Applying for a Home Loan After Bankruptcy

Most of us have been conditioned by movies and television to associate personal bankruptcy with a handful of frightening images—movers hauling away furniture, bank officers laughing at an application for a home loan. But not only are these images inaccurate; they also obscure a very important truth. The truth is that for someone considering filing for personal bankruptcy, the frightening part is already upon them. And the frank truth is that for someone who’s falling behind on credit card payments or medical bills, qualifying for a home loan is unlikely without making some changes.

But there’s good news after bad, and the good news is that, for most people struggling with debt, filing for bankruptcy is the end of the frightening part. Depending on whether a person files under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, their debts will either be discharged or reduced to a short-term payment plan set by their budget. Most creditors will be required to cease and desist attempts to collect, and the former debtor will finally be able to set about building their life without all the chaos and threatening letters. Bankruptcy is, after all, a relief service guaranteed to citizens by federal law, not a punishment.

So how long does it take to buy a house after filing? The short answer is probably around two years. The Federal Housing Administration won’t guarantee a loan until two years after discharge, and most major banks require a minimum of two years after discharge plus proof of extenuating circumstances. A few examples of extenuating circumstances are loss of employment, divorce, and poor health. In fact, most people who file for bankruptcy have suffered these sorts of hardships. These sorts of hardships are a large part of why bankruptcy protections exist. Different banks have their own policies, but for most, applying for a home loan two years after bankruptcy discharge is generally the most practical option.

But before applying for a home loan, a wise consumer should plan. Many creditors, (such as credit card companies) will be happy to extend credit to a former debtor freshly out of bankruptcy. It’s important to take advantage of the reputable offers, as lines of credit, smartly utilized, will help the former debtor to quickly establish an impressive credit score. In fact, a good attorney should advise their client on how best to go about this, so that their client can confidently set the date that they will apply for a home loan with not just a clean slate but also excellent credit.

 

by Reagan Healey

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Can I get fired for filing bankruptcy?

In short – No.  Pursuant to federal law, no employer (either federal or private) “may terminate the employment of, or discriminate with respect to employment against, an individual who”:

  • Has filed bankruptcy
  • Has been insolvent before a case has been discharged
  • Has not paid a debt that is dischargeable, or the debt was discharged

Interesting enough, this protection extends to non-filing individuals that are associated with the debt (like a spouse on a joint debt).

Bankruptcy protection for your employment is based in solid reasoning and advances a common good for all.  Bankruptcy protects you from a creditor’s collection efforts; therefore, it only makes sense that it should protect you from discriminatory treatment by a creditor when that creditor is your employer.  An employer may not discriminate against you for filing bankruptcy if you were going to advance or get a promotion and not give you that promotion due to your filing bankruptcy.  In addition, an employer may not demote you for filing bankruptcy.

Now, the protection is a bit tricky when it comes to applying for a new job.  Government employers may not discriminate nor refuse to hire you because you filed bankruptcy.  In fact, to get a government job or gain a promotion, you may be required to file bankruptcy.  For example, a former client had to file bankruptcy to get a promotion that would gain her Top-Secret clearance.  The rationale is that she would not be susceptible to bribes or coercion for access to the Top-Secret information in return for money for her debts.  On the other hand, there is no protection for gaining employment with a private employer.  A private employer can deny you employment based upon your bankruptcy filing.

In short, bankruptcy laws are designed to protect a debtor achieve a fresh start.  When you reach that point where the debt gets too overwhelming and you want freedom from your debt, bankruptcy affords you that opportunity.  In addition to discharging your debt, bankruptcy law allows you the chance to start over.  Starting over is not starting over with nothing as you can keep most property that you need to reorganize.  In addition, you can keep your job and continue earning an income after the bankruptcy is completed.

 

by Jeff Bursell

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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When a bankruptcy case is filed…

When a bankruptcy case is filed, section 541 of the Bankruptcy Code provides that all the debtor’s legal and equitable interests become assets of the bankruptcy estate.  Commencement of a bankruptcy case creates an “estate”.  Put simply, your stuff isn’t yours anymore; it belongs to the bankruptcy estate.  Generally, your creditors must look to the assets of the estate for satisfaction of their claims. The estate consists of all property interests of the debtor at the time of case commencement, subject to certain exclusions and exemptions. For the most part, your bankruptcy estate consists of all of the property that you own when you file for bankruptcy.

What property is included in the bankruptcy estate?  All of it—without exception. When you file for bankruptcy, you tell the court about your property by listing it on Schedule A/B.  The types of property you’ll list include:  real estate (residence, building, or land); vehicles (cars, vans, trucks, tractors, sport utility vehicles, motorcycles, watercraft, motor homes, ATVs, etc); personal and household items (furnishings, electronics, collectibles, sports equipment, firearms, clothes, and jewelry); financial assets (bank, stock, and retirement accounts, business interests, legal claims, tax returns, etc); business-related property and any other assets you own

Categories of Property

Property you own and possess when you file. If you own something and it’s in your possession, it’s part of your bankruptcy estate, even if you owe money on it. Property you possess but that belongs to someone else (like your friend’s DVD collection) are not part of the estate.

Property you own but don’t possess when you file. Even if you don’t possess an item of property that you own, it’s still in your bankruptcy estate. Examples of this type of property include security deposits held by your landlord, money in a lawyer’s trust account, the daughter’s car titled in your client’s name, or property that you’ve loaned to someone.

Property you are entitled to receive. If you have the legal right to property but have not yet received it, it’s still in your bankruptcy estate. Examples include wages, commissions, tax refunds, vacation pay, an inheritance, insurance policy proceeds from an event that has occurred already, and accounts receivable.

Some types of property that you acquire within 180 days after filing for bankruptcy. If you acquire or become entitled to the following items within 180 days after you file for bankruptcy, the property becomes part of your bankruptcy estate:

  • an inheritance
  • property you receive or have a right to receive from a marital settlement agreement or divorce decree, and
  • death benefits or life insurance policy proceeds.

Revenue generated by other property in your bankruptcy estate. This would encompass any earnings produced by contracts that were in effect when you filed for bankruptcy. For example, if you wrote a book before you filed for bankruptcy, any royalties you collect afterwards are part of your bankruptcy estate.

