There are often basic questions about Social Security Disability benefits, so we have decided to answer just a few of them here.
Q 1. What does it cost to hire an attorney?
A 1. Nothing. Our firm does all SSD cases on a contingency basis. We take a percentage or pre-determined amount (determined under Statutes) of the back-pay you are awarded. If you are not granted SSD benefits, then we do not collect anything.
Q 2. Is there a difference between SSD and SSI benefits?
A 2. Yes. SSI is usually reserved for those individuals with very low incomes, and/or those that have not worked long enough in order to earn SSD benefits.
Q 3. How do I prove SSD eligibility if I do not have the money to visit a doctor?
A 3. This is one of the hardest issues for SSD applicants. On the one hand they are not working because they are disabled, and therefore, they do not have health insurance that allows them to visit a doctor. On the other hand, it is harder to prove SSD eligibility without documentation from treating physicians. Those that believe that they are eligible for SSD benefits ought to see a doctor as much as they can in order to build the strongest case. However, if you previously worked and had health insurance which allowed you to visit a doctor, we can use those records to prove your case. Check with our office and we will help determine the best course of action you should take.
Q 4. How long does it take to start receiving my benefits?
A 4. This is the hardest part for many applicants to understand. The SS offices are very overworked and any given case can take 1-2 years. However, if you never start the process, you will never receive benefits. it is better to get benefits in 1-2 years than not at all. You need to come into our office ASAP so that we can begin the process on your behalf.
Q 5. Do I have to be completely disabled in order to receive SSD benefits? NO and YES. No, you do not have to be completely disabled in the ordinary sense of that word. Meaning, you do not have to be bed-ridden or need round-the-clock assistance. However, you need to be completely disabled as that term is used in the federal Statutes. The definition in the federal statutes is much more broad and the vast majority of the people who can do normal daily activities are eligible for SSD benefits.
We hope this answers some basic questions for now. We will post more common questions and answers in the near future.
Often, married couples that are divorcing want to make the process as quick and painless (and inexpensive) as possible. They have come to some sort of agreement as to division of real and personal property, alimony amounts (if any), who they want to be the residential parent, and so on. But, just as frequently, divorcing couples cannot come to an agreement as to one or more of the above issues. In the latter case, this would be a contested divorce. When the divorce is contested, attorneys first work to resolve these issues by way of settlement in order to avoid a trial.
However, many times couples are so at odds with one another that nothing is negotiable and a trial is the only way that a resolution to one of the common issues can be reached. The trial is not unlike a criminal trial in that witnesses will be called to present testimonial evidence and documents will entered as exhibits to prove whatever the party introducing the evidence wants to prove (e.g., that a retirement account or home should not be considered maritial property).
Because a contested divorce can go to trial, one must be cognizant of how many courts differ in the trial process. In short, trial processes are very county-specific and it is important to be familiar with the Court’s local rules and customary practices. Some counties require several “pre-trials” beforehand and ask for several formal statements to be submitted to the court and filed with the Clerk of Courts ahead of the pre-trial or trial date. Some courts require the parties to submit to mediation before a trial is finally conducted, while other counties do not provide a mediation program for Domestic Relations matters at all. In other words, A divorce action in Greene County, Ohio can differ dramatically from a divorce action in Montgomery County, Miami County, Warren County or Butler County, Ohio. Familiarity with the judges and the court-specific rules can really help divorcing couples avoid a long and protracted divorce action and help make the entire process easier to meander through and more cost-effective for all involved.
Child Support in Ohio is established by statute and is based upon a standard formula. Only in rare cases does the Court deviate from the amount that the formula prescribes for the divorcing couples’ situation (if the divorcing couple makes a lot of money or very little money combined, the Court has the power to ignore the prescribed formula and establish an amount itself). This formula is useful and may be fair at the time of the divorce decree, but many clients want to know what happens if circumstances change such that the amount of child support is too much or too little a few years down the road. For example, maybe the father has lost his job and can no longer pay the amount originally set-down in the divorce decree. Or, say the wife wins the lottery and now has a better financial position than she did when the couple divorced. Well, a child support obligor can ask for an Administrative review of the child support amount (through the Child Support Enforcement Agency) and ask that it be reduced based upon a change of circumstances. Or, the obligor can file a motion with the Court (as a post-decree motion) and ask that the Court modify the amount based upon the change in circumstances. If the Child Support Agency (CSEA) declines the obligor’s request for a modification downward, he can appeal that ruling to the Court afterward. So, in short, if you are a current child support obligor and you feel that based upon a change in circumstances, the amount you are paying is no longer appropriate, there are avenues to pursue where you might have it reduced. Speak with an attorney about whether you can have your child support reduced (or increased) and how best to go about it.
Many divorcing couples say that they want to work out Joint-Custody of their children, but wonder how to make that a part of the Divorce Decree. Well, the answer is that there is such a thing as Joint Custody under Ohio divorce statutes, but it is not actually called “Joint Custody”. Rather, in Ohio, what people generally mean by Joint Custody is something called “Shared Parenting Plan”. With a shared parenting plan, the parties agree to share the parenting responsibilities such that one parent is not designated as the sole residential parent and legal custodian of the minor children. The parties agree on some form of shared parenting plan and submit the plan to the court for its approval. If the Court accepts the shared parenting plan, then both parents will have custody of the children, as opposed to one parent being the residential/custodial parent and the other having visitation rights only.
Most people think that when someone is indicted in Ohio for a felony that there are only two possible resolutions: (1) The person will plead or be found guilty, or (2) the person will be acquitted of the charges. That is not entirely true. Ohio has a couple of alternatives that an attorney could pursue on behalf of a felony criminal defendant. First, the attorney could file a motion for Intervention in Lieu of Conviction (“ILC”). In short, ILC basically allows a person who committed a crime due to their addiction to drugs or alcohol to receive treatment for their substance abuse problems instead of a conviction and prison time. But, ILC is not available for all felony defendants and a given defendant must first be found to qualify for ILC. Ask your attorney whether you qualify (ILC is not available for certain crimes and certain offenders). If the Court accepts the ILC it will then prescribe a particular treatment program for the defendant and suspend the pending criminal action. If the defendant does what the Court demands as far as the treatment goes, the Court will dismiss the charges and the defendant can avoid a felony conviction altogether.
The second possibility is something called “Diversion.” Diversion is similar to ILC in that if the defendant is accepted for diversion and completes a program, then ultimately he or she is not convicted of a felony. The defendant is “diverted” out of the criminal court system and given a chance to accomplish certain goals set by the program. If the defendant successfully completes the diversion program, then the Court will dismiss the charges. However, like ILC, only certain charges and certain types of criminal defendants are eligible for a diversion program.