FINALLY Get The Long-Term Disability You Deserve In 2018

If you’ve been out of work after a disabling accident, illness or injury, chances are you have a lot going on at once. Between doctor visits and other necessary outings, you’re taking care of yourself and trying to heal while dealing with insurance company requirements. But what about long-term disability?

FINALLY Get The Long-Term Disability You Deserve In 2018

Are you trying to get long-term disability, or headed in that direction? Here are a few things you need to know.

Disability Defined

The definition of your disability is whatever your policy says it is. But the policy definition, rules and exclusions define what they consider to be “disabled.” Your policy definition may look something like this:

Disability exists when, due to illness or accidental injury, you are not able to perform, for wage or profit, the material and substantial duties of your regular occupation.

This definition, known as “own occupation,” means that your illness or injury prevents you from performing your current job and/or occupation. However, an “any job” definition means that you may not be able to perform your current job/occupation, but you are well enough to perform another one, even if it pays less than your current salary. This assessment is also based on your training, education, and experience.

Some policies change from “own occupation” to “any occupation” after 24 months, and benefits may be terminated at that time, particularly if there has been significant medical improvement.

Are You Still Using Paid Time Off?

Long-term disability has a waiting or “elimination” period, generally three to six months, before you’re eligible. You’re required to exhaust all of your sick, vacation, personal and any other paid absence time before you can become eligible for LTO.

Short-Term Disability

The elimination period LTD also takes into account the short-term disability payments you may be receiving. This type of insurance typically lasts less than six months and is intended for a short-term illness that isn’t work-related.

Long-term disability starts when your short-term disability ends.

Short-term disability differs from worker’s compensation, which is for employees who have work-related injuries and/or are injured on the job.

The Length Of Long-Term Disability

LTD starts three to six months after your disability begins, and after you’ve exhausted all time off and short-term disability.

Some policies will pay you until the age of 65 when most people generally retire and will file for Social Security (retirement) and Medicare. If not, there is a limit to the number of years the policy will pay you. Most will pay between 50% and 80% of your former salary.

Social Security Disability Insurance

Most LTD policies will require you to apply for SSDI. If and when your SSDI application is approved, and you start receiving benefits, your LTD payments will be offset by that amount. For instance, if your monthly LTD payment is $2500, and you’re awarded $1800 in SSDI, your insurance company will reduce your LTD payments by that amount, to $700 per month. You’ll still receive $2500 a month, but not from one source.

Working While Collecting LTD

It is possible (although not necessarily recommended) to work while you’re collecting long-term disability. Your benefits could be cut or terminated, particularly if you make too much. Before you start sending out resumes for a new job, even for part-time work, it’s best to read your policy and make sure you understand it first. Speak to your claims administrator to answer any questions.

Some policies may discontinue your benefits even if you’re still technically disabled, especially if you make more than 80% of your previous income. If yours is an “own occupation” policy, you may be able to work in a different occupation and still collect LTD. Again, this is based on how the policy is written, so you’ll need to read it before you start.

Some policies have “return to work” incentives, limiting your benefits and income to 100% of your previous earnings. If your earnings and LTD payments exceed 100% of your previous income, your benefits will be reduced to your pre-disability earnings and will reduce further over time.

Denied Your LTD?

If your insurance company (or your employers) has unfairly denied your claim, stopped your benefits or you need help filing an appeal, The Herren Law Firm is ready to help. We’ve helped over 4.000 Houstonians with their long-term disability cases and can answer any questions.  Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

Getting A Divorce? Here’s How It May Affect Your Disability

It’s bad enough that you’re getting a divorce. But can it negatively impact your disability status?

Divorces do tend to increase with the onset of a disability, and factors like the inability of one (or both) to take care of themselves, moving, dividing a household and alimony/support payments can make it even more difficult. If one spouse is a caretaker, that role could change, leaving the disabled person needing professional assistance. And because the disabled person may not be able to work, he or she may be entitled to additional spousal support to make up for the loss of marital income.

Getting A Divorce? Here's How It May Affect Your Disability

It’s a complicated subject, and the answer isn’t cut-and-dried. In this article, we’ll discuss the different facets of divorce and the impact it may have on your disability.

