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Press Release: Legal lines with Locke Meredith

Show # 75 with Jeff Nicholson

Attorneys Locke Meredith and Jeff Nicholson discuss the difference between two types of social security claims: Social Security Income claims and Social Security Disability claims, as well as other types of social security coverage when you suffer injuries.

The tort system is one type of recovery system.  This is the district court system that you can use to bring your injury claim against the party that has injured you.  Tort deals with intentional acts or negligence that have brought about injury to you.  Using tort law will result in the greatest potential source of recovery for your injuries.

Besides tort, Workers Compensation is a second type of recovery system used if an employee is injured on the employer’s premises during work time.  Employer is defined very broadly.  Worker’s compensation provides less recovery than tort, only paying for your injuries and a percentage of your lost wages due to injury.  However, unlike the tort system, worker’s comp does not require showing fault.

Tort is a fault-based system, meaning you must show that someone was negligent.  The tort system includes payment for pain and suffering, unlike workers comp.

The Federal government is a third type of recovery system.  Unlike the tort system and workers comp, which are funded by insurance companies, this system is funded by the Federal government.  Two types of recovery are available from this system: Social Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSD).  Under SSD, you can recover from the benefits you have paid into the system under Social Security Disability Insurance.   This is something you pay every month out of your paycheck, the lines that says: social security.  However, if you have not paid enough into this system, generally less than a two to three years, you will not be able to draw from this.   Your SSD recovery grows if you have paid into it for longer, but is capped out quickly, meaning your SSD recovery if you are wealthy will not be more than someone else who is not wealthy.  One year after your disability is determined, you will be compensated for any time your were disabled after you first filed for disability.  This could provide a large amount of cash.  Also, under SSD, you qualify to get Medicare.

If you cannot draw from SSD, then you can recover using SSI.  Social Security Income is need based, and provides you with a form of income because you are disabled.  The requirements to get SSI are: having less than two thousand dollars in assets, no means of producing income, and legally meet the requirements of disability under social security law.  To get SSI, you must prove that you cannot perform any type of income-producing activities for twelve months.  A physician must claim that your disability has rendered you unable to work an income-producing job for the next twelve months, or for the past twelve months to get SSI.  Mental or Physical

disabilities both can qualify you for SSI.  To apply for SSI, you must apply with the Social Security Administration, either online or at your local office.  Be sure to have your medical records.

The process of SSI and SSD often results in many people getting denied benefits.  Generally the process of application takes one year.  This is how the process works: you fill out your application with the Social Security Administration, providing them with all your medical providers of assistance.  They then will get the records on their own.  All healthcare providers should be listed.  The Federal government then orders the medical records, and reviews them, determining if you meet the requirements for disability.  The blue book of impairments determines the various disabilities that payment is allowed for.  This book is available on the Social Security Administration’s website.  Just because your disability is in the book does not mean you will necessarily get SSD or SSI.  Your disability must prevent you from holding any sort of job, even a part time job that pays substantially less.

If a case is denied, then you have sixty days to get it appealed.  Appealing is recommended if you get denied, for it allows you to recover the benefits from the first time you filed if your case is accepted the second time.  If you appeal your case, you will be called before an Administrative Law Judge at some point.  This is when it is recommended to have an attorney, in order to show that all relevant medical records are present for the judge.  Getting an attorney involved well before the hearing is recommended. The hearing process is mini trial, with the judge as the advocate for the Federal government, determining if the claimant is truly disabled.  Furthermore, before the hearing, the Federal government will send the claimant to their doctor, who will examine the claimant and send his/her opinion to the judge.

In the case of a claimant being awarded benefits, the attorney fee comes from a standard amount of twenty-five percent of the past due benefits.

Summary of the discussion:  When someone is injured and cannot work, they have three options.  Number one is the tort system, requiring you to prove fault, and giving you the largest potential recovery.  Number two is worker’s comp, providing medical expenses and lost wages, and number three is social security, provided by the federal government.