Effective Communication and Your Social Security Claim

POSTED BY Jon Corra . October 22, 2018

Dinesh Paliwal was once quoted as saying “Collaboration is a key part of the success of any organization, executed through a clearly defined vision and mission and based on transparency and constant communication.” This quote reinforces the importance of communication in business, and we agree. Our firm believes in strong communication with our clients. Here are just a few of the ways in which we keep our clients informed:

  • Case Managers

Case Managers are one of the most important ways we keep our clients informed. Our Case Managers are specially trained to assist our Social Security clients with their cases. In fact, our Case Managers are the main point of contact for our clients, spending a majority of their days giving clients updates about their cases. They are also an incredible source of knowledge. Since Disability cases can take such a long time, many of our clients develop personal relationships with their Case Managers. Our Case Managers keep their clients up to date in several ways:

  • Phone Calls

Our Case Managers make and receive phone calls throughout the day. Our clients are welcome to call our office when they have a question or need to report a medical update. Every client has two Case Managers. So, if you call, there is a good chance you will get to talk to one of your Case Managers. However, if you don’t, you can leave a voicemail, and one of your Case Managers will call you back within 24 business hours.

What if you need to let us know what’s going on after hours? No worries. You can leave a message with our answering service. They will take your message and make sure it is delivered to the Case Management Team.

  • Email

If you prefer, our team can communicate with you via email. When you sign up for representation, your Case Managers will introduce themselves to you via phone. At that time, they will provide you with their contact number and their email address. However, if you need a reminder, you can always find their email address here.

 

  • Website

In addition to phone and email, our website offers additional options for contacting our Case Managers. You can use our online chat, which is monitored around the clock. When you correspond with the chat service, the message is relayed to our Case Managers, so they can return your calls and/or update your file.

If you need to report a doctor’s visit, a trip to the emergency room, or even update your contact info, you can do so by visiting our website. We have a section on jandils.com where clients can quickly update us about this information. Our forms are simple to use and make submitting information easy. You can use this feature by clicking here.

Effective communication is paramount in a successful Social Security Disability claim. We know our clients will worry less if they are better informed about their cases.

If you’d like to know more about the services we offer, or if you’d like to sign up for a free consultation, call us. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather talk at a later time, fill out this form. Once submitted, a member of our team will reach out to you to set up a consultation.

Police Cars Might be Making Officers Sick

POSTED BY Jon Corra . September 14, 2018

In 1990, Ford Motor Company introduced an all-new model: the Explorer. This was one of the first Sport-Utility Vehicles introduced to the US market, and many believe that it helped change the automotive landscape. Nearly 30 years after its introduction, more than 7,000,000 Explorers have been sold. The Explorer is popular despite a few controversies over the years. Nearly 20 years ago, Ford Motor Company was involved in several lawsuits related to tire issues with the Explorer and several similar models. The lawsuits and recalls dominated the headlines, and Ford had to gain the trust of their consumers again. After the tire recall, Explorer sales rose again. However, the Explorer is at the center of another controversy, and it’s making people sick.

In 2017, the automotive website Jalopnik reported a lawsuit filed by an officer from the Austin Police Department. In the lawsuit, an officer alleged that his Ford Police Interceptor (a police variant of the civilian Ford Explorer) was leaking carbon monoxide from the vehicle’s exhaust into the cabin. At the time of the report, the officer was the 2nd person at the department to sue Ford Motor Company. The Austin Police Department pulled their entire fleet of 37 Police Interceptors because 7 officers had similar complaints.

CBS News has reported on this issue multiple times in the last six months. They shared the story of a police officer in Newport Beach who lost control of his Ford Police Interceptor while responding to a call. The vehicle swerved across multiple lanes of traffic and crashed into a tree. The officer suffered a traumatic brain injury, fractured eye socket, and several other injuries as a result of the accident.

Ford has investigated the complaints and found that they may be related to unsealed seams in the rear of the vehicle. However, no recall has been issued. The CBS report cited above stated that Ford has known about the issue since 2011. They have released 3 service bulletins to dealers to fix the problem. Ford released a statement to CBS news stating that there have been some rare instances in which a design flaw has resulted in consumers smelling exhaust fumes, but they claim it does not pose a safety risk.

