A Guide to Hiring a Disability Lawyer
One of the most significant – but least thought of- threats to a person’s financial security is suffering a disabling condition and being unable to earn a paycheck. While we all know people who have experienced this, we tend to think it won’t ever happen to us. But the truth is approximately 8 million adults currently have a disability that prevents them from working and more than 375,000 Americans become totally disabled every year.
The consequences of a disability that prevents you from working are considerable: How long could you continue to pay your monthly expenses without a paycheck? How long could you keep your house? It has been estimated that 46% of all foreclosures on conventional mortgages are caused by a disability. Most people that stop working are forced to dip into savings within a few months, which can have a devastating long-term financial impact. Think of it this way: If you have saved 10 percent of your income each year prior to becoming disabled, one year of being totally disabled could wipe out 8 – 10 years of savings (depending on how much you could scale-back your monthly living expenses). Second only to getting medical treatment for the illness or injury that is keeping you from working, the next most important thing you can do is to secure some form of replacement income.
One option available to most Americans who have worked is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This is a public disability insurance program funded by FICA withholdings from workers’ paychecks and administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It pays a monthly benefit if you become totally disabled and aren’t able to work prior to reaching retirement age.
You qualify for SSDI benefits by earning Social Security “work credits” when you work in a job and pay Social Security (FICA) taxes. In 2020, you receive one work credit for each $1,410 of earnings, up to the maximum of four credits per year. Each year the amount of earnings needed for a work credit goes up slightly as average earnings levels increase. In general terms, you must have worked 5 out of the last 10 years to be eligible. However, for younger workers the number of work credits needed to qualify is reduced because of their shorter earnings history.
If you haven’t worked long enough when you become disabled to be eligible for SSDI benefits, and have low income and few assets, you can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead. This is a needs-based program that provides a smaller monthly benefit and entitlement to Medicaid.
In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must also have a medical condition(s) that meets the SSA’s definition of disability. SSDI benefits are eligible only to those with a severe, long-term, and total disability.
Severe means that your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities. Long-term means that your condition has lasted, or is expected to last, at least one year or result in death. Total disability, to the SSA, means that you aren’t able to perform “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) for at least one year. If you are currently working and make over $1,260 per month in 2020 for disabled applicants, the SSA will find that you’re performing SGA and that you are not disabled enough to qualify for SSDI benefits.
Unfortunately, obtaining SSDI benefits is a complex and frustrating process that can last anywhere from a few months to several years. The Initial Application requires a claimant to complete detailed questions about his or her last 15 years of work history, medical conditions that are preventing full-time work, treatment providers and dates of service, and what the person’s capacity for work is in spite of the disabling conditions. This Initial Application and supporting documents are often more than 30 pages long. It takes SSA an average of nine months to make a decision and more than 75% of Initial Applications are denied!
There are multiple levels of appeal, including filing a Request for Reconsideration of the initial denial (which takes another 6 months on average) and attending a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (an additional 14 months on average). Each level of appeal is increasingly time-consuming and technically challenging.
Claimants can file for benefits on their own, either by calling SSA’s national toll-free number, going down to a local SSA office or filing online at ssa.gov. Or they can hire an attorney or non-attorney advocate to represent them. In fact, a 2017 study on disability conducted by the Martindale-Nolo, a legal publishing firm, found that having professional representation by a qualified attorney nearly doubles a person’s chances of winning SSDI benefits and makes the process much less stressful.
How to Choose an Attorney
So how do you choose an attorney to represent you in your quest for SSDI benefits? According to Victor Arruda, managing partner at Social Security Law Group, a 25-year old firm that has helped more than 55,000 people across the country obtain SSDI benefits, “It boils down to Specialization, Experience and Credentials.”
While an attorney that handles personal injury and workers’ compensation claims in addition to SSDI cases may be a competent lawyer, he or she probably hasn’t developed the focused-expertise of someone who specializes in only SSDI. Says Atty. Arruda, “Social Security is a unique and highly-specialized area of law. To really understand all the procedures, regulations and case law that apply, and to use that insight to your client’s advantage, requires years of study and real-world practice.”
You want to select a lawyer who has assisted dozens, if not hundreds, of claimants with getting SSDI benefits over several years. “There’s a reason they call it ‘practicing’ law. Learning the finer points of any legal specialty takes time and practice,” according to Mr. Arruda. “After doing this for over 25 years, I know a whole lot more about the nuances of getting someone awarded SSDI than I did when I first began practicing law.”
