Social Security’s Disability Benefit Programs

There are two main Social Security programs designed to provide financial assistance to qualified individuals who suffer permanent disability before their retirement age: the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

SSI benefits are given to those with disabilities, and whose income or resources do not exceed the federal benefit rate (FBR) that is mandated by the government. Resource may either be liquid or non-liquid assets. Liquid resources include cash, bonds, savings account, checking account, certain types of insurance policies, promissory notes, mutual funds and all other types of assets that are convertible to cash. Non-liquid assets, on the other hand, refer to real properties and personal properties, such as land and cars, respectively.  Some forms of personal assets, however, like engagement rings, wedding rings, and a house, are considered exempt by the SS Administration. The FBR amounts for both individuals and couples also vary for income and resources.

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefit is made available to qualified individuals, who are considered insured workers and whose ages are either 65 or below. To be considered qualified, a person should:

  • Have earned the amount of work credits required by the SSA (credits are earned through payment of SS taxes. These taxes are deducted from an employee’s monthly pay
  • Have a disability that is either listed in the list of severe medical conditions made by the SS administration or is so serious that it renders the applicant not capable of performing his/her work or any other work, and can last for a year or more, or even result in death

The disability benefit offered by Social Security is for those suffering from permanent disability. Those who sustain partial or short-term disability can avail of the benefits offered by their insurance provider. There is also the workers’ compensation insurance benefit that individuals may apply for, if their injury has been sustained during work.

Read More

Four Top Causes of Cruise Ship Accidents

A holiday vacation on a cruise liner is always a perfect treat for individuals, families or groups of friends. Besides a wonderful time out into the open sea, the spectacular views that travelers can enjoy, as well as the lower cost of travel and all the discounts and perks, make cruising a totally worthwhile experience. Americans, most of all, are among those who love to travel on sea; thus, they comprise more than half of the 15 million (or more) people who make cruise reservations annually.

The safety of all passengers is a main concern of cruise companies, besides hiring only qualified ship officers and personnel, and ensuring that the ship is regularly maintained and always in good condition. The maritime or admiralty law and the cruise ship industry also requires that each ship is designed with all the facilities, and equipped with all the tools and equipment, necessary during emergencies. On top of these, everything on board will have to be managed and operated by a highly trained and responsible crew.

This is because there is no telling what emergency situation may suddenly happen while the ship is out to sea, for despite the crew’s training and preparation, many cruises have suffered tragic accidents, resulting to accidents, injuries and/or illnesses of a number of passengers.

The Cruise Lines International Association has actually identified four of the most common causes of disasters that can happen while at sea. These are (according to rank) rouge waves, bad weather condition, fire (which may be due to mechanical failure) and collision with another ship or objects, such as an iceberg, rock or reef, which can result to a wide gash on the ship and cause it to sink or capsize. There have been times also when, because of fire, a cruise ship loses power, resulting to a series of problems on board, including being stranded in the sea or sanitation problems which leads to viral diseases. In a situation such as this, what should be a great holiday escapade becomes a nightmare to passengers.

Being injured on a cruise ship definitely gives the victim the legal right to seek compensation from the responsible party. The maritime law, however, is complex, that having a well experienced admiralty lawyer to defend the victim may be a necessity. This is because filing claims for damages (which is subjected to a statutory period) can only be done in specific courts and in the state that is indicated on the cruise ship passenger ticket.

Debido a la gran mayoría de todos aquellos que viven y trabajan en los Estados Unidos y que son inmigrantes de habla hispana, es importante que sepan dónde dirigirse en caso de requerir ayuda legal de cualquier tipo. Para todos aquellos que buscan abogados que hablen español, aquí dejamos algunos enlaces que otorgan la información y asistencia legal necesaria sin tener que preocuparse de las barreras del idioma, como también de las preocupaciones por falta de comunicación. Es común tener miedo el llegar a no ser entendido, pero esto no debe de evitar que busques ayuda legal que necesitas y mereces. Asegúrate de comprobar los enlaces que te ayudaran a proteger tus derechos.

Read More

Car Accidents – A Common Sight on the Road

To U.S. traffic enforcers, sights of the aftermath of cars having collided against another car or other motor vehicles and cars crashing into a wall, a tree, a lamp post or any other solid object, are already too common, with the more than five million car crash reports being filed yearly at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Though car accidents have also steadily increased with the increase in the number of cars on US roads, these don’t have to be so if only traffic safety rules are strictly observed and focus is observed while behind the wheel. This also means refraining from drinking, if you will be driving later, never using handheld phones while driving, never over speeding or driving too slowly and never acting irresponsibly or recklessly while on the road.

