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Do I Owe Taxes on My Social Security Disability Benefits?

Just because the government pays you Social Security Disability benefits doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have to pay the government its portion back. It’s like the old adage says: Nothing is certain but death and taxes.

If you’re in certain income brackets, you may owe taxes on the benefit money you receive. Part of your Social Security benefits may be taxed if:

  • You are single and your total income is more than $25,000
  • You are married and you and your spouse have a total income of more than $32,000

Paying Your SSD Taxes – Two Ways to Get Your SSA 1099

If you fit into either of the categories above, you will likely need to pay taxes on your benefits and the Social Security Administration should have sent your SSA 1099, which shows how much you received in Social Security Disability benefits.

If you have not received your 1099, here are two ways to get it.

Access Your Social Security Benefits Info Online

  • Go to the Social Security Website’s my Social Security page
  • Click on the “Sign In or Create an Account” button
  • Log In
  • Select the “Replacement Documents” tab for your 1099

If you want to keep track of your earnings each year, you can also use your personal my Social Security account for that, as well.

Call the Social Security Office

You can also obtain a replacement benefits statement by calling the Social Security office at 1-800-772-1213 or by calling your local Social Security office.

This blog is not intended to constitute written tax advice within the meaning of IRS Circular 230 §10.37, the author intends by this communication to share general information for discussion purposes only, and you should not interpret the statements otherwise.

Why You Might Want a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Workers’ Comp Law

When seeking an attorney to fight for your rights to get the appropriate treatment you need to help you recover, and the finances to help support you and your family during this trying time, what is most important to you? Specialized knowledge? Experience? Resources? Reputation?

How about all of the above?

What Is a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist?

When you hire a North Carolina Board Certified Workers’ Compensation attorney, you get all of the above. These traits are required if an attorney is to be considered board certified under North Carolina law. This means a lawyer must:

  • Have been in practice for at least five years
  • Devote a significant part of his or her practice to workers’ compensation law
  • Attend continuing legal education seminars in workers’ compensation law
  • Be favorably evaluated by other lawyers and/or judges (peer reviewed)
  • Pass a comprehensive written exam in workers’ compensation law

Less than 1% of attorneys in North Carolina are board certified specialists in workers’ compensation law.* I, personally, chose to become board certified for three reasons:

  1. It helps me stay on top of the worker’s compensation field.
  2. It’s a way to show my clients that they are hiring an attorney who is focused in the area of the law where they need help most – workers’ compensation. Because my clients are hiring a certified specialist, I hope that gives them added confidence.
  3. It is my passion to fight for the injured worker – the little guy who may not get a fair shake, otherwise.

Do You Need a Board Certified Specialist?

No. You don’t. But would you rather have one? I would, if I were in your shoes. Let’s imagine, for example, you had a specific knee injury. Would you visit an orthopedic specialist or a general practitioner?

Injured Workers Are Not in a Fair Fight

Insurance companies and big business continue to lobby to press back the limited benefits provided to injured workers. We’ve seen time and again where insurance companies have ignored treatment recommendations of their own hand-picked doctors. Having a firm on your side with six board certified specialists in workers’ compensation law is one way you can feel confident that your advice comes from a certified expert.

Workers’ Compensation Law Is Highly Complex

Sometimes obtaining benefits and medical care, even when an insurance company accepts the claim, can be difficult. You want someone on your side who knows how to navigate “the system.” Someone with experience, connections, and resources to fight for the best care and compensation you may deserve.

North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, years of experience has taught us that injured workers are in a fight with the odds stacked against them. That’s why at our firm:

  • Every workers’ compensation claim is reviewed and evaluated by a board certified specialist
  • We work in a team environment where we utilize available resources across teams to help our clients. We even have people on our teams who have worked for “the other side”
  • We try to do everything possible to leave no stone unturned when it comes to an opportunity to get our clients the medical and disability benefits they need

2016 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” for Workers’ Compensation Law
The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin received the 2016 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms”^ Tier 1 ranking (the highest ranking) for Workers’ Compensation in the greater Raleigh area. This achievement came from nearly 700,000 law firm assessments and more than 47,000 client evaluations!

Give us a call at 1-866-900-7078. Let one of our workers’ comp attorneys – six of whom are Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law – evaluate your situation for free.

