Revocable Trust or Irrevocable Trust: Which One Do You Need?

No matter what happens throughout your life, you are going to leave behind assets for someone when you die. You should always leave behind a legal document to guide how to distribute those assets. Another thing you should do to protect your assets is to put your assets into a trust.

Knowing which trust to go with can be complicated. The differences between revocable and irrevocable living trusts are small, but they can also have huge impacts.

Keep reading below to learn which would probably be right for you.

A Revocable Living Trust Means More Flexibility

With a revocable living trust, you can plan for the future while adapting to the present. Situations can change after you put together a will that may affect how you want to distribute your belongings. When you get a revocable living trust, you can adjust your last wishes as you want.

Keep reading below to learn more about the advantages of getting a revocable living trust.

You Can Change What’s In It

The biggest advantage of a revocable living trust is that you can change what goes into it.

You can set up different trusts for different people, and adjust how much goes into each. That way, you have complete control over how your assets are distributed among your loved ones, without anyone interfering.

You Will Not Have to Deal with Probate Court

One of the things that can interfere in how your loved ones get the things you leave behind is probate court. This is a specialized court that handles the property and debts of deceased persons. They usually have the final say as to how things are distributed after a person dies.

With a revocable trust, you can rest assured your property will not ever be touched by the courts. Instead, it will simply go into the hands of your designated beneficiaries.

An Irrevocable Trust Is a Safeguard

Unlike a revocable trust, you have less control over irrevocable trusts. Once you put things into an irrevocable trust, you can never take them out. That means that if a situation changes, you will not be able to adapt to it or control who gets what, so make sure you are confident with what you put into one.

Yet, an irrevocable trust protects your assets from creditors. If you leave behind debt, creditors may try to pay for it by seizing assets before your beneficiaries get them. You can prevent this by storing them in an irrevocable trust.

An irrevocable trust is entirely irrevocable. Once something is in it, it is there to stay no matter what creditors or you have to say about. 

You Should Trust the Trust You Choose

No matter which kind of trust you decide to go with, make sure that you trust who you elect to be in charge of it. Whether it is an irrevocable or revocable living trust, it has to be handled by someone so make sure you trust that person to handle it honestly and carefully.

And for that, we are here. Contact us, and we will show you how we can help you establish a trust for your loved ones, and why you should trust us to help you!

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Who Will Help You Take Care of Your Estate If You Become Incapacitated?

You have provided for and protected your family for many years. However, when your children grow into adulthood, you will still have a legacy to protect.

You will want to make sure that your estate remains a testament to your dedication and hard work and serves the needs of those you leave behind.

But what happens if you are only incapacitated rather than passing away? Incapacitation can happen to anyone at any age, but for those of us in our golden years, becoming incapacitated at some point is all but inevitable.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all plan to protect you if you become incapacitated.

That is why it is a good idea to understand all the preparations you can make and services you can access to help protect your estate should you lose the ability to manage it alone — either temporarily or for the long term.

The following is a list of legal provisions and tools you can use to help ensure your estate is taken care of if you should become incapacitated or die.

Last Wills and Testaments

A last will and testament is a legal document that contains the final wishes of an estate holder regarding his or her dependents and possessions.

A last will is written while the estate holder is alive and in a sound state of mind. It names an executor whose job it is to administer the estate and to follow the estate plan.

Should an estate holder die without drafting a valid will, he is said to have died “intestate.” The state becomes the executor of the estate.

There are several legal implications to be considered when drafting your final will. It is best to consult an attorney to assist you in writing your last will in a manner that guarantees your estate is settled following your wishes.

Trusts

A trust is a fiduciary agreement that assigns a trustee to hold specific assets on behalf of one or more beneficiaries. Traditionally, the purpose of a trust is to minimize the tax liability of an estate.

A trust is usually designed to avoid probate, which can compromise the privacy of an estate holder and can be a lengthy and expensive process.

A trust gives you the ability to ensure your wealth is managed according to your wishes — to protect your legacy, ensure privacy, and save money on the probate process.

There are many different types of trusts, each with their features and benefits. It is best to consult with an attorney to help you choose the type that suits your needs.

Health Care Powers of Attorney

If you should become incapacitated, you may be unable to communicate your wishes regarding your health care. A health care power of attorney is a document that designates a specific person as holding the authority to speak for you in matters of health care.