Ford also appears to suggest that the police department may be to blame for the leak. In a statement to CBS News regarding the Police Interceptor complaints, Ford said:

“We have investigated and not found any carbon monoxide issue resulting from the design of our Police Interceptor Utility Vehicles. We know police modify these vehicles, which can contribute to exhaust-related issues. We have provided instructions to help seal these modifications and are ready to inspect any vehicles with this concern.”

The problem isn’t just with the police variant of the Explorer. Many civilians have filed lawsuits against Ford for similar issues. CBS has found over 450 complaints relating to similar issues. Jalopnik has found over 2,700 complaints regarding similar issues. Further, Jalopnik reported Ford was offering a free safety evaluation (not a recall) for Explorer owners.

Currently, the National Highway Traffic Saftey Administration is conducting an investigation. They issued a statement in July 2017 stating cracks in the Explorer’s exhaust manifold may be one possible source of the issue. However, that investigation is ongoing.

Ford is currently promoting their next Police Interceptor, a hybrid based on the next generation Explorer. The new vehicle may not have the same issues as the current version, but most departments don’t have the funds to replace their entire fleet. Ford is not the only manufacturer selling cars to police departments. Fiat-Chrysler has police-spec versions of their Dodge Charger and Durango, Chevrolet offers a modified Chevrolet Tahoe, and Nissan recently entered this category with a version of their Altima.

If you’d like to know more about product liability, or if you’d like a free evaluation, call us today. Our number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather communicate electronically, fill out this form. A member of our team will be in touch with you.

 

Jon Corra Bio

POSTED BY admin . March 01, 2017

Jon has been with Jan Dils Attorneys at Law for over five years. In his current role, Jon is a VA Leads Specialist, and a Social Media Specialist. In December 2011, Jon Received his Masters Degree in corporate Communication from West Virginia University. Jon also has an RBA in Criminal Justice and Communications from West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

In his spare time, Jon is an avid Hockey fan. He loves watching the Pittsburgh Penguins play, and tries to make it to games in person as much as possible. In addition to hockey, Jon also enjoys mountain bike riding, watching documentaries, and spending time with friends.
When describing his employment with the firm, Jon Stated the Following: “I was drawn to Jan Dils Attorneys at Law because of their work with Veterans. I admire those who serve our country so much, and really enjoy interacting with Veterans. I never imagined that while working in this firm, I would get to know so many unique individuals.”

Jenny Cochran Bio

POSTED BY admin . February 25, 2017

Jenny Cochran has been with the Jan Dils Team for just over four years. Jenny started out in our Case Management Pod, and recently moved into the role of Outlining Specialist. The one element of Case Management she missed was working with the clients one on one, so writing for our all new blog was a natural fit. Jenny is eager to learn as much as she can as she hopes to go to law school soon. In her spare time, Jenny loves going to concerts, watching Netflix, and spending time with her friends and family. Jenny’s coworkers are quick to point out that she has a fantastic sense of humor and a wonderful personality.

What Are The Benefits Of Social Security Disability Insurance in West Virginia?

POSTED BY admin . September 29, 2016

Social Security Disability

In the United States, there are two federal programs designed to provide people with a monetary safety net that protects them if they are too impaired to provide for themselves. These programs come in the form of social security disability insurance and supplemental security income. Although they sound similar, they are still distinct enough to serve as two separate programs. Whereas social security disability insurance is designed for people that have worked long enough and paid enough taxes to qualify for aid, supplemental security income is instead assigned based on demonstrated need.

Applying for these programs is similar across each state, but West Virginia has developed a particular reputation for rejecting applications at a rate far above the national average. While an SSI attorney can certainly help to ensure that an application survives the claim process, it also helps to have a deeper understanding of these programs and how they work in West Virginia.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Although most people tend to think of social security as being a retirement program, in reality it serves multiple functions. In the case of social security disability insurance in West Virginia, it helps to alleviate the financial strain on people that are incapable of continuing to work.

Unlike other disability programs, federal regulations require that a social security disability insurance recipient be severely limited in their functionality, whether that be due to mental or physical limitations. As a result of this limitation, applicants can not expect to be accepted with a minor impairment or disability as they potentially could with worker’s comp or a similar program.

