What Happens When You Get a Social Security Disability Overpayment?
Social Security disability benefits allow you to make ends meet, but just barely. Unfortunately, if the Social Security Administration (SSA) claims that your payments are too high, you may suffer garnished tax returns or even be forced to write a check for the overpaid amount.
What Causes Overpayment?
Several circumstances prompt higher SSI or SSDI compensation than anticipated. Examples include:
- Changes in living situation
- Marital status updates
- Resources beyond the allowable limit
- Disappearance of disability
- Failure to report any of the above changes
What Happens If My Payment Is Too High?
If the Social Security Administration discovers that you’ve received benefits beyond what you’re entitled, you may receive notice, along with a request for repayment within one month. The message may also include a plan for withholding future disability payments and the date on which the proposed withdrawal will begin.
What If You Don’t Think You Received Excessive Compensation?
If you feel you were paid correctly, request a reconsideration within ten days of hearing from the SSA. If you believe, however, you were overpaid but not due to any wrongdoing on your part, request a waiver. If granted, this will allow you to avoid repayment. First, however, you must demonstrate that you were not at fault, and that paying the SSA back would cause severe financial hardship. Be prepared to submit bills indicating that your monthly expenses approach or exceed your income. Consider seeking feedback from the SSA on the criteria used to determine whether you received more benefits than warranted.
What If Your Request Is Denied?
You have the right to appeal denial of your waiver request. However, if the SSA continues to insist that you were overpaid, withholdings from your monthly benefits payments may occur. If you no longer receive benefits, you can petition for monthly payments. Your overpayment may also be withheld from your federal tax return.
Whether you’re applying for Social Security disability, appealing a denial, or dealing with overpayment, you can count on Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP for high-quality legal support.
What Should You Do If the Driver Who Hit You Had No Insurance…Or Not Enough Insurance?
The Insurance Research Council estimates that up to 11 percent of Georgia drivers lack insurance coverage. These uninsured individuals constantly put others at risk, leaving them on the hook for financial damages when collisions inevitably occur.
If the other person involved in your recent crash failed to maintain a mandated insurance policy, hope is not lost; you may be able to secure compensation for your accident. Additionally, you can take steps to ensure that you are prepared for future incidents with uninsured drivers.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage (UMC) protects motorists involved in accidents with those who drive without proper insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage (UIMC) is similar, but designed to accommodate crashes involving drivers who obtain the bare minimum — $25,000 in bodily injury liability for one person involved in a collision, $50,000 for all those in a single accident, and $25,000 in property damage liability, as mandated by Georgia law. The state does not, however, require drivers to purchase UMC or UIMC coverage — these are strictly optional. Insurance companies often hesitate to provide fair compensation for those with UMC or UIMC policies, so be prepared for a fight.
Taking Your Case to Court
If the other driver was responsible not only for your financial woes, but also for the accident itself, personal injury litigation may be possible. A skilled attorney can help you prove that the responsible party behaved negligently not only by failing to obtain necessary insurance, but also by exhibiting other reckless behaviors (such as speeding, running through stoplights, or driving under the influence of alcohol) behind the wheel. Consult with a trusted attorney to determine whether litigation is a potential approach.
Struggling to obtain compensation in the aftermath of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver? Get in touch with Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP today to learn more about your options.
Driving While Recovering from a Car Accident Injury: Critical Things to Keep in Mind
You’ve suffered a terrifying accident, and you are in no hurry to get back behind the wheel. Eventually, however, you’ll need to resume your driving routine. The following tactics can help you work through traffic anxiety and avoid future collisions:
Enroll In a Defensive Driving Course
The right class will allow you to regain your sense of control in the aftermath of a horrific car crash. You’ll learn how to recognize dangerous situations and respond before a wreck becomes imminent.
Drive With a Friend
The first time you get behind the wheel, ask a trusted friend or family member to ride along. You can take solace in knowing that, if the experience becomes too overwhelming, somebody else can take over.
Begin With Brief Drives
This is not the time to tackle a four-hour journey to your cabin up north. Your first unassisted drive should last no longer than ten minutes. Travel to the bank, the grocery store, or to a friend’s house — anywhere you can reach without hitting nerve-wracking traffic.