Many people assume they will not lose the ability to communicate should they become infirm, are injured or are otherwise incapacitated. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A family member, trusted friend or an attorney can be given health care powers of attorney.

Financial Powers of Attorney

Financial powers of attorney are similar to health care powers of attorney except that they concern financial matters rather than health matters.

If you should lose the ability to communicate, they give someone permission to make financial decisions on your behalf.

Other Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney give the designated holder more than just the ability to speak for you should you lose the ability to communicate. It can also allow the “agent” or “attorney in fact” to access accounts such as a bank account or retirement account.

A durable power of attorney is used for property management and can help alleviate the costs associated with guardianship or conservatorship.

There are several types of powers of attorney, including those discussed above. A lawyer who specializes in estate law can help you decide which is best for your needs.

Guardianship Nomination

A guardian nomination is a document that describes how you wish your minor children to be cared for if you and/or the other parent lose the ability to provide care. It specifies who can be appointed to care for your children and to act as a legal guardian and how care should be given.

Guardian nomination goes into effect after both natural parents lose the ability to provide care.

The dictates of the nomination must be written within the confines of the law for it to be recognized by the court as valid. Your attorney can help you to draft a guardianship nomination that meets the legal standard.

Inheritance

Inheritance is what your dependents receive if you pass away if you have not provided a last will. Inheritance laws differ from one state to the next, and they leave much to the whim of the state.

It is ideal to have a last will to ensure your estate gets settled in the manner of your choosing. However, an estate lawyer can help to ensure that inheritance is dispensed appropriately if necessary.

Heirs

Your legal heirs are anyone who receives ownership or interest in your property, land or hereditaments should you die intestate. In most cases, these are your spouse, children, or other close family members.

Of course, if you do die intestate, the state will take control of your estate and determine who will receive what and how much.

As always, it is better to work with an estate lawyer who will help you draft a last will that ensures that your heirs receive hereditaments per your wishes.

Probate

Probate is the process by which your will is proven to be valid. The validity of wills is decided by a probate court and can be a lengthy and expensive process.

The court’s job is to attempt to ensure that no fraud or undue influence was involved in the drafting of the will. It is possible to avoid probate through beneficiary designations or the use of a revocable living trust, among others.

Working with an estate attorney is the best way to ensure your will is written and delivered in a way that will make it abundantly clear that it is indeed your own and not that of anyone else — or that it was written under some undue influence.

Conclusion

These indispensable parts of your estate-planning toolkit, working together, can ensure that your estate is settled following your wishes. Do not let the state take ownership of your legacy, and do not leave it up to chance. To learn more, get in touch Lilac City Law and secure the future of your legacy today.

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It’s Not a Male Thing: Why Married and Single Women Need a Will

As you  become an adult, one question you may have is “who needs a will?”. 

The answer is everyone!

Everybody dies and almost no-one knows when.

It is a common misconception that only certain people need wills.  Every woman (and every man) should have their end of life documents ready and handy, regardless of their age. 

Women & Men both need a will.  Here are some examples of why.

You Need a Will if You Have Children

Who needs a will? Anybody with children, especially if those children are still minors. Often, the only place custody is discussed in regards to end-of-life planning is in a parent’s will 

If you do not have a will or your will does not designate the guardianship actions to be taken with your children, a court will end up deciding on your behalf.  

The courts do have a protocol for these situations, but it all depends on circumstance, and it is not a guarantee that your family or relatives (even the other parent) will take over custody.   

If you die and the other biological parent is still alive, capable and willing, the children will likely go to them.  However, if, for any reason, the other parent is not capable of caring for the children, the court will try to find the closest capable and willing relative to become the guardian of the children.  If there are no capable or willing relatives, your children will end up in foster care.

You Need a Will to Avoid Family Infighting

If you have any kind of estate (any property or assets), there is a risk that your family will argue over it. Stories abound of families tearing themselves apart of potential inheritance, and some never recover. 

In fact, Forbes believes that about $1 trillion will be inherited every year on average until about thirty years from now. Whether this trend is continued beyond that is unclear.

What is clear is that with savings and assets to pass down, families often get to fighting and splitting up over objects and bank accounts.

You Need a Will to Name an Executor 

One specific issue that can be avoided by having a will is a struggle over an executor. An executor is a person chosen by you to distribute your estate.

An executor needs to be someone who not only understands money but who is unlikely to lie or cheat others out of what is rightfully theirs.