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance in West Virginia

In order to begin the claim process in West Virginia, an applicant will need to initially pass two different earnings test. The first earnings test is to prove that an applicant worked for a sufficient period of time before becoming disabled. This period of time is further defined based on when the applicant became disabled. If the impairment began before the applicant turned 24, they must prove that they worked for at least 1.5 years in the 3 year period before they became disabled. For those that became disabled before turning 31, but after 24, they must prove that they worked for at least half of that time leading up to their impairment. Any applicants that became disabled after turning 31 need to simply prove that they worked for at least 5 out of the last 10 years leading up to their disability. It’s worth mentioning that blind applicants are often excused from meeting this test’s requirements.

The second test is a duration of work test, to prove that an applicant worked long enough under social security to be entitled to its benefits. The requirements for this test are a little harder to define, but generally require that a person worked for a certain number of years up to the age of 28. Roughly every 4 years after that, an applicant must have at least an additional year of work in their history.

Anyone that meets these requirements can then submit their work and medical history online at socialsecurity.gov or file a claim with a local social security office. Once the application process has begun, West Virginia’s Disability Determination Services will pass the case on to an evaluation specialist to review all of the case’s associated materials. At this point, they’ll decide to either accept or reject the claim.

If the claim is accepted, the applicant will be entitled to benefits on a monthly basis that are the average of the claimant’s lifetime earnings. In addition to receiving their own benefits, other family members in an applicant’s life may be entitled to the social security disability insurance benefits. This includes any spouse that is older than 62, a spouse of any age that is raising a child younger than 16, and any child that is unmarried and younger than 18.

How to Appeal the Decision

In the case of a rejection, the applicant has 60 days to decide whether or not they wish to pursue an appeal. Once the appeal process has begun, it is not considerably different to the original application process. Assuming nothing of significance has changed between the original and secondary process, the case can then be moved on to a hearing. At this point, a hearing is much more in favor of a claimant has long as they’ve been keeping proper records at each stage of the process and can prove that they are sufficiently disabled.

What is Supplemental Security Income?

Although the process is very similar to applying for social security disability insurance benefits, supplemental security income is different enough to warrant a separate discussion. Unlike social security disability insurance benefits, applicants seeking supplemental security income do not need to provide proof that they’ve worked for a specific period of time. This is because supplemental security income is not actually derived from social security, but is instead generated from general federal taxes.

Supplemental security income is primarily designed to help adults and children that are incapable of working due to their age, blindness, disability, and also have a general lack of income. It is awarded to successful applicants at a base monthly rate of $733, which is then adjusted based on the federally calculated cost of living. From this base income, additional payments can be added at each state’s discretion. In the case of West Virginia, no additional payments are awarded to supplemental security income. It’s also important to remember that the base value does not include subtractions from other benefits programs, or any other subtractions that can result from a recipient’s countable income.

Applying for Supplemental Security Income in West Virginia

The supplemental security income application process in West Virginia is not significantly different from its social security disability insurance counterpart. Despite this, it is still recommended that applicants seek out the experience of a professional SSI attorney, as West Virginia is much stricter in its evaluation process than many other states. To help make the application process run more smoothly, the Social Security Administration has a tool that allows applicants to easily see whether their disability will potentially qualify them for benefits.

How to Appeal the Decision

If an appeal has been rejected, it does not necessarily mean that the claim is completely devoid of merit. Oftentimes, small mistakes in the application process can cause the entire claim to be rejected. Applicants that feel their disability is justified will want to quickly rectify any existing errors and then begin the appeal process before 60 days have elapsed since the rejection. As with the social security disability insurance benefits appeal process, it will likely take a claimant’s hearing to prove the validity of the disability before any benefits will be awarded.

Given the way in which they were designed, both social security benefits programs are effective tools for keeping the disabled out of poverty. Unfortunately, they are also open to abuse, which has understandably made it much more difficult to qualify for these programs. Anyone that is legitimately in need of social security disability insurance benefits can’t afford to suffer through many months of appeal processes, which is why SSI lawyers try to streamline the process as effectively as possible.

