Frequently Asked Questions About Injury and Disability

It is natural to have many concerns and questions as you recover from an accident or injury. Here, the lawyers at the Injury and Disability Law Center, LLC, share their perspective on many of the most common worries. Find out what to expect from the legal system, what compensation may be available, how to protect your claim, and much more.
  • Page 2
  • Can I file a fully developed disability claim?

    Veteran With Fully Developed Claim PaperworkOnce you apply for Veterans disability benefits, it can take the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) months or longer to review your application and send you a decision. You can shorten this period considerably by filing a claim under the Fully Disability Claim (FDC) program.

    When Can You File a Fully Disabled Claim?

    The FDC program is a way for Veterans to obtain a faster decision from the VA on their application for disability benefits. This type of claim is considered fully developed because the Veteran has obtained all of the evidence needed for the VA to make a decision on his application except for government records and a medical examination if necessary. These claims are eligible for the program:

    • An illness or medical condition that was caused by or worsened due to active duty service
    • An illness or medical condition that was caused by or worsened due to a disability that was already determined to be service-connected by the VA

    How Do You File a Fully Developed Claim?

    For the VA to consider your claim fully developed, you must do the following:

    • File a completed Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Form (VA Form 21-526EZ)
    • Submit all necessary supporting evidence with your application
    • Certify that the VA will not need any other evidence to decide your claim
    • Attend a medical exam if the VA requires one

    What Happens If Your Claim Is Not Fully Developed?

    There is no risk to you if you file a FDC rather than a routine application. Once you file it, you will have one year to complete the application. If the VA determines that your claim is not fully developed, they will remove your application from the FDC program and will process it as a standard claim.

    Are you wondering if you should file a fully developed claim? Do you have questions about your eligibility for VA disability payments? To schedule a free consultation with our knowledgeable disability lawyers in Roswell, fill out our online form or start a live chat today.

     

  • What is a trial work period for Social Security disability recipients?

    Social Security Disability Paperwork in TypewriterIf you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and are receiving monthly benefits, you may want to try to go back to work if your medical condition improves. However, you may be afraid to do this because you do not want to lose your benefits. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) allows you to return to work without jeopardizing them during a trial work period.

    Your Right to a Trial Work Period

    SSDI recipients are entitled to a nine-month trial work period without risking their SSDI benefits during a 60-month rolling period. There is no limit on the amount of income they can earn during the trial work period. The months that a person attempts to return to work do not have to be consecutive.

    While an individual may make a conscious decision to try to work again under this program, this time period can also be triggered if he makes too much total monthly income. The amount that triggers the trial work period is set by the SSA and changes yearly. Here are monthly amounts that start a trial period:

    • 2018: $850
    • 2019: $890
    • 2020: $910

    If a person is self-employed, he will be considered in the trial work period if he works 80 hours or more in any month.

    How Many Trial Work Periods Can You Have?

    An individual is only entitled to one nine-month trial period during a five-year period. Once it is exhausted, a recipient is not entitled to a new trial period unless his SSDI benefits end and he either qualifies for SSDI benefits by filing a new application or through an expedited reinstatement.

    What Is the Extended Period of Eligibility?

    Once a recipient completes his trial work period, he enters into a 36-month Extended Period of Eligibility. During this time period, he can continue to receive SSDI benefits as long as he remains disabled and does not earn more than the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount set by the SSA every year. For non-blind individuals, the SGA is $1,220 in 2019 and $1,260 in 2020.

    Do you have other questions about the trial work period or your eligibility for SSDI benefits? Call our Roswell office today to schedule your free consultation with our experienced Social Security disability lawyers to get the answers you need and to learn how we can assist you.

     

  • What is the time period to sue in my truck accident case?

    Hand Pushing Through the Wall While Holding a ClockYou only have a short window of time to file a lawsuit against the negligent trucker and trucking company that caused your truck accident. If you miss this deadline, it can have devastating consequences on your right to compensation for your injuries.

    What Is the Statute of Limitations to File a Truck Crash Lawsuit in New Mexico?

    One of the most important laws to understand if you or a loved one were hurt in a truck collision in Roswell is the deadline, which is referred to as the statute of limitations, to file your lawsuit. The time period you have to do so will be different depending on the type of claim you are pursuing. Here are the time periods you have to sue for cases involving:

    • Personal injuries. You have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for personal injuries you suffered.
    • Property damage. You must file a lawsuit for property damages within four years of the date of the wreck.
    • Wrongful death. If a loved one died in the truck accident, you must file a wrongful death action within three years of the date of his death—not the date of the collision.