Property that you fraudulently transferred prior to your bankruptcy. If you sold property during the two-year period prior to your bankruptcy for substantially less than property is worth, or if you gifted valuable property during this period, the transfer may be “fraudulent” and the property considered part of your bankruptcy estate. The trustee can sue to get the property back.

Preference payments. Bankruptcy law does not allow you to “prefer” one creditor over another. If you paid creditors more than a certain dollar amount before your bankruptcy filing (the time period differs depending on the type of creditor), the payments may become part of your bankruptcy estate. This means the trustee can sue your creditor to get the money back.

Protecting your Assets in your Bankruptcy Case

Every state has different rules on what property the debtor is allowed to protect and what value the debtor is allowed protect or “exempt” for that property. The Bankruptcy Code allows an individual debtor to protect some property from the claims of creditors because it is exempt under federal bankruptcy law or under the laws of the debtor’s home state. 11 U.S.C. § 522(b). Many states have taken advantage of a provision in the Bankruptcy Code that permits each state to implement its own exemption law in place of the federal exemptions. In other jurisdictions, the individual debtor has the option of choosing between federal exemptions or the exemptions available under state law. Thus, whether certain property is exempt and may be kept by the debtor is often a question of state law.  Minnesota allows debtors to choose between state and federal bankruptcy exemptions. This means that your attorney has examined both sets of exemptions and elected the exemptions that better protect your assets.

 

The bankruptcy petition filed includes a schedule of “exempt” property And law allows married couples filing jointly to each claim a full set of exemptions, unless otherwise noted.

An exemption limit applies to any equity you have in the property. Equity is the difference between the value of the property and what is owed on the property. For example, a car valued at $5000 with a loan of $4500 has an equity value of only $500.

 

Filing bankruptcy under Minnesota exemptions does not mean that you have to give up all of your property. Through exemptions, you can keep a certain amount of your assets safe in bankruptcy. Many exemptions protect specific types of property, such as a motor vehicle or your wedding ring. Sometimes an exemption protects the entire value of the asset. Other times, an exemption protects up to a certain dollar amount of an asset. If you can exempt an asset, then you don’t have to worry about it being taken or affecting your bankruptcy.

If your specific asset does not have an exemption or goes over the dollar amount allotted to protect the asset, then that asset becomes fully or partially non-exempt (not protected in your bankruptcy).  To keep a non-exempt asset in bankruptcy, a debtor must generally pay the trustee the value of the non-exempt asset.  The debtor also has the ability to turn that asset over to the trustee if they do not want to pay to keep it.

 

by Dawn Ravn

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Can you Keep your House and Automobile in a Bankruptcy?

Filing chapter 7 bankruptcy Is a big decision that comes with many worries and questions.  Some of those worries include whether you can keep your house or whether you can keep an automobile in a chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The equity in your home and your automobile is protected by “exempting” it from your chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Every state has different rules on what property the debtor is allowed to protect and what value the debtor is allowed protect or “exempt” for that property.  (this is listed as your state’s exemptions).  Each state also determines whether its residents can use the state exemptions, the federal exemptions or whether you have the ability to choose what works best for your situation.

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, generally you can keep your house as long as:

  1. The equity in your home is fully exempt, which means fully protected by the state laws of bankruptcy, and
  2. As long as you are current on your home.

If you have fallen behind on your house, a chapter 7 will not help you keep your house or get current on your house payments.  A chapter 7 may help you remain in your home a bit longer – but inevitably will result in foreclosure.  At this point, a Chapter 13 could be a viable option to help you keep your house; as long as your income allows for you to provide for a chapter 13 payment and cure the arrears on the home

 

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, generally you can keep your automobile as long as:

  1. The equity in your automobile is fully exempt, which means fully protected by the state laws of bankruptcy, and
  2. As long as you are current on your automobile.

As with a house, if you are behind on your automobile, a chapter 7 will not help you keep your automobile or get current on your automobile payments.

 

by Dawn Ravn

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Filing Bankruptcy: Before or After a Divorce?

Divorce is one of the most common reasons that people consider filing bankruptcy. On top of being a taxing time emotionally for many, it can also be a large financial burden. Along with other issues, the impact on both parties’ financial situations and their debts can be too much for some to handle.  Bankruptcy can be a solution for this, and there are many things to consider when it comes to the timing of such an undertaking.

The first thing for most to consider is whether they should file jointly, or separately. There are many benefits to filing jointly. The filing cost is the same whether the bankruptcy petition is joint, or individual, and filing jointly often has little increase in attorney’s fees, while filing individually can double those fees, or more.  There may be other factors to consider, such as your income and how that can affect your eligibility for certain types of bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 is a very quick version of bankruptcy often referred to as a liquidation. This type of bankruptcy is designed to handle certain kinds of unsecured debts such as credit cards and medical bills and can be completed in only several months.  However, household income and expenses can affect your ability to qualify, therefore waiting until after a divorce can sometimes be the quicker and easier route for an individual to take.

Chapter 13 is a more comprehensive type of bankruptcy in which certain debts are paid through a 3 – 5 year plan, either in part or in full. This type of bankruptcy can be the better choice for some, in order to protect certain assets or to address certain kinds of debt. Income is again a consideration here as it could affect how much the plan payment is.  Also, some divorces can be contentious, and it may be wise to consider the relationship with the ex-spouse before entering into a 3 – 5 year legal process with them amidst a divorce proceeding.

Bankruptcy can help make a divorce proceeding easier by eliminating the need to decide which spouse will be responsible for which debts through that process, especially through the quicker process of a Chapter 7 liquidation. In such cases filing bankruptcy before a divorce can be especially helpful when combined with the cost saving considerations of a joint bankruptcy discussed earlier.

If you want to discuss when filing bankruptcy may work best for you, speak with an attorney today.  Many attorneys offer free consultations and can help guide you towards the decision that will best help you.

 

by Barry Moore

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Are there disadvantages to filing bankruptcy?

The answer to that question completely depends on your financial situation before filing.  If you have perfect credit, can pay your bills on time and in full each month and could pay off all your medical and/or credit card debt in less than a year, then there could be disadvantages to filing bankruptcy.

However, if you are searching for bankruptcy information, chances are you do not fit into this category.  If you have debt that you cannot service, if your credit score is sink faster than the Titanic or if you are facing constant threat of a lawsuit, then the advantages of filing bankruptcy far outweigh the disadvantages.

