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How Age Impacts A Social Security Claim

We’ve all heard the saying “age is just a number” and, in many cases, it’s true. But, when it comes to Social Security claims, age can be a very important number.

It’s important to note that age is not the only consideration used to determine if a person is disabled. There are several other factors considered, too. Age is just a part of the equation. It plays a part just like work history, education, and the type of work an individual has performed throughout their life. But age is still an important consideration.

The general rule for age is that the younger an individual is, the more difficult it is for them to get approved.  SSA assumes that it is more difficult for a person age 50 or over to learn a new job or a new skill.

You may have heard the term “grid” used in Social Security. Social Security generally uses the grid rules (commonly referred to as the “grids”) only after it has determined that you can’t do the jobs you’ve done in the past. While it would take days to explain in detail how the grids work in a Social Security case, the important thing to remember is that age isn’t the only consideration. Once again, age, education, work history, and your residual functional capacity all play a part.

While an individual who is older may be more likely to get approved, it’s still possible for a younger person to be approved, too. For instance, a person who is 25 with several physical and mental disabilities and a lot of evidence/medical treatment is more likely to get approved for a claim than a person who is 45 with no medical treatment and little to no disabilities.

Getting approved for Social Security Disability often takes a combination of several factors. That’s partially why it takes so long to get a claim approved. Every aspect of a person’s health, age, education, work history must be taken into consideration.

If you feel overwhelmed by the Social Security process, and would like guidance through the maze, call our office today for a Free Consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we can call you at a better time.

Everything You Need to Know About Medical Professionals

In working with Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, you’ll quickly find that, above all else, we believe that treatment is the most important aspect of any Social SecurityMedical Professional Disability (SSD) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Without proper medical treatment, you likely won’t receive a favorable decision on your claim—it’s that simple. After all, medical evidence is how we prove that you have a disability. With that in mind, we wanted to provide an overview of different types of medical treatment and explain the differences.

Licensed Medical Doctors

At the very top of the list of medical providers are licensed, medical doctors. A medical doctor has years of training and education specializing in the medical field. Some doctors specialize in certain disciplines and can be considered experts or specialists in a specific medical field. Being diagnosed and treated by a doctor can help you get your claim approved.

Licensed Psychologists and Psychiatrists

Psychologists and Psychiatrists are licensed doctors, too, but they specialize in mental disorders. If you’re claiming that your disability is a result of a psychological condition, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar or another mental health condition, you should be treated and diagnosed by a licensed Psychologist or Psychiatrist.

Nurse Practitioners

A Nurse Practitioner is a nurse with an advanced degree in nursing. A Nurse Practitioner can treat and diagnose acute illnesses. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does accept the diagnosis made by a Nurse Practitioner for SSD/SSI, but a Licensed Medical Doctor is preferred. Regardless, continuous treatment will likely help your claim. Keep in mind that if you’ve only been diagnosed by a Nurse Practitioner, SSA may have you seek another opinion from a Licensed Medical Doctor.

Chiropractors

 A Chiropractor is a healthcare professional focused on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders, with an emphasis on treatment through manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine.

Most Chiropractors seek to reduce pain and improve the functionality of patients as well as educate them on how they can improve their own health via exercise, ergonomics and other therapies to treat back pain. Just like with a Nurse Practitioner, a Chiropractor’s diagnosis alone may not be sufficient for SSA. A secondary opinion may be necessary from a Licensed Medical Doctor for a favorable decision.

 

Overall, medical treatment is important for any Social Security claim. If you have questions about the Social Security process, give us a call for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

Exploring a new trend in automotive safety

If you are in the market for a new car, there’s a good chance that safety is at the top of your list of priorities. The auto industry is now offering more advanced safety technology than ever before, and most vehicles offer options like automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and more airbags. But one new feature, in particular, has generated interest in the industry. Airbag equipped seatbelts may not be as common as some safety features, but they can offer additional protection for vehicle occupants.

Most consumers haven’t heard of airbag equipped seatbelts, in part because they are currently only offered by two manufacturers. Ford Motor Company offers them in Ford and Lincoln models, and Mercedes-Benz currently offers their own version of the inflatable seatbelt in a few of their cars. They are more readily available from Ford, and it’s important to note that they are offered as an added, optional feature in some but not all Ford models, and aren’t currently included as a standard safety feature on new vehicles.