If you want to avoid any potential issues by having everyone paid equally, regardless of who the executor is, this needs to be specified in the will.

You Need a Will to Lay Out Specific Instructions

There may be some aspects of your estate that you have specific wishes for that go beyond who owns what. For instance, maybe there is a charity you support or a business owned by you or some other member of your family that you wish to contribute to.  You will need to lay this out in your will. 

Another example is if you own shares of stock, and you want a decision on the stocks (or vote on shareholders’ rights) decided a certain way. Your wish will also need to be stated in your will.

Who Needs a Will?

Who needs a will? Everyone.  Both Women and Men.

No matter how small you think your estate may be, you have something that can be passed on to your family or loved ones.

Remember, there are many purposes of a will, but above all else, a will is meant to care for family members. 

Establish Your Will Today

If you want to know more about getting your estate planning in order contact us today. 

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JUNIOR ASSOCIATE WANTED

A Fast-Growing Law firm focused on Protecting and Restoring Joy for our clients in Spokane, WA is hiring a Junior Associate. This is a part-time position with room to move to full time. We are accepting applications on a rolling basis. Below is more information about our Firm and what we are looking for in our next Junior Associate.


Are you a self-motivated Attorney with any of the following experience?

EstatePlanning | Probate | Guardianship | SSA/VA Disability 

Would you enjoy the opportunity to interact with clients daily, designing and executing strategies to help them build a brighter future?

Do you get excited about opportunities to grow personally and professionally?

^^^ If your answer to these questions is YES!   This is the place for you!


This Is Not Your Typical Small Law Firm

We are small enough that everyone is a critical part of the team, yet big enough to offer the security and benefits we know you want. Work where you know the Owner, get to have daily interaction with clients, and help us grow the firm.

Our new associate will be a hard-working team player responsible for all aspects of a client’s case including communicating with clients and other counsel, drafting pleadings/briefs, conducting discovery, preparing for and attending court hearings, supervising paralegal and administrative staff.

Other requirements include the following:

Must be a good standing member of WA or ID Bar.

2-5 years’ experience.

Strong research and writing skills

Proficient in Microsoft office, including Word and Excel

Excellent organizational skills

Experience managing a full caseload

Skills and experience are required, appreciated, and valued, but personality, character, intelligence, and integrity will be paramount considerations.

High-maintenance, humorless, self-entitled, or self-important individuals will not succeed in this position and need not apply.


This position is a more than a job.

For the right candidate, it’s a career.

Salary is commensurate with skill and experience and is negotiable. And we offer a benefits package.


Please forward your resume, salary requirements, and references to pamela@lilaccitylaw.com and tell us why you are the person we’re looking for.

Does Washington State Recognize Tenancy By The Entirety?

Does Washington State Recognize Tenancy By The Entirety?

When you buy a home with your spouse, you may not be aware that the way your ownership is titled can affect what happens to your property if one of you should pass away or if you choose to get a divorce.  There are five different ways your ownership can be titled; Sole Ownership, Tenants in Common, Joint Tenancy, Tenancy by the Entirety, and Community Property. Each of these has specific ways your property will be handled upon your death or divorce. 

In this article, we are going to look at whether Washington State recognizes Tenancy by the Entirety.

Types of Ownership Between Two People

There are three kinds of ownership by two or more people, including Tenancy by the Entirety. The other two are Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in common. The biggest difference between the three is that with tenancy by the entirety the tenant cannot sell or gift the property without the other tenant’s consent. If one tenant were to pass away, the other would get survivorship. Tenants in common do not have this right of survivorship.  Joint tenants do have the right to survivorship, but they also have the option to either sell or give away their interest in the property.

What Tenancy of the Entirety Means

Tenancy by the Entirety means that a husband and wife (in some states same-sex couples) own an equal share of the real estate and cannot sell their share without the permission of the other spouse. It is also coupled with the Right of Survivorship so that upon the death of one, the survivor is entitled to the decedent’s share.

Disadvantages of Tenancy by the Entirety

Some obstacles to Tenancy by the Entirety: If you decide to get a divorce, the property could no longer be subdivided. The title will automatically be changed to a Tenancy in Common.

In short, this means that either tenant could then transfer ownership to anyone they wish.  You can probably see where several troubles could arise from a situation like this.

