Tag Archives: ohio disability lawyers

Will I lose my disability when I go to prison or jail?

How Will Prison Affect My Disability Benefits?

When a person is facing incarceration there is surely a lot on their mind. If the person is receiving Social Security Disability benefits, one of the questions might be whether or not they can keep their disability benefits. The following information will help you better understand exactly what will happen to your Social Security Disability benefits if you are sent to jail.

The rules for suspending Social Security payments for people who are in jail are different based on which type of assistance you receive. The following is an explanation for how each system works:

• Supplemental Security Income

You can receive SSI payments until you have been in jail or prison for a full calendar month from the first of the month through the last day. For example, if you went to jail or prison on July 4, your SSI would continue during July and all of August. If, on the other hand, you went to jail prison on on July 1 then benefits would cease on August 1.

• Social Security Disability Insurance

SSDI rules are different from those for SSI. You will be permitted to receive SSDI benefits until you have been convicted of a criminal offense and spent 30 days in jail or prison. This means that your disability payments will stop on the 31st day you are incarcerated after a conviction.

• SSI and SSDI

If you receive both an SSI and an SSDI check each month, your SSDI payments will stop after 30 days of incarceration following conviction, but your SSI will continue until you have been in jail or prison for a full calendar month, as in the description for SSI above.

Once you are released from jail, it is possible to have your Social Security Disability benefits reinstated. Your benefits can begin the month after you have been released from jail as long as you still qualify for the benefits you had been receiving. If your condition has improved and you no longer qualify, your Social Security Disability benefits will not resume.

To have your benefits reinstated after your release from prison, you will need to visit your local Social Security office and notify them of your release. You will need to bring proof of your release from jail before they can begin payment.

The exception to this rule is if you are in prison for more than 12 months. If you are in prison for more than 12 months, your benefits will not automatically be reinstated after your release. Instead, you will need to re-apply for benefits and go through the lengthy application process all over again.

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

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Which medical records are the best for winning my disability claim?

What kinds of medical records do you need for your disability claim?  Before you can begin collecting disability benefits, the Social Security Administration requires that you prove that you are unable to work. The best evidence of this is, obviously, medical documentation. Medical evidence can take many different forms. These can include notes, mental health records, blood work, imaging studies, as well as a multitude of other reports. If you have timely, accurate, and sufficient medical records that come from your treating physician, you will greatly increase your chances of being approved for disability benefits. Each of these qualifiers – timely, accurate, and sufficient – has specific, SSA definitions.

Timely records are those that are relevant to your current medical condition. If you are attempting to claim disability for something that occurred last year, medical records from ten years ago would not be considered timely. Deciding what is timely falls within the purview of the treating physician. The nature of the ailment or condition is one factor in determining the timeliness of the records. If the condition is recurring or continuous, older records regarding the ailment or condition may be timely. If, on the other hand, the condition is one that resolves itself quickly or one that changes, older records may be less relevant and therefore not timely. The doctor knows best in these kinds of situations.

Accurate records are those that properly describe your condition according to acceptable medical sources. The Social Security Administration only accepts medical opinions from certain types of health care providers: (1) licensed physicians; (2) osteopaths; (3) optometrists; (4) podiatrists; and (5) speech pathologists. If the records or opinions do not come from one of these five kinds of health care providers, it may not, in many cases serve as acceptable medical source of evidence to the Social Security Administration. It is important to keep in mind that evidence from lay-persons, chiropractors and the like will be considered by the administration, however, these records will likely not carry as much weight as opinions from the aforementioned sources.

Finally, sufficient records are those that contain enough information for the disability judge to make a determination about your eligibility from those records alone. To be frank, the Administration wants to see that you have been treated for this condition prior to filing for disability. The treating physician’s notes and opinions carry the most weight with the Administration.

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

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Dividing Pension & Retirement Benefits in Ohio Divorce – Part 1

dividing_retirement

In the first installment of what is planned to be a series on dividing retirement / pension benefits during a divorce settlement, we look briefly at the common questions of dividing retirement and pension plans between spouses.  The parties’ retirement benefits is an important consideration when equitably dividing marital property, because, like the marital residence, retirement benefits are often the largest asset or assets of the parties. Therefore, dividing these plans or funds becomes enormously important.  So, let’s now address some common questions.

Is my retirement / pension considered marital property?

As the intro gave away: yes.  Just as with any other asset of value that is acquired during the marriage, generally, retirement benefits accrued during the marriage are considered to be  “marital assets” and must be divided equally between the parties.  If a spouse is working during the marriage and this results in the accrual of retirement benefits, the law sees it as if the non-working spouse contributed equally to the creation of those benefits.

This frequently makes it difficult for a court to carry out its statutory mandate of dividing all marital property equally.  Technically, the non-working spouse is entitled to at least a portion of the employed-spouse’s pension fund (as marital property), but the money may not be easily accessible at the time of divorce.  Because courts like to maximize the value of all retirement and pension funds, it is normally preferable to avoid causing the withdrawal of the accrued monies, and leave the fund growing in the name of the working spouse.   Fees, penalties and taxes can often destroy a pension that is withdrawn when it is not fully matured.  But, the problem is that sometimes there simply isn’t other marital property to award to the other (non-earning) spouse at the time of the divorce that will adequately compensate that spouse for his or her rightful portion of a retirement fund.  For this reason, valuing and dividing retirement benefits should be one of the first issues contemplated by a divorcing party.