Ford’s Edge, Flex, Fusion and F-150 as well as Lincoln’s MKT, MKX and MKZ are the only ones that offer the enhanced seatbelts as an option. Per Ford’s website, the feature is a $650 upcharge. It’s also worth noting that these seatbelts are for the rear seat, and are not offered on the front seat of any vehicle.

So why would anyone consider a seatbelt with an airbag? The inflatable belt is meant to reduce the force on the head, chest, and neck in a collision. Generally, children ride in the back seat, and their bones are not fully developed yet. The inflatable seatbelt could possibly keep a child from having broken bones from the seatbelt as the result of a crash. According to the Ford website, the benefits of the seatbelts are as follows:

During a crash, the inflatable belt helps distribute crash forces across more of a passenger’s torso than a traditional belt – up to five times more. Spreading the pressure over a larger area helps reduce pressure on the passenger’s chest, and helps control head and neck motion.

If your little ones are still in car seats, then you should do some research. Not all car seats work with the inflatable seatbelts. The belt is thicker than the standard belts that most cars use, and also a little less flexible. If you purchase a car equipped with inflatable seatbelts and have children in child seats, simply search online to see if your seat is compatible. Ford dealers should have up-to-date lists of compatible seats, but if you purchase your vehicle used, you will likely have to do your own research.

There is not a lot of research or testing to back up the claims made by Ford Motor Company. Ford has offered to sell the technology to other automakers, but it is unclear if any manufacturers have expressed interest. Ford has been using it since 2011, and it does not appear that anyone else is introducing the technology in the coming model year.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, call us for a FREE consultation. Our Toll-Free Number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we can call you at a better time.

How College Impacts Your Social Security Claim

Do you know how your education impacts your social security case?

Sometimes I get too involved in the subject I am writing about for a blog. On occasion, I’ll hear a coworker say something and it will spark a bit of inspiration. Both of these things happened when I heard case manager Kelly Fritz talking to a client recently. She was advising the client about college and how it impacts an individual who is trying to get approved for disability. I immediately thought of myself. Granted, most people who know me will tell you that I immediately think of myself in most situations. Kidding aside, I really hadn’t thought about how education plays a part in the disability process. So, I decided to look into it further.

I think it’s obvious that the purpose of social security disability is to determine if you can work or not. That is somewhat of a generalized version of how Social Security works. Unfortunately, it’s not that black and white. However, for this blog, let’s keep things simple. When looking at everyone applying for social security as a whole, we see a diverse group of people with one thing in common; a disability is keeping them from working. Social Security has two ways to determine if a person is disabled; The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates applicants for disability in two ways:

  • whether an individual’s impairment(s) meets or equals the criteria of an official disability listing in the Social Security disability handbook (often referred to as the listing of impairments, or the blue book), or
  • whether the individual’s medical and vocational factors, when considered together, prevents he or she from performing any of their old jobs and any other job in the national economy (disability examiners refer to this as a medical-vocational allowance).

To keep things simple, we will just be focusing on the 2nd option. In this case, yes, your education level can make it more difficult to get approved. If an applicant’s disability or impairment doesn’t meet or equal a listing, and the applicant can’t return to his or her former work, the applicant’s age, work history, and educational background are evaluated to determine if an individual has the capacity to perform less demanding work in a competitive workforce.

How can your education level impact your claim? Well, your ability to perform other types of work sometimes comes down to something called transferable skills. Transferable skills are skills that you have acquired through your past jobs or through schooling that you can use in other areas of the work force that are less demanding. Therefore, if you return to school, you may have additional skills that can be used in other jobs even if you are unable to perform your old jobs.

So, yes, college can impact your claim for social security disability. Just keep in mind that this is not the only factor that impacts your claim and we certainly do not discourage you from furthering your education. You also have your age, health, and many more factors to consider. Let us know if you like to learn more about social security. Call us today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

 

What are the signs of Nursing Home Neglect?

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

The signs of nursing home neglect aren’t always obvious.

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 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.

Sudden weight Loss is a sign of neglect.

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.

Jan Dils Participates in Huntington Beautification Project

At Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, we take pride in the communities that we call home. In addition to our headquarters in Parkersburg, WV, we also have offices in Logan, Charleston, Beckley, and Huntington here in West Virginia, and we have an additional office in Charlotte, NC. Recently our Huntington, WV office had the privilege to participate in “Huntington in Bloom.” This initiative places colorful plants around the city to brighten the community. Our firm sponsored two of the plants for the project.