What Kind Of Disability?

There are two types of disability payments:

·         SSI, or Supplemental Security Income—based entirely on financial need, for individuals who have a limited work history and resources. If you are married, your spouse’s income is used to calculate your income needs. There are limits on how much in liquid assets you can own, and you can’t own any “family assets.”

In a divorce, SSI is not considered “income” for the purpose of calculating alimony. If your spouse is no longer supporting you, you may find that your SSI payments increase due to additional financial needs. Alimony is considered “unearned income,” and will be used to determine eligibility and benefit amount.

·         SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance—this disability payment is based on your own working record, calculated on “recent working years.” SSDI is granted for medical conditions that prevent you from working and last more than a year. If you are judged “disabled,” you can receive benefits regardless of income. You can receive SSDI for as long as you are disabled.

SSDI would not be directly affected by divorce, and alimony would not be considered for eligibility. If you are required to pay child support or alimony to a prior spouse, this income can be garnished to satisfy the requirement. However, SSDI will be taken into consideration in court when awarding alimony in a divorce proceeding.

Getting Disability From A Former Spouse

If you were married to your former spouse for over 10 years, you may be able to receive disability from his or her record if it would pay better than your own. You can receive these benefits if you are

·         Over the age of 62

·         Unmarried

·         Your former spouse is entitled to retirement or disability benefits through Social Security

·         You would receive less based on your own work record than you would from your former spouse.

You would be able to receive one half of your former spouse’s full disability (or retirement) if you begin receiving benefits at retirement age, but not any delayed retirement credits. If you remarry, you would not be able to receive anything from your former spouse, unless your current marriage ends (by death, divorce or annulment.) The Social Security Administration has additional information on its website. You can find more information about receiving income from a former spouse here.

If Divorce Is In Your Future

You should find out all you can about the financial impact it could have on your disability benefits and your disability status before you file for divorce. The Herren Law Firm can help you protect your disability benefits in the event of divorce. Call us today at 713-682-8194 to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll be ready to discuss your case to help you decide your next move. (Please note that we a law firm that handles disability cases, and does not practice divorce law.)

How Can I Help My Elderly Family Member With SSDI?

Elderly individuals don’t always have the capacity, understanding or frame of reference to take care of their needed affairs in the face of everything online. Many seniors have gone online, taking care of their accounts and joining Facebook to keep up with faraway family members. But there are still many elderly people who just won’t go near technology.

How Can I Help My Elderly Family Member With SSDI?

When it comes to applying for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), they may not know where to go or who to call or what to do. Fortunately, by becoming an advocate, there are some things you can do to help them.

What Is Disability?

Strictly speaking, the Social Security Administration considers a “disability” as a condition that prevents someone from doing “substantial gainful activity” for a period of 12 months or expected to keep them from such activity for the coming 12 months. For someone who’s working, that means they cannot earn more than $1170 per month (current 2017 guidelines.)

A disability decision will also depend heavily on medical records and an individual’s medical history. The records must contain evidence of a “functional limitations,” or the inability to work. An individual’s age may be a supporting factor in an SSDI case since the Social Security Administration’s system weighs toward individuals over 50. A disabled individual can be working part-time when they apply, so long as they don’t earn more than the current guidelines.

Gather Important Records

Before you start an application, you’ll need to find your family member’s important records. You’ll need this information to complete the application. You can go online to complete the application at SSA, by phone at 1-800-772-1213, make an appointment and visit the nearest SSA office in person.

You’ll need:

·         Their Birth Certificate

·         Social Security Number/Card

·         Marriage/divorce/dependent records

·         Employment records going back 15 years, the last date worked and accompanying W-2 forms

·         Any public assistance they are currently receiving (food stamps, etc.)

·         Medical records, particularly those documenting the disabling condition

·         Any current prescriptions taken by the family member

·         Names and contact information for doctors and/or hospitals prescribing the medications

Medical Evidence

To substantiate the disability claim, the individual must have current medical records that support the claim and explain exactly how the condition (physical or mental) prevents him or her from working (called “functional limitations.”)  If medical records meet all the requirements to a Social Security Impairment Listing, showing exactly why the individual is unable to work, they’ll be approved immediately for benefits. If not, Social Security will then determine what kind of work the individual is suited for.

