Blog Archives

How You Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits

Byron DavidTo qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security. Then you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability. In general, we pay monthly cash benefits to people who are unable to work for a year or more because of a disability.

Benefits usually continue until you are able to work again on a regular basis. There are also a number of special rules, called “work incentives,” that provide continued benefits and health care coverage to help you make the transition back to work.

If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, your disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same.

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Attorney Byron David in South Carolina Lawyer Magazine

Byron David, Conway, SC

You may recognize a familiar face in the May 2014 edition of South Carolina Lawyer Magazine! Attorney Byron David of The David Law Firm is featured for reading to the children at Bridgewater Academy for National Read Across America Day. South Carolina Lawyer Magazine is published bimonthly by the South Carolina Bar.

Ten Steps to Take After a Car Accident

Byron David, Conway, SC

You just had a car accident.  Now what?

Here are ten things you should do right away:

1.  Stop – Assuming you are physically able, stop as close to the scene as possible, doing your best not to obstruct traffic.  Turn on your flashing hazard lights.

2.  Call the Police (911).  Report the following:

  • Location of your car
  • Your name and address
  • Your driver’s license number
  • Your registration number
  • If there are injuries

Be cooperative and answer all questions truthfully.  Do not admit fault.  And do not discuss the accident with anyone else.

3.  If you are injured, tell the police immediately and describe your injuries.  Flag a passerby to call 911 if you are unable to do so.

4.  Collect the information below.  Make sure you actually look at each piece of the other drivers’ identification.  We have seen cases where the other driver reads off his or her information and “conveniently” omits a digit or transposes two numbers in a telephone or policy number, rendering the information useless.  Be sure to copy it down yourself to be sure you get it right.

  • Name, address, phone number of each driver
  • Driver’s license information
  • Make and model of all involved vehicles
  • Vehicle(s) license plate number
  • Automobile insurance company name and policy number
  • Company name if a commercial vehicle is involved

5.  Take photographs.  Use your smartphone to take pictures of the accident scene, including damage to all vehicles if possible.

6.  Identify witnesses.  Take down names and numbers of any witnesses.  This could be key in determining who is at fault.

7.  Seek medical attention.  If the rescue squad thinks you should be taken to the emergency room (ER), then you should go.   If you are injured but do not go to the ER from the scene, you should seek medical treatment or evaluation — either at the ER or from your doctor — as soon after the accident as possible.

8.  Call your insurance company.  Report the accident, giving a detailed description. But do not admit fault.  We recommend consulting an attorney before giving a recorded statement.

9. Secure valuables and important property. If your car or truck is towed from the scene, take photos of the interior in case valuable or important personal property is inside.  Examples are special prescription glasses, medications, equipment and electronics.

10. Do not destroy evidence.  If the car or truck is equipped with an onboard computer or “black box” equivalent, make sure that it is saved before the vehicle is crushed for scrap.

If you are injured and there are questions as to what laws apply, call The David Law Firm at once (843-488-1415).  Our experienced Personal Injury team will take some preliminary information from you and will work with you to determine if you have a case, and if so, how to best proceed.

Attorney Byron P. David Finalist for Best Attorney in the 2014 Horry Independent’s Reader’s Choice Awards

Byron David, Conway

We are proud to announce Attorney Byron P. David has been chosen by The Horry Independent readers as the finalist for Best Attorney.  This is the fourth consecutive year Attorney David has been a winner under the Best Attorney category.

“I am honored and overwhelmed to be a finalist for this award again.  The Reader’s Choice Award is one of my favorites to receive, as the people of Horry County are the judges.” says David.  “It is reassurance that we are doing a great job and people are pleased with our service.”

The annual poll is opened to Horry Independent readers and only allowed one vote per person, making this contest a true representation of their opinions collectively.  Over the years, The Reader’s Choice Awards has become one of the most popular and well-read special editions The Horry Independent has ever published.

Congratulations to Attorney David for being The Horry Independent’s 2014 Reader’s Choice Finalist for Best Attorney!

New Mileage Reimbursement Rate – Workers’ Compensation

byron david, conway, florenceRegulation 67-1601 A (1) provides the expenses incurred for travel to receive
medical attention which shall be reimbursed to the claimant are mileage to and
from a place of medical attention which is more than five miles away from home in
accordance with the amount allowed state employees for mileage.

The state employee mileage rate is based upon the standard business mileage rate
established by the Internal Revenue Service. Effective January 1, 2014 the
reimbursement rate for state employee mileage is 56 cents per mile. Therefore,
effective January 1, 2014, the new mileage reimbursement rate to and from a place
of medical attention is 56 cents per mile.

What if My Doctor Will Not Help My Injury Case?

byron david, conway, florence

Sometimes a treating doctor or surgeon will not agree to testify in court, and in fact will not have anything to do with a patient’s injury case.

