How long does it take for a veteran’s claim to be processed? (Video)

Transcript:

A veteran’s claim process is very back-logged. Some of the claims can take years to process through the appeals process. I recently settled a claim that had been pending for five years. This is an unacceptable situation and should be addressed by congress.

How long does a long term disability claim take to be processed? (Video)

Transcript:

A long term disability claim can be processed either in a short time or it could take one or two years. The reason is if the claim is allowed at the initial application stage, or perhaps at the administrative appeals stage, then the amount of time is a matter of months. However, if the claim was denied at the administrative appeals stage, then the claim has to be taken to court. We have to wait on the court’s docket at that point in time, so it could take a year or even more to process the claim all the way through court.

How much money can I expect to receive if my claim is approved? (Video)

Transcript:

The amount of the benefit depends on the salary. Typically, the benefit is a percentage of the salary, for example, 60% (I’ve seen some policies which allow for 70% of the salary). It’s always some percentage of the salary. It continues during the entire period of disability up to a certain age. Typically, the age that the benefit terminates is 65. Sometimes the benefit continues until what’s called “the Social Security retirement age,” which could be more than 65, 66, or even 67 years-of-age.

How Federal Debts May Affect Your SSD Paycheck

Now that you’ve gone through the Social Security disability process and started receiving your monthly benefits, you are free to use the money however you’d like. In most cases, the payments are deposited into your bank account, put onto a prepaid card, or sent to your home by check.

How Federal Debts Affect Your SSD Paycheck | Houston SSD Attorney

Under federal law, creditors cannot garnish or freeze this money from your bank account or prepaid card, but there are some important exceptions that you need to be aware of. For instance, your SSD paycheck might not be protected from federal debts, such as unpaid taxes and some federal student loans. If your SSD paychecks have been frozen, garnished, reduced, or simply touched by an outside creditor, including the federal government, you should consult an experienced SSD attorney right here in Houston.

By calling Herren Law, we’ll look over your situation and determine if you have any legal options. For a free, no-obligation consultation with our Houston-based firm, call us today at (800) 529-7707.

Protections for Social Security Disability Benefits

As mentioned above, creditors cannot garnish your Social Security disability benefits. This is true even after a creditor sues you for the debt and wins the court order for your bank or credit union to turn over money from your account or prepaid card. In fact, the U.S. Department of Treasury requires banks to automatically protect some of your federal benefits from being frozen or garnished.

In general, the benefits that your bank automatically protects include:

  • Social Security
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Veterans
  • Federal Railroad retirement, unemployment, and sickness
  • Civil Service Retirement System
  • Federal Employee Retirement System

By having your Social Security benefits automatically deposited into your bank account, the bank is required to protect at least two months of benefits. For instance, if you receive $1,000 in monthly benefits, then the bank protects up to $2,000 or, if you have less than that, the bank will protect the money remaining in your account.

If your account has more than two months of benefits in your account, your bank may be able to freeze or garnish the wages under a court order. However, if that extra garnished money is exempt as Social Security disability benefits, you can object to the garnishment in courts to have your funds released.

Protections on Prepaid Cards

If you use a prepaid card to receive federal benefits, whether SSD benefits, SSI benefits, and VA disability benefits, the benefits you receive are also protected similar to how banks protect your benefits.

Exceptions to Automatic Protections

There are some exceptions to the automatic protections for federal benefits deposited in your bank account or prepaid card. According to Section 207 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 407), your Social Security benefits are protected from any creditors except for the federal government when the following apply:

  • You owe unpaid federal taxes. In this example, and according to the Federal Payment Levy Program (FPLP), the IRS can take 15 percent of your monthly Social Security disability insurance payments to pay for unpaid federal taxes.
    • Keep in mind that the IRS cannot simply take 15 percent of your benefits. First, the IRS will send you a final notice which states that you have 30 days to pay your tax or work out a payment agreement. Once these 30 days pass, the IRS can usually begin withholding this money until the debts are paid.
  • You have unpaid child support or alimony. Up to 60 percent of your SSD benefits can be withheld for unpaid child support or alimony.
    • If you have another child or spouse that you support, federal agencies can only withhold 50 percent of your SSD benefits.
    • If your payments are more than 12 weeks late, federal agencies can reduce your SSD benefits by 5 percent until the support or alimony is paid, unless you can prove that this would cause undue hardship.
  • You have non-tax debts owed to the federal government. The most common non-tax debts owed to the government are federally guaranteed student loans, but this can also include food stamp overpayments and federal mortgage loans.

What to Do If Your Bank Account is Garnished or Frozen

Before creditors freeze or garnish any money in your bank account, you’ll first receive a notice of garnishment explaining the court procedures for claiming any exceptions from garnishment. Due to the automatic protections with having your SSD benefits directly deposited into your bank account, or onto a prepaid card, you’ll have at least two months of SSD benefits protected. However, if you receive your SSD benefits as a check and deposit the money into the account, or if you transfer the money from one account to another, then your bank might not see that the deposited money is from a federal source and won’t be able to protect it.