Disability claims are based primarily on evidence in someone’s medical records. So if your family member hasn’t had a medical evaluation, make sure they get one as soon as possible to establish a “disability.”

How Age Affects The SSDI Application

If your family member is over 50, Social Security considers them to be “close to retirement.” Education and work history is also a consideration, including things like transferable work skills. Residual functional capacity, or what type of work an individual is suited for in their present condition, is also taken into consideration.

Social Security uses a “medical vocational grid” to establish an individual’s ability to work based on prior work and age. Individuals over 65 who are still working but are forced to retire because of a disability generally won’t be required to find other suitable work.

The Hearing

Applicants will be required to attend an in-person or phone interview for their SSDI application. These are primarily to discuss the facts of the case, and a determination won’t be made at that time. You’ll need to have all of your family member’s records available so he or she can answer questions without wasting time.

The hearing is simply a meeting with an administrative law judge whose job is to determine if your family member meets the criteria for “disability.” Answering questions clearly and succinctly are key in getting a determination. An SSDI attorney cases can help with “rehearsing” beforehand or offer a list of questions that may be asked in the hearing.

Patience Is Required

SSDI’s application process takes a long time, and acceptance is not guaranteed. An appeal is almost a necessity before an individual is approved for disability.

Denied for SSDI?

Herren Law has helped over 4,000 Houstonians get the disability benefits they deserve, and we’ll be happy to help you. Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. We’ll talk with you about your case and let you know how we can help. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

 

Does The VA Pay Retroactively To The Disability Date?

Applying for VA disability benefits involves a lot of paperwork, time, and moving targets. Many veterans become frustrated with the difficulty, the length of time it takes, and the dead ends they encounter. But there are a few bright spots.

Does The VA Pay Retroactively To The Disability Date?

The VA has streamlined a few processes that are intended to help alleviate the backlog of claims. The “Fully Developed Claim” is one, and it increases the veteran’s involvement in his or her application. The VA also created “Disability Back Pay,” allowing a retroactive lump-sum payment for the time you spent waiting for your benefit claim to be active. Before you start your application, though, there are a few things you need to understand about receiving benefits and back pay.

Determining The “Effective Date” To Receive Pay Retroactively

The VA will pay benefits and back pay retroactively, according to your “effective date.” The date is established by the later of these two dates:

• The date your entitlement began, or
• The date the VA receives your application

The first criteria of the effective date is when a veteran is treated for a condition, and when the VA should have started paying you.

If your application is within the first year after your service separation, the eligibility date is your date of separation. Disability Back Pay will then be paid retroactively to that date. If you are planning to file a claim, you should do so as soon as possible after you leave the military (if not before, since it takes a lot of time.) Don’t wait until the last minute! When your claim is approved, your back pay will be paid to the date of separation.

If your application is more than a year after service separation, even by one day, the effective date will be the date it’s received by the VA. Your retroactive back pay will only amount to the time since your application was submitted. This usually occurs when a veteran develops a medical condition long after separation. By submitting your application a year after your separation date, you will lose an entire year of benefits.

If the VA makes an error, they will adjust your effective date to where it should have been.

If The VA Denies Your Claim

Once you receive your denial letter, you will have one year to file a Notice of Disagreement with the VA. If you can supply additional evidence (i.e., newly discovered military medical reports) to support your claim, and your benefits are granted, your effective date should be the date of your original application, before the claims denial. An experienced attorney can help you formulate your appeal and help you submit it.

Get Started Now To Receive Pay Retroactively

You can informally notify the VA in writing that you plan to file a claim, giving you an earlier filing date than you would have had. You can use their Statement of Support, or write a letter stating your name, SSN and service dates. The VA will respond by sending you an application form, which must be filled out and returned within one year of your intent letter. If you don’t, you’ll lose the extra time you gained by notifying the VA of your impending claim.

