Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation in Houston, TX

Confused about Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation? If you’ve become disabled, it’s important to know the difference, because the application processes and outcomes are different.

Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation in Houston, TX

Workers’ Compensation

This is a public insurance funded by employers and includes both medical treatment for on-the-job injuries and/or illness, and partial payment for lost wages. Injured employees can heal away from work, and be paid for their temporary disability. Should an employee discovered that he or she is permanently disabled, permanent benefits are paid. If an employee’s death occurs, benefits can be paid to the survivors.

Texas calculates an employee’s Average Weekly Wage (AWW) as the amount of wages they receive during the period 13 weeks prior to the work-related injury/illness, and uses it to determine the amount of WC benefit payments. The maximum benefit will not exceed that amount, and will vary depending on the type of injury (temporary, longer-term, or life benefits.)

In Texas, employers may offer WC coverage for employees who become injured on the job, but they can opt-out of the state’s plan and offer their own private coverage (self-insure.) If your employer does carry the state of Texas WC, and you apply for Social Security Disability, there may be some overlap. Should you receive both at the same time, you may see a decrease in one or the other.

Social Security Disability

This federally funded program pays you based on your average monthly lifetime earnings, not to exceed 80% of your previous average monthly earnings.  SSD pays you benefits if you are unable to work due to a medical condition that will last a year, or is terminal.

You can complete your SSD application online, by phone or in person by appointment at your local Social Security office. However, you may not receive benefits right away. The Social Security Administration examines your case and makes a determination based on your application. Therefore, it’s important to completely fill out your application and have all of your important information handy when you do. This information includes your name, date/place of birth, Social Security number, the same information on your spouse or former spouse(s), any minor children, earnings, and other pertinent information. (A complete listing of required information is available on the Social Security Administration’s website.)

Possible Offsets

If you are receiving Workers’ Compensation and apply for Social Security Disability, you may receive a smaller amount of SSD than if you would if you did not receive Worker’s Compensation. Social Security calculates the amount that you would receive monthly, and you’ll only receive the difference between your WC payments and the SSD amount. Your total payments cannot exceed 80% of your average monthly income when you were working.

For instance, if you made $3,500 a month while you were employed, your total disability income would be $2,800 per month. If you are receiving disability payments of $1,800 from Workers’ Compensation, then your monthly SSD payment would be $1,000. If you are no longer receiving Workers’ Compensation, then your SSD payment would be the full $3,500 per month.

Both Social Security Disability and Workers Compensation are publicly funded programs, as are others (i.e., civil service disability benefits.) Therefore, disability payments from private sources, like pensions or insurance benefits, don’t affect your Social Security disability benefits. VA benefits, state and local benefits and SSI also do not impact Social Security benefits.

In Texas, offsets to WC aren’t allowed for SSA retirement benefits, and lump-sum payments aren’t usually authorized, except for accrued benefits that haven’t been paid yet.

Need Help? Call Us

If you’ve submitted applications and are denied benefits, don’t give up. The Herren Law Firm has helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the help they need dealing with Social Security and Workers’ Compensation cases. Call us today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t have to pay any fees until we win your case.

Do My Long Term Disability Payments Affect My Social Security Payments?

The short answer: Yes.

It’s called an “offset.” Payments from a long-term disability policy can (and very likely will) be reduced by the amount you receive from Social Security. This is true whether you receive SSI or SSDI. The Herren Law Firm understands the process and can help you manage your claim and get you the benefits you deserve.

Do My Long Term Disability Payments Affect My Social Security Payments?

What’s The Difference Between Disability Payments And Social Security Payments?

Long-term disability is private insurance that you either purchase yourself or receive as a benefit through your employer. Disability payments provide income while you are disabled and are unable to work for a long time. Long-term disability provides a portion of your income (usually 50% to 65%, depending on the policy) while you are disabled. This insurance starts when short-term disability ends, usually after three to six months.

SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are government-funded programs that provide income when you are unable to work due to a disability. You pay into the system with the Social Security deductions from your paycheck.

What Is “Disabled?”

Generally, it means that you are unable to work at your regular job; “long term” is more than 30 or 120 days. You must be able to prove that you are medically and physically unable to work for an extended period of time. Your policy may specify that you must be unable to work the job you were in, or if you are unable to work any job, full or part time. Review your individual policy to find out about disability payments and more.

Disability criteria differs for insurance companies and Social Security, which is much more stringent. The Herren Law Firm can help you apply for Social Security benefits, and increase your chances of approval.

