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Will my social security disability judge (ALJ) look at my Facebook account?

The Importance of Social Media in Social Security Disability Claims

Before the advent of the Internet, investigators had a much harder job. Collecting information, verifying statements and making sure everything added up is a lot more difficult without the help of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking services. The rise of these websites has encouraged people to post a plethora of personal information about themselves online for anyone to access. It’s important to understand that friends and family are not the only people taking notice. While this information is primarily useful in the personal injury context, it can be equally valuable when it comes to Social Security Disability claims.

Disability benefits exist to offer support due to those unable to work due to a debilitating condition. Would a quick look through your social media profiles indicate that you deserve such benefits? Better hope so, because it could spell disaster for your case if you’re claiming a terrible back injury yet have pictures plastered across Facebook of your recent tango lessons or bungee jumping adventure.

Investigators and judges use social networking websites and could conceivably check up on what you’ve been doing while you’re claiming injury. And it’s not just your profile that could cause problems, being tagged in a photograph by a friend who does not have privacy settings on a Facebook page can also spell trouble.  While this article should not be read as encouraging deception, disabled parties should be aware that anything posted online is not 100% private.

The following are some suggested steps for ensuring that your online footprint remains as small and as private as possible.

1. Immediately make your profile “private,” and set all privacy settings to the highest level.

2. Remember to not discuss your accident, injuries or treatment, including any prescribed medication, on ANY social networking sites.


3. Avoid discussing recent activities you’ve engaged in, physical exertion, abilities and limitations, or any other information that may bear on what you can and cannot do because of your condition.


4. Be sure you know everyone who is your “friend.” Do not accept friend requests from people you do not personally know.


5. Review your friend list and block anyone you are not 100% sure you trust. Investigators could pose as a friend or get information from others who are to gain access to potentially incriminating information that could negatively affect your claim.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits or have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

 

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How much does SSI pay per month?

How much will your Supplemental Security Income (SSI)  checks pay each month? Well, it varies as some states award additional income to the base amounts listed below. That being said, here are the amounts for 2012. Keep in mind that these amounts change each year in conjunction with the cost of living adjustment (COLA).

Social Security Administration SSI payout amounts for 2012:

 

Calculation details
Recipient Unrounded annual amounts for— Monthly amounts for 2012
2011 2012 a
Eligible individual $8,095.32 $8,386.75 $698
Eligible couple 12,141.61 12,578.71 1,048
Essential person 4,056.93 4,202.98 350
The unrounded amounts for 2012 equal the unrounded amounts for 2011 increased by 3.6 percent.

 

Payment reduction
Remember, these payouts are lowered depending on your countable income each year. If you are thinking of applying for disability benefits click for a free consultation or call 1-800-596-1533.

Posted in Social Security SSD/SSI | Tagged , , | 76 Comments

Does my income affect my child’s ability to qualify for Social Security Benefits?

How much income can parents have before their children no longer qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits?

Disabled children can qualify for benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) program, which is administered by the Social Security Administration, depending: (1) on the nature of their disabilities; (2) on how much income they have (if any); and (3) on their available resources. Children’s “available resources” include the income (and assets) of their parents and guardians. Therefore, many parents and guardians of disabled children wonder how much income they can have before their children no longer qualify for SSI benefits.

The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) defines a child as someone who is not married; is not head of a household; and is under age 18, or is under age 22 and regularly attending school. This discussion only applies to SSI benefits for disabled children, as the SSA defines the terms “disabled” and “children.”

1. Nature of disability. According to the definition established by the applicable laws and regulations, a child is “disabled” if the child “has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which results in marked and severe functional limitations, and which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” In other words, a child is disabled for purposes of SSI benefits if the child has a very serious medical condition that will last (or has lasted) for at least one year. For example, a child who suffers from cystic fibrosis could qualify for SSI benefits. A child with a minor broken leg, but who did not otherwise have a serious medical condition, would probably not qualify.

