March 17, 2018

What Is Social Security Disability

Disability is something most people do not like to think about. But the chances that you will become disabled probably are greater than you realize. Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 3 in 10 chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age.

The Social Security Administration pays benefits to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Federal law requires this very strict definition of disability. While some programs give money to people with partial disability or short-term disability, Social Security does not.

In general, to get disability benefits, you must meet two different earnings tests:

1. A “recent work” test based on your age at the time you became disabled; and
2. A “duration of work” test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security.

Certain blind workers have to meet only the “duration of work” test.
You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. It can take a long time to process an application for disability benefits (three to five months). Do not hesitate to contact this law office for assistance with preparing your application.

The information we will need to help you includes:

  • Your Social Security number;
  • Your birth certificate;
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of the doctors, caseworkers, hospitals and clinics that took care of you;
  • and dates of your visits;
  • Names and dosage of all the medicine you take;
  • Medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics and caseworkers that you already have in your possession;
  • Laboratory and test results;
  • A summary of where you worked and the kind of work you did;
  • A copy of your most recent W-2 Form (Wage and Tax Statement) or, if you are self-employed, your federal tax return for the past year.

Do not delay applying for benefits if you cannot get all of this information together quickly. We will help you get it.

Estate Planning Basics

Getting Down to the Basics of Estate Planning…

In General
By definition, an estate plan is an arrangement for your assets and debts upon your incapacity and death. The law has a default estate plan for us all called Intestacy. This default arrangement is often more costly than the plan you would make and it will never take into account your personal preferences. In fact, in North Carolina, most of the decisions will be made by the Clerk of Superior Court or one of her agents using the law of Intestacy as well as any relevant local rules. Although the Clerk will do her best to oversee the administration of your estate – along with the other thousands of estates for which she is responsible – this procedure will most often not reflect the choices you would have made for yourself had you used the opportunity you had during your life and good health to put your own preferences in writing.

If you create an estate plan before you die or become incapacitated, it will take into account at minimum your ABCs. That is, your Assets, Bills, and Children. And a complete estate plan will also cover your health care during your life. If you take the time to prepare an estate plan, before you pass away, it will always more preferable and less expensive than the alternative default arrangement the law has in place for you. These estate planning basics will help guide you through the beginning stages of the process and hopefully help set your mind at ease.

The typical tools used by an estate planning attorney are: Wills, Financial Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, and Trusts. [Read more…]

Personal Injury & Wrongful Death

If you have or someone you know has fallen or been involved in an accident resulting in injury or death, take the following advice:

  • Contact us as soon as possible to retain a lawyer of your own. Delay in obtaining legal counsel could further complicate your matter, reduce the amount you could recover, or make your case harder to support.

  • Do not make any admissions to anyone about your fault or part in the accident.

  • Do not sign any document or give any typed statement to accident investigators appointed by any other involved party in the absence of your legal advisor.

  • Insurance companies perform their own investigation that could put you at a disadvantage. Thus, it is advisable to retain an attorney who can conduct a thorough investigation and pin down the liability on a potential at fault defendant.

Types of Accidents: Car Accidents, Semi-Truck Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Nursing Home Accidents, Product Defects, Construction, Highway, Medical Malpractice, Premises Liability, Workplace Injury, Burns, Explosions, Train and Locomotive Accidents, Guardrail Accidents, Wrongful Death, Other Accidents.

Social Security Disability Matters and Procedures an Attorney Will Address For You

  • What is the definition of “Disabled” as interpreted by the Social Security Administration
  • Determining Disability Under the Regulations and Rulings
  • Medical-Vocational Guidelines
  • Social Security Disability and SSI: Nondisability Requirements and Other Differences
  • Special Disability Programs
  • Appeal Process
  • Before Initial Interview
  • Initial Interview
  • [Read more…]

The First Steps to Take When Someone Dies

The emotional trauma brought on by the death of a close family member is often accompanied by bewilderment about the financial and legal steps the survivors must take. These steps may inconveniently come on top of commitments to family and work that can’t be set aside.

Probate, also known as estate administration, is the process that occurs after a person dies and prior to his or her assets being distributed. In North Carolina, estate administration is governed by the North Carolina General Statutes as well as the rules of the Clerk of Superior Court in the county of the decedent’s residence. Administrators are responsible for being aware of these laws and rules and are charged with following them. Getting support from an attorney with estate administration experience allows the process to be implemented smoothly and efficiently.

This listing includes the first few steps a surviving family member may want to take. These responsibilities may ultimately fall on whoever is appointed executor or administrator. Note that matters can be a bit complicated in the absence of a will, because it may not be clear who legally has the responsibility of carrying out these steps. [Read more…]

Bill of Rights For Those Who Grieve

Grief can be overwhelming, agonizing, numbing. But no matter how terrible, the bereaved have to go through it. Those who try to bottle up and avoid their feelings only prolong the experience. Grief is part of the process we must go through to get to the other side — to fully recover from our bereavement. What should we expect during this time?

1. You have the right to experience your own unique grief. No one else will grieve in exactly the same way you do. So, when you turn to others for help, don’t allow them to tell you what you should or should not be feeling.

2. You have the right to talk about your grief. Talking about your grief will help you heal. Seek out others who will allow you to talk as much as you want, as often as you want about your grief.
[Read more…]

Hot Estates – Predicting When Your Estate Will Have Problems

Estate planning is important for everyone but especially important for those of us who already have combustible issues in their lives. If we fail to plan when we have unsettled problems, then when we die we are guaranteeing family conflicts and expensive legal battles will flame up.

Often, we know the source of potential drama. But sometimes we are not aware that certain aspects of our financial situations and relationship dynamics are breeding grounds for these conflicts. I call them HotPoints.

HotPoints are unresolved situations in our lives now that might cause problems later. I have included a few of these HotPoints here so you can see how they can help you detect problems which might arise later. [Read more…]

Estate Planning Issues in Domestic Partnerships

Same-sex couples face extraordinary challenges in estate planning. This Law Office welcomes people from all walks of life and those with alternative lifestyles. We will prepare you and your estate plan for the particular issues which may present themselves upon the incapacity – be it temporary or permanent – and upon the death of you or your domestic partner. In many ways, estate planning for gay and lesbian domestic partners is more critical than it is for legally married couples. Some issues commonly faced by domestic partners are: [Read more…]

Estate Planning for Stress Avoidance and Stress Reduction


We all worry about the future. Because we can’t predict or control it. The best thing we can do is get ready for it. Drafting your will is a great way to eliminate unnecessary stress about the unknown. By putting in writing what our plans and wishes are, we reduce worry for ourselves and our families about the future.

Think about it, we are stressed out about the people and things in our lives that are important to us. We want to make sure our family is taken care of. That usually means providing shelter, food, education, and medical care for them. But we all know that we need to take care of them in other ways too.
[Read more…]

Incentive Trusts

One variation of trusts which is creating a lot of excitement with parents is called The Incentive Trust.

Traditionally, a trust would, at most, specify the age at which a beneficiary would receive money. However, often the unintended result would be, in the absence of your guidance, the creation of brats or unproductive adults. In general, parents do not want this. Parents generally want their kids to be successful, educated, happy, and well adjusted. Parents do not want their kids to lack motivation, ambition, or fall prey to bad habits. Even after they are gone. [Read more…]