The Offset

When you file your Social Security claim, your benefit payments will take a very long time. However, the date your first file is your date of disability. Individuals frequently receive a lump sum for the period before their regular benefits begin, called a “backpay.” The insurance company may require you to refund some of the payments they previously paid to you using the backpay, to offset the monies already paid.

How It Works

Some long-term disability policies will require you to apply for Social Security when your insurance payments begin. Once it’s approved, your disability plan will pay you the difference between your Social Security payment and your policy payment. That is, if your policy payment is $2,000 a month, and Social Security is $1,500, your policy payment will change to $500 instead of the entire $2,000. The “offset” is the $1,500 per month that Social Security pays you, and your total income remains the same.

Backpay Is Taxable

Even if you are required to make a large, lump-sum payment to refund your insurance company, the IRS will also collect taxes on the lump sum. Many individuals are shocked to receive a tax bill for that amount, and may be unable to pay it. If you expect to receive a lump sum from Social Security, consider saving a small monthly amount from your disability payments to protect yourself against an unpleasant surprise later.

Long-Term Disability or Social Security? Or Both?

It depends on the insurance policy you have, and how long you may be disabled. Individually purchased disability insurance may allow both without offsets, whereas group or employer policies may have more restrictions. Some policies may require you to apply for Social Security once the insurance payments start.

Reading and understanding your individual policy is essential before starting and submitting a claim, so that you understand what you can expect, and if there is an offset once you receive your benefits.

The Herren Law Firm Is Ready To Help

Applying for Social Security for disability is a long process, and most claims are denied at the outset, requiring appeals. This is where you may need an attorney to handle your claim so you can start receiving benefits. If your insurance company is denying your claim, an attorney can step in and get the process moving again.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians just like you get the disability benefits they need. Call us today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our contingency fee arrangement means you only pay us if we win your case.

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.

How Much Will a Houston Social Security Disability Lawyer Charge?

Getting Social Security disability benefits is more than just filing paperwork; you’ll need to file a claim proving to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you should be getting benefits. While an attorney is not mandatory, whether to help you file the claim or represent an appeal at a hearing, getting an experienced and professional Social Security disability attorney in Houston can provide many benefits.

How Much Will a Houston Social Security Disability Lawyer Charge? | Herren Law

From making sure that you understand the SSA’s processes to having a leading attorney who’ll diligently fight for your benefits, Houston Social Security disability attorney William Herren will carefully listen to your case and, if we take you on as a client, we’ll work with you, one-on-one, until you’re able to receive your SSD benefits. In fact, all work is done on a contingency basis, and we don’t get paid unless we win your case. For a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your SSD claim, call Herren Law in Houston today at (713) 682-8194.

In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about how much a Social Security disability lawyer might charge.

What is a Contingency Fee Agreement

Social Security attorneys, including us at Herren Law in Houston, work “on contingency.” This means that we’ll only collect a fee if we win your disability claim. No matter if you are applying for SSDI benefits or SSI disability benefits, the fee for legal representation is regulated by the Social Security Administration and by Congress.

In essence, once you hire a Social Security disability attorney, you will sign a fee agreement that allows the Social Security Administration (SSA) to pay your attorney if your claim is approved. Therefore, if you and your SSD lawyer win your case, the SSA will pay your attorney (with money taken from your benefits) based on the specifics detailed in the fee agreement.

Fee Agreements and Fee Petitions

Remember, fees for Social Security disability attorneys are set by the government, and you do not pay attorney fees unless we recover compensation for you. By law, the Social Security disability fees are limited to 25% of the past-due benefits you are awarded, up to a maximum of $6,000. Whether before filing the claim or after getting benefits, your Social Security lawyer must submit the attorney fees and costs to the SSA for approval. When you choose an attorney, you may be asked to sign an SSA-1696 form, which designates the attorney as your chosen representative. You may also be asked to sign a medical release form and a fee agreement.

After the case, you don’t have to worry about paying the attorney, as in most cases, the SSA takes the entire lawyer’s fee (up to $6,000) from your first disability check before the agency sends the check to you.

How is Disability Backpay Calculated

The fees paid to the attorney come out of the applicant’s past-due benefits, also known as “backpay.” The SSA calculates the actual amount of backpay awarded after you are approved for benefits, and this backpay includes retroactive benefits owed from the date you were approved back to the month after you applied for benefits (for a maximum of 12 months back from the date of your application).