    What Happens If You Try to File Your Lawsuit After the Statute of Limitations Expired?

    If you fail to file your complaint before the deadline to do so expires, the insurance company for the trucker and trucking company will most likely raise this as a defense, and the judge would dismiss your case. While there is technically no time period to file a claim with the insurance company, they would have no incentive to offer you a settlement if they know that you waited too long to sue.

    Can the Statute of Limitations Be Extended?

    In limited situations, the window of time to file a lawsuit can be extended under New Mexico law. You may have more time to sue if one of the following applies:

    • The defendant was out of the state for an extended period of time, and you were unable to file a lawsuit against him during the statute of limitations.
    • You are a minor under 18 years old. Once you turn 18 years old, you would have an additional year to file your lawsuit.
    • You are mentally incompetent. Once you become competent, you would have one year to sue the negligent parties.

    The best way that you can be certain that you file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires and obtain the compensation you deserve is to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer in Roswell as soon as possible. To learn of our track record of success in these cases and how we can assist you, start a live chat to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • How long does it take to get a decision on a VA disability claim?

    How Long Does it Take to Get Benefits?Once you file your application for VA disability benefits, one of your top questions will probably be, “How long will it take to start receiving monthly benefits?” Unfortunately, the time period for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to make a decision on a Veteran’s eligibility can vary widely. It can take anywhere from months to a year or longer for an application to be approved.

    Factors That Can Affect the Time it Takes to Begin Receiving VA Disability Benefits

    The VA estimates that it takes them 94 days to review a VA disability application. However, many cases take much longer than that. Here are some factors that can shorten or extend the time it takes to reach a decision:

    • Type of claim filed. There are many different types of claims filed for disability benefits, and some take longer than others to process. For example, if you file your claim under the “fully developed claim” program, you may receive a quicker decision. However, if you must appeal a denial of benefits or are reopening your claim, it could take longer to obtain the evidence you need and for the VA to review it.
    • Number of disabilities claimed. The number of disabilities or injuries you are claiming benefits for, and their complexity, can affect how long the application process will take. If you have numerous, complex injuries, it will take the VA longer to make a decision.
    • Evidence needed. If you do not include all the evidence necessary to support your application or the VA requests additional documents, this could slow down the VA review process.
    • Field office location. The time period can also be affected by the field office where you file your claim. If you live near one that serves more Veterans, it could take longer for the VA to reach a decision than if you lived near an office that serves fewer Veterans.

    In some situations, you can ask that your claim be expedited. For example, if you suffer from a terminal disease, are 77 years old or older, or are suffering severe financial hardship, such as possible homelessness, you can ask that your application be fast-tracked.

    What You Can Do to Make Your Application Review Process Go Faster

    If you want your application to be decided as quickly as possible, you should retain an experienced VA disability lawyer in Roswell to help you collect the evidence you need to support your disability claim and to file your application, so it is done properly. He can also follow up with the VA to be certain that they are reviewing the claim and can provide them with any additional information they need to approve your claim. To learn how we can help, call our office to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • Should I hire an advocate or Social Security disability lawyer?

    A Client and Lawyer Shaking Hands at the Start of a SSDI CaseWhen you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you have the right to be represented by a Social Security disability attorney or an advocate.

    Reasons an Attorney May Be a Better Choice Than an Advocate

    The cost to hire a lawyer is the same as for an advocate. In addition, both are only paid if your application is approved, and their fees are taken out of your award. Because of this, it makes more sense to retain an attorney. Here are other compelling reasons you should choose an attorney rather than an advocate.

    Reason #1: An Attorney Is More Experienced

    A lawyer has more training and experience than an advocate. He is required to have these qualifications to represent clients:

    • Bachelor’s degree, which requires four years of college
    • Juris Doctorate (JD) degree, which requires three additional years of study in law school
    • Admission to the state bar association, which requires passing a state bar exam and meeting other requirements.

    In contrast, an advocate is a non-lawyer representative that is permitted to represent you by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In order to qualify, he would only need to have these qualifications:

    • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualifications from work experience and training
    • Criminal background check
    • Professional liability insurance
    • Passage of an exam administered by the SSA
    • Continuing education course

    Reason #2: You Have Attorney-Client Privilege With Your Lawyer

    When you hire an attorney, you have the benefit of the attorney-client privilege. Your lawyer is bound to keep anything you tell him and your information confidential. This is not true if you work with an advocate.

