snow, carpio & weekly, plc FAQ request free consultation Frequently Asked Questions & Answers about Workers’ Compensation & Social Security Disability in Arizona How should I dress for my Hearing? Clients often ask how they should dress for a Workers’ Compensation Hearing. Attorney Chad Snow of Snow and Carpio, PLC answers that question. Listen to Attorney Chad Snow’s video answer and contact us @ 602-532-0700 or 520-647-9000 to schedule an appointment in our Phoenix or Tucson office for a free consultation. You can also visit us at www.snowcarpio.com. When should I hire an attorney if I’m injured? When should you hire an attorney if you have been hurt on the job? Listen to Attorney Chad Snow’s video answer and contact us @ 602-532-0700 or 520-647-9000 to schedule an appointment in our Phoenix or Tucson office for a free consultation. You can also visit us at www.snowcarpio.com. What if my employer doesn’t have Workers’ Compensation insurance? People have called and asked what happens if they get hurt on the job and their employer did not have any Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Listen to Attorney Alex Carpio’s of Snow and Carpio Law Firm video answer and contact us @ 602-532-0700 or 520-647-9000 to schedule an appointment in our Phoenix or Tucson office for a free consultation. You can also visit us at workinjuryaz.com. How are my permanent disabilities compensated? What is the difference between a “temporary” injury and a “permanent” injury? Listen to Attorney Chad Snow’s video answer and contact us @ 602-532-0700 or 520-647-9000 to schedule an appointment in our Phoenix or Tucson office for a free consultation. You can also visit us at www.snowcarpio.com. What happens when I go to a Hearing? Attorney Chad Snow speak about AZ Workers’ Compensation and SSD issues. More information available at www.snowcarpio.com Read More Can the insurance carrier use surveillance to check on me? Attorney X. Alex Carpio, Partner at Snow and Carpio, PLC speaks about why workers’ compensation insurance carriers use surveillance as a means to discredit claimants. He explains what you should and should not do and whether surveillance is legal in Arizona. Read More Can I re-open my claim after it has been closed and I have received money? Phoenix Workers’ Compensation Attorney Chad Snow speaks about tips for re-opening a case for AZ Workers’ Compensation and Phoenix SSD issues. Read More How do I pay my attorney? Attorney Chad Snow speak about AZ Workers’ Compensation and SSD issues. More information available at workinjuryaz.com/ Read More Can I sue my employer for my injury? Attorney Chad Snow speak about AZ Workers’ Compensation and SSD issues. More information available at workinjuryaz.com/ Can I choose my own doctor? Recorded on February 22, 2011 using a Flip Video camera. (En Espanol). Attorney Chad Snow speak about AZ Workers’ Compensation and SSD issues. More information available at workinjuryaz.com/ Are my workers’ compensation benefits taxable? Attorney Chad Snow speak about AZ Workers’ Compensation and SSD issues. More information available at workinjuryaz.com/ Necesito documentos? Should I settle my case? Read More Is my case covered if it resulted from me fighting at work? Read More Is stress a covered injury? Read More What if my loved one was killed on the job? Read More Is Carpal Tunnel a covered injury? Read More What is the difference between SSDI and SSI? SSDI and SSI are the two major programs administrated by the Social Security Administration. Medically, the requirements for qualifying are the same. However, the eligibility requirements for both are different. SSDI stands for “Social Security Disability Insurance.” Essentially, when you work, you pay federal income taxes. If work is sustained long enough and is recent enough, these taxes will insure you should you become disabled and unable to work. SSI stands for “Supplemental Security Income.” SSI is the fallback for those who do not have enough work history, or their work history is too remote, to qualify for SSDI. SSI is a needs-based program and there are income and asset limitations for one to qualify. There are several differences between the two programs including the monthly benefit amount, the health insurance that one will qualify for if approved, and offset potential due to earnings and other income resources. It is important to consult with an attorney early in your case. When should I apply? Under Social Security’s rules, one has to have a condition that has lasted/is expected to last one year OR result in death. Technically, there is no perfect answer to this question. One can apply the day their symptoms force them to stop working or earning below the amount Social Security considers Substantial Gainful Activity ($1090 gross income per month in 2015). If one has been out of work for a year, it is important to apply immediately. For SSDI candidates Social Security will only pay past-due benefits back one year, even if they find you became disabled and unable to work prior to that time. In those cases, a delay in filing your application can cost you past- due benefits that you could be entitled to. It is important to consult with an attorney early in your case. Is it true that most applications get denied at first? Statistically, yes, approximately 70% of applications are denied at the initial level. It generally takes Social Security approximately 4-6 months to evaluate an initial application. If denied, the reconsideration level takes approximately 6-8 months and the chances of being denied are even greater; approximately 80-90%. If denied a second time at the reconsideration level, a request for hearing can be filed for the claimant to go in