Tenancy by the Entirety in Washington State

In Washington State, tenancy by the entirety is not recognized. The most common titles for property ownership are:

  • Single Individual: Not married or in a legal partnership
  • Separate Property: A married person who individually holds the title without a spouse
  • Community Property: Property that is acquired after marriage or legal partnership
  • Tenancy-In-Common: Two or more people whose interest is in the property who are not married or partnered. The interest of each tenant would be passed down though heir
  • Joint Tenancy: Two or more people with an equal interest in the property. When one tenant passes, the property interest is automatically passed on to the other tenant(s)

Connect With An Estate Planning Attorney in Washington State

If you are unsure what the title of ownership is on your property or what it means, it can impact how you plan to pass on your property after your death.  This is clearly a critical issue for estate planning!

Contact Lilac City Law today, and we’ll work with you to make sense of all this.

Contact Us!
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The 7th Annual Homeless Connect Is Happening Soon!

SPOKANE’S FIRST-EVER EXPANDED “WARRANT FEST”

When: Thursday, January 25th, 2018

2018 Homeless Connect Features Spokane’s 1st Ever Expanded Warrant Fest. The Spokane Homeless Connect is pleased to announce that, for the first time in any venue, all three Spokane Courts (Municipal, District, and Superior) will facilitate a “Warrant Fest” at this year’s Homeless Connect.

The 2018 “Warrant Fest” will offer the opportunity for anyone with an outstanding warrant (felony and non-felony) to meet with an Assistant Public Defender, on location, and to discuss getting their outstanding warrant(s) recalled in order to move forward toward scheduling court dates and resolving pending charges. Outstanding and unresolved warrants are often a barrier which prevents the marginalized and homeless of our community from accessing services ranging from housing to employment.

“Anyone who has an outstanding warrant is welcome to participate in this years’ ‘Warrant Fest,’ commented Spokane Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno. “Anyone interested in resolving their case who has an outstanding warrant is welcome.  Our goal is to help them move forward, rather than continuing to hide in the shadows. The Public Defenders at the ‘Warrant Fest’ will meet with individuals to explain the process. The eventual outcome of each case will depend on many factors, but we are here to help and we want everyone with an outstanding warrant to participate. No one is excluded.”

This expanded “Warrant Fest” represents a significant step toward reducing barriers and helping individuals move forward with restoring their lives. “Based on our experience over the past two years, we look forward to connecting with an even broader population of people needing help. Our goal is to re-engage people in the court system and reduce criminal history barriers,” said Francis Adewale, Assistant Public Defender for Spokane’s Municipal Community Court.

The 7th Annual Homeless Connect will take place Thursday, January 25th, 2018, from 10AM to 2PM at the Salvation Army Community Center, located at 223 East Nora Avenue in Spokane. This annual FREE event offers a wide variety of services under one roof for anyone experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. The Spokane Homeless Connect is a subcommittee of the Spokane Homeless Coalition, a community Coalition of more than 700 individuals and 200 agencies, ministries and churches serving the homeless and marginalized throughout Spokane County.

For More Information Contact
Kari Chapman, Committee Chairperson
Spokane Homeless Connect
kari.chapman@uhc.com
(509) 342-8322

Olivia Alley, Media Liaison
Spokane Homeless Coalition
oalley@communityframeworks.org
(509) 000-0000

Financial + Legal Planning for Unmarried Couples: Should You Legally Marry or Not? 

While the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S. making it possible for people of all sexual orientations to marry, many modern couples (of all genders and sexual orientation) still choose against marriage.

If you are inquiring about whether to legally get married, be sure to consider these important factors:

Financial and Legal Protections

If you are partnered and unmarried, you need financial and legal protections in place, to ensure you and your loved ones are taken care of if you become incapacitated or when you die.

While legally married partners need many of the same financial and legal protections in place, the law does provide some defaults that will provide protection and access to a “legal” spouse that are not given to an unmarried partner.

Imagine this: your partner is hospitalized and you can’t get access because you aren’t married. Or your partner needs a family member to make important legal or financial decisions, but it can’t be you because you aren’t considered a relative without marriage. If you decide you don’t want to get married, do call us to get you the legal documentation you’ll need to validate and protect your rights.

For legally married partners there are default legal provisions providing for a spouse in the event that their spouse dies without a Will in place. While these legal provisions are generally not sufficient or do not match what you would want, at least there is something in place for your spouse. As an unmarried partner though, you would have no legal right to anything belonging to your significant other.