You also want to choose someone who is properly credentialed. Look for someone who is a member in good standing of the legal bar. Check to see if they have any complaints against them filed with the legal bar or the Better Business Bureau. And look for membership in the SSDI legal specialty’s organizations of choice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives or the National Association of Disability Representatives. “If an attorney isn’t a member of at least one of these organizations, I’d have concerns. They provide on-going education specific to Social Security representation, establish best practices, and try to ensure the highest standards of conduct among their members,” says Atty. Arruda.
Shielding Lives and Assets – Fire Watch Protections in America
Fire safety is a matter of utmost importance in the United States. Fire watch protection is an invaluable service that can prevent and mitigate fires from escalating, saving lives and assets. Fire watch protection involves a guard actively patrolling a property to detect and prevent potential fire hazards before they become an issue. This article will provide an overview of fire watch protections in America, focusing on the services available, the role of firefighters, and the benefits of fire watch services.
Fire Watch Protections
Fire watch protections are crucial for safeguarding lives and assets in America. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) mandates that every commercial building should have a functional fire alarm system, an automatic sprinkler system, and fire extinguishers. However, there are times when these safety measures fail or get damaged due to construction work or maintenance activities. In such cases, temporary fire watch protections become necessary.
Temporary fire watch protections require trained personnel to monitor the building’s premises 24/7 until the primary safety systems are fully operational again. This is particularly important for high-rise buildings where the evacuation process takes time and may pose a challenge during emergencies. Moreover, the presence of trained personnel on-site ensures that any potential hazards can be identified early on and dealt with before they escalate.
In conclusion, implementing proper fire watch protections is essential in ensuring the safety of people and property in America. It not only complies with NFPA standards but also provides peace of mind to building owners, managers, employees, and visitors alike knowing that there are efficient emergency response plans in place if an unfortunate situation arises.
The Need for Fire Watch Services
Fire watch services are becoming increasingly important to protect lives and assets in America. When businesses or buildings are undergoing construction or repairs, the fire sprinkler systems may be temporarily out of order, leaving the building vulnerable to fire damage. Fire watch services provide a temporary solution by employing trained personnel who remain on site to detect and prevent fires.
In addition to construction sites, fire watch services are also necessary for buildings that have experienced power outages or other malfunctions that could disable their fire safety systems. Fires can occur at any time and without warning, so it is vital to have someone on hand who can quickly respond and alert authorities if necessary.
Overall, investing in fire watch services is a small price to pay compared to the potential cost of property damage or loss of life caused by a preventable fire. With proper planning and implementation of these preventative measures, businesses and individuals can rest easy knowing they are doing everything possible to keep themselves and others safe from harm.
Safety Regulations & Standards
Fire watch is a critical fire protection service that ensures the safety of lives and assets in America. One of the primary reasons why fire watch services are essential is because they help detect fire hazards before they cause significant damage. During a fire watch, trained personnel patrol designated areas to identify potential risks and address them promptly. This process involves inspecting electrical equipment, flammable materials, and other potential sources of ignition.
To ensure adequate protection for lives and property during a fire watch operation, it’s essential to adhere to specific safety regulations and standards. These regulations provide guidelines on how to conduct fire watches effectively while minimizing risks associated with firefighting activities. For instance, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has established standard 1910.157 that outlines requirements for portable firefighting equipment accessibility in workplaces.
In conclusion, adhering to safety regulations and standards during a fire watch operation can significantly enhance the efficiency of firefighting efforts while reducing the risk of injury or loss of life. It’s crucial to work with certified professionals who understand these guidelines so that you can be confident in their ability to protect your assets effectively.
Potential Challenges & Solutions
One of the major challenges faced by fire watch protection companies in America is the high demand for their services during peak seasons. During these periods, there is often a shortage of skilled professionals to carry out necessary tasks like monitoring alarm systems, patrolling buildings, and maintaining firefighting equipment. This often results in delays and gaps in coverage which can be detrimental to businesses and property owners. To mitigate this challenge, fire watch protection companies can invest in training programs for their staff or partner with recruitment firms to ensure they have access to a pool of qualified personnel.
Another potential challenge for fire watch protection firms is the issue of compliance with regulations set by local and federal authorities. These regulations often require that certain standards are met regarding equipment maintenance, emergency response plans, and employee training. Failure to comply with these regulations could lead to fines or legal repercussions that could harm the reputation and financial stability of the company. To overcome this challenge, fire watch protection firms need to stay up-to-date on changes in regulations through continuous education and collaboration with industry associations such as The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Additionally, they should invest resources into ensuring that their policies and procedures align with regulatory requirements.
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