Learn From Your Mistakes
If you contributed in some way to the car accident, use that experience to spur better driving habits. Drive the speed limit, make necessary adjustments in inclement weather, and ditch distractions such as cell phones, food, or loud music.
Revisit the Crash Site (Depending on Your Comfort Level)
According to some trauma authorities, the longer you avoid the scene of an accident, the more you’ll feed lingering anxieties. Consider stopping by the former crash site a few days or weeks after you’ve successfully resumed your status as a motorist—and recovered your psychological equilibrium—and assess how you feel.
There’s no need to avoid your car indefinitely; with time, support, and a defensive driving class, you can return to your vehicle feeling confident in your ability to avoid future collisions.
As you deal with the anxiety of post-crash driving, let Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP handle the legal strategy to get you fairly compensated for damages you sustained in your Georgia car accident.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) After a Georgia Car Accident: What Is It? What are the Consequences? Where Can You Get Help?
PTSD United estimates that 24.4 million Americans struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) at any given time. Many suffer in the aftermath of terrifying car accidents, which the Department of Veterans Affairs cites as the traumatic event adult males most frequently experience. Keep reading to learn more about car accident-induced PTSD and how you can get help.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs in the aftermath of life-threatening incidents. Although typically associated with veterans, it is also regularly seen in survivors of sexual assault, terrorist attacks, and car accidents. Fear and anxiety are natural following such events, but for PTSD sufferers, this trauma takes its toll on everyday life, making it impossible to match past professional and academic achievements, or maintain positive relationships.
How Trauma Can Change You
PTSD symptoms vary significantly from one sufferer to the next. The disorder is immediately evident in some people, but in other cases, incredibly difficult to detect. Common signs of distress include:
- Constantly reliving the car accident
- Regularly revisiting the crash site
- Upsetting dreams about the collision
- Hopelessness about your future
- Feeling detached from loved ones
- Feeling easily startled (for example, responding irrationally to sudden, loud noises)
- Difficulty focusing
- Overwhelming and irrational feelings of shame
Are you concerned that you or a loved one might have PTSD? As a Georgia resident, you have access to a vast array of resources. If you’re a veteran, you can secure treatment at any VA Medical Center. Female sufferers can find support in Marissa Coleman’s Women’s Trauma Group, which regularly meets in Atlanta’s Virginia-Highland area. More intensive therapy is available at Riverwoods Behavioral Health, which employs a variety of empirically-backed approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapy, music therapy, and art therapy.
As you recover from PTSD, leave the stressful legal elements of your case to Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP.
How to Avoid Reinjury While Out on Workers’ Compensation: Insights for the Restless and Anxious
A workplace injury has left you unable to complete your typical job duties. Reinjury could result in a much longer leave, and may even call the legitimacy of your earlier workers’ compensation claim into doubt. At this point, avoiding additional injury should be your chief priority. Speak with your doctor and therapist about the following potentially resourceful ideas:
Strength Training and Physical Therapy
Targeted exercises can restore strength to injured muscles, while also preventing strain on overused body parts. Visit your physical therapist regularly and complete all prescribed treatments at home. Do not rely on self-research for strength training exercises; you could inadvertently cause further harm.
A limber body and a good sense of balance are key to injury prevention. Consider enrolling in an easy yoga class at a local studio, or better yet, one specifically targeted at people dealing with illness and injury. Avoid the temptation to challenge yourself with an advanced course such as vinyasa or ashtanga, as overdoing it could lead to the exact afflictions you’re trying to prevent.
Nutrition can have a profound impact on your recovery and potential for reinjury. Avoid soft drinks, alcohol, and junk food, and, instead, consume vegetables, health fats, and protein. If you are a type 2 diabetic or insulin resistant, studies suggest you may benefit from consuming a diet limited in carbohydrate.
Take it Easy
The aftermath of a workplace injury is not the time to try strenuous new activities such as water skiing or snowboarding. Recreation-related reinjury is not eligible for compensation, and it could even call your previous injury into doubt. Consult a physician before trying any potentially strenuous activities.