* Percentage as of December 31, 2015. Figures provided by the NC State Bar.

^For information regarding the standards for inclusion in the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” visit www.bestlawfirms.com.

Car Crash Deaths Trending Higher – Here’s Why

After trending lower for over 10 years, crash fatalities rose in the first six months of 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014. What gives?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver error is a leading cause of the rise in roadway fatalities – 94%. This research is based upon a weighted sample of 5,470 crashes over a period of roughly two years.

NHTSA crash data for 2014 shows:

  • Crashes involving a drunk driver accounted for almost one-third of motor vehicle deaths in the United States
  • Nearly half (49%) of those who died were not wearing seat belts
  • Distracted driving accounted for approximately 10% of all crash fatalities
  • Drowsy driving accounted for 2.6% of all crash fatalities
  • The number of motorcyclists killed was much higher in states without strong helmet laws
  • Cyclist deaths declined by 2.3%
  • Pedestrian deaths rose by 3.1%

What Caused the Rise in Car Crash Fatalities from 2014 to 2015?

From about 2012 through 2014, crash deaths had been on a downward trend. But the NHTSA preliminary crash data from 2015 shows there were a lot more deadly crashes in the first six months of 2015 than there were during the same period in the year prior. Understanding why is important so changes can be made going forward.

Why the sudden uptick?

One possible explanation is that people were able to drive more due to improved economic conditions, like lower gas prices and lower unemployment.

However, the way the NHTSA measures fatality rates clarifies a potential misunderstanding in this viewpoint. It looks at how many people died per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. According to the NHTSA, this method helps illuminate whether the increase was because people drove more or because they weren’t driving as safely.

During the first six months of 2015 there was an 8.1% increase in overall fatalities and a 4.4% increase in the rate per 100 million miles. This means that even after accounting for increased traffic, there were still more fatal collisions. Driver safety, therefore, played a significant role in the overall increased cause of deaths.

To determine how much North Carolina drivers contributed to the added risk, National Safety Council (NSC) data from the first six mon­­ths of 2014 to the first six months 2015 in North Carolina were compared. Their data shows that 19% more people died on North Carolina’s highways in 2015 as a result of driver error.

What’s the Solution to Try to Reverse the Rise in Traffic Fatalities?

The NHTSA has launched a series of safety initiatives. These initiatives address such issues as the risks of driving while intoxicated, drowsy driving, using electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle, and failure to utilize readily available safety features like seat belts and car seats. Other initiatives are also being designed specifically to protect non-motorists who share the roads, such as pedestrians and cyclists.

As both local and federal government agencies continue to increase their focus on policy decisions that can potentially make our roads safer, each of us can also do our part to help ensure our own safety and those around us by committing to be more careful.

No drinking and driving. No distracted driving – no texting, no applying makeup on the freeway, no reaching in the back seat to pick up your toddler’s sippy cup. You get the picture.

North Carolina Auto Accident Attorneys

If you are hurt by a distracted driver in North Carolina, contact us now for a free consultation to see if we can help. Call us at 1-866-900-7078. We’re here for you 24/7/365.


What Evidence Do I Need to Prove I Need Social Security Disability Benefits?

The reason we often stress to our clients in a Social Security Disability case the importance of medical treatment is because medical treatment offers proven documentation of disability.  In order to get benefits, clients must provide medical evidence of an impairment that is severe enough to prevent them from working.

How Does the Law Define Disability?

The law defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) 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.

A medically determinable physical or mental impairment is an impairment that results from “anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities, which can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. The medical evidence must establish a physical or mental impairment consisting of signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings – not only by the individual’s statement of symptoms.” This means that just because you tell someone what hurts or what problems you have is not enough – you need to show medical proof.

Medical Documentation Offers Proof

Medical treatment and the treating doctor’s documentation of that treatment are essential in a Social Security Disability case. It is the cornerstone of the process. When you apply for Social Security Disability, you are required to provide medical evidence of a severe physical or psychological impairment that affects your ability to work. Each impairment must be documented and evaluated separately. If you do not have medical evidence (in other words, if you don’t go to the doctor), there is essentially no proof that you have a disabling impairment.

And it’s not enough if you were diagnosed with something years ago and the doctor told you there was “nothing that could be done to cure you.” If you have an ongoing condition, your medical treatment must be ongoing too. Otherwise, there’s no medical evidence supporting that you continue to be disabled.  Ongoing medical records documenting that you are treating your condition under a doctor’s care helps fortify your disability claim.