There are many different reasons why a car accident may happen, aside from those listed above, which, by the way, are the top causes of road mishaps identified by the NHTSA. There are also driver errors, which include failure to use signal lights, tail gaiting, irresponsible overtaking, beating the red light, making sudden turns, and so forth.

An accident is always a traumatic experience, especially for those who sustain injuries; and, the trauma increases if the injury is severe or could result to the victim becoming disabled. Another cause of great worry for the victim and his/her family is the financial burden the injury will usher in. This is due to the medical treatment and the loss of income as the injury is sure to render the victim incapable of reporting to work. Even the opportunity to land in a better job can be affected by the injury sustained. Despite the certain unexpected financial needs, though, the right law firm gives hope to accident victims, saying that they have the legal right to “pursue compensation for the damages they have suffered.”

Read More

Medical Product Liability: Defective Pharmaceutical Products

All those who are engaged in the pharmaceutical industry are morally and legally obliged to make sure that every product they manufacture, whether drugs intended to treat serious health conditions or medical devices meant to enhance, support or replace damaged or missing biological structures, are effective and more so, totally safe. This is why every product that is introduced will have to undergo clinical tests first, to determine how it will actually affect patients, before the US Food and Drug Administration approves it for public use. All types of medicine and medical devices, anyway, are produced to control and treat bodily ailments or to help maintain people’s good health.

There have been many instances, though, wherein certain prescription drugs and medical devices have caused adverse effects or have put patients in greater risk of developing a new severe illness, rather than providing the cure that they seek (for their original health complaint). And worse, use of some pharmaceutical products have even been linked to the death of patients.

Concerning prescription drugs, specifically, it is absolutely necessary that doctors know everything about a patient’s total health condition, which includes history of illnesses, allergies, other medications taken, and so many others, before actually making any prescriptions. This is because individuals have different levels of bodily immunity, thus, a medicine that may work effectively to one may serve as poison to another – a really great risk that all doctors need to watch out for.

Reports of adverse effects are forwarded to the FDA which, after proving the veracity of such reports and their link to the drug specified, will advise the manufacturer to include in the drug’s prescription label the risk/s associated to its use. There are also times when, due to the severity of the harm caused by a drug, the FDA would issue a block box warning, the most serious warning given on drugs.

Adverse effects of drugs are often incredibly damaging. In some cases, drugs give patients suicidal thoughts, or in others cause unborn children to suffer physical mutations. Even though adverse effects may not be intended, instances of an individual suffering from them can make the drug’s manufacturer liable for whatever injury and damages the victim will suffer from. This is because whatever harm that may arise due to the use of defective pharmaceutical products is considered as personal injury, which is injury resulting from the negligent or careless act of another, the manufacturer will also be obliged to compensate that victim for whatever financial consequences the harm will lead to.

Read More

Estate Planning – Its Advantages

To many young couples, estate planning may never an immediate concern, or even a concern at all, for many reasons. Two of which may be due to their still young age and then there is the thought that they do not really belong to the wealthy class.

Both reasons actually count among the common mistakes about estate planning, which is defined as a plan, made before death, wherein you name those to whom you want to bequeath your assets and/or properties and determine when they can have their share. Now, believe it or not, estate planning is not just for the wealthy class. True that they have a lot to divide to those they will be leaving behind, but doesn’t everyone have something of value that he/she can or should pass on to someone? Like a house, a car, jewelry, savings account, furniture, life insurance and other forms of investment. These things may only have a modest value, but these surely are still worth something. And besides, if no will is made until a person passes away, then deciding who gets whatever that person leaves behind will be made by the state, a thing based on the Law of Intestacy.

Aside from determining in a will who gets what, estate planning also allows a person to give instructions regarding his/her care in the event that he/she becomes disabled or enters a coma (which will lead to physical and mental incapacity) before his/her death, name who will act as guardian and inheritance manager for his/her minor child/children, and so forth.

Another good thing about estate planning, besides your wishes concerning your assets being carried out, is that it can also help reduce the amount of taxes and do away with court hearings, thus, no unnecessary court and other legal costs.

Estate planning begins with a living trust or a will. Though the former may be more expensive, its long term benefits to heirs is much greater than a will since it can eliminate court interference and the probate process required by the state. But most importantly, as explained in an article posted in the website of the Chicago-based firm Peck Ritchey, LLC, estate planning will ensure that all of a person’s assets will be passed on to his/her intended beneficiaries, especially to minor children, in ways that are highly tax efficient.

Read More