If you have a legitimate objection to the garnishment, you can file an MC-49 (Objections to Garnishment) form with your local court. On this form, you can explain your objections to the garnishment of your assets on legal grounds.

Call Herren Law for a Free Consultation

Under certain and specific circumstances, the federal government can reduce your Social Security disability benefits. However, if creditors have garnished your SSD benefits, then you need to consult an experienced Houston SSD attorney. At Herren Law, we’ve helped many people throughout Houston with their SSD benefits, from providing legal counsel for the application process to protecting your wages from garnishment. For a free consultation with attorney Bill Herren, call us today at (713) 682-8194.

What are the steps involved in filing a long term disability claim? (Video)

Transcript:

The long term disability claim should first be filed with the insurance company. They will process the claim and make their, what they call the initial determination. At that point, if the claim is denied the insurance company is allowed under the ERISA Statue to review the claim at least one time, but not more than twice. They have 45 days to review the claim once the appeal is final. The individual only has 6 months, or 180 days, to file the appeal. Folks that are applying for long term disability should be well aware of the appeal period. If one misses that appeal period, then the claim will never be revised.

How can a veteran pay his medical bills while the claim is being processed? (Video)

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Well that’s a very good question. Many veterans are eligible for medical care even if they aren’t eligible for cash awards. I want veterans to remember that they might also have a claim for Social Security disability. If the veteran is unable to work and has Social Security credits, then he should think about applying for Social Security disability as well as for his veteran benefits.

Why is it so difficult for a veteran to obtain the benefits that he or she deserves? (Video)

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There are numerous reasons for that. First of all, there’s the back log; secondly, there’s incompetence within the Veteran’s Administration; there’s resistance to change; there is an antiquated filing system in place; and on and on. There are numerous reasons for that. The best advice for veterans is to be very patient.

Military Sexual Trauma, PTSD, and Your Houston VA Disability Benefits Case

Unfortunately, sexual assault does occur in the military, and according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), sexual assault is classified as military sexual traumas (MST). Furthermore, according to Title 38 U.S. Code 1720D, MST is a “psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.”

Military Sexual Trauma, PTSD, and Your Houston VA Benefits Case

National data suggests that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 100 men experience sexual trauma while serving in the military, and although PTSD is commonly associated with military sexual trauma (MST), it is not the only diagnosis that can result from MST. As such, if you are a U.S. Veteran living in Houston or the Houston area, and you want to receive your rightfully owned VA disability benefits due to MST or PTSD, then it’s critical to contact a Houston VA disability benefits attorney as soon as possible.

At Herren Law in Houston, we’ve helped numerous Veterans with their VA applications, appeals, and other issues regarding disability benefits. For representation with one of the leading VA benefits attorneys in Houston, make sure to call Herren Law today at (800) 529-7707. We work on a contingency basis, and initial consultations are always free.

Overview of Military Sexual Trauma and PTSD

First of all, it’s essential to note that military sexual trauma is not a medical diagnosis. Because MST is a traumatic event, there are multiple reactions that a person can have. PTSD may be the most common diagnosis associated with MST, but other diagnoses often include depression, mood disorders, and substance abuse disorders.

Keep in mind that not every individual will have the same reaction. Some reactions to military sexual trauma can include:

  • Strong emotions, including depression, sudden and emotional responses to things, and feeling angry or irritated all of the time
  • Numb feelings, where you feel emotionally flat or have difficulties experiencing emotions such as happiness or love
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Difficulties with attention, memory, and concentration
  • Problems with alcohol or drugs
  • Difficulties with things that may remind the Veteran of the traumatic sexual experience
  • Difficulties with relationships, such as feeling disconnected or isolated from others
  • Physical health problems

Military Sexual Trauma and the VA

Military sexual trauma is a very serious issue, and, fortunately, the VA has responded to MST claims and every VA health care facility has a designated MST Coordinator. The MST Coordinator often acts as the contact person for any MST-related issues, and the Coordinator can help you find and access various VA services and programs. Additionally, because MST is massively underreported (due to stigma and other reasons), VA health care providers often must ask a Veteran if he/she experienced military sexual trauma. For more information on MST Coordinators, and finding these individuals near, please refer to the VA’s official list of Military Sexual Trauma Coordinators.

When applying for disability compensation with the VA, you won’t receive compensation for MST itself, but for the conditions that resulted from the MST.

Evidence to Support a Military Sexual Trauma Claim

No matter the severity of your traumatizing event, the VA still requires documentation and evidence to validate your claim and provide regular VA disability benefits. Some common and effective pieces of evidence come from the Department of Defense forms used to report incidents of sexual assault or harassment, as well as investigative reports, while you were in the military. However, because sexual trauma isn’t often reported, the VA has “relaxed the evidentiary requirements and looks for ‘markers’ (i.e., signs, events, or circumstances) that provide some indication that the traumatic event happened.”