    Reason #3: A Lawyer Must Follow Strict Ethical Guidelines

    Attorneys are required to follow strict ethical guidelines that advocates do not have to abide by. For example, your lawyer would have a duty to zealously represent you.

    Reason #4: An Attorney Can File Your Appeal

    If your application for SSDI benefits is denied, a lawyer can file an appeal of the decision for you in federal court. An advocate cannot do this because only licensed attorneys are permitted to represent clients in court hearings.

    Contact Us for the Legal Representation You Need

    Are you applying for SSDI benefits? Our New Mexico Social Security disability lawyers are here to file your application, collect the evidence you need, and fight for the benefits you are entitled to. Call our Roswell office or start a live chat to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • What evidence do I need when I file my VA disability claim?

    Paperwork Used as Evidence for a VA Disability ApplicationWhen you file an application for VA disability benefits, you must establish that you are eligible for benefits. How do you do this? You provide the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with the evidence they need when making a decision on your application.

    Evidence You Should Include When Filing Your VA Disability Application

    In order to receive disability benefits, you must prove that you suffered a disability that is connected to your service in the Armed Forces. Here is the evidence that the VA requires you to submit to establish this:

    • Service records. You must prove that you were in the military service and were not dishonorably discharged. You do this by providing the VA with your DD214, which is the separation document you would have received when you were discharged from military service, or another separation document.
    • Medical records. You will need to provide your medical history, VA hospital records, private physician medical records, diagnostic tests, and any other medical documentation to prove that you suffered a disability and that it is connected to your time in the Armed Forces.
    • Family records. Supporting statements from family, friends, people you served with while in the military, or other individuals who have information about your disability can be helpful. They can share information on how your disability occurred, how it got worse, and how it affects your life.

    You can provide your evidence directly to the VA or give them permission to obtain this documentation when reviewing your application. If you suffer from certain disabilities, such as traumatic brain injuries, you may be required to submit additional types of documentation.

    Contact Us for Assistance in Filing Your VA Disability Application

    If you are applying for VA disability benefits, providing the correct evidence is crucial to being approved for benefits. Our experienced VA disability attorneys can help you collect the documentation you need and complete your application so that you receive the disability benefits you deserve. Call our Roswell office or fill out the online form on this page to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.

     

  • My disability has gotten worse. Can I get an increase in my VA disability rating?

    Injured Veteran on disability with crutchesWhen the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) approved your application for VA disability benefits, they gave your physical or mental impairment a disability ranking of between 0 and 100 percent. This rating directly affects the amount of disability benefits you receive. If your medical condition has gotten worse over time, which is common, you have the right to ask for an increase in your disability rating.

    How to Obtain an Increase in Your VA Disability Rating

    If you are thinking about asking for an increase in your disability rating, it is important to understand how to do this properly and the possibles outcomes of your request. Here are the steps you need to follow:

    #1: Consider the Possible Consequences

    When you ask the VA to increase your disability rating, they will review your entire file. They could decrease your benefits if they determine that your condition has gotten better or that a mistake was made in the initial determination of your disability benefits. Before deciding whether to request an increase, you should consult with your physician and an experienced VA disability lawyer.

    #2: Make the Correct Request

    The way that you request an increase in your disability rating will be based on how long it has been since your claim was approved. If it has been less than a year since the VA awarded you disability benefits, you cannot file a motion for reconsideration. You will need to file an appeal, which can require you to attend hearings and court proceedings.

    If your request for disability benefits was granted more than a year ago, you can request a reconsideration of your rating. You do this by filing Form 21-526b.

    #3: Provide Medical Documentation

    You will need to provide the VA with medical records showing that your condition has worsened. If you are being treated by a private doctor, you will need to complete Form 21-4142 so that he is authorized to speak with the VA and to release your medical records to them. If your doctor is a VA physician, you will need to provide the name and address of the VA medical facility where you are being treated.

    Contact a Roswell VA Disability Attorney for Assistance With Your Claim

    Do you need to ask for an increase in your disability rating? Call our Roswell office or fill out the online form on this page to schedule your free consultation to discuss your situation and whether filing this request is in your best interests.

     

  • Can I receive Social Security disability benefits for hearing loss?

    Man With Severe Loss of Hearing on disabilityYou may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if you are deaf or suffer significant hearing loss. However, these claims are complicated, and you need the assistance of an experienced disability attorney if you want your application to be approved.

