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Social Security Disability Payments Starting to Slow

A sad old elderly woman uses walker for standing in front of windows and looking outsideYou might have heard that Social Security Disability payments are rising at an unprecedented pace. That if they keep soaring, the whole Social Security system will crash and burn and we’ll never reduce the federal deficit.

OR – you might have heard that the rise in Social Security Disability was predicted long ago and is due to the influx of women that entered the workforce in the 1970’s and 80’s and “baby boomers” that began entering the age where they’re more likely to become disabled.

These forecasters also said that the rise would later level off, as baby boomers moved into retirement age and are no longer eligible for disability benefits.

Well, it may just be happening.

The chart below shows the most recent numbers for Social Security Disability payments (click on image to enlarge).

social security disability benefits pay chart - OASDI payment summary table

 

Note that total benefit payments have only gone up by 8% in the last two years and, as Social Security News points out, that’s “hardly disastrous” considering the 3.6% cost of living adjustment at the end of 2011 and the 1. 7% cost of living adjustment at the end of 2012.

There is a lot of hype and false information about Social Security Disability in the news lately.  We find that sometimes a good dose of the facts helps keep the conversation from getting too far off track.

Need Social Security Disability Insurance?

Navigating the Social Security Disability process can be difficult and the majority of initial claims are denied.

See how a NC Social Security Disability lawyer may be able to help you.

Or call us toll-free at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

NC Tax Reform Does Not Affect Social Security Disability Benefits

Injured workers in NC who survive off of their Social Security Disability benefits narrowly missed a close call with tax reform.

Guide dog helping blind man in the city.Currently Social Security benefits are not taxed in North Carolina. However, earlier this year, a bill was tentatively approved by the Senate that would initiate a 5.4% tax on Social Security benefits in 2014 and 5.25% thereafter on beneficiaries’ monthly checks.

However, that segment was taken out in the tax reform bill that swept through the House and Senate in mid-July and was recently signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory on July 23rd.

Arguments against Social Security Tax in NC

Those in opposition of initiating a Social Security tax, such of an opinion editorial from the Charlotte Observer, said it would:

  1. Have devastating affects Social Security Beneficiaries with low incomes
    Many argued that seniors on a fixed income just don’t have a lot to spare. Some noted that the tax might be applied unfairly – since it would only apply to those with an additional source of income. They argued that if the additional source of income was very little, those being taxed might have less total income than those surviving solely off of their Social Security benefits and not being taxed.
  2. Make NC less attractive to retirees.
    Publications such as Kiplinger and Forbes often rank North Carolina as one of the best places to retire and one of the reasons often cited is NC’s lack of Social Security Tax. Lawmakers want to continue to make NC attractive to retirees that will bring more wealth to the state and boost the economy.
  3. Be a difficult move politically
    The Raleigh News & Observer ran an article in June which reported that although seniors only make up 13% of NC’s population, they accounted for a quarter of North Carolina voters in the midterm elections. As Michael Blitzer, a political expert at Catawba College said, “that’s a dangerous group to energize…”
  4. Social Security Disability Benefits
    Although many of the arguments centered on retirement, retirement benefits are just one of the many types of benefits Social Security provides. According to a recent press release by the Social Security Regional Commissioner in Atlanta, disabled workers and their dependents account for 19% of the total benefits paid, while survivors’ benefits account for 11%.Since disability and survivor SS situations are seen as especially dire, many of these recipients are not even taxed at the federal level – although in situations where they’re receiving a significant source of additional income, they may incur taxes.

Do you need Social Security Disability Benefits?

If you’re filing for Social Security benefits, you may have a better chance of getting a favorable result when you hire an attorney, according to the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR).
At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we have an entire department dedicated to helping disabled workers in North Carolina with their Social Security Disability claims.

If you, or a spouse, cannot work and have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, talk with one of our North Carolina Social Security Disability lawyers today. Call us at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

Please note that the attorneys at The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin are not tax attorneys or CPAs and we recommend consulting one of these professions prior to making any decisions or changes to your tax filings.

What if I Was Injured in an Accident in North Carolina, but I Wasn’t Wearing my Seatbelt?

car passenger in the motion of fastening seatbeltOne day you’re in the middle of making dinner when suddenly you realize – dang it. You’re out of milk. You quickly turn the stove off, grab your keys and start driving to the grocery store around the corner.

As you’re driving, your car starts making that awful seatbelt reminder sound that’s designed to get on your very last nerve, but you ignore it. You’re almost there.

But just as you’re looking down at the flashing seatbelt light, you hear brakes squealing and the next thing you know your body is being hurled towards the steering wheel.

We’ve all done it. Gone without a seatbelt at one time or another that is. And if you haven’t, well, you probably have a very proud mother.

But how does not wearing a seatbelt in a car accident affect your insurance claim?

That’s an excellent question, especially if you live in North Carolina.

See Attorney Michael Jordan’s response to this question below. Or continue reading.