Clients of The David Law Firm ask what can they do when their own doctors do not want to be bothered.  In some cases a treating doctor will demand thousands of dollars to testify, attend a deposition, or even write a written report.

Since the injured victim always has the burden of proof to show the nature and extent of the harms and losses, expert medical testimony is vital.

Attorney Byron David advises clients in these circumstances that there are other options:

  • While the U.S. Constitution forbids involuntary servitude, such that a doctor cannot be forced to give an opinion or testimony, physicians and other healthcare providers can be subpoenaed as fact witnesses — much like an eyewitness to a car crash or dog bite attack.
  • Hiring a paid expert witness is another way to obtain medical testimony in a case.  In order to keep the costs down of going this route, David counsels disabled clients that a reviewing physician, independent examiner, or other expert witness will be questioned in a deposition, but will not necessarily be retained for trial.
  • If the treating doctor, family physician, or surgeon refuses to participate in a trial, then David has over the years taken many videotaped depositions for later presentation to the jury.  While David prefers live testimony of the actual treating doctors, videotaped depositions, along with the appropriate visual aids and medical illustrations, have their place and purpose.
  • In major cases, the David Law Firm trial team will retain a medical expert to evaluate and examine the patient, along with his or her medical records and films. That medical doctor can then testify at trial as to his or her findings, opinions, and explanations of the medical terminology.
  • Another solution is to have a non-examining doctor perform a medical records review of the films and records i.e., x-rays, MRI, CT scan, pet scan, etc. and then testify based upon that limited information.
  • The David Law Firm has also used nurses, PhD’s, and other experts to explain medical conditions, anatomy, and the usual customary charges for medical treatment.

If you, or someone you care for, has been injured through no fault of their own, and there are questions about their doctors’ assistance in their case or claim, call The David Law Firm (843) 488-1415.

Definition of Disability

Byron David ConwayThe definition of disability under Social Security is different than other programs. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.

“Disability” under Social Security is based on your inability to work. We consider you disabled under Social Security rules if:

  • You cannot do work that you did before;
  • We decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

This is a strict definition of disability. Social Security program rules assume that working families have access to other resources to provide support during periods of short-term disabilities, including workers’ compensation, insurance, savings and investments.

(from ssa.gov)

Can I Work and Still Get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

The David Law FirmThe short answer is Yes, but deserves a bit of explanation.

First, a definition of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA):  SGA is work that brings in over a certain dollar amount per month ($1,040 in 2013).  The Social Security Administration (SSA) figures if a person is able to earn a certain amount of money (SGA), then he or she must not be disabled and therefore should not collect benefits.

But, SSA allows disabled and injured folks to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) during what is known as a trial work program.

trial work program is a 9 month period during which an injured or disabled individual is actually encouraged to try to do work within his or her physical and mental limitations.  The trial period gives the worker 9 months to test out his or her ability to work — without the worry that benefits will be cut off as he or she tests the waters, so to speak.  Any month during which a worker earns $750 or more (or if self employed works 80 hours or more OR earns $750) is considered a trial work month.

Call The David Law Firm (843-488-1415) to evaluate your specific disability options.

Do I have to pay taxes on my Social Security Disability Benefits?

byron david; conway; byron p. david; conway lawyerSome people have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return) in addition to your benefits.

No one pays federal income tax on more than 85 percent of his or her Social Security benefits based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules. If you:

  • file a federal tax return as an “individual” and your combined income* is
    • between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
    • more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
  • file a joint return, and you and your spouse have a combined income* that is
    • between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits
    • more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
  • are married and file a separate tax return, you probably will pay taxes on your benefits.

*Note:

Your adjusted gross income

+ Nontaxable interest
½ of your Social Security benefits
= Your “combined income

Each January you will receive a Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1099) showing the amount of benefits you received in the previous year. You can use thisBenefit Statement when you complete your federal income tax return to find out if your benefits are subject to tax.

If you do have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits, you can make quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS or choose to have federal taxes withheld from your benefits.

Secret ALJ Policy for Social Security Disability Hearings

The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) is now keeping the name of the assigned Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) a secret (from the representative, claimant, and experts) until the day of the hearing. Previously, knowledge of the name of the ALJ as of the setting of the hearing, or as of receipt of the Notice of Hearing, allowed experienced counsel to prepare for the hearing according to the preferences and style of the assigned judge.  In short, attorneys and claimants will not know who their judge is for their hearing, until the day of.

ALJ s vary widely in their approach to hearings, and the inability to prepare for the particular judge has greatly limited the assistance a representative can provide to a claimant. Claimants are also hindered in their pre-hearing communication with ALJs, especially with regard to conflicts, but also with regard to scheduling concerns and evidentiary issues. Some ODARs keep the judge’s name a secret until the morning of the hearing, while others keep it a secret until the hearing begins.

There have been ongoing requests regarding the violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) because of this new policy.  Representatives and claimants feel they should be privy to the information to aid in hearing expectations.  However, the policy remains until further notice.