As you recover, look to Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP for assistance with your Georgia worker’s compensation claim.
What Can You Do If Your Company Didn’t Buy Workers’ Compensation Insurance (and Should Have), and Then You Got Hurt on the Job
When you are injured on the job, you expect your employer to cover ensuing medical bills and loss of wages. Unfortunately, many businesses lack workers’ compensation insurance and are therefore unable to provide injured workers the remuneration they deserve.
Dealing with a complete lack of compensation in the aftermath of a workplace accident? Unfortunately, your options are limited, as detailed below:
In general, workers’ compensation is the sole remedy for employees injured on the job. Except under extreme circumstances, injured workers cannot sue their employers, even if they fail to obtain proper insurance coverage. However, there are rare cases in which an incident occurring on a company’s premises can be classified as personal injury. Consult a qualified attorney to determine how your injury is defined and whether litigation is possible.
Request a Hearing with the State Board
Georgia employers are legally required to obtain workers’ compensation insurance. If they fail to do so, they may still be required to cover medical costs and other expenses. Your best bet as an injured employee might be to file a claim with Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
A skilled attorney can help you gather proof of your injury, how it impacts your daily life, and whether it occurred as a result of a workplace accident or due to the strain of your daily job-related activities. Depending on the intricacies of your case and your lawyer’s skill, you could secure coverage for health care costs, wage loss, and even a ten percent increase in payment as punishment. Additionally, your employer may be assessed a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per uninsured employee, along with criminal fines or even imprisonment.
Not sure how to handle your Georgia workers’ compensation case? Contact Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP today to schedule a consultation.
The Science of Trigger Point Therapy: What Exactly Do We Know and Don’t Know?
Opinions of myofascial trigger point therapy vary wildly depending on who you ask. Some people tout this alternative approach to pain relief as a miracle cure; others refer to it as bogus science or even actively harmful. The reality, however, probably lies somewhere in the middle: trigger point therapy does not benefit all pain sufferers, but it possibly holds plenty of promise.
What are Trigger Points?
Trigger points are small focal spots found on taut bands of muscle. When improperly activated, they supposedly cause severe, localized pain, or in some cases, immobility. However, in applying direct pressure to problem areas, afflicted individuals instead experience a dull ache, which eventually gives way to relief. This concept is known as referral pain.
What are the Purported Benefits of Trigger Point Therapy?
Advocates claim that applying pressure to localized spots of pain can effectively spur alleviation, freeing sufferers of the need for drug therapy and accompanying side effects. Additionally, advocates claim that myofascial therapy delivers prompt results, with chronic pain sufferers experiencing desperately-needed relief after just one treatment.
Are There Any Downsides?
According to skeptics, trigger point compression does not solve underlying problems, and it is therefore nothing more than a Band-Aid preventing pain sufferers from seeking a more permanent solution. This approach can be downright dangerous if conducted in a DIY manner or by an inexperienced therapist.
What the Science Says
Researchers remain skeptical of trigger point therapy, but there are signs of hope for advocates who require empirical evidence. In a notable study published in BMC Medicine, those prescribed myofascial therapy showed marked improvements over the control group after twelve weeks of shoulder-based intervention. More research is needed, however, to determine whether this is an effective treatment for other sources of pain.
Trigger point therapy may or may not become your go-to solution for chronic or acute pain—speak with a physician before engaging in any self therapy or treatment like this. But you can count on the qualified Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys at Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP to help you obtain fair benefits.
Types Of Damages Available To Georgia Car Accident Victims: Part Two
Monetary damages cannot reverse the pain of a car accident, but they at least can provide an element of financial relief. In part one of this series, we explored the differences between compensatory and punitive damages. Today, we will take a closer look at the various forms of compensatory.
Depending on the extent of the injuries related to the accident, medical expenses can pile up quickly. In addition to covering hospital bills, compensatory damages may provide money for rehabilitative care (e.g. physical therapy, prosthetics, ongoing chiropractic, etc.), which could be required months, even years after the accident.
Pain and Suffering
Often referred to as general damages, pain and suffering awards are challenging to calculate. Some juries use “multipliers,” in which multiples of the individual’s lost earnings and medical bills are calculated. For example, the victim’s pain and suffering may be valued at three times the total medical and wage-based damages.