Steps to Protect Your Rights to Veterans Benefits Before You Leave the Military

POSTED BY admin . September 08, 2016

Military

Are you worried that you will not receive the benefits you deserve after separating from the military?  Well, you’re not alone. Each year an estimated 24,0000 – 36,0000 military personnel separate from one of the armed services. With that, there are several records to account for, red tape can cause a sticky mess. The key to success, is to make sure that you have everything in order before your discharge date.

Get Care for Existing Conditions

Those who are injured while on active duty, diagnosed with a condition like PTSD, or who have developed a chronic medical or psychiatric condition should begin treatment while still on active duty. If you’re unable to seek treatment from a military doctor or at a military medical facility, go to a civilian doctor. Make sure to document the doctor’s name and the name and address of the clinic or treatment facility in case you need to provide that information to the VA or Discharge Review Board later.

Before your discharge, you’ll receive a full separation medical exam. This is the time to report any undocumented medical or psychiatric issues, even if you have not sought or received medical treatment. Make sure to fill out your DD Form 2697 completely, and double-check that the doctor conducting your separation exam documents all of the details of your condition(s). Answering ‘no’ or ‘uncertain’ to questions about whether you intend to seek treatment from the VA at some time in the future will not disqualify you from applying for care when the time comes.

Disability Cases

If you’ve been found unfit for duty, or you’re considering leaving the military due to disability, there are several things to take into consideration. All disability determinations, whether self-referred or referred by your Commanding officer (CO), are subject to review by the Disability Evaluation System (DES) to determine if you qualify for discharge and severance pay. The outcome can affect your benefits and compensation, so you should be aware of your options ahead of time and decide on an optimal outcome; changing your mind later may give you less leverage in controlling what happens.

One of the biggest factors is how close you are to completing 20 years of service. In the case of a severe disability that leaves you incapacitated, you may not have a choice in the matter. However, medical retirement is different than traditional retirement.

For one thing, the medical retirement pay rate is lower. If you feel that you can complete your service and perform your duties until you reach retirement age, hold off on seeking medical retirement. A referral from a doctor or your CO will require you to prove your fitness for duty. You should provide any awards or citations received during your service and offer any other evidence you have that will support your claim that your condition does not affect your ability to fulfill your duties.

Whether or not you’re close to your retirement date when you’re referred, you’ll be evaluated for fitness by the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB), who may then refer your case to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB). Disabilities that leave you unfit for duty will generally fall under two categories: Unfit with Placement on Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL) or Unfit and Placement on Permanent Disability Retirement List (PDRL). The designation depends on the percentage of your disability and on whether it is considered stable or unstable.

Generally, you must be at least 30% disabled to be recommended for disability discharge. Stability is determined by how much your condition is likely to change in the future. If your disability is below 20%, you won’t qualify for any severance pay, so you should consider remaining in the military if possible.

Document Everything

If you’ve had medical treatment for any condition that’s likely to have a recurrence, undergone drug rehabilitation or psychiatric care, obtain a complete record of all treatments, doctors, and care facilities. That includes getting copies of all findings and obtaining or copying statements from your commanding officer and medical practitioners. It’s also essential that you fill out any paperwork giving permission to access your medical, legal, dental, and psychiatric records prior to leaving the service.

Make sure you go over your records carefully before your discharge to catch and correct missing or erroneous information. Some records and information are not automatically included in your Official Military Personnel File or your Service Record Book. Other records have to be specifically requested separately, including psychiatric records and substance abuse treatment or referrals, even if you did not follow-up.

In the case of non-medical incidents, criminal cases, and Congressional reviews involving your unit, get a copy of any records from the investigating body and any correspondence with Congressional members pertaining to the inquiry. If you’ll be requesting a discharge upgrade, make sure that your discharge packet includes information about non-judicial proceedings related to your discharge for misconduct and copies of any medical reports or exams if your discharge is due to disability or for medical reasons.

