Frequently Asked Questions About Injury and Disability
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What should I do if the VA claims that they overpaid my disability benefits?
If the Veterans Administration (VA) claims that they overpaid your VA disability benefits, they will send you a letter advising you of this and that they will deduct a portion of the overpayments from your monthly benefit check. Fortunately, you have options. You can dispute the overpayment, ask for a waiver of the requirement that you repay it, and make an offer of compromise.
How to Dispute That You Were Overpaid
You have the right to dispute that you were overpaid or that the amount they want you to pay back is accurate. If you plan to dispute the overpayment, you need to send the VA written notice of your dispute and request that they send you written documentation of how they calculated your overpayment. Once the VA receives your notice, they must conduct a review of their determination.
If you dispute the overpayment within 30 days of receiving the VA’s letter, they cannot collect any money from you until your dispute is resolved. Once they complete their review, they will prepare a Statement of the Case, which is an explanation of their decision and a notice of your right to appeal their decision.
How to Request a Waiver of the Overpayment
You can request a waiver of the overpayment at the same time that you dispute it and should take both actions simultaneously. Here’s how to request a waiver:
- You have 180 days from the date of the notice of overpayment to file a request for a waiver. However, it is best to file it within 30 days so that the overpayment is not deducted from your benefits while the VA considers your request.
- You have the right to request a hearing and should file it in writing within 30 days of the letter advising you of the overpayment to avoid the VA from deducting the overpayment from your benefits.
- You should submit your request in writing on the Statement in Support of Claim form. In your request, you should explain how the overpayment would be a hardship for you and how it would prevent you from paying your housing, food, or other essential costs.
- The VA will consider a number of factors, such as whether the overpayment was your fault and whether the overpayment would cause you to suffer undue hardship in making its decision.
Making an Offer of Compromise
Another option is to make an offer of compromise where you agree to pay less than the full overpayment in a lump sum payment. If the overpayment is less than $100,000, the VA has the authority to settle for less than what is owed.
Did you receive a letter from VA advising you that they overpaid you? Call our Roswell office or start a live chat to schedule a free consultation with a member of our skilled legal team to discuss your legal rights and the options that are best for you.
How are SSDI payments calculated?
When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), one of your top concerns most likely is how much your monthly payment will be if you are eligible for benefits. You need this information so you can be certain that you have sufficient income to survive. However, how your monthly payment is determined is complicated.
How Your SSDI Payments Are Calculated
The severity of your disability will not affect the amount of SSDI benefits you receive. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will determine your payment based on your lifetime average earnings before you became disabled. Your benefit amount will be calculated using your covered earnings. These are your earnings at jobs where your employer took money out of your wages for Social Security or FICA.
Your SSDI monthly benefit will be based on your average covered earnings over a period of time, which is referred to as your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). The SSA uses these amounts in a formula to determine your primary insurance amount (PIA). This is the basic amount used to establish your benefit.
SSDI payments range on average between $800 and $1,800 per month. The maximum benefit you could receive in 2020 is $3,011 per month. The SSA has an online benefits calculator that you can use to obtain an estimate of your monthly benefits.
Other Income That May Reduce Your SSDI Payment
If you receive other government benefits, your monthly SSDI benefit could be reduced. Sources of income that could affect your payment include:
- Worker’s compensation
- Public disability benefits
- Pension based on work not covered by Social Security, such as a government or foreign government pension
Can You Receive Retroactive Payments?
Once the SSA approves your SSDI application and calculates your monthly benefit, you may be entitled to a back pay award. How many months of payments you will receive will depend on the date you applied for benefits and your disability onset date.
If you are applying for SSDI benefits, you need the assistance of a skilled Social Security disability lawyer to get your application approved and receive the benefits you deserve. To schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team, fill out the online form on this page or call our Roswell office today.
How soon after my car accident should I see an attorney?
You should retain an experienced car accident lawyer in Roswell as soon as possible after your car accident. He can do more to help you and strengthen your claim if you hire him right away. Here are four reasons why this is important if you want to receive all the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Reason #1: Preservation of Evidence
One of the first steps your lawyer will do is to conduct an investigation of the cause of your collision and collect the evidence you need to prove the other driver was negligent. Crucial evidence could be lost if you do not obtain it quickly. Here are a few examples of what you could lose:
- Witnesses to your crash could disappear, or their memories may fade if their statements are not taken right away.
- A business surveillance tape that may have recorded your accident as it occurred may be taped over if it is not obtained quickly.
- Vehicles involved in the crash may be repaired before they can be inspected by an accident reconstruction expert if the cause of the crash is in dispute.
Reason #2: Help You Avoid Mistakes
You could inadvertently make mistakes when filing your claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company if you are not represented by an attorney. You may say something you did not mean that can be interpreted as an admission of fault, agree to give a recorded statement, or sign the insurance’s company’s blanket authorization for release of medical records. A lawyer can help you avoid these and other common mistakes victims make that hurt their right to compensation.
Reason #3: Negotiate Your Settlement
The insurance company may try to get you to accept a quick settlement of your claim for far less than it is worth. A lawyer who has handled many auto accident cases will be able to accurately value your claim and fight with the insurance adjuster so that you receive all the money that you deserve in your settlement.
Reason #4: File Your Lawsuit
You have a certain deadline, which is called the statute of limitations, to file your lawsuit against the negligent driver under New Mexico law. If his insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement, your lawyer can file your civil complaint before the deadline to do so expires.
These are just some of the benefits of hiring a skilled lawyer as soon as possible after your car accident. Take advantage of our offer of a free consultation to learn about your legal options and how we can assist you. Call our Roswell office or start a live chat to schedule your appointment today.
Can I file a fully developed disability claim?
Once 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?
If 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?
You 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?
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?
When 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 a disability 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?
When 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?
When 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.