Contributory Negligence

North Carolina has an older law which is often referred to as “contributory negligence.”

This law means that if you’re in an accident and you were doing something at the time that may have contributed to the accident (such as speeding), you’re equally at fault and may be barred from receiving any compensation.

Other states have laws called “comparative negligence” in place that assign percentages to fault (so you could be 20% at fault for speeding, but the other guy might be 80% for turning left in front of you without enough time), but in North Carolina, you’re typically at fault or not at fault.

Going without a seatbelt does NOT qualify as contributory negligence (and therefore you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries).

However, it may affect how much you receive.

In our experience, insurance companies may try to fight or reduce your claim, based on the fact that you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.
When they do, these cases can get complicated very quickly.

If you were in an accident and weren’t wearing a seatbelt…

We recommend you call a NC car crash attorney right away.

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means that if we don’t get you compensation for your claim, you don’t owe us an attorney’s fee. It’s just one more way we can demonstrate that we’re confident in our abilities and really do want to help you.

Call us at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

Delayed Onset: What Happens if I’m in a Car Accident and Feel Fine, but Then Have Problems Later?

It’s not uncommon for symptoms to be delayed after a car accident. But problems popping up after you’ve left the accident scene may negatively impact your insurance claim.

Let’s say you’re driving peacefully along and suddenly – bam. Another car runs into you.

As the reality of the situation starts to set in, you quickly start taking inventory:

  • Passengers…they’re ok
  • Car…in need of a new bumper
  • Yourself…well, you feel fine

Maybe you’re just grateful the baby in the backseat is okay. Maybe you’re relieved the damage to your vehicle isn’t worse. Maybe you’re just a nice person, it doesn’t hurt very much, and you feel like seeking medical treatment would be excessive.

So (for whatever reason), you skip out on medical treatment. Or you do talk to a doctor, but don’t report every little aching joint.

But a few days later, when your body is no longer hyped up on adrenaline, you start to feel it. A burning, growing pain in your neck or back that makes every movement difficult and it just keeps getting worse.

Can you still receive compensation?

The answer is a big fat “maybe.”

Hand hold denied word on wooden cubes Insurance claims for injuries with delayed onset of symptoms

Reporting an injury late can have significant and long-reaching affects on your insurance claim – especially if you initially told a police officer, insurance adjuster or doctor that you’re fine.

Insurance adjusters may become suspicious of your claim, take your injury less seriously or even deny your claim. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to compensation.

A qualified car accident lawyer may be able to help you to salvage your claim by gathering evidence to support your case, conferring with experts, and appealing on your behalf.

Common “late” car accident injuries

After a shocking incident (such as a car accident), your body begins producing hormones which can mask pain and other injury symptoms.

Here are some common types of car accident injuries that tend to have delayed symptoms:

  1. Soft Tissue Injuries
    Soft tissue refers to the tissues in the body that connect, support or surround other structures or organs that are not bones, such as tendons, ligaments and muscles. When these soft tissues are overstretched or torn, during the trauma of an accident, they may only feel mildly sore at first. Or you may not notice them at all, especially if you’re dealing with more serious injuries at the same time. However, if left untreated, these injuries can turn into debilitating, chronic conditions as scar tissue builds up or your body begins to compensate in unhealthy ways – such as changing your posture, which could result in other areas being affected. A few common types of soft tissue injuries are:

    Treatment for soft tissue injuries may include physical therapy, chiropractic care and rest.

    According to the book, Motor Vehicle Collision Injuries, “there is only a four to six week window for the clinician to benefit the active stage of wound healing” (pg. 217).

    So it’s important to talk to your doctor as soon as you begin to notice a problem.

  2. Concussions
    Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury that occur when the brain hits the inside of your skull – as the result of a blow to the head (such as your head hitting the steering wheel) or a sudden stop where your brain keeps moving inside your skull. Since the injury is not usually visible, these injuries often go unnoticed at first – especially since one of the indicators is erratic behavior and if you’ve just been hit by another vehicle, your behavior may be anything but typical. However, headaches, trouble with balance or vision, nausea or any type of disorientation or mood swings may appear hours later. These injuries can be very serious. So if you have any concussion-like symptoms following a car accident, you should seek medical treatment immediately.According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, half of all traumatic brain injury victims received their injuries in automobile accidents.
  3. How to strengthen your claim
    If you’ve been in a car accident, here are some ways you may be able to make your claim stronger:

    • Seek medical attention as soon as symptoms begin appearing. Even if the pain is mild initially, it may worsen and have other lasting effects.
    • Be as forthcoming as possible with your doctor
    • Take notes on your symptoms, so you don’t leave anything out when speaking with your doctor
    • Keep good records and document everything
    • Consider hiring a personal injury attorney

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we’ve literally helped thousands of people who were injured in car accidents in North Carolina. If you were injured in an accident and your injuries appeared later, you may need to speak with an attorney ASAP.

Call us at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation today.