The real question to research is – what are the advantages to filing bankruptcy?  The number one advantage to filing bankruptcy as opposed to not filing is your ability to obtain a fresh start.  The United States does not have a debtor’s prison, but the strain from debt piling up can act as a prison to financial freedom.  In most cases, you can discharge your debts (such as credit cards, medical, other loans and some taxes), keep your assets and move forward with life in about three months.

Once you file bankruptcy, your credit report will have to be cleaned of all inaccuracies.  You should know that you are protected by Federal Law when it involves the information contained on your credit report.  Bottom line – your credit report should be accurate.  For example, if after bankruptcy, one of your credit lines is still showing a balance or still in collections, then you have a right to demand that they fix the credit report.  You want to dispute all inaccuracies to make sure that your FICO score is not lowered because one of your credit lines fails to report accurate information to your bureaus.

After you get your inaccuracies all fixed, you should focus your attention to your credit score.  To improve your credit score, you can read many of the books available regarding credit score repair.  Our office provides a service for our bankruptcy clients through www.720creditscore.com.  With the help of 720 Credit Score, you can obtain a credit score of 720 in as few as 12 months.

Disadvantages to filing bankruptcy fade away rather quickly when you ask the right questions: where is your credit score now? Can you get out of debt within 1 year? Do you have lawsuits pending?  If your answers to these questions are yes, then bankruptcy could be the most positive thing you do to improve your financial life.  Do not let fear get in the way of financial freedom.

by Jeff Bursell

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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SS Language

Sometimes the language Social Security uses can be confusing. I am going to go through some of the terms and rules that can be confusing. I am only dealing with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is the benefit you will receive based on credits you have earned by working. Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) has its own rules, and is a need based program.

The term Date Last Insured (DLI) refers to the date at which you have to be found disabled in order to collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Social Security figures out the DLI based on credits you have earned by working. You can earn 4 credits per year, or 1 credit per quarter. Social Security deems you eligible for SSDI if you earned 20 credits in 10 years. Put another way, you must work 5 out of the last 10 years. For example, if I worked from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2011, my DLI will be 5 years from the date I stopped working (December 31, 2016). This means if Social Security decides I am disabled at any time prior to my DLI (December 31, 2016), I will receive SSDI. If Social Security decides I am disabled January 1, 2017, or later, my DLI is past and my credits will have expired.

Alleged Onset Date (AOD) is another term that seems straightforward, but can be confusing. When you apply for Social Security, you need to tell them what date you consider yourself to be disabled. Usually the day after your last day of work becomes your AOD.

Another rule that is confusing is the 5 month waiting period to be eligible for SSDI payments. The rule is this: When found disabled, I need to be disabled for 5 full calendar months in order to collect SSDI payments. If I am found to be disabled on January 10, 2016, then I will not be eligible for payments until July 1, 2016.

I have gone over the problems that we get the most questions about, but it doesn’t even represent the tip of the iceberg, as far as Social Security’s rules. The process is usually long and very frustrating. It can take 2-3 years to get your claim before an Administrative Law Judge, which is where you have the best chance of an approval. This is why we recommend getting an attorney to help with the process. The attorney knows Social Security’s rules, and can help you understand them as well.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a tick borne bacterial infection. You can be infected by the bite of a deer tick. One of Lyme disease’s telltale signs is a rash, called an Erythema migrans rash. This rash typically occurs within the first 2 weeks of infection, and it looks like a bullseye target. Although most prevalent in New England and some of the Midwestern states, you can be infected anytime you are outdoors. Lyme disease has been reported in 49 states (Hawaii has not had a confirmed case of Lyme Disease), and in every continent, except Antarctica.

Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. Oftentimes, people either do not get a rash. Some people get flu-like symptoms within the first 2 weeks from the infection. Bell’s Palsy can often occur. That is where you lose muscle control on one side of your face, and it appears to droop. Other symptoms can be fatigue, joint pain and swelling, eye inflammation, and swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms usually occur in the first 2 weeks of the infection. However, these are such general symptoms, they can be diagnosed incorrectly.

Some people have “chronic Lyme disease”. This is officially called Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. This can occur if you are diagnosed months, or even years after the original tick bite. When this happens, Lyme disease can attack your nervous system, cardiovascular system and can often lead to other diseases, such as Hepatitis B, Guillian-Barre Syndrome and even Meningitis. These are auto-immune responses that your body creates as it tries to fight the infection.

Testing for Lyme disease is a 2 step process. The first step is to test the blood to look for Lyme disease enzymes. If this first test is positive, then an immunoblot test is done, typically called a “Western blot” test. If that is also positive, the diagnosis is complete.

Treatment of Lyme disease is the same, whether it is immediately after the tick bite, or months later. Since Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, it is treated with a 2 to 4 week trial of antibiotics.

There is still much more research to be done on Lyme disease. The use of ongoing antibiotics for Post Lyme Disease Syndrome can cause serious complications, such as liver function abnormalities and infection and blood clots at the site of a catheter used to administer antibiotics. If you suspect you may have been bitten by a deer tick, consult your doctor immediately. If you have been treated for Lyme disease, but are still experiencing symptoms, see your doctor. Your doctor may be able to treat your symptoms.

There are ways of preventing Lyme disease. Reducing exposure to ticks is the best way. If you are outside, apply tick repellant that contains DEET. There are also natural remedies of repelling ticks. Using essential oils, such as garlic, peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass, cedar, thyme and geraniol. These natural treatments, however, have not been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, since essential oils are not regulated by the EPA.  There used to be a Lyme disease vaccination, but production was discontinued in 2002, due to low demand. Experts say the protection provided by the vaccination diminishes over time, so if you received the vaccine in the past, it would most likely not be effective by now.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition in which high levels of nerve impulses are sent to an affected site. Experts believe it occurs as a result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous system. This condition most often affects women, and people who are ages 20-35. It is also more common in people with some other inflammatory or autoimmune disorders, such as asthma.

Diagnosing this condition is difficult. In some cases it may take years to get a correct diagnosis. Some doctors think that pain receptors in the affected body part become to catecholamines. These are simply nervous system messengers. In other words these messengers carry a pain message from the brain to the affected area. In 90% of cases, CRPS is be caused by some sort of injury, and this triggers an immune response, such as swelling, warmth, or redness of the affected area. Occasionally CRPS can develop without a known injury. However, there may have been an internal injury caused by infection, a blood vessel problem or entrapment of the nerves.