 

It gives us great pride to participate in programs that make communities better. Thanks to Huntington In Bloom for allowing us to participate in this program. The flowers were beautiful.

How Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, Uses Facebook Live to Help Clients

Have you been using Facebook Live? The Social Media giant estimates that there will be 64 million live views by next month. So, that means that there is a good chance that you have at least watched one live video. It’s obvious that the Live video broadcasting service is growing, but it’s not just for individuals. Many corporations and small businesses have also been creating live videos. Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law is no exception.

We experimented with Live broadcasting on Facebook a few months ago, and we were overwhelmed with how popular our videos have been. The first time we went live our Training Manager, Lauren Ward, discussed Social Security disability. We had over 120 Live viewers. Once the video was posted for individuals to watch who couldn’t make it to the live broadcast, it received over 500 views in a matter of hours. Facebook claims that their users watch live videos 3 times longer than traditional pre-recorded content.

After our first run with Lauren, we performed another live video discussing social security disability with our Social Security Operations Manager, Missy Parsons. It was even more popular than our first run. We then followed that up with a video focusing our VA line of business with Lead, and it too was very popular. We’ve decided to make our live broadcasts a part of our regular rotation. We generally try to go live every 2 weeks if schedules allow. As a part of our expansion, we plan on incorporating the personal injury line of business into the rotation as well.

Some may wonder why our videos, or why Facebook Live for that matter, are so popular. The formula is simple. We use an iPad with an external microphone and light source. One of our senior employees sits in front of the “camera” while Jon Corra, our Social Media Specialist, reads questions from behind the camera. “I believe it works well because we’re really just having a conversation. We’re talking to our audience, talking to each other, and just having a simple conversation about the topic at hand.” Claimed Corra.

We usually answer between 8-10 questions. Some of the questions are prepared ahead of time, but most are a result of submissions from Viewers. We also like to compile a list each time of popular topics our clients ask. The topics are usually diverse. The greatest part of this involves the interaction from Veterans. This service allows us to interact directly with Vets who have concerns about VA Disability. The ability to answer live follow up questions has really set this feature apart from other video services.

It’s reasonable that some people may be concerned with confidentiality. We keep the conversation general. We never talk about anyone’s personal case. If someone has a question about their specific case, we suggest that they call in directly. A lot can still be learned though. For instance, in a recent broadcast we discussed PTSD ratings and how the VA determines each percentage. It was very informative.

If you’re interested in being a part of our next live broadcast, be sure to like us on Facebook. To learn more about Social Security, VA Disability, or Personal Injury, give us a call. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457.

How Does Incarceration Impact Your Social Security Benefits?

It’s funny how pop-culture can impact the types of questions we are asked at the office. Since the popular Netflix original series Orange is the New Black has returned, we have received quite a few questions about individuals curious about what would happen to their benefits if they went to prison. Before we get too deep into this subject, the people asking us about this are not criminals. I am willing to bet most haven’t even taken a pen from a bank. Rather, they are just curious. Or, they like to be prepared because you never know what may happen in your future. Thankfully, the SSA makes this info relatively easy to obtain.

One of the first things to keep in mind is that the length of time you are incarcerated is important. For instance, if you are arrested one evening and held overnight for a small crime, your benefits likely will not be impacted. In fact, according to regulations, you must be incarcerated or at least 30 days before your benefits will be discontinued. Your benefits may be reinstated after your release.

The SSA goes on to state: Although you can’t receive monthly Social Security benefits while you’re incarcerated, benefits to your spouse or children will continue as long as they remain eligible. If you’re receiving SSI, your payments are suspended while you’re in prison. Your payments can be reinstated in the month you’re released. However, if your confinement lasts for 12 consecutive months or longer, your eligibility for SSI benefits will terminate and you must file a new application for benefits.

If you haven’t filed for Social Security benefits before, you can while you are in prison with a few rules. If your institution has a prerelease agreement with the local Social Security office, it will notify the SSA if you’re likely to meet the requirements for SSI or disability benefits. The SSA will get an application from you several months before your anticipated release. That way, they can begin processing your application and your benefits can start as soon as possible after your release. If you’re filing for benefits based on disability, the SSA will gather medical evidence from your doctors to help them decide whether you still meet Social Security’s definition of disability. Family members or a social worker can help you by contacting Social Security to let the SSA know about your upcoming release. A family member also may be willing to serve as your representative payee if your medical condition prevents you from handling your own finances.

