Social Security Attorney Fighting The Rights Of Clients In Los Angeles For Over 20 Years
- Attorney Tony Adderley is a Better Business Bureau accredited lawyer with more than 20 years of legal experience handling SSD and SSI benefit cases.
- Recognized as one of the top Social Security law firms in Los Angeles, our award-winning law firm has the best social security attorneys in Southern California.
- Our skilled lawyers are honest and aggressive throughout your entire case, which has earned us many positive reviews from clients and other colleagues in the area.
Tony Adderley has been working as a professional advocate for individuals entitled to Social Security Disability (SSD) and worker’s compensation benefits for more than 20 years. As a Los Angeles social security lawyer he has handled a variety of different cases for a variety of different clients all with their own unique sets of injuries and circumstances.
In addition to helping out with initial application filing, Tony Adderley and his trusted team of legal aides can also provide legal representation for individuals who might be entitled to coverage and benefits but who have already been denied by either the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the worker’s compensation system) – or any other program such as the supplemental security income (SSI) program. Many applicants are initially denied, but that doesn’t mean that they should give up hope. Experienced Los Angeles Social Security attorney Tony Adderley can assist applicants with appealing the denied claim.
Unlike many attorneys who only help clients with application paperwork, Los Angeles social security attorney Tony Adderley is also a trial advocate who can represent his clients in both administrative hearings and court, if a victim is repeatedly denied for coverage. When he believes in the merits of a case, Tony Adderley will pursue the benefits which his clients are entitled to with dogged determination and diligence.
RECENT BLOG POSTS
If you are an adult in the United States, and if you are not able to work because of a physical or a mental disability, you are probably qualified to receive some kind of monthly disability benefits. Some disability benefits are taxed as income, others are not, and still other disability benefits may or may not be taxed depending on an individual’s marital status, total household income, and other factors. The federal government – through the Social Security Administration (SSA) – offers and operates two important financial assistance programs for those who cannot work because of a disability.
The differences between the two disability benefit programs – Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – are important to understand if you can’t work and you need disability benefits. In southern California, an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney can help disabled persons decide which program is most appropriate and can also guide applicants through the process of applying for disability benefits.
The SSI program is paid for through general taxes. SSI was created to help low-income persons who are dealing with disability or blindness and low-income persons who age 65 and older. SSI recipients must be low-income individuals, so monthly SSI benefits are not subject to federal income taxes.
Social Security Disability Insurance benefits may be subject to taxation, but most SSDI recipients’ benefits are not taxed because they are also low-income individuals. However, about one in three SSDI recipients must pay taxes on the SSDI benefits because another income in the household – usually a spouse’s income – brings the household income to a taxable level.
PRECISELY HOW ARE TAX AMOUNTS DETERMINED ON SSDI BENEFITS?
Here’s how taxes work for those who are receiving monthly SSDI benefits. The benefits are taxed in precisely the same way that Social Security retirement benefits are taxed. The specific figures, amounts, and percentages cited here are current as of 2017 but are subject to change in the future. Married SSDI recipients who are filing jointly with an annual income above $32,000, including the monthly SSDI payments, must pay taxes on a portion of the SSDI benefits.
Similarly, a single Social Security Disability Insurance recipient who has an annual income that exceeds $25,000 must also pay income taxes on a portion of the SSDI benefits. What percentage of your SSDI benefits are subject to federal income tax? That answer will depend on your total monthly income amount.
If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and you are:
– single with a monthly income below $2,084, no portion of your SSDI is taxed
– single with a monthly income between $2,084 and $2,833, 50 percent of your SSDI is taxed
– single with a monthly income above $2,833, 85 percent of your SSDI is taxed
– married with a monthly income below $2,666, no portion of your SSDI is taxed
– married with a monthly income between $2,667 and $3,666, 50 percent of your SSDI is taxed
– married with a monthly income above $3,666, 85 percent of your SSDI is taxed
Remember, of course, that if your Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are subject to federal income taxes, the tax itself is not going to be 50 or 85 percent of the annual SSDI benefit, but will instead probably be closer to 10 or 15 percent of the total benefit.
Those individuals and couples with higher annual incomes, however, could be expected to pay a tax as high as 35 percent of the SSDI benefits. Twelve states tax Social Security Disability Insurance benefits as part of their state income tax. California, however, does not include SSDI benefits as income toward the state income tax.
WHAT ABOUT TAXES ON LUMP-SUM BACK PAYMENTS?
Many disabled SSDI recipients begin receiving their disability benefits with a lump-sum back payment for the months when the recipient was disabled but had not yet been approved to receive benefits. A lump-sum back payment, however, can boost your income for that particular year, and that can cause you to lose a bigger chunk of your benefits to taxes than you would normally lose.
