or working below the SGA limit for 12 months but are now working above SGA, you may be eligible for benefits during the period of time you were below this amount
  • You have worked and paid enough taxes for the Social Security Disability Insurance program or you have limited income/assets for the Supplemental Security Income program
  • There are no jobs in the national economy that you can perform above the allowed limit (SGA) based on your age, education, work experience and the limitations posed by your disabilities.

In addition to meeting these basic eligibility requirements, you should make certain you apply for benefits as soon as you feel you are unable to work. The disability process can be extremely lengthy and the sooner you get started, the sooner you could be eligible for benefits. Also, the longer you wait to apply the more difficult your claim could be to win depending on the program you are applying for.

The rules above are not the only rules under Social Security disability law; however, they are some of the most important. If you’re thinking about applying for disability benefits call Jan Dils Attorneys at Law for a free case evaluation.

Getting a Mortgage on SSDI

Buying a home is typically a part of any American dream, but for those who receive SSDI benefits this dream is hard to make a reality. Despite the government making several laws that prevent discrimination, some banks will deny mortgage applications because the applicant receives SSDI benefits.Mortgage on SSDI

When applying for a mortgage the bank will ask questions about the applicant’s income, living situation, credit history, and other financial details. During this interrogation a bank might ask if the applicant gets any public assistance and if they answer yes, the bank might ask for proof of continuing enrollment.

If they ask that question, they broke the law. Both the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Fair Housing Act prohibit banks from discriminating against disabled people or people who receive public assistance.  

When banks ask for proof they’re breaking federal laws and the Department of Justice has been cracking down on banks who ignore the rules. Banks caught discriminating have been forced to financially compensate anyone they denied because of their SSDI benefits.

In 2012, Bank of America got caught discriminating against SSDI recipients. Here’s what the DoJ had to say in a press release.

“Bank of America to pay $1,000, $2,500 or $5,000 to eligible mortgage loan applicants who were asked to provide a letter from their doctor to document the income they received from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).”

Receiving SSDI is nothing to be ashamed of, and it shouldn’t limit your opportunities. If you’ve been denied a loan or discriminated by any kind of financial institution, you should contact federal authorities to defend your rights.

Identity Theft Causes Loss of Benefits

 

Identity Theft Causes loss of benefitsOne of the fastest growing crimes in America is identity theft, and recently one victim of identity theft was a Social Security recipient. Jennifer Marban lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, she is completely disabled and receives $1,080 a month in Social Security benefits.

Last year during tax season, someone filed a fake tax return using her identity. Because she doesn’t pay federal taxes, Marban did not file a tax return, which is why she was such an easy target for identity theft.

When the fake tax return was filed, it indicated that Marban had been working and earning income that was above the limits set by the SSA. This income disqualified her from the benefits she was receiving.

The SSA caught wind of her tax return and stopped her benefits. Marban is now appealing the decision.

Because many Social Security benefit recipients don’t file tax returns, they never know if someone filed a fake return with their identity. If someone files a fake tax return with your name, you can be put in a very difficult situation.

Not only will you have to work with credit bureaus to clear your name and credit, but your benefits might also be cut. As you can imagine, this is not a situation you want to be in.

To protect your identity you should keep an eye on your credit score and file a tax return as soon as possible. There are several online sites that will let you check your identity a few times a year for free.

Source- Yahoo.com

What You Need From Your Doctor to Get Approved

Most people don’t look forward to going to the doctor, but if you’re looking to get approved for Social Security Disability benefits you’ll need to get over this phobia. Getting a proper statement from your doctor claiming you are indeed disabled isn’t always as easy as you think. The SSA has very strict guidelines and they consider “disability” to be a legal term, not a medical term.

That means just getting your doctor to write “you’re disabled” on a sticky note won’t cut it. You need a rock solid diagnosis from your doctor. If your doctor dusts off their finest stationery and letterhead, but writes a vague and general letter regarding your disability, it won’t be good enough. You need details.

It’s vital that your doctor’s notes be very specific about what disability you have and how it affects your ability to work. Most likely the SSA will want your doctor to tell them how well you can:

  • WalkWhat you need from your doctor
  • Sit
  • Bend
  • Reach
  • Stretch
  • Stand
  • Balance
  • Lift
  • Grip items in your hands
  • Crouch
  • Do other basic work activities

 

Sometimes getting doctors to write such detailed letters can be hard. Make sure you stress the importance of details and explain why the SSA needs this kind of information to approve you. Jan Dils Attorneys at Law knows what information the SSA wants from doctors. If you need help getting disability benefits call today for a free case evaluation.