Some symptoms can include pain, swelling, warmth and redness in a localized area. These symptoms can be caused by so many disorders, and that is why CRPS is so difficult to diagnose. Oftentimes doctors will make a diagnosis by ruling out other disorders, such as arthritis, Lyme disease, generalized muscle diseases, clotted veins, or small nerve fiber polyneuropathies (such as from diabetes). The distinguishing feature to CRPS is a history of an injury to the area.

Some treatments for CRPS include: physical therapy, psychotherapy, medication, sympathetic nerve blocks (injections into the nerves to numb pain), surgical sympathectomy (removing the nerve cluster thought to be causing pain), spinal cord stimulation (electrodes implanted into the spine near the spinal cord) and intrathecal drug pumps (a device that pumps pain relieving medication to the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord). There are also some emerging experimental treatments, such as intravenous immunoglobulin, ketamine (a powerful anesthetic given in low doses over a period of days), or hyperbaric oxygen (pressurized air that delivers more oxygen to the body’s tissue and organs).

The prognosis for CRPS varies. Typically children and teens have good recovery. Some people are left with unremitting pain and crippling, which can be permanent. It is thought by some doctors that early treatment, particularly physical therapy, is helpful in limiting the disorder. This is just a theory right now, because more research needs to be done on the condition. There is, however no known cure for CRPS. If you believe you could be suffering from this condition, you should consult your physician. You are your own best advocate for treatment and diagnosis.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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What documents will I need when I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Certain documents will need to be provided to Social Security when you apply for benefits.  Providing original documents in a timely manner will expedite the process.  Some examples of documents you may need are:

  • Your Social Security card
  • Your birth certificate
  • Your children’s birth certificates and Social Security numbers (if applying for them)
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status
  • Your spouse’s birth certificate and Social Security number if he or she is applying for benefits based on your earnings
  • Your marriage certificate
  • Your military discharge papers
  • Your most recent W-2 or tax return

Once documents are gathered, benefits can be applied for in person or online at sss.socialsecurity.gov/applyforbenefits .  Applying for benefits is only the beginning of the process.  Knowing one’s rights along the way is very important to a favorable outcome and as such, you have a right to representation.  For questions related to how to apply for disability or any other issues related to your Social Security Disability claim, please contact us at Hoglund, Chwialkowski, and Mrozik.

by Lyndsey Sharpe

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Medicare Wait Period and Retroactive Benefits

Once disability is determined either at the initial level or by an Administrative Law Judge, you may become eligible for Medicare.  Medicare coverage is available if you are approved for Disability Insurance Benefits under Title II and after a 24 month wait period.  This wait period commences upon the onset date of disability. (The date you are determined to have become disabled.)  For many, this wait period will be either completed or near completed by the time you are approved by an Administrative Law Judge as the Social Security Disability evaluation process can take several years.

During the waiting period you may accumulate medical bills.  In some cases Medicare coverage may be retroactive.  If you paid for medical services you can ask your provider to resubmit medical claims to Medicare and generally healthcare providers have one year from the time of service to resubmit claims.  The two parts of Medicare that you will be enrolled in are Hospital Care (Part A) and Medical Insurance (Part B).  The hospital care (Part A) will be provided for free through Medicare as the taxes you paid financed this coverage.  The medical coverage (Part B) which is mostly doctors’ bills, will most likely require additional premiums for which you will be responsible.

There are additional parts to Medicare that are available such as prescription drug coverage and gap coverage.  For questions related to Medicare, how to apply or any other issues related to your Social Security Disability claim, please contact us at Hoglund, Chwialkowski, and Mrozik.

 

By Lyndsey Sharpe

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Chapter 13 Can Release the Pressure of Auto Title Loans

Many car owners turn to car title loans to try and get through a financial crunch. Car or truck title loans have become a much more common attempt to prevent a financial crisis: about 2 million Americans took out these types of loans in 2015. The concept sounds very appealing; there is a family crisis and cash is needed immediately to deal with it. The borrower can keep driving the car they need to get to work or school and the emergency is also handled. There are two types of payment terms for title loans; either all the emergency cash is paid back in one payment a short time later, or the balance borrowed can be paid back in installments over a slightly longer period of time. However, this temporary relief comes at a hefty price for many; a recent federal study found that 1 in 5 vehicle owners who took out a title loan ended up losing the car or truck to repossession. Once the car or truck is taken by the title loan company, the borrower is left without transportation and must again find a way to quickly get cash to have the vehicle returned by paying off the entire balance of the title loan. These loans sometimes have different terms than general financial principles would dictate. Usually, when a car or truck is given as collateral for a loan by the owner, the interest rates are low because the value of the car or truck or SUV serves as a kind of insurance that the financer will not lose any money. The terms of the contract say the financer can take the vehicle and sell it to recover the money borrowed if the borrower does not pay on time. Title loans, however, have some of the highest interest rates in the consumer finance world; typical interest rates can be higher than 300%. These higher interest rates make it much more difficult to pay off these loans. Paying back only the amount borrowed without paying all the interest means there is still a balance outstanding and that remaining balance must be paid as well. Consumers who want to get these types of loans are not able to negotiate lower interest rates with the financers and have to accept the interest rate offered in order to get the loan.

Cash-strapped consumers can get out of the financial corner these loans can create by meeting with an experiences attorney and using a powerful concept in a Chapter 13 reorganization called cramdown. Car and truck owners can restructure the loan secured by the vehicle as part of the overall reorganization and keep their necessary transportation. Terms that are otherwise not flexible can be made more manageable by reducing the interest rate to a court-ordered level and giving families enough time to pay the balance at the new interest rate over more time than typically allowed under the initial contract. Chapter 13 cramdown of car and truck loans are just part of the relief available to consumers who have debts secured by their vehicles and a consultation with an attorney who is familiar with the relief available to people in a chapter 13 case can mean the difference between having the financial pressure created by pursuing creditors trying to repossess someone’s only means of transportation and having a financial plan in place that works and allows for financial peace of mind.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Why am I paying an attorney to help me file bankruptcy when I am doing all the work?