However, the IRS actually allows you to apply benefits that were owed to you in a previous year to that year’s tax return – which you may need to have amended – thus reducing your income in the year you obtain the lump sum payment. In southern California, a certified public accountant, a Los Angeles tax lawyer, or an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney can help you with the numbers and paperwork.
SSI and SSDI disability benefits were not designed for workers with temporary or partial disabilities. SSDI benefits were approved by Congress with the presumption that short-term disabilities can be covered with workers’ compensation, health insurance, and other resources.
In California, short-term disability insurance pays a percentage of an employee’s normal salary if an employee misses work for more than a few days because of an illness or an injury. California requires most employers to offer a short-term disability plan. Short-term disability benefits from California are not subject to federal taxation.
WHAT ABOUT TAXES AND OTHER TYPES OF DISABILITY BENEFITS?
If your disability qualifies you to receive Medicare benefits, you may deduct any Medicare premiums paid as medical expenses on your federal income taxes, and the actual Medicare benefits are not taxed. Worker’s compensation benefits are not taxable except in some cases where some individuals may be receiving both workers’ compensation benefits and SSDI or SSI disability benefits.
Any taxes on workers’ compensation benefits apply to a portion determined by the offset to your SSDI or SSI benefits. Here’s an example: Let’s say that you receive $500 a month in worker’s comp benefits and $500 a month in SSDI benefits, but Social Security determines you only need $800 a month, so your monthly SSDI benefit is reduced to $300. The offset is $200, so $200 of your monthly workers’ comp payment is subject to taxes.
If you are receiving workers’ compensation along with SSI or SSDI, the finances and taxes can get complicated fast, so don’t hesitate to seek help from an accountant or a disability benefits attorney. Similarly, if you receive disability benefits through a private or a specialized program, you may want to consult a tax professional or an attorney with experience in disability benefits to ensure that you’re not paying any taxes unnecessarily.
The Boston Globe recently told us that 45 percent of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans – almost half of 1.6 million veterans – are receiving or seeking disability benefits for service-related disabilities or injuries. In total, about 3.8 million of the 19 million military veterans in the U.S. today struggle with some type of service-related injury or disability.
Many of those 3.8 million vets receive disability payments from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (or the “VA,” formerly the Veterans Administration). VA benefits are tax-free and provided to veterans who sustained injuries on active duty or whose medical conditions were exacerbated by active duty.
Even a veteran who was discharged from the armed forces many years ago may still be eligible to receive disability benefit payments through the Department of Veterans Affairs and to receive a 100 percent VA disability rating. There is no time limit or restriction on a U.S. military veteran’s right to disability benefits.
The severity of a veteran’s impairment and disability determines what disability rating the veteran is given. In turn, the amount of the monthly VA benefit payment to a veteran will hinge on that veteran’s disability rating.
HOW CAN A DISABLED VETERAN OBTAIN BOTH VA AND SSDI BENEFITS?
If you are a disabled veteran who is currently receiving monthly disability benefit payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs, you may be additionally entitled to SSDI benefits – Social Security Disability Insurance – from the Social Security Administration (SSA). For veterans who meet the qualifications for both programs, combining VA and SSDI benefits can substantially ease the financial burdens when a disability prevents you from working. In Southern California, disabled veterans should discuss the possibility of obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance benefits with an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney.
While some veterans will qualify to receive both Veterans Affairs and Social Security benefits, all veterans should understand that the two benefit programs are entirely distinct with different procedures, different requirements, and different definitions of “disability.”
Although some disabled veterans will, in fact, qualify to receive VA and Social Security benefits at the same time, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration operate independently of one another and disburse monthly benefit payments separately.
Veterans may receive VA benefits for partial disability, but to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, a veteran must be unable to work or to participate in what the Social Security Administration calls “substantial gainful activity.” In other words, the Social Security Administration provides disability benefits only to persons who are so severely disabled that the disability prevents them from earning a living. Because the qualifications and procedures differ, some veterans who receive Veterans Affairs benefits will qualify for Social Security disability payments, and some will not.
However, a veteran with a disability rating status that is 100 percent “P & T” – permanently and totally disabled – will very likely qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), provided that the veteran satisfies all of the other SSDI eligibility requirements. The final monthly amount that is paid out in SSDI benefits will depend on a disabled veteran’s personal employment history, earnings, and payments into the Social Security fund.
HOW IS A VETERAN’S APPLICATION FOR SSDI BENEFITS HANDLED?
If a disabled veteran’s VA disability rating status is 100 percent P & T, that veteran may qualify for special review procedures when he or she applies for SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration will need copies of your VA disability rating documents. The Social Security Administration’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) will review the claim and will probably be able to make a quick determination regarding your application for SSDI benefits, usually in just weeks.
