LAW FIRM BLOG
Reasons to Create Estate Plan
No matter how large or 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—and it is a “when” and not an “if”—you probably want to control how those assets are given to the people or organizations you care most about. To ensure your wishes are carried out, you need to provide instructions stating whom you want to receive something of yours, 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.
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).
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.