front of an Administrative Law Judge. It can take approximately 8-12 months to get a hearing. If you have applied on your own and get a denial from Social Security, it is important to consult with an attorney right away because the deadline for appeal is time sensitive. If you have yet to start your application for disability, consult with an attorney as there are many things a claimant can do at the outset of a disability claim that will benefit them should they have to appear at a hearing. Do I get extra benefits if I have children? Yes. For SSDI recipients there is a family maximum benefit that can be paid to qualified dependents. The family maximum is up to one-half of the disabled persons benefit amount. For SSI recipients, there is no provision for dependent benefits. If I am on Workers’ Compensation, does that affect my SSD claim? Maybe. It is possible to receive Workers’ Compensation and disability benefits at the same time. Based on past earnings, you have a maximum benefit amount. This is the amount you are entitled to receive between the two benefits. The theory is that one will not be better off financially if they are disabled than they were when they were working. If Work Comp benefits and disability benefits exceed the monthly maximum benefit amount, the Social Security benefits will be offset. It is important to speak to your attorney about the dynamic between your Work Comp benefits and disability benefits to ensure your benefits are maximized. How do I pay my SSD attorney? Most every Social Security attorney charges the same way, which is by contingency fee agreement. A contingency fee agreement means that your attorney does not get paid unless they win your case. Up to the hearing level, most Social Security attorneys will charge 25% of your past-due benefits or $6,000, whichever is less. If you are approved for benefits, Social Security will generally directly withhold your attorney’s fee and pay your attorney directly. How long does it take once I apply? See answer on question “Is it true that most applications get denied at first?” What is an overpayment and what can I do? An overpayment occurs when Social Security improperly paid a recipient benefits they were not entitled to for some reason or another. Unfortunately, it usually takes Social Security months or years to catch their mistake. A recipient will get a letter in the mail that they owe Social Security a certain amount of money back. Obviously, receipt of such a letter can cause great distress. I classify overpayments into two categories. The first category is where Social Security has made a mistake about the overpayment and the recipient is actually entitled to that money. These types of cases are rare. More often than not, even if Social Security is at fault and has paid benefits they shouldn’t have, the recipient will be required to pay back the money. Most Social Security attorneys do not handle overpayment cases because they are difficult to win. Additionally, Social Security will find it hard to believe that one has the money to pay an attorney to fight the overpayment, but they don’t have the money to pay Social Security back. In these cases, I find that Social Security will normally work out very favorable re-payment terms. The best thing to do is to be proactive and work out a re-payment plan with Social Security that fits within your budget, rather than having Social Security withhold part of your benefits to repay the overpayment. What happens if an injured worker tests positive for drugs? Before 2005, it was common practice for insurance companies to require those filing a claim to submit to a drug test. If the worker tested positive, their claim was denied. However, in 2005, the Arizona Supreme Court reversed this practice because it introduced fault into a “no-fault” system. Thus, most insurance carriers no longer require drug tests. Remember, even if there are drugs or alcohol in your system, don’t be afraid to file a claim. Your claim cannot be denied solely because of a positive drug test. What happens if a worker dies when their case is still open? A number of things can happen if a worker dies while their case is still open. If the death is causally related, meaning that the industrial injury directly or indirectly caused the death, survivors can continue to get benefits for as long as required by the law. However, if the death was not related to or caused by the injury, benefits will likely be terminated. This is because the only compensation in a workers comp claim is lost wages. If the worker is deceased, they wouldn’t be able to work anyways. Thus, no lost wages exist. In any case, survivors should check with an attorney to see what their rights and options are. What are nurse case managers? Nurse case managers are medical professionals hired by insurance companies to help workers who are severely injured manage their cases. In our experience, while some nurse case managers do advocate for injured workers, the majority represent the interests of insurance companies. This means they’ll try to reduce your benefits by minimizing the medical care you get and pressuring doctors to release you to work as soon as possible. If you have questions or concerns about nurse case managers, contact the attorneys at Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC. How do I report my injury? Associate Attorney Nick Wearne of Snow, Carpio & Weekley discusses how to report, when to report and how not reporting will affect your Workers’ Compensation claim in Arizona. Should I get an independent medical exam? Associate Attorney Nick Wearne of Snow, Carpio & Weekley speaks about Independent Medical Examinations and how they can affect your case.