    When You May Automatically Qualify for SSDI Benefits for Loss of Hearing

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) has an impairment listing which states when you can be automatically considered disabled and eligible for SSDI benefits for hearing loss if you do not have cochlear implants. A cochlear implant is a medically inserted device that can provide a person with a sense of sound. You may qualify based on the results of one of these two tests:

    • Audiometry. In your better ear, your average hearing threshold sensitivity for air conduction must be 90 decibels or less. In addition, you must have a bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 decibels or less in your good ear.
    • Word recognition test. If you can repeat 40 percent or less of a list of standardized words, you can automatically qualify for benefits.

    Your Right to SSDI Benefits If You Have Cochlear Implants

    You are automatically eligible for SSDI benefits if you have cochlear implants in one or both ears for one year after they were implanted. This is true whether or not your hearing improves. After 12 months, your word recognition on a “Hearing in Noise Test” (TNT) must be 60 percent or less for you to continue to receive benefits.

    What Happens If Your Hearing Loss Does Not Meet the Automatic Impairment Requirements?

    Even if your hearing loss does not satisfy the requirements of the tests listed above, you may still be eligible for SSDI benefits. You would need to show that there are no jobs that you can perform with your hearing loss. In deciding your application, the SSA will consider your ability to communicate, follow instructions, and do various job tasks.

    Do you have questions about whether you suffer from sufficient hearing loss to qualify for SSDI benefits? Call our office to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team to learn about your eligibility for benefits and how we can assist you.

     

  • My child was hurt in a New Mexico car crash. What should I do?

    Young Child on a Stretcher After a Car AccidentAn auto accident can be even more terrifying if your baby or child is in the back seat. Because he may not be able to communicate with you or understand what has happened, it can be hard to determine if he is crying because he is frightened or hurt. Here are four important steps you want to take to protect your child’s health and legal rights.

    Call 911

    Your first step should be to call 911 and to wait for the police and the emergency medical technicians (EMT) to arrive at the accident scene. Do not move your child out of his car seat until the first responders arrive to avoid making his injuries worse. While you are waiting, put on your emergency lights to help avoid being in another collision.

    Seek Medical Care for Your Child

    If your child is not transported to the hospital, you should contact your pediatrician and have him examined as soon as possible. It is important to follow his physician’s advice and continue with all necessary medical treatment.

    You also need to know the warning signs of more serious injuries to watch for at home. If your child is crying excessively, sleeping more than normal, not eating, or has lost interest in his toys, this may be a sign that he is experiencing symptoms of additional injuries. Even if he was already examined by his doctor, you should obtain prompt medical care for him.

    Replace the Car Seat

    You should replace your child’s car seat unless you were involved in a very minor car accident with little damage to your vehicle and no injuries. It may be structurally damaged and may offer insufficient protection if you are involved in an accident in the future.

    Retain an Attorney

    You should hire an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the collision. He can file your child’s claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company and negotiate his settlement so that he receives the compensation he deserves for his injuries. Your attorney can also help you comply with any additional procedures that may be necessary before settling your child’s claim due to the fact that he is a minor.

    Call our Roswell law office to schedule a free consultation to learn about your child’s legal options and how we can assist you in protecting his legal rights.

     

  • Should I file a Notice of Disagreement with the VA if my application for disability benefits is denied?

    Man Looking at a Notice of DisagreementIf you received a letter from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) denying your application for VA disability benefits before February 19, 2019, you must file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) to appeal their decision. You would also file a NOD if the VA approved your application, but their rating of your disability was wrong. If you received a denial on or after February 19, 2019, you must follow a new process to file an appeal.

    What Is a Notice of Disagreement?

    A Notice of Disagreement is a VA form that must be completed to begin the appeal process. This Notice should be provided to you by the VA when they send you a decision on your application.

    The deadline to file the NOD is one year from the date of the VA’s notification letter to you.

    Tips on Filing Your NOD

    If you want to receive a favorable decision, you need to complete the NOD properly. Here are seven tips you should follow:

    • Use the correct VA form. This form is VA 21-0958 “Notice of Disagreement.”
    • Do not miss the one-year deadline to file the NOD.
    • Select whether you want a Decision Review Officer Review (DRO) or a Traditional Appellate Review. An experienced VA disability lawyer can advise you which option is best for you.
    • Be specific on what decisions of the VA you disagree with and why.
    • Include any additional supporting evidence that supports your right to VA disability benefits and refutes the VA’s decision denying your application.
    • Retain a skilled attorney as soon as possible to help you file your NOD and collect all the evidence you need to be successful.
    • Keep a copy of your NOD and any supporting documents for your records.

    Are you considering filing an appeal of the VA’s decision to deny your application for disability benefits? Call our Roswell office to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team to get your questions answered and learn how we can assist you.