Another Form Of Back Pay

While it doesn’t happen very often, you may occasionally receive additional back pay. If Congress changes the amount that a particular disability should be paid, you could receive an additional back pay disbursement, retroactive to your effective date. These funds would be the difference between what your disability paid you and the new amount of disability payments. Like the original back pay, you would receive it in a single lump-sum payment. You won’t need to apply for it—the VA will automatically process the back payment and send it to you.

You Don’t Have To Do This Alone

Herren Law has experience helping thousands of veterans navigate the VA’s difficult claims system, and we’re ready to help you do the same. Call us at (713) 682-8194, and we’ll discuss how we’ll work with you on your case. The consultation is free, and our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything until you begin collecting benefits.

What’s the Difference Between Long-Term Disability and Short-Term Disability?

Have you just started a new job, and heard a lot of different terms in orientation about “disability?” Are you faced with the possibility of being on disability, and don’t understand everything? At the Herren Law Firm, we understand the process of disability insurance and filings, and can help when the time comes.

know the difference between long and short term disability

What is Disability Insurance?

There are two types of disabilities, and disability insurance. It’s important to know the difference between the two. Both long-term disability (LTD) and short-term disability (STD) are separate insurance policies that serve as a replacement for your regular income in the event you are disabled. Disability insurance pays you when you are unable to work due to an illness or injury, regardless of the cause. It also covers gaps when your sick/vacation time are used up, and may keep you from having to dip into savings and retirement funds to pay your bills.

Both types of insurance are separate from health insurance, which only covers medical expenses. Disability insurance is also not the same as Worker’s Compensation, which is issued through your employer and only for work-related or workplace injuries suffered on the job.

Short Term Disability

The term means just that—usually 30 to 120 days, and starts paying within a few weeks. Short term is for things like a broken leg, maternity leave, or other limited convalescence.  If you’ll be going back to work in a few weeks or a few months, this policy pays you for the time that you’re unable to work. STD is only available through your employer. If your employer doesn’t offer it, you will have to use your sick time, vacation time and savings/line of credit to cover your expenses until you return to work. (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island may require your employer to offer this coverage.)

Long-Term Disability

Long-term disability is used when you will be out of work for a longer period. LTD starts after you’ve exhausted sick/vacation time and your short-term disability policy ends, and takes longer to start paying. An emergency fund can bridge the gap between the end of the short-term policy and the beginning of the long-term policy, although, ideally, it should start where the STD ends.

Long-term” doesn’t always mean a permanent disability. It just indicates a medical condition that prevents you from working. The average LTD claim is for 3 years, although some do go on longer. If you don’t have three or more years of savings to cover the loss of income, long-term disability covers some of your income so you can pay your regular bills.

If you’re considering applying for disability through Social Security (SSDI), know that getting it can take a year or more, is difficult to get and approval is not guaranteed. The Herren Law Firm has helped over 4,000 people file claims and suits they needed for disabilities.

What LTD Covers

An LTD policy pays about 60% of your regular income. If you buy your own long-term disability policy and pay your premiums with after-tax dollars, the income from the policy is tax-free. That means with a $100,000 yearly salary, you’ll be paid $60,000 year, tax free.

Employer Or Self Pay?

Most people have long-term disability insurance through their employer, but you can also purchase a policy individually. It is more expensive, but an LTD also pays more, and longer, depending on the policy you chose. When considering cost and affordability, it may be time to do a financial housecleaning and see what you can eliminate from your budget in order to cover an LTD policy. What’s more important—something that doesn’t create value, or something that can save you from bankruptcy if you’re unable to work for a long time?

The length of the payments depends on your LTD policy. Since the average disability is three years, you can purchase a policy that pays as long as five years—or until you retire. Some policies will cover you until age 67, when you can start receiving Social Security. Doctors, nurses and others that use their fine motor skills benefit from this kind of policy, since it guarantees income if they are disabled by an illness.

Need help?

Having trouble with an insurer? Call the Herren Law Office today at (713) 682-8194. We’ll give you a free consultation, and work on a contingency fee basis to help you get what you paid for. We’ve been helping people for over 20 years, and would be happy to help you too.

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.

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)

Transcript:

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.