However, disabled veterans with VA disability ratings below 100 percent will receive no special consideration from the Social Security Administration. They must meet the same qualifications and must submit to the same standard procedures that apply to all other SSDI applicants. This means a longer wait, probably months before a decision about benefits is made. If SSDI benefits are initially denied – and that happens frequently – an appeal can take even more months.
The SSDI application process is quite long, exceedingly complicated, and sometimes just plain confusing. And even after someone has been approved for SSDI benefits, six months or more can pass before the first payments are actually received. There’s nothing specific that allows a disability lawyer to speed up the process, but a good Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney can help a disabled veteran fill out the application forms, collect any other required documents, and prepare for an SSDI appeal hearing if necessary.
CAN A DISABLED VETERAN QUALIFY FOR SSI BENEFITS?
If you are a disabled veteran who is facing economic hardship, and if you do not qualify for SSDI benefits, it is possible that you may be eligible for the Supplemental Security Income or “SSI” program, which is also offered by the Social Security Administration. Supplemental Security Income is a needs-based benefits program, so if you are receiving substantial VA benefits already, SSI counts those benefits as income, and you probably will not qualify for the SSI program. A disability benefits attorney can review your circumstances and determine if you are more likely to qualify for SSDI or Supplemental Security Income benefits.
In fact, the best starting point for a disabled veteran who is seeking disability benefits is to obtain the advice of an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney as early as possible. A good disability lawyer can make certain that all of your paperwork is accurate and complete so that no mistakes or misunderstandings delay the process. Your lawyer will also make certain that you have been seen by the right doctors and that you are providing appropriate and accurate medical information.
You should let your disability benefits attorney review every line of your SSDI or SSI application and walk you through all of the paperwork from the beginning. A disability attorney will protect your rights, provide valuable insights and sound legal advice, and will represent you in the appeals process if your initial application for SSDI or SSI benefits is denied. If you are a disabled veteran, you are absolutely entitled to and deserving of every benefit that’s available to you. A Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney can help.
“It is not easy to get disability benefits, and it’s a very complicated and difficult process.” That’s the assessment of Lisa Ekman, who is the Director of Government Affairs for the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. If you are unable to work and you need to receive Social Security disability benefits in Southern California, the place to start is a consultation with an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability lawyer.
Why is it difficult and complicated to obtain disability benefits? If your first application for disability benefits is denied – and most first applications, in fact, are denied – you’ll need to appeal that decision, and the average wait time for a first appeal hearing is six hundred days.
And earlier this year, the Social Security Administration (SSA), in a well-intentioned but possibly misguided effort to fight fraud and to expedite the application process, established new rules. These new rules prevent the statements and conclusions of an applicant’s longtime personal physician from receiving any particular special consideration.
Until March of this year, benefits adjudicators for the SSA were required to give greater weight in the disability evaluation process to the opinion of a claimant’s treating physician about the disability claimant’s work-related limitations.
A “treating physician” is a medical doctor (M.D.), osteopath (D.O.), or Ph.D.-level psychologist who has an ongoing relationship caring for the claimant as a patient, as opposed to a doctor who may have seen the claimant briefly or not at all.
WHAT WAS REQUIRED UNDER THE OLD RULES?
Under the old rules, if a treating physician had stated that a claimant can only lift five pounds, but a consultant had opined that the claimant can lift 20 pounds, the SSA had to evaluate the claim on the basis of the treating doctor’s opinion rather than the consultant’s opinion. The new change now makes a huge difference and means that thousands who might have received disability benefits will now be denied those benefits.
The new rules are a mistake, according to Lisa Ekman, who explained why to KCUR Radio in Kansas City: “Those changes would now put the evidence from a treating physician on the same weight as evidence from a medical consultant employed to do a one-time brief examination or a medical consultant they had do a review of the paper file and may have never examined the individual.”
The Social Security Administration has said that the new rules preventing a personal physician’s statement from receiving special consideration are designed to “reflect modern healthcare delivery.” The new rules will no longer give added weight to disability determinations by other agencies such as the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
While the SSA can look at the medical reports that another agency’s decision is based on, the SSA is no longer compelled to consider another program’s requirements when making its own decision about an applicant’s disability.
However, one of the new changes may be helpful to disability applicants. The Social Security Administration will now consider the opinions submitted by physician assistants and nurse practitioners in the same manner as opinions from doctors. This new rule recognizes recent changes in medical practice that means most hands-on care is now provided by physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
WHO MIGHT BE DENIED BENEFITS UNDER THE NEW RULES?
Ms. Ekman also said the new rules could mean more benefit denials for applicants with complex disability conditions such as multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and lupus – conditions that a physician unfamiliar with a patient may have difficulty evaluating.
More benefit denials mean that more appeal hearings have to be scheduled, adding to an appeals backlog that is already staggering. It all adds up to additional and needless suffering for struggling disabled persons who have already earned and deserve to be receiving their disability benefits.