This is one of the most common questions I receive during the free consultations provided by our firm. It seems like a fair question at the outset, but the reality is, filing for bankruptcy is more complicated than most people realize. There is a lot of document gathering that needs to be done by the client that cannot be done by the attorney. This gives the impression that the client is doing all the work. However, there are a lot of nuances to the bankruptcy code that can have devastating affects if not addressed properly. That is the reason that it is wise to pay an attorney to help file your bankruptcy.

One of the biggest nuances is protecting the equity in your home. There are limits on how much equity an individual can protect before they may have to turn over other assets. The attorney must help the client understand what assets, if any, may be at risk. A plan must then be formulated on how to handle those assets; whether it is to sell before filing or pay the bankruptcy estate to keep the asset. If you don’t own a home, there are still plenty of other reasons to hire an attorney.

Another potential asset at risk in a bankruptcy is a tax refund. Depending on how large your tax refund is going to be and how many other assets you have, it may be that you need to wait to file your bankruptcy so you don’t have to turn over a portion or all of you tax refund over to your bankruptcy estate. Careful planning by an attorney could save you more money than you pay in attorney fees.

So while your attorney may ask you to gather a lot of documentation to file your case, you could be out more money than if you had hired them.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Debts and Divorce

If you have been involved in a divorce, you may be wondering what happens to the debt that was divided in your divorce agreement. You may also wonder what happens if your ex files for bankruptcy. These answer depend on a few factors surrounding you and your ex.

If the debts you split in your divorce agreement were joint, you are still on the hook for paying the full amount even if your ex is awarded the full debt amount in the divorce. However, you can be reimbursed by your ex if you back the debt. To do this may require to go through the court system if your ex does not voluntarily pay you back. Going through the courts to collect may cost you more than filing for bankruptcy.

On the flip side, if you were awarded a joint debt in the divorce agreement, filing for bankruptcy does not get you off the hook to reimburse your ex if they pay the debt. Filing for bankruptcy only prevents the creditor or collection agencies from collection efforts. The divorce agreement can still force you to pay damages to your ex for violating the divorce decree.

If you are considering a divorce, it may be wise for you and your spouse to file bankruptcy together before filing for divorce. Doing so can cut down on the headaches described above. It can also cut down on the costs of your bankruptcy and your divorce. Contact us today for a free consultation to review your options.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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What Should You Know about your Social Security Lawyer?

Q & A with Social Security Disability Attorney Andrew Kinney

 

Q:  What should you know about your Social Security Lawyer?

A:  If you have a Social Security Disability or SSI claim, denials lead to a Social Security hearing with a judge and usually at least one expert witness.  At the hearing, you should have an attorney with you.  Attorneys only charge you if you are approved.  You should know the following things about your Social Security attorney:

  1. Verify that your “attorney” is actually a licensed attorney. Non-attorneys can represent people at Social Security hearings.  If you want an attorney—especially one who is skilled in cross-examination and legal argument—ask the firm which state or states the attorney doing your hearing is licensed in.  All licensed Social Security attorneys are licensed in at least one state.  Once you know this, you can verify this online.  If you learn your “representative” going to your hearing is not an attorney, you have the right to change who is helping you.  If your Social Security hearing is already scheduled, you can contact the hearing office to ask about how you can change your representation.

 

  1. Ask about your Social Security attorney’s experience. The most important experience is your attorney’s understanding of Social Security law and medical concepts.  Ask your attorney doing your hearing about years of practice in Social Security law, the number of Social Security hearings he or she has completed, and about how your medical evidence may allow you to be approved.  Reach a comfort level with the answers.  Otherwise, you can ask a multiple attorney Social Security firm to switch the attorney assigned to your hearing, or fire the firm altogether.  This is your right.

 

  1. Verify that the firm you are hiring actually will do your hearing. Surprisingly, some firms merely sign up new clients (meaning YOU!) and then pawn them off the regional attorneys who are not employees.  This means two things.  First, you have no idea who your attorney may be at your hearing.  Second, the firm you are hiring has not trained your attorney.  These are significant issues to learn about.  Find this out from the firm listed on your “fee contract.”

I hope this blog will prove helpful when hiring a Social Security attorney.  If you have questions about your own Social Security claim, you can call our law firm (and our Hoglund Law Offices lawyers) at 855-780-4357.

 

Andrew W. Kinney, Esq.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Student Loans and Disability

Many people applying for Social Security disability have financial obligations that are put on hold during the determination process. One of these affecting more and more applicants are student loan payments. If you are approved for Social Security disability, you may be eligible to have these loans discharged. The U.S. Department of Education has a fairly simple process for determining disability, and once you meet their standards, your federal student loans may be discharged. Private loans are typically not eligible for this process, and you would need to contact your individual loan company to find if you are eligible for any other disability discharge.

After Social Security finds you disabled, make a copy of the determination letter laying out your benefits as well as when your next disability review date is, typically scheduled for five to seven years after the approval. Submit this letter to the Department of Education, along with the other forms required, available on their web site, www.disabilitydischarge.com. They may temporarily suspend your loan payments while deciding whether you qualify for loan discharge.

Once the discharge is approved, there are other requirements that must be met, such as your income must remain below a certain level, you may not apply for any other federal student loans, or you must continue to be disabled under Social Security’s rules. If these are not met, the loans may be reinstated. Keep in mind you may be responsible for any tax burden related to the discharge of the loans. Typically, the discharged loan amount is reported to the IRS, and may be considered income to you, the tax payer.

If your disability case is pending with Social Security, then you may be able to apply for a loan discharge before they find you disabled. If you have a supportive doctor that is willing to complete the necessary certification paperwork, showing that your condition may either result in death, has lasted for a continuous period more than 60 months, or can be expected to last more than 60 months, this may be sufficient for the Department of Education to discharge your loans. The same post-approval requirements would apply.

If you are receiving Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income from Social Security, and your federal loans are approved for discharge, this will not affect the benefits you receive.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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My Credit Score After Filing Bankruptcy:

Your credit score will take a hit after filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your score was low before you filed, the drop will not be as significant as if your score is high. The fact that you filed bankruptcy will show up on your credit score for about 10 years, but that alone is not going to keep you from getting that new car, apartment, house, etc. Needless to say, the fact that you filed and a drop in your credit score is not the end of the financial world. The key is what you choose to do after the bankruptcy. Rebuild.