This evidence can include:

  • Records from law enforcement agencies, rape crisis centers, hospitals, mental health counseling centers, and others
  • Pregnancy tests or test results for STDs
  • Statements from family members, fellow Servicemembers and Veterans, counselors, clergy members, and others
  • Requests for transfer while the Veteran was in the military (reasonably attributed to the sexual trauma, assault, or harassment)
  • Deterioration in work performance
  • Substance abuse
  • Unexplained economic or social behavior
  • Relationship issues
  • Sexual dysfunction

Due to the evidentiary requirements, it’s absolutely critical to document as much as you can. Furthermore, it’s important to note that increases in MST awareness led the VA to offer special training for all VA regional office personnel who process MST-related claims and the mental health clinicians conducting the examinations related to these claims. This occurred in 2011, and if your past MST claim with the VA was denied before this date, you can request a re-evaluation from your local VA regional office.

For a Free Consultation, Call Herren Law in Houston Today

Military sexual trauma is a very serious incident that can have lifelong consequences for the victim. As such, if you were the victim of MST, sexual assault, or sexual harassment while you were in active service with the military, and you are continuing to suffer, make sure to not hesitate any longer and call Houston VA disability attorney William Herren today. We work on a contingency basis, meaning that you won’t pay a cent unless we win your case. Initial consultations are also free, so call Herren Law in Houston at (800) 529-7707 or (713) 682-8194 today.

How much will it cost to hire an attorney to help with a benefits claim? (Video)

Transcript:

The legal fees for veteran’s claims are almost always done on the contingent fee basis and they are regulated. The veteran does not have to worry about paying fees up front. His fees come out of the award he’s given after all of the appeals are processed.

Do I Qualify for VA Disability Backpay?

When applying for VA disability benefits in Houston, there is one thing you can certainly expect: waiting, and possibly waiting for quite some time for the Houston VA offices to make their decision. The VA is aware of this, and to make up for the time between the VA’s decision and your date of eligibility, the VA has instituted VA disability back pay.

Do I Qualify for VA Disability Backpay? | Houston VA Attorney Herren Law

If you have a service-connected disability and you’re applying to the Veterans Affairs for disability benefits, then it’s important to understand backpay and how it affects your claim. More importantly, you need to get a Houston attorney specializing in VA disability benefits. At Herren Law, we work on a contingency basis, meaning that you won’t owe a penny until you get your benefits. And after years of helping Veterans just like you, attorney William Herren understands what you’re going through and will work with you as well as the VA to get you the benefits you deserve.

Call our Houston law office today at (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. In the meantime, you can learn more about VA disability benefits below.

Eligibility for VA Disability Backpay

If you are awarded disability benefits from the VA due to your service-connected injury, then you are eligible for retroactive benefits. If awarded benefits, however, the problem that many Veterans face is the amount of back pay they are entitled to. By understanding the relevant federal laws and the Houston VA disability process, you can make sure that the VA is providing a fair and full amount. To do this, the first aspect of VA disability benefits that you need to know is the “effective date.”

The Effective Date of Your VA Disability Benefits Claim

The “effective date” of your claim is the moment the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has received your application for disability benefits. When you finally receive disability benefits, which can sometimes be months, or even years, after the VA receives your application, you will receive disability benefits dating back to that effective date (starting the first of the month after the effective date). For instance, if the VA receives your application on March 3rd, 2015, and you’re awarded benefits in February 2017, then your benefits will be considered from May 1st, 2015 and onward.

This is true for most new claims as well as claims to increase the rating of a pre-existing, service-connected disability. However, there is some conflict regarding what actually constitutes a claim, including what specific documentation you need to include in your claim. Generally, the VA states that a valid claim is VA Form 21-526, citing 38 USC §5101(a). However, there are many types of communications which may qualify as “a claim,” outside of the VA Form 21-526. Also, if the VA receives an informal claim, it must send out VA Form 21-526. The veteran needs to return the Form 21-526 within a year, and if so, the date the VA received the informal claim will be the effective date.

There are also exceptions to these rules, and so, regardless of your situation, it can help to speak with your attorney.

Effective Dates for Direct Service Connections

When you were injured in the military or a pre-existing injury was made worse, then you have a direct service connection. If this is your case, your effective date can be:

  • The date the VA receives your claim, or
  • The date you first got your illness or injury

If the VA receives your claim within one year of the day that you left your military service, then the effective date can be as early as the separation date. For instance, you finished your service on August 4th, 2014, and you had a disability. You apply for benefits within a year on June 10th, 2016. The VA awards 40% disability and, because the VA received the claim within a year of service, the VA sets an effective date at September 1st, 2014.

Effective Dates for Presumptive Service Connections

When you are awarded disability benefits for a presumptive service connection, and the VA receives your claim within one year of your separation from the military, then your effective date may be the date that your first got your illness or injury. Otherwise, if you file a claim after one year of your separation from the military, then your effective date is typically the date the VA receives your claim.

Call Herren Law Today for a Free Consultation

It is important to note that there are many nuances to this law, whereas the effective date can also depend on liberalizing law changes, reopened claims, and with claims based on a Veteran’s death in service. As such, to navigate these complex issues and speak to an expert who will fight for fair and maximum disability back pay, then call Houston VA disability attorney Herren Law at (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. Evening appointments are available.