If you’ve been released from prison, and have questions about filing for benefits, give us a call for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you don’t have time to talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

Driving Up Stream; How Live Streaming is Causing A Lot Of Accidents

One of the fun things about working in social media is seeing how technology is always changing how we deliver content. Five years ago it would have been unheard of to have business pages on Instagram or Snapchat. Likewise, to suggest streaming live video via a social media account was unheard of a few years ago. Granted, services like UStream were available back then, but these platforms were not easy to use. So, most brands didn’t participate. Recently, tools like Periscope, Meerkat, and Facebook Live have made live streaming video so easy, anyone can do it. Now that “going live” on Facebook or Instagram is so easy, it’s also more dangerous.

Our firm has had fun with Facebook Live.   It’s great for reaching our clients. We’ve used it mostly for fun, but it shows our clients another side of our firm. It helps them get to know us better. For instance, when we present our Golden Apple Award to a teacher in the Mid-Ohio Valley, we set up a mobile device to stream the announcement live. This practice allows our clients to see a behind the scenes aspect of our firm. It’s safe to say that we use this feature as it is intended. However, we’re aware that a lot of people don’t follow the rules.

Periscope is a lot like Facebook Live, except it has its own app, and it integrates into Twitter easily. Periscope came out before Facebook Live, and many early adopters still prefer this application for live streaming. It was while watching a video on Periscope one evening that I first started to notice people using live video streaming when they shouldn’t. NASCAR driver Tony Stewart was using Periscope while driving home one evening. He was providing commentary about the other motorists, and he was answering questions from his fans. He was doing this all while driving on a rainy interstate. Soon after, I noticed more and more people broadcasting live videos as they drove. It now seems common to see live videos on Facebook, Periscope, and Instagram while users are driving.

Obviously, distracted driving is an issue, and it is nothing new. However, this adds another level to the issue because people are actually recording themselves committing crimes. In most states, it is currently illegal to operate a vehicle while using a non-hands free mobile device. For instance, I follow a local photographer who enjoys filming himself passing cars on rural roads in West Virginia. In one such video, this gentleman clearly passed a car on a double yellow line, essentially passing in a no passing zone.

It’s easy to argue that what I have seen is minor compared to what has occurred with some live streaming drivers. Earlier this month a Rhode Island man streamed himself driving recklessly on Facebook Live. While on the interstate he was traveling up to 115 MPH and passing cars on the shoulder. He eventually hit a dump truck. Luckily no other motorists were injured.

I believe it’s safe to say that everyone knows that it’s not safe to text/live stream while driving. However, the penalties for drivers who break this law are not very steep. Currently, the West Virginia traffic code does not list specific violations for live streaming. However, our state does have specific laws for texting or using a non-hands-free device while driving. The first offense is $100, the second offense is $200, and the third offense is $300. The third offense also comes with the possibility of points against your license. These fines don’t seem too strict considering that our fines for littering are much stronger. If you are convicted of littering, on your first offense, you could lose points on your license, and your second offense may result in community service. I hate a litter bug at as much as the next fella, but I think a distracted driver should be penalized more. Granted, that is my opinion.

Sadly, the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers is on the rise. In these accidents, injuries or fatalities are likely.

UPDATE

 

Since we originally wrote this blog, there has been another tragedy making national headlines regarding Live Streaming while driving. Obdulia Sanchez, 18, of California was broadcasting live on Instagram while driving her car. She lost control and crashed the car into a fence. It eventually flipped in a nearby field. Her sister, 14 and a friend, also 14, were ejected from the car. They were not wearing seatbelts.

Sanchez continued to film after the accident and addressed the people watching the video. She addressed the fact that she (likely) killed her sister in the accident. She also mentioned that she was probably going to go to jail for life for what occurred. The other 14-year-old passenger in the car survived.

One thing that does set this example apart from the others is that Sanchez was arrested after the accident for a suspected DUI and Gross Vehicular Manslaughter. She may have been under the influence of alcohol while driving.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, issued the following statement to NBC News after the accident:

“We’re deeply saddened by this tragedy. We urge people to use our reporting tools if they see any content or behavior that puts anyone’s safety at risk. We want to interrupt these streams as quickly as possible when they’re reported to us, and we will also notify law enforcement if we see a threat that requires an immediate response. We suggest people contact emergency services if they become aware of a situation where the authorities can help.”

If you’ve been injured in a wreck because of a distracted driver, call us today for a FREE consultation. Our Toll-Free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather talk at a different time, fill out this form and call us at a later time.

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.