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LAW FIRM BLOG

Social Security Representative Payees

Generally, unless there are indicators or evidence to the contrary, a person qualifying for Social Security benefits is presumed by the SSA to be capable of managing their financies, and their benefits are disbursed directly to them. Indicators a “representative payee” may be needed include the beneficiary’s difficulty answering questions, providing necessary information, and understanding explanations, or information that needs to be reported to the SSA.
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The Need for ABLE Accounts

Millions of individuals who are blind or disabled depend on public benefits for income, health care and food and housing assistance. Eligibility for these benefits (SSI, SNAP, Medicaid) require meeting a means/resource test that restricts eligibility to individuals with less than $2,000 in liquid resources, such as cash, checking and savings accounts and some retirement funds. To remain eligible for this assistance, an individual must remain below the federal poverty line, preventing them from saving for emergencies or for a down payment on a car or house and forcing them to quickly “spend down" any lump sum back payment they received when first approved for SSI.
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Need To Improve and Modernize SSI

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a means-tested benefit program managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides monthly cash payments to those 65 years or older, blind or disabled, with limited income and assets to help meet the costs of basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. In most states, SSI eligibility provides access to crucial medical coverage under state Medicaid programs and Section 8 housing benefits. Recipients must be citizens or nationals of the United States and have residency in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands. More than 7.8 million people were receiving SSI benefits as of May 2021, including nearly 2.3 million adults ages 65 and older and 1.1 million children under age 18.
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New York’s Revamped Landlord-Tenant Law

On June 14, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a sweeping package of statewide regulations known as the "Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019" (HSTPA), initiating the largest set of changes to Landlord-Tenant law and practice in New York in nearly a century. HSTPA dramatically modifies and expands the fundamentals of existing rental regulations and procedures in both the legal and business environment of the New York real estate market. Importantly, it also alters how landlords and tenants will interact statewide, including major changes to both the rental as well as the eviction process.
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New York’s Revised Power of Attorney Law

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a widely used and versatile legal document giving one person (the agent) the power to act for another person (the principal). The agent (usually a family member or trusted friend) can be tasked with a wide variety of legal and financial decision making on behalf of the principal, with such authority specifically enumerated in the POA document. The powers are frequently utilized in the event of the principal’s unavailability or incapacity and can avoid the need for a time-consuming and expensive guardianship proceeding should the person become incapacitated.
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Medical Source Statements

One of the most important items of medical evidence you can submit to the Social Security Administration (SSA) when applying for disability benefits (SSDI/SSI) is a “Medical Source Statement” from healthcare providers who treat you on a regular basis for a disabling condition. With credible, supportive medical source statements, your odds of being approved for benefits can increase significantly. Despite this fact, the SSA does not attempt to obtain these statements from providers. Therefore, claimants who wish to have the written opinions of their healthcare professionals considered must obtain such statements themselves.
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The Social Security Disability Hearing Process Explained

If your initial application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is denied, there is an appeals process you can avail yourself of in hopes of overturning the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) decision. If your claim was denied by the Disability Determination Services (DDS) team that reviewed it (2/3 of all initial disability applications get denied), then you go to the next level and file a “Request for Reconsideration” (some states allow claimants to skip the reconsideration step). If your claim was denied again by a different DDS team, then you have reached the administrative hearing level. You will have 60 days to request this hearing after you have received notice that your reconsideration has been denied. If you do not submit the request for a hearing within this time period and you later decide to continue with your pursuit to obtain benefits, you will be required to begin the application process over again.
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How to Update a Will

You have two options when it comes to how to update your will: revise your existing will, or create a new one. You can either make a codicil to your existing will or make a new will. Both require your signature and the signatures of two witnesses.
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When to Update a Will and Why

Congratulations! You have a will. That’s more than most people have. In fact, 74% of parents with minor children don’t have one.

A will just might be the most important legal document you’ll ever sign. It protects your most important asset—your family. Without one, the courts—not you—decide what happens to your property. They can even decide what happens to your children. Unfortunately, after many of us draft a will, we file it somewhere for safekeeping or leave a copy with our attorney, and then forget about it and don’t look at it again. That can be a big mistake.

Lives change. Our finances change. Loved ones leave us and new family members join us. We relocate. And on and on. These types of occurrences — and many others — require updating a will.
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Ticket to Work Program

Social Security’s work incentives" programs and trial periods are aimed at helping SSDI/SSI recipients transition back into the workforce without sacrificing their benefits. The “Ticket to Work Programs” (TWP) has special rules to make it possible for people receiving SSDI benefits or SSI payments to work and still receive full monthly payments. Participating in the TWP does not reduce an individual’s SSDI/SSI benefit amount, regardless of how much he or she earns, as long as the work activity is reported and the disabling impairment continues. Medicare or Medicaid benefits also continue while you work.
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Improve Your Chances for Winning a Social Security Disability Claim

The application process is lengthy and complicated. To have the best possible chance of approval, listed here are several guidelines you should follow at various stages of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application process.
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Concurrent Social Security Disability and Work