Other Benefits

Aside from health care and separation pay, former members of the military may be eligible for other benefits once they leave the service. Unemployment compensation is available to former service members who are unable to find a job when they return to civilian life. The amount and eligibility requirements vary from state to state, and claims must meet certain criteria. Each case is different, but generally, you’ll qualify under the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers (UCX) Act if you meet the following conditions:

  • You were active duty in a branch of the US armed forces
  • You were honorably discharged from active duty or the reserves after completing your full term of service
  • Unemployment insurance protection wasn’t deducted from your pay
  • You have a completed DD Form 214 and you are actively searching for employment

The amount you’ll receive is based on the rates and eligibility of the state you reside in, but it’s determined by your active duty pay rate. Other things that may affect your unemployment benefits are the amount of separation compensation you receive and your retirement pay. If you’re turned down initially, you have the right to appeal that decision.

Having a plan in place before you retire or leave active duty helps ensure continuity and a more hassle-free transition to civilian life. Document any treatments, ongoing or not, before your discharge, and obtain copies of any paperwork even if you’re not sure it’s relevant; it may be difficult to get proof or obtain copies of your records after the fact. It’s important to note that less than honorable discharges may not be automatically upgraded after the initial six-month post-discharge period.

It’s up to you to ensure that you and your family are protected after your military service has ended. Once you leave the military, it’s more difficult to prove that you qualify for coverage due to conditions that were present pre-release

What Role Does DDS Play in a Social Security Claim?

POSTED BY Jon Corra . August 17, 2016

Sadly, last week we said goodbye to one of our long time employees. Jackie Roberts has been with us for 14 years. Jackie is a kind soul and has been a great part Why does Social Security Have a 5 Month Waiting Periodof this firm for a long time. Her daughter Shannan works for us a Non-Attorney Rep, and together they helped build this firm to where we are now. It’s hard to see such a good employee go. While I always liked Jackie, I can honestly say I haven’t the slightest idea what she did here. Don’t get me wrong, I know she is very hard working. She is usually here before I arrive in the morning, and she is often still working after I leave for the day. I Also know that Jackie’s job dealt with DDS. I just have no idea what DDS, what it means for social security, and how someone adequately performs a DDS task. With Jackie retiring, I thought it might be a good time to figure out what DDS means, and how it impacts a social security claim.

You might be wondering why I am even writing for a social security blog if I don’t know what DDS means. Well, my background is in VA disability. The VA does not really have a DDS equivalent. I am currently expanding my knowledge of social security. Did you know that Social Security is really confusing? I’m going to assume that if you filed a claim, you are already aware of that.

The first thing I had to do was figure out what the letters DDS mean. Acronyms really irritate me. They don’t save that much time, and if people didn’t use them, I wouldn’t have to be writing this blog. But, the world isn’t perfect. It turns out DDS stands for Disability Determination Services. According to the social security website, Most Social Security disability claims are initially processed through a network of local Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices and State agencies (usually called Disability Determination Services or DDS). The field office is responsible for verifying non-medical eligibility requirements, which may include age, employment, marital status, or Social Security coverage information. The field office then sends the case to a DDS for evaluation of disability.

PI 2 040Further, the social security website states that DDS tries to obtain evidence from the claimant’s own medical sources first. (Your private medical records.) If that evidence is unavailable or insufficient to make a determination,  DDS will arrange for a consultative examination (CE) to obtain the additional information needed. The claimant’s treating source is the preferred source for the CE, but the DDS may obtain the CE from an independent source. After completing its development of the evidence, trained staff at the DDS makes the initial disability determination.

So, that can be a little confusing. In other words, DDS makes your initial decision for social security disability. One issue a lot of our clients see with DDS is a denial. Actually, it’s not just our clients; it is social security as a whole. Approximately 90% of all claims get denied through DDS.

Now that we have a better understanding of what DDS is, how does one work in a “DDS” position in a law firm? That was actually interesting to learn. Jackie role was essentially a liaison between DDS and our office. Anytime DDS needed additional information for a client, Jackie would handle those requests for individuals we represented. During her time with us, Jackie made a lot of great relationships with the individuals at our local DDS office, and her work helped thousands get the benefits they deserve.

If you’ve been denied, call us today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather be contacted at a later time, fill out this form now, and we’ll have someone contact you at a better time.

What Happens at an ALJ Hearing

POSTED BY admin . June 03, 2016

Every hearing will be different and every judge will have their own preferred ways to run the show, but most hearings will follow the same general 5 step process.