Filing your chapter 7 bankruptcy will the stop the bleeding in the injuries caused by your debt. As soon as your case is filed the creditors stop calling, wage garnishments and bank levies come to an end, foreclosure or repossession actions come to a halt, and minimal payments are no longer required.  Once the stress of creditor harassment comes to an end, it is time to rebuild your credit. This is an endeavor we do not want you to undertake alone. Our office works with the 720 Credit Score program to help our clients rebuild towards their financial goals after filing. 720 Credit Score is a seven step program that guarantees your credit score will be 720 or higher within 12-24 months after receiving your chapter 7 discharge. Call us today to set up an appointment and learn more about this program.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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What If I Don’t Fit Exactly Into Disability’s Age Categories?

What if I Don’t Fit Exactly Into Disability’s Age Caegories? by Scott Bowers

In order to receive Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must find that you are unable to do a full time job due to your medical conditions. The general rule is that they cannot consider whether someone will hire you, or whether you can find a job. However, because the SSA recognizes that older workers may have more trouble adapting to new types of employment, it will consider factors other than just your medical conditions when you reach a certain age.

            The SSA groups disability claimants into 4 basic categories:

1. Younger individuals (18 through 49)

2. Closely approaching advanced age (50 to 54)

3. Advanced age (55 and over), and

4. Closely approaching retirement age (60 and over)

If you are in the first age group, the SSA will not consider you disabled if you are capable of ANY kind of work, including sedentary, unskilled work (i.e., simple jobs that do not require lifting over 10 pounds, or standing/walking for prolonged periods of time). However, if you are in the closely approaching advanced age, you could still be found disabled even if you are able to do sedentary work, depending on your education and past work experience.

            However, what happens if you are about to turn 50 in a few months, but have serious medical issues that limit your ability to work? Luckily, the SSA recognizes that you do not just instantly become disabled the day you turn 50. Thus, if you are within a few days or few months of changing age categories, the SSA may deem you to be older than you are. However, there are some rules to this, and it does not happen automatically.

            First, “within a few days to a few months” does not have an exact definition, but it does mean a period of less than 6 months. Thus, if you are 53, the SSA will not consider moving you to the advanced age category.

            Second, there must be a “borderline age situation.” This means that in addition to being close to the next age category, using your actual age would result in a denial AND moving you to the next category would result in an approval. For example, if you are able to do light work (i.e., some standing and some sitting, and lifting up to 20 pounds occasionally), and you are 3 months from your 50th birthday, you would be denied in either age category.

            Lastly, there are 4 factors that must be considered:

1. Time period

2. Education

3. Past relevant work (PRW)

4. Residual functional capacity (RFC)

There are many considerations that go into arguing these factors (i.e., they cannot be double weighed – that is if education is already factored when deciding if it is a borderline age situation, it cannot again be a factor when considering an allowance). Thus, it is always recommended that you seek the help of an attorney for your disability claim.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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The Myth of Widespread Social Security Disabilty Fraud

We have all heard them – those friends or relatives who claim they know someone who is collecting disability who shouldn’t be.  Why do we pay our taxes for those freeloaders, the argument goes.

I always like to ask those that complain about social security fraud if they have reported the suspected fraudster to the authorities.  The answer is always no.

While there is little doubt that there is fraud in the disability system, there is NO evidence that this fraud is rampant.

Here are some facts that cannot be ignored or discounted:

It is not easy to get approved for social security disability.  The vast majority of people who apply are denied.  Approximately 65 percent of applicants are denied at the initial level, and about 85 percent of applicants are denied on reconsideration.  Of those that appeal to the hearing level in front of a judge, about 50 percent are approved.

Many reasons exist for denying applicants.  Claimants can be denied because they haven’t worked enough to qualify for SSDI.  To qualify a claimant must have worked for five out of the last ten years prior to application and paid into the social security system while doing so.  Others are denied for medical reasons.  To get approved, the claimant must have a physical or mental disablitiy that is severe and is expected to last at least 12 months.

The social security administration requires solid medical documentation in making its determination of phisyical or mental disability.  If a claimant is not treating with a valid medical provider such as an M.D.. it is very unlikely the claimant will be approved.  It is not easy to “pretend” you are disabled. Usually when a claimant is disabled, ongoing and lengthy treatment with a specialist is a given.  A record lacking such evidence is frowned upon by the Social Security Administration.

The statistics show that people who apply for disabiltiy have much higher death rates than the general population.  It is pretty difficulty to fake ones death.  People on disability are up to six times more likely to die than people in their age group who don’t receive benefits.

The solution is not gut the system of much needed funding, but rather to detect and frett out fraud when it occurs.  The social security disability system is a lifesaver, and you can be assured that the vast, vast majority of those receiving benefts are legitamately disabled.

For more information see:  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report on the disability system.  https://www.cbpp.org/research/chart-book-social-security-disability-insurance

 

By Michael J. Cerniglia

Social Security Disabiltiy Attorney

Hoglund Law Firm

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Domain #5 – Caring for Self

If a child has a severe impairment(s) that does not meet or medically equal any listing, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will then look to see if the child functionally equals the listings.  To functionally equal the listing, the child’s impairments must result in marked limitations in two domains, or extreme limitation in one domain.

The fourth domain used by SSA is called 5. Caring for Self.  In this domain, SSA will focus on how well the child takes care of themselves, physically and mentally.  As children age, they should become more independent with regards to making their own decisions.  Children should be able to know the difference between what is right and wrong.  They should understand what their physical and emotional needs are and how to control their thoughts and maintain their well-being.

For more information, please contact one of the attorneys at Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Domain #4 – Moving About and Manipulating Objects

If a child has a severe impairment(s) that does not meet or medically equal any listing, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will then look to see if the child functionally equals the listings. To functionally equal the listing, the child’s impairments must result in marked limitations in two domains, or extreme limitation in one domain.

The fourth domain used by SSA is called 4. Moving About and Manipulating Objects. In this domain, SSA will consider how well a child moves their body from one place to another and how they move and manipulate things. The SSA will look at both gross and fine motor skills.

Some areas of moving the body will include rolling, rising up from seated position, raising head and arms and legs. They will look at how the child transfers from one surface to another and how they move forward and backward when crawling, walking, and running.

