disability attorney

Disability Preparation Is Half the Battle

by Staff | June 27th, 2014

Accidents and illnesses can strike at any time. That’s why being prepared for a disability is so important. We hope to help make you more aware of how you can be ready for an injury or disease by telling you about a fantastic resource.

The Council for Disability Awareness aims to educate the public about the stark realities disabilities can pose to American workers and citizens. They have a tool available on their website that allows you to plug in your personal information to evaluate your risk of suffering a disability.

While this may catch the attention of some, others may be more focused on a tool that can show just how much a disability may cost you. Furthermore, information is available through the organization that can help you determine if you could pay your bills while disabled.

So what can you do to be more prepared for the chances of suffering a disability? Making sure you are paying enough into your Social Security Disability benefits is crucial, but this money may not be enough if you are left unable to work. That’s why many experts say having a long-term disability insurance policy can also be beneficial.

At Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, our team of disability attorneys understands how overwhelming the information available about disability benefits can be. That’s why we urge you to contact us with questions if you are suffering from a medical condition that has left you unable to work.

3 Reasons to Hire an Attorney for Your Social Security Disability Claim

by Staff | June 16th, 2014

Going through the steps to receive Social Security Disability benefits can be difficult for disabled Americans. One of the best ways to make this process easier is to hire an attorney to help you. That’s why the team of Social Security Disability Lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin would like to point out a few of the ways an attorney can help you with your claim.

    1. Attorneys Have Answers– The laws that regulate the Social Security Disability system are extremely complicated, which is why the Social Security Administration allows each person pursuing a claim to have legal representation. Having a lawyer by your side ensures you have someone who can answer any questions you may have at any time.
    2. Attorneys Know The Deadlines– When applying for benefits, there are certain time frames for paperwork to be completed. A lawyer will be able to help you keep track of these dates and complete documentation for your case in a timely manner.
    3. Attorneys Can Navigate The System– As many as 60 percent of all initial claims are denied—but a lawyer can help you file a claim with the best possible chances of getting approved. And if you’re denied, a lawyer can help you appeal the decision.

      If you need help with your Social Security Disability claim, we are here to help. Call us anytime at (866) 684-7216 to talk about your needs.

      Seniors Will Get Cost-of-Living Adjustment from Social Security in 2010: Report

      by Staff | October 18th, 2011

      Senior citizens should enjoy a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) from the Social Security Administration in January, according to Massachusetts nonprofit group American Institute for Economic Research (AIER). This will be the first time in two years that benefits recipients will get a COLA, which is designed to ensure that the agency’s benefits account for inflation.

      The Christian Science Monitor reports that prior to this two-year impasse on COLA, the rate had increased for beneficiaries every year since 1975. The Great Recession, however, lowered consumer prices so that COLA couldn’t increase.

      “It’s important to remember that the typical older American today lives on an income of roughly $20,000, and Social Security keeps nearly a third of older Americans out of poverty,” said Tiffany Lundquist, spokeswoman for the AARP. “After two years with no COLA and increasing costs for food, utilities and health care, every dollar of the modest average benefit of $14,000 is critical.”

      AIER estimates that the COLA will be somewhere between 3.5 and 3.7 percent. The exact adjustment is expected to be announced on Wednesday or soon thereafter when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics issues its Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for September 2011.

      “The COLA index is based on average price of goods and services as consumed by workers, not by retired people,” AUER research fellow Polina Vlasenko told The Christian Science Monitor. “Retirees tend to spend more on health-care and goods and services, and those prices increase faster than the national average. So COLA may not fully compensate for what that they spend their money on. The index isn’t ideal for retired persons, but it is what it is.”

      Read more.

      Do you think the Social Security Administration’s COLA adjustment is high enough?

      If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

      Disabled Veteran Fights for Benefits Denied Over Same-Sex Marriage

      by Staff | October 14th, 2011

      A disabled veteran from Connecticut is challenging the constitutionality of two federal laws defining marriage as being between opposite-sex partners after she was denied veterans benefits. The New York Times reports that experts are calling it the first case of its kind, wherein a plaintiff tries to use the veterans court of appeals to assail the Defense of Marriage Act.

      The woman, who is a former sailor, married her partner last year, but when she applied for an increase in her monthly disability compensation she was denied because she is married to a person of the same sex.