Loss of Wages
The medical issues stemming from a car accident may make it impossible for the victim to return to work; or they may substantially reduce what type of work the individual can perform or for how long. As a result of this limited capacity, the person might have to abandon billable hours as well as give up pursuing new projects that could lead to future business.
If you have been involved in a Georgia car accident, please reach out to Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP for a private, strategic case evaluation. Our team can assess what happened in your crash and come up with a battle plan to get you fully and fairly compensated.
Types Of Damages Available To Georgia Car Accident Victims: Part One
Here’s a broad overview of the damages potentially available for Georgia car accident victims. (In our next post in this series, we will explore the types of compensation in more granular detail.)
Georgia is what’s known as an “at-fault” state. What that means is that our state’s tort system allows victims to pursue personal injury lawsuits to obtain compensation for damages caused by car accidents — especially if driver negligence or carelessness contributed to the crash.
Sometimes referred to as general damages, compensatory damages reimburse victims for financial and emotional harm inflicted by the crash. For example, the victim can get paid back for ongoing medical bills not covered by insurance. These damages also attempt to quantify the pain, suffering, and emotional duress experienced – in other words, to attach a monetary amount to that loss.
As the name indicates, punitive damages are designed to punish the responsible person or other party, such as a negligent trucking company that hired a driver with a checkered driving history, who then rammed your car with his 18 wheeler. The court awards these damages infrequently and generally reserves them for cases involving malice or gross negligence. An example of this occurred in Dagne v. Schroeder, in which the defendant drove on the opposite side of the road and crashed into the plaintiff’s vehicle. The court eventually determined that the defendant had not been impaired at the time of the accident, but it still awarded punitive damages.
Contact Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP to learn more about damages available to car accident victims in Georgia.
Negotiating With An Insurance Adjuster After A Georgia Car Accident: Useful Ideas
Negotiating an insurance claim after a car accident can be onerous, even if you have energy and a desire for justice. Deploy the following strategies to protect your claim:
Determine a Minimum — But Don’t Share It
Work out an acceptable minimum settlement, but do not reveal that figure to your adjuster. This tactic will prevent you from taking an offer you later regret, especially if the adjuster opts for a “take it or leave it” approach.
Ask for Justification
If your insurance adjuster comes back with a lowball offer, demand to understand the reasoning behind the decision. Probe, and get specific. Why did the insurance company reject evidence of your low back injury? Why wasn’t more credence given to a key witness’s account? Etc. If you disagree with the offered explanations, draft a letter addressing each of your adjuster’s concerns and why you think they don’t invalidate your claim.
Maintain a Journalistic, Fact-Based Tone
It’s only natural to feel distressed after a car accident, but work hard to be concrete when describing the crash. Likewise, be specific when articulating the nature, duration and intensity of your suffering. Use language like “Bleeding and contusions forced me to spend eight days in the hospital…” instead of language like “the accident knocked me out and made me feel terrible…” Inexact language, however well intentioned, can be used to diminish your claim.
Carefully Use “Non-Damaging Admissions”
Your insurance adjuster knows that you’re not perfect, and he or she may actually be more willing to work with you if you admit as much.
In negotiating parlance, a “non-damaging” admission is one that doesn’t have substantive bearing on the issue under consideration. For instance, let’s say two toddlers are arguing. Who knocked over an ice cream cone? One child admits to shoving the other after the ice cream hit the dirt. Whether or not he shoved doesn’t matter to the question of who knocked over the ice cream. But the toddler who admits to the shoving might come across as more honest for admitting to a flawed behavior.
In a similar way, disclosing certain less-than-flattering information about the accident or what you did afterwards can demonstrate to the adjuster that you negotiate in good faith.
However, you must take great care when discussing any details about your accident with an insurance company representative, particularly details that imply that you erred or contributed to the crash. Instead, leave this subtle work to a qualified Georgia car accident attorney who has years of experience negotiating successfully with insurers on behalf of victims.
Contact Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP today to schedule a private consultation; we can help you get the compensation you need to rebuild your life.