With regards to moving and manipulating objects, SSA looks at how the child pushes, pulls, lifts, or carries objects. SSA will evaluate how the child controls their upper extremities in carrying objects. They will even consider eye hand coordination to manipulate small objects.

For more information, please contact one of the attorneys at Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Can You Lie to Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

Q:  Can you lie to get Social Security Disability benefits?

A:  This question gets to the heart of the misunderstanding about the Social Security Disability program.  Anyone can lie about anything to anyone.  The real question, then, is whether lying can actually secure Social Security Disability benefits.  The short answer:  No.

The public at large is generally unaware about the level of medical evidence necessary to prove disability under the Social Security regulations.  Just having a physical or mental diagnosis is insufficient.  Your limitations must preclude your ability to work under the law.  The law does not allow mere “claims” of disability to prove limitations.  Medical testing and examinations over time must establish significant impairments.

Lying to an MRI won’t impact the results.  Lying to a physician will not change objective examination findings.  Lying to a psychiatrist will likely land you back in the waiting room.  You can try to fake a limp or fabricate headaches, but medical doctors are scientists.  The lack of objective detail will ultimately do you in.

So just how difficult is it to “talk” your way into benefits?  Let’s consider a real life example of a client of mine today who wasn’t lying about anxiety, but nonetheless will be denied benefits.  I had a Social Security hearing today in which my client had significant anxiety.  The lower State Agency level ignored the regulations in failing to get a treating source opinion (nothing new).  A government-paid “medical expert” at my client’s hearing droned on and on to use time, yet misread the file, inferred chemical dependency without a diagnosis, ignored hard evidence of disability from a psychiatrist, and missed another psychological diagnosis altogether.  The point?  Even people telling the truth with sufficient evidence (in this case, anxiety that left her virtually homebound) have a difficult time meeting Social Security’s regulatory standards.

What should you take from this blog?  Those who are approved for Social Security Disability benefits have medical professionals who have diagnosed, examined, and treated them over time.  Offer to open the door for them, not throw them under the bus.  You or a loved one could need these benefits next.

Andrew Kinney, Esq.

 

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Remote DLI – Seek Social Security Before It’s Too Late.

From:  Joshua Tripp

 

In some cases, where a claimant has not worked recently and there is too many household assets or too much income to be eligible for SSI, the claimants are left struggling to prove disability for many years prior to the current date. This can be very difficult to do and there must be more than just the claimant’s testimony to win the case.

For an example, I recently had a social security claimant who had to go back about ten years to prove disability.  For approval here, it must be shown that the claimant had a disability prior to their date last insured and that their disability has continued.  This requires consistent medical evidence of severe impairment.  Additionally, to bolster the claimant’s medical record of ten years ago, I had the claimant’s current doctor, who was currently supportive of disability, write a narrative of the claimant’s impairments based on the current time frame, along with a review of the prior medical records.  This was helpful to assess that the conditions were as severe ten years as they are today.  He opined that the claimant was unable to work ten years ago and the condition has not improved.  Although this is important, his opinion needs to be supported by the medical record as a whole.  The medical evidence is particularly important for a case with a remote date last insured because it is hard to say the claimant can testify about conditions as accurately ten years ago as they could today.

It is always best to not wait to apply for social security disability.  Waiting can put you in the predicament of having to prove disability many years prior to the application, which is not an easy task.  Contact a social security attorney before it is too late.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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The Importance of Treating Source Statements

Most Social Security Disability cases turn on whether there are jobs available in the national economy that could be performed by the claimant, given his or her medical conditions. This requires a determination of the claimant’s Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). Social Security defines RFC as “the most you can do despite your limitations.”[1]

In making this determination, someone has to translate medical conditions and associated symptoms to functional limitations. Clearly, the most appropriate person for this task is a doctor. At the Initial Application and Reconsideration levels a state employed doctor (Medical Consultant) makes this determination based on your medical records. Social Security might also send you to Consultative Exam (CE), where a specialist might provide insight into a particular part of your RFC, for example: If you allege both physical and mental impairments, but treat for your mental impairments with your primary doctor only, Social Security would likely send you to a CE with a psychologist.

[1] CFR § 416.945(a)(1).

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Treating Source Statements

Opinion evidence can have a big impact in Social Security Disability cases, especially when it comes from a treating source. But sometimes a treating doctor, counselor or therapist will decline to provide an opinion if he or she is in the best, but not ideal, position to do so. For example, maybe the disability claimant can only afford to treat with their primary care doctor, who declines to provide an opinion because he or she is not a specialist. If Social Security has not sent the claimant to a consultative exam, there will be no opinion evidence in which a doctor identifies specific functional limitations caused by the claimant’s impairments (except for the doctor working for the state agency making the determinations at the initial and reconsideration levels). The treating provider may not fully understand how opinion evidence is considered in Social Security Disability claims, or may not want to take the time because a response is not mandatory. In these situations, a friendly letter explaining the role of opinion evidence and requesting that the doctor provide whatever he or she is comfortable with, even in the form of short narrative (preferably with the records used to form the opinion attached), can get results.

Consider contacting an experienced social security disability attorney for help with this and other issues.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Social Security Disability and Self-Employment

When Social Security receives a claim for disability benefits, the first question is whether the claimant performed Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) during the alleged period of disability. If so, the claimant is ineligible for benefits during that time. SGA is generally defined as “work that involves doing significant and productive physical or mental duties, and is done (or intended) for pay or profit.” 20 CFR § 404.1510. Each year Social Security formulates a dollar amount that is used as the benchmark for SGA. In 2016 the amount is $1,130 per month and in 2015 it was $1,090. If this amount is or was exceeded, the earnings are presumed to be SGA. Gross earnings through employment can be easily compared to these benchmarks, but earnings through self-employment require further analysis.