      The woman’s lawyers filed their notice Thursday before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in Washington, where her legal team is expected to argue that the government’s definition of marriage violates her Fifth Amendment right to due process. It’s also set to taken on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

      “These challenges are bubbling up all over the place,” said Michael Allen, a professor of constitutional and veterans law at Stetson University College of Law in Florida. “With the recognition of same-sex marriage in New York, a big state, you’ll see this more frequently.”

      If the veteran loses her appeal, she may take her case to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and then on to the Supreme Court.

      Read more.

      What’s your take on veterans disability benefits for those in same-sex marriages?

      If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

      NYC Disability Advocates File Lawsuit to Fight for Taxi Accessibility

      by Staff | October 13th, 2011

      To say that New York City resident Christopher Noel has a hard time hailing a cab is an understatement. Of 13,000 taxicabs in the Big Apple, only two percent — about 230 cabs — are accessible to Noel, who uses a wheelchair.

      “How many of [wheelchair-ready cabs] are being used at the moment?” asked Noel in a report from NY1.com. “And when will I see the next one that’s coming by that’s fully accessible? If we had a fully accessible fleet, no one would have that problem.”

      Noel is a plaintiff in a lawsuit that states that New York City is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

      Officials have previously contended that cabs are exempt from the act because a planned dispatch service will become available to disabled persons in March.

      Today, the Department of Justice filed papers backing Noel’s lawsuit.

      Disability activists are winning other advocates, too, including Chris Lynn, who is former chairman of the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Lynn believes that every cab needs to be available to those in wheelchairs.

      “That’s my experience, being taxi commissioner,” said Lynn. “You do it all or nothing, or it’s not going to work, and it’s in the best interest of the city. It’s the honorable thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the economically feasible thing to do.”

      Do you think all New York City taxicabs should be accessible to those in wheelchairs?

      If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

      Social Security Myths, Busted

      by Staff | October 10th, 2011

      In a thought-provoking new piece from Forbes, Certified Financial Planner Jim Blankenship takes on Social Security — admitting its qualms but urging that it be protected and updated.

      “Much has been written about the ills of our Social Security system as it stands today,” says Blankenship. “There has been considerable banter about how the system is a Ponzi scheme (it’s not), how it will go bankrupt soon (it can’t), and how we’ve got to do something about it soon (we do) like abolishing it completely (we can’t).”

      Blankenship dismisses the notion that the entitlement program is akin to a “Ponzi scheme” — a comparison that Texas Gov. Rick Perry made in his campaign book Fed Up! — reminding us that the Social Security program isn’t a savings plan but an insurance plan. This means that Americans pay far more into it over their lifetimes than they should ever expect to receive back from it.

      “Like it or not, that’s what we’ve put in place, and that fact is not likely to change,” Blankenship writes.

      Likewise, Blankenship dismisses chatter about Social Security going bankrupt, saying that with new money constantly coming in there’s no chance that the system can go bankrupt, even though amounts paid to new recipients may need to be adjusted in the future.

      “We’ve got to do something to repair the system, but abolishing it isn’t the answer — it’s not even among the viable answers,” says Blankenship.

      Can you think of some other common Social Security myths?

      If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

      Why Disabled Americans Face Fewer Jobs

      by Staff | October 7th, 2011

      Fewer disabled people in America are finding work, and more of them are collecting Social Security Disability benefits—so that officials now say that the trust fund for Social Security Disability Insurance may be exhausted by 2018.

      MarketWatch.com reports, “In 2010, about 8.2 million people received disabled worker benefits, up 5.3% from the prior year. Add in spouses and kids, among other recipients, and beneficiaries hit almost 11.3 million 2010, up 4.8% from the prior year. The program’s recipients have more than doubled since 1980.”

      Author Mary Daly, who co-wrote The Declining Work and Welfare of People with Disabilities, What Went Wrong and a Strategy for Change, told MarketWatch that she attributes this trend to easier-to-qualify-for benefits and inadequate incentives for firms to invest in worker rehabilitation and accommodation.

      In addition to problems already presented by the Great Recession, Daly explains the increase in SSDI beneficiaries like this: “Over the past 30 years there has been an easing in disability eligibility standards. Now the typical person coming onto the [disability insurance] rolls either has back problems or mental illnesses.