For instance, imagine the SSA calculates a backpay of $10,000. Now, remember, the maximum your attorney can receive is 25% up to $6,000. In this example, your attorney will be paid $2,500 and you will receive $7,500 of backpay.

It is important to also note that, during the course of representation, there may be some out-of-pocket costs. For example, to win your case, the attorney may need to acquire the claimant’s medical, school, work records, and occasionally medical or psychological examinations; these can be expensive. The client may have to pay these costs out-of-pocket (i.e., separate from the attorney’s fee), but it would be unusual in most instances for these costs to exceed two hundred dollars per case.

Contact SSD Attorney William Herren Today

When injured or suffering an illness that prevents you from working, the Social Security Administration’s disability benefits can be critical to keeping your bills paid and keeping your health maintained. As such, when considering disability benefits with the SSA, you can highly benefit from having an experienced and expert SSD and SSI attorney at your side. For a free, no-obligation consultation with attorney William Herren in Houston, call Herren Law today at (713) 682-8194.

What Are Social Security Disability Back Payments?

If there is one thing considered a constant when filing a Social Security disability claim, it’s that these claims take a very long time. Social Security disability (SSD) claimants know this, and the Social Security Administration knows this as well. As such, in almost every case where the claimant is awarded his/her SSD benefits or SSI benefits based on disability, then the past due disability benefits (known as disability “backpay”) is also awarded. The amount of backpay usually goes back to when the initial application was filed, though in some cases it can be earlier.

What Are Social Security Disability Back Payments | Herren Law Houston

If you applied for SSD benefits, it’s essential to have an experienced Houston SSD benefits attorney on your side. At Herren Law, we boast years of experience and helping hundreds of Houston residents with their disability benefits, and we can help you too, including with issues such as backpay. For a free consultation with Houston attorney William Herren, call our law firm today at (713) 682-8194.

In the meantime, you can learn more about Social Security disability back payments below.

Factors That Determine Backpay

Back payments are paid to successful SSD or SSI applicants for the months between the application date and the day you’re awarded benefits. This is generally due to the fact that there are many people applying for benefits, and the SSA is notorious for taking forever with the SSD application process. Furthermore, for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments, there is always a five-month waiting period, and for some applications, there might be retroactive benefits available. In general, the main factors that determine an applicant’s backpay include the application date, the date of disability, and the five-month waiting period.

Application Date

The first factor that determines the amount of your backpay is the application date for your Social Security disability or SSI benefits. When applying for SSD benefits, the SSA will give successful applicants backpay that satisfies monthly payments back to their date of application. Furthermore, some applicants may be considered for retroactive benefits during the year prior to the application date. Retroactive benefits might not be available to SSI applicants; SSI applicants can receive back pay that dates back to the first month after filing an application.

Additionally, some applicants can have a “protective filing date.” This date generally occurs before the applicant filed for benefits, and the applicant can receive back pay going back to this date.

Date of Disability

Next to the application date, the second most important factor when determining backpay is the date of disability. Essentially, this refers to when the disability occurred, and when filling out your claim application, you’ll have to include this date, known as the alleged onset date (AOD).

When approved for disability benefits, your DDS disability examiner or administrative law judge will give you an established onset date (EOD). Unlike AOD, which you determine, the EOD is dependent solely on the claimant’s medical records and work history. Some evidence considered for your EOD include doctor’s reports, lab results, and disability application.

It’s important to note that, for SSI, the Social Security Administration won’t give an EOD that occurs before the application date. This is due to the fact that SSI applicants cannot receive benefits before the month of application. Also, if the SSA states that your EOD is after the application date, then the SSI applicant will receive benefits starting on the EOD, not the application date. Remember, this is only for SSI applicants.

For SSD and SSDI applicants, you may be able to receive retroactive back payments if there is an established EOD before the application date.

Five-Month Waiting Period

The last major factor in SSD back payments is the five-month waiting period. This waiting period only applies to SSDI applicants, and not SSI applicants. This means that successful SSD applicants with an EOD may have five months of benefits removed from the beginning of their disability. In other words, the applicant is entitled to benefits 5 months after the EOD.

Contact Herren Law for a Free Consultation

There are numerous factors involved in every Social Security Disability case, whether that involves the date of disability, the evidence of disability and an inability to work, and so forth. In any case, you should expect a long and complex process, which is why it’s critical to get an experienced Houston SSD attorney at your side. For a free consultation with Herren Law, call our Houston law firm today at (713) 682-8194. We work on a contingency basis, meaning that you won’t pay a penny unless we win your case.