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Holiday Woes – Financial Planning with Disability

The Holiday season can be a financially challenging time of year, especially if you aren’t able to work. You want to be generous, spreading holiday cheer through charity and gifts to loved ones. However, you are constrained by a strict budget.  So you need to be frugal, finding a way to show your generosity and appreciation for others. For instance, maybe writing a thoughtful card or poem instead of buying a Hallmark card. Handwritten notes are oftentimes overlooked as an inexpensive way to show your appreciation. Or, maybe volunteering a few hours at your local charity. In the end, it is the thought that counts, not the monetary value of the gift.

One thing you can do for yourself is planning for your financial future. If you are out of work because of either a physical or mental condition you should consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits. One of the major benefits of the program is receiving a monthly benefit check. This can make your financial planning that much easier when you have some type of income you can rely on every month. Another major benefit is qualifying for health insurance. After 24 months of being disabled (or unable to work) you will qualify for Medicare. For a lot of people, this can be a lifesaver, to be able to obtain the necessary medical treatment for your health conditions.

One of the biggest mistakes you could do is waiting to call to see if you qualify for this program. Social Security has strict time limits in which you can qualify for the benefits program. The program is similar to car insurance. You are covered by your car insurance up until a point…then it runs out. Regarding Social Security, the general rule of thumb is that you have coverage five years from the date you stopped working full time. This general rule assumes that you have the proper coverage and have worked the past 5 out of 10 years. Five years may sound like a long time, but it is not. Before you know it your five years will have run, you will no longer qualify for the program, and you will be stuck without a job and without monthly benefits. So, if you are out of work because of a physical or mental condition do not hesitate to call a disability attorney.

Obtaining representation from an experienced disability attorney is an absolute must when applying for this program. At the LaBovick Law Group, we provide free consultations. We will evaluate your case and give you our honest opinion…without charging a fee! You may be asking yourself how you are going to afford an attorney. That is easy. Social Security has strict regulations on the type of fee arrangement attorneys are able to charge. Attorneys are able to charge a contingency-based fee. This means you do not pay anything out of pocket. Your attorney is only paid if they win your case. The Social Security Administration only allows one type of fee agreement. This is 25% of an individual’s retroactive benefits up to a maximum of $6,000. So even if your attorney wins if there are no back benefits then you will owe your attorney zero. The fee itself is handled by the Social Security Administration so you never have to worry about sending your attorney a check. There is simply no excuse for hiring an attorney to help with your disability claim.

If you think you can handle your disability application on your own, think again. Without experience working with this program, your application can take a wrong turn very quickly. When SSA makes a disability determination it is not simply based on the fact that you said you are disabled. It is also not based on the fact that you have paid taxes into the system and technically it is your money. The program itself involves a lengthy review process, looking at multiple facets of your claim. It is not as simple as you saying you are disabled and it is your money you have paid in. You need to meet Social Security’s definition of disability. This definition requires an individual to suffer from a severe physical and/or mental condition that prevents you from working and obtaining substantial gainful activity for no less than a 12-month time period. One exception to the 12-month durational requirement is if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition. The 12 months will be waived at that point. The biggest condition in this definition is the requirement that you be disabled for 12 months. Social Security disability is not a short-term disability program. If you find yourself unable to work for only a few months, this is not the right program for you. If you are pregnant and want to apply for the SSD, this is not the right program for you. A short-term disability program would be more appropriate, which is something that would be covered by a private insurance carrier. The government will only provide disability benefits for a disability lasting 12 months or longer.

The second part of the definition requires an individual to suffer from a severe physical and/or mental condition. To prove the severity of your condition, Social Security will consider the limitations secondary to your medical diagnosis. They will then consider how those limitations affect your ability to work. Remember, this is not simply about whether you can do the work you have done in the past but any work available in the national economy. This is the second way SSD differs from a private insurance policy. Say for example you have done construction your whole life. You are then in a car accident which caused permanent restrictions on your lumbar spine. Social Security may find you unable to work in the construction field but they may also find that you are capable of doing some type of work such as a cashier or receptionist. This is where the rules start to become tricky.

While hiring a disability attorney is not required to file a claim, it is certainly the best way to ensure your claim is reviewed properly. Call us at LaBovick Law Group today for a free case evaluation.

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