2. Child’s income (if any). In terms of a child’s income, a child may not earn more than $1,000.00 per month from employment and still qualify to receive SSI benefits (in 2011; the limit on a child’s total monthly income changes every year). On the other hand, a child who is unemployed, or who is employed but earns less than $1,000.00 per month (in 2011), would meet the income limit.

3. Income and resources (i.e. assets) of parents or guardians. The determination of a child’s eligibility to receive SSI benefits also takes into account

Income, in this context, comes in two varieties: “earned income” and “unearned income.” Earned income consists of “wages from employment, net earnings from self-employment, certain royalties and honoraria, and sheltered workshop payments.” Unearned income consists of money received from other sources, “such as Social Security benefits, pensions, state disability payments, unemployment benefits, interest income, and cash from friends and relatives.” Some income is exempt and does not count toward the applicable limits. The following chart illustrates the income limits currently applicable in many (but not all) circumstances.

Number of Ineligible Children in Household

All Income is Earned

All Income is Unearned

One Parent in Household

Two Parents in Household

One Parent in Household

Two Parents in Household

0

$2,821

$3,495

$1,388

$1,725

1

$3,158

$3,832

$1,725

$2,062

2

$3,495

$4,169

$2,062

$2,399

3

$3,832

$4,506

$2,399

$2,736

4

$4,169

$4,843

$2,736

$3,073

5

$4,506

$5,180

$3,073

$3,410

6

$4,843

%5,517

$3,410

$3,747

By “resources,” the SSA essentially means property. For instance, resources include bank accounts, cash, life insurance, real estate, stocks, U.S. savings bonds, vehicles and other property belonging to a child’s parents or guardians that could be exchanged for cash and used for food or shelter. Some resources, such as a home, household goods and personal effects, and money in pension funds, are exempt and do not count toward the applicable limits. Currently, the applicable resource limit (for non-exempt resources) is $2,000 for a single parent or guardian, and $3,000.00 for a couple.

To summarize: A disabled child’s eligibility for SSI benefits depends upon the nature of the child’s disability, the amount of income that the child earns (if any), and the income and resources available to the child—including resources available through parents and guardians. Regarding the resources of parents and guardians, the limits vary from case to case depending on the circumstances. The income limits listed in the foregoing chart, and the resource limits discussed above, might or might not apply in a specific situation because of the many rules and regulations, as well as exemptions, that govern SSI eligibility for disabled children. If you are the parent or guardian of a disabled child and would like to learn more about SSI eligibility, then talk with a lawyer with experience dealing with Social Security issues.

Posted in Social Security SSD/SSI | Tagged , | 52 Comments

Do Grandparents Have the right to visit their grandchildren in Ohio?

GrandparentGrandkidsUnder current Ohio law, grandparents are permitted to petition the court for visitation rights with respect to their grandchildren.  One would think that such a petition would not be necessary, but, unfortunately, more than we would like to think grandparents are prevented from seeing thier grandchildren.  Quite frequently, grandparents turn to the courts in order to have the opportunity to spend time with their grandchildren. This often comes up as a problem when a couple divorces and whomever is chosen as the residential parent does not want his or her former in-laws to visit the children.  Therefore, grandparents need to be aware that if the Court finds that it is in the child’s best interest to have visitation with his or her grandparents, they do have legal recourse. However, it must be noted that the Court is required to give some special weight to the wishes of the parents as to whether the grandparents are granted the right to certain visitation with the children.

This does not mean that the parents wishes control the Court’s decision, but that if the parents feel strongly against visitation, the court must consider that fact.  But even if the residential parent does not want to allow the visitation, the Court can , and often does, grant the visitation if it is in the best interest of the child.  There are specific stautory provisions that cover the visitation rights of grandparents in Ohio, so you should seek the advice of counsel to determine if your case is worth pursuing.

Brought to you by the Ohio law offices of Morrison & Nicholson.  Call today for a free consultation (937) 432 – 9775.

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