The applicable rules are located in sections 404.1080 through 404.1096 and Social Security Ruling 83-34. The ruling should be consulted first for a general overview. Social Security may find that self-employment constitutes SGA under one of three tests:

  1. Under the Significant Services and Substantial Income test, both elements must be met. The significant services element is met if the claimant is a sole proprietor or, if not, performing more than half of the duties of the business or more than 45 hours per month of work. For a farm landlord, the question is whether he or she “materially participates,” not through an agent. The substantial income element is met if the claimant’s average monthly net income (countable earnings) reaches the benchmark amount; if the claimant’s livelihood derived from the business is the same as before he or she became disabled, or; if the claimant’s income is comparable to that of unimpaired individuals in a same or similar business in that community. If this test is not met, Social Security proceeds to the next two tests.
  2. Under the Comparability of Work test, the work is SGA if it is comparable in all relevant factors to that of unimpaired individuals in a same or similar business in the same community. Relevant factors include hours, skills, energy output, efficiency, duties and responsibilities.
  3. Under the Worth of Work test, the work is SGA, even if it is not comparable, if it is clearly worth more than the SGA benchmark amount when considered in terms of its value to the business or when compared to the salary an owner would pay to an employee for such duties in that business setting.

 

This is a general overview and the authorities cited above should be consulted for each individual situation. There are several additional details and nuances further explained in these sources. If your claim for Social Security Disability involves self-employment earnings, consider enlisting the help of a good attorney to interpret these rules and persuade social security that they operate in your favor.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Social Security Disability and the On the Record Process

On-the-Record Reviews are available to anyone who files a Social Security Disability claim. Once the lower levels processes have been exhausted. What that means, is that your claim must be at the hearing level to ask for an On the Record request.

So now you are at the hearing level. What’s next you ask! Well the review can happen in a few ways. An On the Record review can be initiated by an examiner that works for the Social Security Administration, which would be the best case scenario. This usually happens if new medical evidence is submitted and upon review by Social Security it is deemed that with the new evidence that a hearing is no longer needed and a fully favorable decision can be granted.

Another way for this request to be done is by your attorney representative. You may ask that your representative write a brief on your behalf. So that once your file from Social Security is available, your attorney can review what is already on record before requesting updated information on your behalf. Once all the new information has been reviewed, the brief can be written. But it should be noted, that not all cases make good On the Record cases. The attorney must make the decision on whether a brief should be written on a case to case basis after reviewing the information.

You could also put together the information yourself, if you are doing this process on your own. You will need to provide a detailed explanation that points out the specific medical evidence that proves that you are disabled by Social Security’s rules. Then write a formal request for an On the Record review.

Once the request for an On-the-Record Review has been submitted, one of these outcomes should happen. Your claim could be granted based on the evidence in your file along with the brief or a judge may feel that the evidence is not clear cut enough to approve the claim during an On-the-Record review. If a Judge cannot grant the case based on the information submitted, then your claim will have to be argued at a hearing by your attorney when a date becomes available. An On-the-Record Review cannot stop your claim from proceeding, unless a fully favorable decision can be reached.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Social Security Domain #4 – Health and Physical Well-Being

If a child has a severe impairment(s) that does not meet or medically equal any listing, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will then look to see if the child functionally equals the listings.  To functionally equal the listing, the child’s impairments must result in marked limitations in two domains, or extreme limitation in one domain.

The fourth domain used by SSA is called 4. Health and Physical Well-Being.  In this domain, SSA considers the physical effects of physical and mental impairments of the child.  Unlike the other domains, this domain does not address typical development and functioning.  This domain addresses how such things as recurrent illness, the side effects of medication, and the need for ongoing treatment affect a child’s body.

It is important to remember that the cumulative physical effects of a child’s physical or mental impairment(s) can vary in kind and intensity, and can affect each child in a different way.  As with all other domains, SSA does not consider the limitations in this domain unless it results from a medically determinable impairment(s).  However, it is very unlikely that a child who has a significant problem in this domain does not have an impairment that causes the problem.

 

For more information, please contact one of the attorneys at Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Social Security Domain #3 – Interacting and Relating with Others

If a child has a severe impairment(s) that does not meet or medically equal any listing, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will then look to see if the child functionally equals the listings.  To functionally equal the listing, the child’s impairments must result in marked limitations in two domains, or extreme limitation in one domain.

The third domain used by SSA is called 3. Interacting and Relating to Others.  In this domain, SSA will consider the child’s ability to initiate and respond to exchanges with other people, and to form and sustain relationships with family members, friends, and other people.  This would include all aspects of social interaction in all different areas of the child’s life.

Also, because communication is essential to both interacting and relating, SSA considers speech and language skills that a child would need to speak intelligibly and to understand and use language of their community.  The ability to interact and relate with others begins at birth.  A child begins to us his/her ability in early infancy when they bond with a caregiver.

As with limitations in any domain, SSA does not consider a limitation in the domain unless it results from a medically determinable impairment(s).

For more information, please contact one of the attorneys at Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik.

 

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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What Should Congress Do to Improve the Social Security Disability Program?

Q & A with 20+ year Social Security Disability Attorney Andrew Kinney

Q: What should Congress know about today’s Social Security Disability program?

A: As a lecturer on Social Security Disability and SSI benefits, much of my focus is on how medical evidence and legal arguments get you approved. As of this writing (2015), Congress has challenged the funding for the disability program to force changes in it. I will shift gears, then, and offer suggestions that—while controversial to some—may preserve the Social Security Disability and SSI programs for those who need them.

  1. Certification. Treating physicians or psychologists should certify those patients who are or will be unable to work full-time under the law for 1 year before their patients can apply for Social Security Disability and SSI benefits. Those who apply for benefits need ongoing, supportive medical evidence anyway. Why does SSA process benefit applications for those without supportive physicians, or with little or no treatment at all? Treatment should come first.
  2. Temporary Disability. Some disabilities are not permanent and are unlikely to last over 3 years. Why not flag these Social Security Disability and SSI approvals as temporary and change the regulations to terminate them in 3 years? If a treating physician or psychologist certifies ongoing disability at that time, benefits can continue. The current cessation system leaves most on benefits long past when they should need them. It doesn’t encourage those who can get better to get better.
  3. Drug Testing. Many of my clients over the past 20 years have gotten upset when people they know on Social Security benefits use illegal drugs or abuse alcohol. For those with a positive drug test, the Social Security regulations should authorize implied consent for further testing. Failure to seek recommended treatment or submit to further testing should cut off those who want benefits or who are on benefits. For those who really need the benefits, they must choose between themselves or their addictions. If they can’t or won’t, benefits should stop.

 

I recently forwarded these and other ideas to the U.S. House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee. Invite Congress and their staff to make changes that strengthen the Social Security Disability and SSI programs for the disabled workers who need them.

 

Andrew Kinney, Esq., 4/27/15

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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