      “This is alarming because these are the two conditions that are the most difficult to medically determine. This suggests that we are leaving more of the decision for admittance or rejection to the discretion of Social Security gatekeepers. Rather than an epidemic of mental disorders and back pain, this shift is more likely due to an explicit loosing of standards in the case of mental illness and to a relaxation by gatekeepers in their interpretation of standards in both cases. This has lead to a substantial number of people coming onto the DI rolls who would not have done so 30 years ago and more importantly they would have worked, if they hadn’t been admitted.”

      Read more.

      If you’re a disabled American, have you had trouble finding a job?

      If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

      What Are the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowances?

      by Staff | October 3rd, 2011

      Did you know that there are 100 diseases and medical conditions that may qualify you or a loved one to receive Social Security disability benefits more quickly than other applicants–without having to go through the often-taxing and long-lasting application process?

      It’s true.

      Per the agency: “Compassionate Allowances (CAL) are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate Allowances allow Social Security to quickly target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical information that we can obtain quickly.”

      The agency calls these conditions its ‘Compassionate Allowances Conditions’ and introduced them in December 2007. As recently as July, it added 12 new conditions to its Compassionate Allowances List (CAL). Each of the new listings pertains to a specific cardiovascular condition.

      “We have an obligation to award benefits quickly to people whose medical conditions are so serious they clearly meet our disability standards,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “We are now able to do precisely that for 100 severe conditions. By definition, these illnesses are so severe that we don’t need to fully develop the applicant’s work history to make a decision. As a result, Social Security has eliminated this part of the application process for people who have a condition on the list, and we can award benefits much more quickly.”

      View the complete list of Compassionate Allowances conditions here.

      Read more.

      Which conditions do you think are missing from the Social Security Administration’s list of compassionate allowances? Are there any conditions that you think don’t belong on the list ?

      If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

      More and More Employers Shrug Off Disability Insurance Costs

      by Staff | September 21st, 2011

      Hope for the best, prepare for the worst; isn’t that how the saying goes? Too few Americans are “preparing for the worst” when it comes to disability insurance, points out a new Washington Post article.

      That’s because few people anticipate relying on disability insurance; thus it’s often taken for granted when employers foot the bill for it. Likewise, disability insurance is often barely missed when employers withdraw it from company benefits packages. That is, until you need it, and when you need it, you’re likely to need it badly—and quickly and for prolonged periods of time.

      An increasing number of employers are now shirking off disability insurance costs, slyly putting these crucial—but too often overlooked—benefits in the hands of employees, reports The Washington Post.

      The Post reports: “According to the Social Security Administration, a 20-year-old has about a 30 percent chance of becoming disabled by the time he retires. Although many people assume that accidents are the most common reason for a disability insurance claim, illness accounts for 90 percent of all claims, says Barry Lundquist, president of the Council for Disability Awareness, a nonprofit education group funded by the disability insurance industry. The top reasons for new claims last year, according to the organization’s annual claim, were musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis or back problems, followed by cancer. A typical disability insurance claim lasts about 2.5 years, according to research compiled by CDA.”

      Read more.

      What is your opinion of disability insurance in the United States?

      If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

      How to Prepare Your Disabled Children for Your Death

      by Staff | September 9th, 2011

      Aging parents of disabled children are right to be concerned about how their child will be taken care of once they’ve died. And because a reported 12 percent of the American population has either a severe mental or physical disability, these parents are not alone with their worries. A new story from The Wall Street Journal suggests a number of ways that parents can prepare their children financially for their passing.

      “Strapped state and local governments are tightening income restrictions for medical benefits and supportive services, which are typically paid for by Social Security and Medicaid,” says the WSJ. Those services are tough to find—or afford—in the private sector for many adults with disabilities so severe that they can’t live alone, parents and advocates say.”

      The WSJ points to longterm solutions to problems that families face with regard to housing, long-term care, and inheritance for their disabled heir. For instance, the news source highlights a growing trend of two or more families pooling their resources and placing their two disabled relatives in a home together.

      Do you think that there needs to be more resources to help parents of disabled persons?

      If you need help with your Social Security Disability payments, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.