Monthly Archives: March 2017

Social Security Disability Benefits Terminology and Meanings

The Social Security Disability process is filled with jargon and vernacular not common to everyday people. Demystifying this terminology and its meanings through simple explanations goes far in helping applicants through the Social Security benefits process. Understanding the nuts and bolts of each of the terms below increases one’s effectiveness as an advocate in disability cases.

Social Security Disability Benefits Terminology and Meanings

Appeal
Once a Social Security Administration (SSA) decision is reached, if an applicant disagrees with the outcome, he or she holds the right to appeal. In other words, the claimant asks SSA to review the case again, possibly with additional information or evidence.

Back Pay
Also known as retroactive pay, back pay grants monthly benefits to qualified individuals prior to their application date. These benefits could date back as early as the onset of the disability.

Benefits
Supplemental income is awarded to qualified applicants through monthly cash benefits and/or medical coverage. These benefits fall under the categories of retirement, disability, family, survivors and Medicare. Individuals below the retirement age with a limiting medical impairment which hinders the ability to work qualify.

Decision Notice
An official letter sent to the applicant states whether a decision has been made to approve or deny benefits. The mailed letter includes the decision explanation, payable benefits and the expected monthly cash amount.

Disability
The SSA defines disability as a condition that lasts or is expected to last for 12 months or result in death. This mental or physical impairment must prevent an individual from engaging in work or “substantial gainful activity” (SGA).

Evidence
Sometimes labelled “proofs,” evidence includes the documentation required to support an applicant’s claim. While the proof needed looks the same foundationally, certain medical conditions may require extraneous support.

SSDI
One vehicle through which the SSA awards benefits to disabled workers and their families is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). These awards are granted based on several factors including the time one has worked and his or her payment of Social Security taxes.

SSI
The federal program, Social Security Income (SSI), offers disabled individuals and their families supplemental income based on financial need. Funding for this effort comes through general tax revenue.

SGA
The level of work activity and earnings by an individual whether full or part time defines substantial gainful activity (SGA). Factors of pay or profit and the significance of physical and/or mental activities by the claimant play into this definition as well.

Does Your Firm Need a Legal Memo Writing Service?

It is a universal truth that there have never been enough hours in the day to complete all of your work. Time is a daily finite source because there are only 24 hours in a day. Yes, you can recharge it, like a battery, when you wake up in the morning, but the truth is that we always need more time. If this is true for mere mortals, then lawyers, with their intense caseloads. Therefore, many lawyers and law offices have begun to outsource some of the work to companies designed specifically to complete this work. One such example is using legal memo writing services.

Does Your Firm Need a Legal Memo Writing Service

What is it?

Legal Writing Services do just what they promise: construct legal documents. Paperwork is decidedly the most time consuming aspect of practicing law. Instead of gathering and solidifying information for the case, lawyers have to focus on putting information together. The idea of outsourcing is simply defined as “You do what you do best and let others do what they do best.” In other words, lawyers should focus on winning their case and unburden themselves from extra work by giving these professional services from doing what they do best. Some examples of things that can be outsourced include the following:

● Transcription of audio recordings of hearings, trials, and depositions
● Preparing timesheets and billing materials
● Research and filing
● Data entry
● Review of documents
● Etc

Why Outsource?

The most obvious reason to outsource your legal writing is time. Since legal writing would be all that these firms do, they will be able to get it done quicker, and the work would probably be at a higher quality. That’s not to say that you can’t do a good job, but if you have to juggle a ton of work, you may not do your due diligence. You aren’t outsourcing the practice of law because you are still doing the important work, but like a CEO of a fortune five hundred company, you are simply delegating the work. Another reason to outsource is that it is actually cheaper for you and, subsequently, cheaper for your clients. Because it takes less time, and lawyers work for an hourly salary, their clients will get a financial break. Furthermore, you or your firm don’t have to burden your staff and paralegals, and you don’t need to pay the overtime for complex cases. To summarize, outsourcing your legal writing is more efficient, less time consuming, cheaper, and results in a higher quality product.

3 Big Changes in Social Security in 2017

2017 is now well underway, and as is the case with many things, a new year means that there have been some changes in Social Security. If you’re a worker paying into Social Security, if you’re retired and collecting Social Security, or if you’ve been injured and are collecting disability benefits, you might be wondering what those changes are, and how they could affect you. While we can’t discuss in detail every single change made, we have assembled a list of some of the most important changes you need to know about, and how they could impact your life.

3 Big Changes in Social Security in 2017

1) The Full Retirement Age has Increased
For a while now, the age of which one could retire and receive full Social Security benefits was 66. Now, that is changing. For those born in 1955 or after, the full retirement age is now 66 years and 2 months. Why is this important? Well, for one obvious reason, it means if you want to collect your full benefits you need to work two more months. A second, and less obvious, effect of this concerns those who collect benefits early. The earliest age at which you can collect benefits — 62 — still has not changed. However, because this is now four years and two months away from full retirement, it means that those who elect to receive their benefits when turning 62 will receive less per month, since they are farther away from “full” retirement.
And, it’s not hard to assume that in future years we will see that “full” retirement age creep even higher.

2) A Slight Increase in Payments – Which You Probably Won’t Even See
Great news! Your monthly payments have been given a COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) increase to reflect inflation! How much? Well, there’s the kicker: this COLA increase is a very modest 0.3%. That means that the average payment will increase in 2017 just a little over $4 a month, to right around $1,360.

Before you put in that down payment on a pool, though, you should also know that with this raise there is also an increase in monthly Medicare premiums. The cost of the increase? Right around $4 a month. So, this means that in most cases, you will hardly see any sort of change at all. If you have an above-average monthly benefit, you might see a small increase, and a lower than average benefits might see a minimal decrease, but that is about it.

3) An Increase in the Salary Cap
Here’s a change that will affect those of you with healthy salaries: the cap on how much of your income can be taxed for Social Security is increasing. Whereas before the cap was set at $$118,500 per year, and anything above that did NOT pay into the Social Security fund, the cap has been raised in 2017 to $127,200. This means that some people will pay up to $540 more a year into the Social Security system.

If you have any questions as to how these or other changes might affect you in 2017, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!