Even if you do not have medical insurance or money to pay for care, you must seek medical treatment. Some options to consider are to try to obtain charity care at your local hospital or medical provider. Many communities also have free or low-cost options available for medical treatment. For health care resources in your community click here.

North Carolina Social Security Disability Attorneys

A highly trained and knowledgeable Social Security Disability team should be able to help you determine what kind of ongoing care you need to try to prove your claim, or if your documentation is sufficient. Several of our staff members have more than ten years of Social Security Disability experience, including many years with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Disability Determination Services division. Rick Fleming, one of our Social Security Disability lawyers is a NC Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability Law. Only 51 attorneys out of 28,000 in North Carolina can claim this specialized designation in Social Security Disability law.*

Contact us online or call 1-866-900-7078 today to find out how the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help you fight for Social Security Disability benefits.


* North Carolina State Bar, December 31, 2015

Why Can’t My Lawyer Name the Insurance Company in the Lawsuit?

A question we tend to hear in our law firm is why, in a courtroom situation, their lawyer cannot name the insurance company in the lawsuit.

The short answer is because the insurance company did not cause the accident. Therefore they cannot be sued. The at-fault driver caused the accident, so he or she is the one being sued. That driver is simply using the insurance company’s money to pay whatever damages must be paid. And the insurance company is in court with their legal representation in an attempt to generally try to pay out as little as possible.

Admittedly, it’s easy to get confused.

Why Can’t You Name the Insurance Company of the At-Fault Driver?

The reason for this is simple: Insurance companies have deeper pockets than the average person, and that could sway a jury to ask for more money. This premise is misleading, however. The insurance company is only going to pay what they have been contracted to pay, which is limited by the policy limits of the at-fault driver.

However, clients may ask this question because they’re worried about the exact opposite. In other words, if they DON’T name the insurance company, the jury might be swayed to ask for LESS money.

The logical question then is, what happens if a jury awards more than the policy limits? If a jury awards more than the other driver’s insurance coverage, it’s called an “excess judgment.” The at-fault driver will have to pay the difference between the policy limits and the excess judgment.

Let’s say, for example, the driver’s policy limits were $60,000 and a jury awarded you $75,000 in damages. The driver would need to cough up that additional $15,000 in order for you to get the full amount. Easier said than done.

Getting an individual to pay can get complicated. That is why it is prudent to get an attorney involved soon after your accident – one who is experienced in investigating and identifying ways the at-fault driver may be able to pay.

Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers in North Carolina

My advice is to work with a legal team like ours with many years of experience in personal injury litigation. We are dedicated to taking every available measure and utilizing every resource that may potentially help secure the best outcome for your case. Better still, we don’t charge an attorney’s fee unless you recover.

If you have questions, or want to see if we can help you or someone you know, click here for a FREE case evaluation or give us a call at 1-866-900-7078. We’re here for you 24/7/365.

Who’s Behind the Business of “We Mean Business”?

Jim Farrin on the cover of Attorney at LawAt the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we often get questions about the man whose name emblazons our building. What’s he like? Does he still take cases? Is James Scott Farrin one person or three?

Spoiler alert – he’s one person. One person – three personas.



Family man.

(Not necessarily in that order.)

James, or “Jim” as we know him, had a rogue notion back in 1997 that running a law firm like a business – focusing on customer service, marketing, and improving the non-lawyering parts of legal service, while still striving to provide excellent representation – just might make good business sense.

This audacious notion turned a one-shingle operation into one of the largest personal injury law firms in North Carolina, with more than 30 lawyers and 125 employees operating from 14 offices state-wide.

To showcase this success,  Attorney at Law Magazine Triangle edition, featured Jim in February as attorney of the month.

The cover story “The Audacity of Ambition” offers a glance inside the mind of our president and namesake. And a better understanding of his journey – one that has been wrought with interesting (sometimes harrowing) twists and turns, bumps in the road, a bit of Irish luck of being in the right places at the right times, and a whole lot of old fashioned rollupyoursleeves hard work.

And perseverance. Lots of perseverance.

But what do foreign lands and cartoons and the gleam in the eyes of an early client have in common with this interesting journey? Click here to find out