Introduction- This part is pretty straightforward. The judge will introduce himself or herself and explain how they will operate the hearing. Any other people in attendance such as hearing assistants or medical experts will also be introduced. It might be reassuring to know that this isn’t a public hearing with other people in the room waiting for their turn. Just you, the judge, hopefully your attorney, and maybe a few others.
Opening Statements- Now the claimant or attorney will make an opening statement explaining why the claimant is disabled. If the claimant doesn’t have an attorney the judge will explain the right to legal representation. If the claimant waives the right to representation, the hearing will proceed. However, if the claimant wants to have representation they can ask the judge to postpone the hearing.
Evidence- All evidence will be collected and reviewed by the judge.
Testimony- This step will take up the majority of the hearing. Witnesses and the claimant will give their testimony. After original testimony, questioning might take place if the claimant or their attorney wishes.
Closing Statement- Once all testimony, evidence, and questions have been completed the claimant or the attorney will have the opportunity to give a closing statement summarizing why they are disabled.

Again, every hearing will be slightly different than the others, but these 5 steps will most likely happen in some form. Knowing these steps will help you prepare for your hearing and avoid surprises. At Jan Dils Attorneys at Law we’ve been through countless ALJ hearings with our clients so we can go to your hearing with confidence. If you’re going through an ALJ hearing, we would love to help and give you a free consultation.

Congratulations to the September 2015 MVP!

POSTED BY admin . August 28, 2015

Please join us in congratulating our September 2015 MVP, Kelly Fritz!

Kelly MVP

Kelly was nominated by Tammy McGee for being wonderful with our clients, demonstrating patience and empathy when talking with them and answering their questions.

She also has been known to help her teammates in any way she can. This includes working on other case managers’ contact lists in order to ensure they are as current as possible and clients are contacted even sooner than expected.

Kelly recently passed the non-attorney rep test and is transitioning from case manager to a new position in the firm as a review specialist. Keep up the great work, Kelly!

Social Security Disability Attorneys Clear Up Confusion on Denial

POSTED BY admin . August 12, 2015

Social Security Disability BenefitsWhen most people apply for benefits through the social security disability insurance program, they tend to think only about why they should be considered eligible and awarded their claims, while keeping their fingers crossed and hoping for a hitch-free, first-time approval. However, reality paints a different picture and more often than not, there is always a higher chance of a denied application than an approval at the first instance.

In some instances, the reasons for a denial may be out of your control; other times, a clear understanding of the rules can help you avoid doing something that would warrant a denial. If you’re applying in Charlotte, NC and you fall in one or more of the following categories, your benefit claim will very much likely be denied, at which point only a social security disability lawyer may be able to help.

  1. Your disability is not considered severe enough. Usually, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must be fully convinced that your incapacity is severe enough to be able to make a claim. Disabilities that take less than a year to heal are not likely to be considered, with the only exception being blindness. This is a leading reason for denial as the SSA sees tons of applications every day from people with more severe or even life-threatening disabilities.
  2. Another reason for the rejection of claims is if you earn too much money to be considered disable. Typically, social security disability benefits those who have low income levels and must rely on the program to make ends meet. If the SSA believes that your current income is above a stipulated limit, then your application may be denied.
  3. If addiction to drugs or alcohol constitutes the basis of your disability, the SSA is not likely to progress your application. Of course they would still consider a claim if you still meet their disability requirements even after the drugs or alcohol have been removed from the equation. Other exceptions to this rule may be exploited by social security disability attorneys to help plead your case.

The undeniable truth is that the entire application process, including eligibility and approval or denial, is a lot easier if you’ve got a disability lawyer to help you. If you’re in Charlotte, NC, you can simply contact trusted law firms, like Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, for a free consultation and discuss the peculiarities of your case before applying or appealing. You’d always stand a better chance of approval with the right legal representation.

 

Source:

Publications. Social Security.

Social Security Disability: 8 Reasons You May Be Denied Benefits. NOLO

Social Security Disability: How SSDI and SSI Claims Are Decided

When Using Drugs or Alcohol Can Keep You From Getting Disability Benefits