April 25, 2017

Hiring Freeze May Make Disability Case Delays Worse

Filed under: General — Casper & Casper @ 1:50 am

The Social Security Disability program is a labyrinth. It is full of confusing regulations, requirements, and exceptions. (We cover one of the many common misconceptions about SSDI in a previous post.)

A small mistake on your paperwork, a lack of preparation, or a missed filing deadline can mean that your claim is delayed or even denied. Unfortunately, this happens often, particularly to people who try to go through the system without the help of a skilled attorney. Up to 70 percent of first-time claims are denied.

People who have been injured or face a long-term disability need Social Security Disability to pay their bills and support themselves. They simply can’t go without an income while they aren’t able to work. If their claim is denied because of some small paperwork error, they are forced to appeal. As a result, there is a huge number of appeals that have to be processed.

Bloomberg reports that the backlog for appeals yet to be processed is 526 days, almost a year and a half. This means that about 1.1 million people who are appealing their case have to wait more than a year to see an appeals court judge and make their case.

social security disability claims  can take 526 days to process

Unfortunately, the delay is likely to only get worse. In the article, Bloomberg notes that President Trump’s federal hiring freeze will worsen the backlog.

Why? There are around 1,650 judges responsible for looking over the claims of people whose applications for Social Security Disability were denied by state agencies. While that may seem like a large number of judges, it isn’t enough to clear the backlog and process appeals claims in a timely manner. For a judge, processing a SSDI claim properly includes reviewing hundreds of pages of medical records, expert assessments, and other paperwork. (Now, imagine that task multiplied by more than a million!) Last year, the Social Security Administration announced that it wanted to streamline the process and hire an addition 250 judges (bringing the total to 1,900) to help do so.

The federal hiring freeze is a temporary halt on hiring federal civilian employees. (The freeze grants exemptions to staff needed for national security or public safety reasons and also allows other exemptions on a case-by-case basis.) The order is designed, according to the administration, to help balance the budget and create a more efficient government.

While these are laudable goals, not everyone agrees that the hiring freeze will achieve them.

President of the Association of Administration Law Judges union Judge Marilyn Zahm said, “There may be a hiring freeze on federal employment, but there’s no freeze on people getting older, people getting sicker, people having injuries and accidents, and people needing disability insurance.”

In addition to the union, several former heads of the Social Security Administration—both Republican and Democrat—have expressed concerns that the hiring freeze will prevent the agency from properly serving the American public.

At Casper & Casper Law, we are also concerned about the hiring freeze. Our Social Security Disability attorneys work in the system every day, helping injured and sick people successfully complete their claims. We understand how frustrating it is to be denied access to the help that you need and deserve.

We believe this news highlights why it is so important to get a Social Security Disability claim right the first time. If you have been injured or have a mental or physical illness that will prevent you from working for more than a year, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. Whether or not you qualify will depend on how long you have worked, how recently you have worked, and a number of other requirements. Even if you do qualify, the success of your claim is not guaranteed: it depends on the proper completion of paperwork, compelling testimony at your hearing, and other factors.

We strongly recommend talking to a local Cincinnati, Ohio, Social Security Disability lawyer about your case. After speaking with an attorney, you’ll know if you qualify and have a better understanding of your options. With an attorney’s help, you will have a higher likelihood of getting your claim approved. Perhaps best of all, you’ll be able to focus on taking care of yourself instead of attempting to juggle your medical needs with a long and confusing court case.

You shouldn’t have to wait years to get the benefits you need. We want you to know that we will fight to get you your benefits, including backpay and retroactive benefits from the start of your disability, as soon as possible. You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone.

To get your questions answered, contact Casper & Casper for a free consultation. Our firm has offices in Cincinnati, Dayton, Middletown, and Hamilton, Ohio, for your convenience.

April 6, 2017

What to Do if You or Someone You Love Struggles With Alcohol

Filed under: OVI Defense — Casper & Casper @ 5:55 am

At Casper & Casper, our team includes attorneys with extensive experience defending clients against OVI (DUI) charges. As a result, we’ve witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of alcohol abuse on individuals and communities. Since April is Alcohol Awareness Month, we’ve collected some helpful advice on beginning to deal with a drinking problem—or helping someone you love who may be facing alcohol addiction.

How can you tell if you’re drinking too much?

In general, if you’re a man who regularly consumes more than four alcoholic drinks in one day or a woman who consumes more than three drinks in a day—or someone who drinks frequently but in lower amounts (14 per week for men, 7 for women), it could be time to take a closer look at your drinking.

Ask yourself if you’ve ever ended up drinking more than you intended, had a hard time cutting down on your drinking, or gotten into situations where your drinking increased your chance of getting hurt (driving, swimming, walking in dangerous areas, having unsafe sex).

Have you given up or cut back on other activities in order to drink, or found that your tolerance for alcohol had increased and you needed to drink more in order to get the same effect?

If any of these warning signs apply to you, the first thing you should do is take steps to stay safe. Make sure you have a designated driver, or take a taxi or an Uber, when you go out. Avoid using machinery, swimming, or any other activities that require you to keep your head.

Second, practice pacing yourself. It takes about two hours for an adult’s body to completely break down a single alcoholic drink, so choose to have no more than one alcoholic drink per hour, followed by a non-alcoholic one.

Third, pay attention to how much you’re drinking. Marking drinks on a calendar can be a great way to get a general idea of the quantity and frequency of your alcohol consumption. Notice how you feel afterwards, and whether there are negative repercussions to your drinking—socially, physically, in your career, etc.—that you may have been ignoring.

If you decide it’s time to quit, there are many great resources online and in your community. Here are a few:

Rethinking Drinking

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcohol Screening

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

Recovery.org

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence

What can you do if you suspect someone you love is drinking too much?

It can feel overwhelming when a loved one seems to be in the grip of alcohol addiction. You can’t control their actions, and you may not even be sure how to bring up your concern with them.

It may be useful to think of alcohol addiction as a disease rather than a failure of willpower. A combination of genetics, psychological and social factors determine why one person can drink to excess at times but never develop a dependence, while someone else descends into a downward spiral.

If you choose to confront someone about his or her alcohol use, it pays to go in with a game plan. Approach the person with an attitude of compassion, not accusation, and never begin this conversation when you suspect your loved one has been drinking.

Talk about the specific effects their drinking has had—on you, on their job, on their health. Offer your help and support, including, if you’re willing, attending a meeting or support group with them.

But whatever you do, don’t take on the responsibility for another person’s recovery. You’re not responsible for their alcohol abuse, and you can’t force them to change. In addition to the resources mentioned above, Al-Anon can help you navigate complicated feelings around loving someone who drinks too much.

By Daniel R. Allnutt

Doug Casper

At Casper & Casper, Daniel focuses his practice on representing Workers’ Compensation claimants and OVI defendants.

Daniel joined Casper & Casper as an Associate after having a general practice for the previous five years. Prior to this, he was employed by the City of Middletown as their Assistant Prosecutor. He is a 2009 graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law, and 2002 graduate of Miami University with a B.S. in Business Marketing.

Sources:

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation: Source 1, Source 2 and Source 3

Rethinking Drinking: Source 1, Source 2 and Source 3

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence

Quit Alcohol