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
Over a million disabled workers in the United States are waiting for an appeal hearing to determine if they are eligible to receive monthly disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. The problem for many who are waiting is the backlog. It is simply too long – almost two years now for most benefit applicants. Some of these disabled workers won’t even live for another two years – they need help now. The Social Security disability backlog is a growing concern that is now reaching crisis proportions not only in California but in every state.
Those disabled workers who are waiting for hearings have already applied for disability benefits once, and they’ve been initially rejected. Most first-time disability benefit applications are rejected for a number of reasons. Sometimes the applicant has not accurately described his or her disability in a way that corresponds to the Social Security Administration’s disability categories. Other applicants fail to submit sufficient medical evidence. And some benefit applicants simply fail to complete the required application forms or to complete them accurately and legibly.
Thus, almost no one is approved for disability benefits on the basis of his or her initial application. Almost everyone who is approved for Social Security disability benefits is either approved at an appeal hearing or at an even later stage in the process, and most of the applicants who persevere are eventually approved to receive monthly payments. More than ten million disabled workers now receive monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments, and about eight million more now receive monthly disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
HOW MUCH ARE MONTHLY DISABILITY BENEFIT PAYMENTS?
No one gets rich through SSI or SSDI. Currently, the average monthly payment is about $1,037 a month. But for too many disabled people in our nation, even that amount arrives too late to help. Chris Hoffman, for example, worked for most of his life as a mason, pouring concrete and laying tile and bricks.
After a series of heart attacks, Mr. Hoffman applied for disability payments in 2014. His initial application for benefits was denied, and Mr. Hoffman passed away while waiting for an appeal hearing. Ten months after his death in November 2016, according to the Denver Post, an administrative law judge awarded disability benefits to Mr. Hoffman.
Melissa Kern, a victim of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or “Lou Gehrig’s disease”), tried to obtain Social Security disability benefits for the last seven years of her life. She passed away at age 42, only days after finally being approved for benefit payments. But even without a backlog of cases, it can be difficult for many applicants to prove that they qualify for benefits.
The medical evidence and documentation that must be provided to Social Security is complicated and extensive. Still, no workers should be forced to wait seven years to obtain benefits that are rightfully theirs. What are the facts regarding the appeal hearing backlog?
More than a million people are now waiting an average 596 days to have an appeal hearing, and the average waiting time is increasing. In 2014, the average waiting time from the hearing request to the hearing was 422 days.
Most applicants who are waiting for an appeal hearing have already spent an average of 213 days having their initial application considered – and rejected – prior to making the request for an appeal hearing.
Seventy percent of those who are waiting for an appeal hearing have paid FICA taxes and have worked, on average, for 22 years.
In fiscal 2016, according to the Social Security Administration’s own estimate, 8,699 people passed away as they waited for an appeal hearing.
After an appeal hearing, the average waiting time for a decision is another 85 days.
WHY IS THE BACKLOG CONTINUING TO GROW?
The Social Security Administration has cited a number of reasons for the growing disability backlog. An increasing number of aging baby boomers are becoming more prone to serious injuries. Budget cuts and funding limitations have also added to the delays. Since 2010, Social Security’s operating budget has been reduced by about ten percent.
Excessively long waits for appeal hearings began about ten years ago, during the recession in 2007 and 2008. That’s when thousands of partially-disabled workers – who are often the first to lose their jobs in a declining economy – sought disability benefits for the first time.
Applying for Social Security disability benefits is a complicated, lengthy, and sometimes very confusing process. The paperwork alone is extensive and daunting. After you are approved for disability benefits, it can still take as long as six months to begin receiving monthly payments. It genuinely requires that much time to start receiving your benefit payments, and even the best disability attorney can’t make it happen faster.
HOW CAN A DISABILITY BENEFITS LAWYER HELP?
So, although there is no particular legal trick or tool that a disability lawyer can use to speed up the benefits application procedure, an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney can see to it that no misunderstandings with the Social Security Administration and no mistakes in your paperwork cause an unnecessary delay in the processing of your benefits application.
If you are among the one million people now waiting for an appeal hearing, take advantage of the additional time by working with your disability attorney to compile the documents and evidence that you will need to back up your benefits claim at the hearing. A Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney will know precisely what evidence and documents a Social Security administrative law judge will need to approve you for disability benefits.
Disabled persons who meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of a disability are entitled under the law to monthly disability benefit payments. That’s precisely the reason why SSDI and SSI were established by Congress. Until Congress can find a way to speed up the disability appeal process, every benefit applicant should be working with an experienced disability attorney – someone who will make sure that you’re being treated fairly, and someone who will work diligently to obtain benefits on your behalf. With an average wait time of two years, if you are applying for disability benefits, you need to begin the process right now.
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.
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.