Is it true that my spouse is entitled to half of my pension?

No. Not always.  Only the portion of the retirement fund that was contributed to or earned during the marriage is considered “marital property” and subject to division between the parties.  The portion of the retirement fund that was earned by the working spouse while unmarried is considered that party’s separate property and the other spouse has no interest in that money. Therefore, the first step is to determine what portion of the retirement fund is marital and what portion is separate property.

How do you value the portion of the retirement fund that is considered “marital”?

In determining the portion of a pension or retirement plan that is considered a “marital asset” and subject to division between the parties, the court should calculate the ratio of the number of years the employed-spouse worked during the marriage to the total number of years he or she worked at the qualifying employment to earn the pension.  Only the portion of the pension that was earned during the marriage is a marital asset, and the spouse of the employee is only entitled to a proportionate share of the marital asset.

Example – Employed spouse works 25 years to earn a vested pension of $100,000.  10 of these years were worked during the marriage. This equates to a 40% ratio, and only $40,000 of the pension is a martial asset. Because the division of marital property always begins with an equal division, the non-employed spouse would typically be entitled to $20,000 in this scenario.

Now, assuming the court doesn’t want to destroy the fund if it would be better for the employed spouse to contribute for 30 years, you see where it could be difficult to off-set this amount with other marital property? How many couples have $20,000 (in liquid form, moreover) lying around to award the other spouse his or her fair share of this fund at the point of divorce?

Are Social Security Benefits Divided?

No.  Not directly, anyway. Social security retirement benefits are not considered marital assets to be divided when a couple divorces.  A court cannot distribute a portion of one spouse’s SS benefits to the other spouse directly.  However, the court does consider the SS benefits when making an equitable division of retirement benefits overall – See Smith v. Smith (1993, Franklin Co) 632 N.E.2d 555 (“while not divisible as a marital asset, SS benefits must be considered when equitably dividing pension benefits”).

Are State and federal retirement plans treated differently?

Yes. The law related to state and federal retirement plans will be the subject of a later post.  There are specific rules that govern certain public-forms of pensions, such as military pensions, State pension plans (e.g., PERS) and deferred compensation plans.  Those forms of retirement benefits are impacted by specific federal and state statutes that must be consulted where applicable.

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

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Can the Child choose which Parent they want to live with in Ohio?

It is one of the most common myths that people maintain when it comes to child custody: Once a child reaches a certain age, that child can choose which parent to live with, right? Well, that is actually incorrect. However, this myth is based in history and actually grounded is truth. Under former Ohio law, once a child attained the age of 12 years old,child_support_ohio_termination that child had the power to choose which parent was to be deemed the residential parent and legal custodian of that child. However, under current Ohio law, minor children no longer have the ability to choose which parent they want to live with on a permanent basis. In other words, when the Court issues its final divorce decree which, among other things, allocates parental rights and responsibilities, it is not the child that determines which parent is to be the residential parent, even if that child is a teenager. Ohio law treats a 14 year old in the same manner as a 4 year old when it comes to determining which parent with be designated as the residential parent. And, like almost all issues involving minor children, the determination is guided by what is in the “best interest of the child”.

So, divorcing parents, remember that your child will not be choosing for or against you when it comes to custody issues. Rather, the Court will decide and you need to focus your energy on convincing the Court that it would be in the best interest of the child to live with you … do not work on convincing the child that he or she should choose you. Which, in truth, is not fair to the child anyway.

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Delays in Ohio Social Security Disability claims hurt claimants

Social Security Disability Delays Impact Vulnerable Patients

Unfortunately it is becoming all to common for those applying for Social Security Disability benefits to suffer delay after delay while their claims languish in a bureaucratic mess as the Social Security Administration struggles to keep up with a growing caseload. Given the numbers of aging baby boomers, the SSA has found itself under incredible stress and its ability to promptly handle cases has been compromised.

For a small group of claimants who are suffering from severe illnesses, many of their cases are never even heard because they die before ever reaching the point of getting a proper hearing. The Social Security Administration has said that some 2,000 cases were dismissed last year because the claimant died. This figure is tragic not only for the deceased who was never able to get benefits, but also for his or her family members who are in need of support.

Everyone who is familiar with the disability process knows it can take years to finally begin receiving benefits. Most claims are denied at first and then must be appealed up the chain of command until the case is given a fair hearing. Overcrowded dockets such as those in Toledo, Ohio and other places can slow the process down and mean that some of the most vulnerable claimants never receive their day in court.

The SSA has been dealing with mounting problems for years. More than 63,000 claimants waited at least 635 days for an initial appeal hearing and decision back in 2007. Thankfully that number has come down, but nowhere near where it ought to be. The SSA says that the process has gotten faster and that it hopes to end the backlog of cases that are older than 310 days. Though this represents a big drop from how bad things used to be, it is important to note that this wait comes after an individual has already waited an average of 150 days for a claim to be denied and then reconsidered before appealing to the ALJ.

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

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