Take Stephenie Hashmi, for example. Her career as a nurse in Kansas City was cut short six years ago by systemic lupus, which causes the immune system to attack the body’s organs and tissues. Despite surgery and other treatments, Ms. Hashmi, now 41, is usually bedridden.
When she first applied six years ago for Social Security disability benefits, she was denied. Her appeal hearing is scheduled for November – not this November, but November 2018.
WHY THE BACKLOG?
The long waits for appeal hearings started about a decade ago. That’s according to Jason Fichtner, a former acting deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration who is now a senior research fellow in public policy at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. The recession of 2007-2008, Fichtner said, compelled thousands of partially-disabled people who had been working to apply for disability benefits.
Even though partially disabled persons are able to do at least some limited amount and kinds of work, Fichtner explained, in a tight economy, they are typically the first people to lose their jobs. Thus, today, more than a million disability applicants are waiting for appeal hearings. At the same time, the Social Security Administration’s core operating budget has been slashed by about ten percent since 2010.
Fichtner also explained that the Social Security Administration is committed to weeding out fraud – including cases where a patient’s personal doctor might exaggerate his or her conclusions to help a patient obtain disability benefits. “For patients that are really in dire condition and really have major disabilities, I don’t think they have to worry about these rule changes,” he concluded.
The disability benefits application process is lengthy, complex, and often just baffling. Even when an applicant is approved to receive disability benefits, it can take up to six months to receive the first payment.
While there’s nothing spelled out that a Social Security disability attorney can do to expedite the process, an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability lawyer can help an applicant to complete applications, write additional letters, gather the necessary paperwork, and help an applicant to be prepared for an appeal hearing.
A Social Security disability attorney can also ensure that no mistakes or misunderstandings lead to any unnecessary delays. If you are disabled, you are entitled by law to disability benefits – that’s why the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs were created. Congress – or the Social Security Administration itself – should find a way to speed up the benefit approval process.
Was Your Claim Denied?
No matter what stage of an application process a person might be in, whether an application has yet to be filed or if one has already been denied, Tony Adderley can speak with applicants and provide sound legal advice on the steps that the applicant should take in order to keep moving forward with recovering benefits and coverage owed. Claims are denied for a number of reasons. Applicants often fill out the form incorrectly and are denied based solely on this fact, which could have easily been avoided if you worked with an attorney. Your claim may also be denied if it is determined that your injury is not serious enough to receive benefits. Having a disability can severely impact your ability to earn money and support yourself, so don’t delay when it comes to contacting an attorney for assistance with submitting a claim. The sooner that you call an attorney for help, the sooner your claim can be submitted and you can be approved for Social Security disability benefits.
Filling for Disability
As a disability and Social Security lawyer, Attorney Tony Adderley has encountered many situations where a client has inadvertently done things that had an adverse impact on their disability case. So Attorney Adderley has authored an ebook: Six Ways to Not Mess-up Your Disability Case. In this ebook, he explores the importance of gathering sufficient medical evidence and when (and when not to file a new disability benefits application. You’ll also learn why it’s so important to prepare for your medical examination and resolve any and all substance abuse issues that may arise. Additionally, Attorney Adderley explores why you should seek an early resolution to your case, along with how failure to review your hearing file could subsequently present roadblocks later in the case. With these tips and help from a qualified disability attorney like Tony Adderley, you’ll be well on your way to getting the Social Security disability benefits that you deserve! Check out Six Ways to Not Mess-up Your Disability Case today!
Mistakes When Filling
As a workers’ compensation and Social Security lawyer, Attorney Tony Adderley routinely encounters cases where errors and mistakes result in an unfair and unfavorable ruling on your Social Security case. So Attorney Adderley has created a video series, exploring some of the most common legal mistakes that can result in a less-than-favorable decision in your case, from missing medical records and accurate credibility determinations, to substantial evidence rules and consideration of prescription medication side effects. In Attorney Tony Adderley’s video series, you’ll learn about some common mistakes and how a qualified Social Security lawyer can help you avoid an unfair decision in your case. Contact Attorney Adderley’s Los Angeles law offices today by calling 310-507-9948.
Let Us Fight For You
If you have experienced an unfavorable decision appeal or are unsure about whether or not you would qualify for Social Security disability benefits, attorney Tony Adderley can help you determine whether or not you should file a claim. The Social Security Administration has two primary requirements that have to be met in order to qualify to receive Social Security disability benefits. To receive benefits, you must have worked in a job that was covered by Social Security, meaning you were contributing part of your earned wages to Social Security. The second requirement is that you have an injury which will prevent you from working for at least on year. Unfortunately, even if you meet both of these requirements, you will face countless obstacles before you receive the disability benefits that you deserve. Not every person that qualifies will be approved for benefits, which is just one of the many reasons why you need to hire Tony Adderley, an experienced Los Angeles Social Security lawyer.