It is possible to work and also file for Social Security disability benefits, though this is a tricky matter. One is permitted to work while their application is pending. However, the amounts one is allowed to earn is limited and any work you do must not be of the type or volume that will disqualify you for benefits. However, each individual’s situation is unique.
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Concurrent Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Although Social Security disability and Workers’ Compensation are the nation’s two largest disability benefit programs, the programs are separate and different. SSDI, run by the Social Security Administration (SSA), is a federal program. Workers’ Compensation programs are administered by individual states. One is generally considered disabled for workers’ compensation purposes if one is no longer capable of performing the job he or she was doing when injured. Workers are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits from their first day of employment, but SSDI benefits are paid only to workers who have a substantial work history who are considered unemployable due to their disabilities, regardless of any connection to their work. Workers’ compensation is designed to be temporary, but provides benefits for both short-term and long-term disabilities and for partial as well as total disabilities. These benefits cover only injuries and illnesses arising out of and in the course of employment, whereas social security disability benefits are provided whether the disability arises on or off the job. Workers’ compensation cash benefits begin after a few days’ work absence, and medical benefits are available immediately. SSDI benefits begin after a five-month waiting period.
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Concurrent Social Security Disability and Unemployment Benefits

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays benefits to workers covered by the Social Security program who are unable to work for at least a year due to a mental or physical impairment. Unemployment benefits, in contrast, are intended to assist those who are willing and able to work, but cannot find a job. These two programs usually serve different groups of people: those incapable of working and those who can and are seeking work.
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Pet Trusts

One of the goals of estate planning is to provide for your loved ones, and for many of us, “loved ones” includes our pets. Like countless pet owners, you may be concerned about what will happen to them at your death or incapacity. While you can always ask a friend or relative to care for your pet, they aren’t legally obligated to unless you establish an estate plan. The specific estate planning method you use will depend on your state laws, your pet’s needs, your goals and financial resources.
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Last Wills vs Living Trusts

There are basically two instruments that can transfer assets from your estate at death: a last will and testament and a revocable living trust. There are substantial differences between them, each with benefits and drawbacks that must be understood to make an informed decision as to which fits best to a particular situation.
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Childrens Disability Benefits

Children can, and do, qualify for Social Security Disability benefits in certain situations. In fact, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), there were approximately 4.2 million children who received $2.6 billion in aid each month in 2017, the latest data available. There are three different ways children can collect Social Security Disability benefits.
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Law Firm Blog

Reasons to Create Estate Plan

No matter how modest, everyone has an “estate.” Your estate is comprised of everything you own--your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions--and you can’t take it with you when you die. When that happens you probably want to control how those assets are given to the people or organizations you care about. To ensure your wishes are implemented, you need to provide instructions stating whom you want to receive your property, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. You will, of course, want this to happen with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees, and court costs.
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Special Needs Trusts

A special needs trust, also known as a supplemental needs trust, is a popular vehicle for those who want to retain their eligibility for public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid, that require their income or assets to remain below a $2,000 limit ($3,000, if married).
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Expedited Disability Claims

The Social Securty Administration (SSA) has several programs that will expedite processing of your SSDI or SSI claim and disability determination. The main programs are the Compassionate Allowance List (CAL) and Quick Disability Determinations (QDD). CAL and QDD, identify claimants with the most severe disabilities and allow the SSA to expedite their decisions. The former applies to severe and easily identifiable diseases, which are often terminal, whereas the latter, QDD, utilizes a computer program — a predictive model — to identify applications with a high likelihood of being approved and moves them to the front of the cue.
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Presumptive Disability Payments

If you are an SSI applicant with one of about 15 severe physical or intellectual impairments, in certain situations, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is willing to pay benefits while gathering the evidence needed to make a decision on your Social Security Disability claim. This is called Presumptive Disability (PD). The “presumptive disability program,” doesn't speed the decision making process, but does pay up to six months of benefits while an applicant is waiting for a disability deterination.
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Vocational Experts Explained

An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) usually requests a Vocational Expert (VE) to testify either in person, by phone, by video, or by responding to written interrogatories at a Social Security disability hearing. A vocational expert plays a important role in a disability hearing as they provide unbiased information and impartial opinion and concerning...
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Consultative Exams Explained

A Consultative Exam (CE) is medical examination (physical and/or psychological) with a licensed physician selected by the Social Security Administration (SSA). They are not for the purpose of receiving medical treatment. And the examining doctor will not give an opinion as to whether you should receive disability benefits. The CE doctor is contracted to give a one-time evaluation of claimants and document and report the findings.

Contrary to popular thought, CE doctors are not Social Security employees. Rather, they are independent contractors, typically in private practice, who are giving a expert opinion about your conditions and reporting on what you may tell them.
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Long Wait Time for a Hearing Before a Social Security Administrative Law Judge

According to a Washington Post article, approximately 1.1 million disability claimants wait for one of some 1,600 Social Security administrative law judges to decide whether they will receive benefits. The length of time people must wait for a disposition increased from a national average of 12 months in 2012 to a record high of 19 months in 2017. In the Hudson Valley, as of June 2019, the wait is about 14 months.
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Hearing by Video Conference

Claimants have the right to choose whether to have their hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in person or by video conference. In the Hudson Valley, in the past year, 1855 occured by video and 1335 live in-person. While the format of the hearing will be the same, there are advantages and disadvantages to both options.
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