Imagine this: you and your partner live together, but your partner is on the lease or the owner of the home and your partner becomes incapacitated or dies. You could lose your housing while also grieving your partner’s illness or death. Legal documentation can fix this.

Taxes

When you are considering marriage, remember that legal spouses can file taxes jointly, whereas unmarried couples cannot. And there can be some serious tax savings and benefits that could make marriage quite attractive. Conversely, getting married could negatively impact your tax situation.

Estate Planning

Here’s the bottom line: if you are committed to your partner, and want your partner to make legal and financial decisions for you and to have access to some or all of your assets in the event of your incapacity or at the time of your death, whether you get married or not, you need legal and financial planning that ensures your partner has easy access to everything you choose.

How We Can Help

Whether you choose to get married in the eyes of the state, legally, or just in front of your friends, family, and community, contact us as you decide what to do so we can support you to plan well. That’s what we do for you and your family.

If you’re ready to ensure your loved ones have the legal benefits and financial protections they deserve, consider sitting down with us. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help you with your legal planning needs. Our Family Wealth Planning Session guides you to protect and preserve what matters most.  Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you more financially organized than you’ve ever.

 

 

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How Legal Planning Helps Build a Strong Blended Family

How Legal Planning Helps Build a Strong Blended Family

 

Yours, mine and ours … in today’s modern family, it is oh so common. The blended family is the product of 2nd (or more) marriages, in which one or more of the parties comes with children from a prior marriage. And then, they may even go on to have children together.

If you have or are part of a blended family, it is important to understand how estate planning could be exactly what you need to keep your family out of conflict and in love, both during life, in the event of incapacity, and when one or more of the senior generation (read: parents) dies.

Let’s begin with an understanding of where potential conflicts could arise when you have a blended family.

 

Leaving Everything To Your New Spouse

If you have children from a prior marriage, and you become incapacitated or die, leaving everything to your new spouse or partner, there is almost certain to be some conflict (whether spoken or not) between your children and new spouse.

Your children may feel unloved, forgotten or resentful.

You may think that this can be avoided by leaving everything to your new spouse or partner, and then on his or her death, to your children. But this too could set up a scenario where your children feel the need to monitor your spouse/partner’s use of your assets, during his or her life. And that may not be what you want.

 

Not Leaving Anything To Your New Spouse

You may have a partner or spouse that you have not planned for, who you would want to inherit some or all of your assets. But, as things stand right now, your entire estate may go to your children from a prior marriage. This could create a reality where your current partner even gets kicked out of the house you share if something happens to you before your plan is updated.

 

How To Involve Everyone

You can avoid all of this (and even use the estate planning process to build stronger bonds) by having clear planning in place that has been discussed with your children and your new spouse or partner. We facilitate this as part of the planning process for all blended families.

If you are the child of a parent who has remarried after a divorce or death, of your other parent, you may want to bring these issues to your parent’s attention.

 

Contact Us

If you are ready to create a well thought out estate  plan for your blended family, start by sitting down with us. A Personal Family Lawyer® can help you plan for the needs of your unique family. Our Family Wealth Planning Session guides you to protect and preserve what matters most. Before the session, we will send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what is most important to you, and what you can do to ensure your family is taken care of.

 

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5 Reasons Social Security Denied Your Disability Claim When Your Doctor Said You Were Disabled

Your Doctor isn’t Necessarily an expert in your ailments

 

If you’re wondering why Social Security denied your disability when your doctor soundly believed that your ailments were disabled…you’re not alone!  That may offer some relief, but now that you’ve been denied (or were denied some time ago), you need to get ready to take another look at your application for social security disability.  

Whether you’re re-applying for disability or filing an appeal with a disability appeal lawyer, you probably want to know what led to the miscommunication or outright disconnect between your doctor and the Social Security Administration.  

To help you with this, we compiled the most common reasons we have noticed that Social Security denied claims against doctors’ opinions – for our social security disability appeal clients in Spokane, WA.  

 

Your Doctor Didn’t know How to Communicate your Disability to Social Security

 

This reason is so common that we should write a whole article for the purpose of talking to doctors about how to communicate with Social Security (and the VA).  The point here is that in almost every case doctors practice medicine, not law.  And while your disability is a medical condition, the benefit – and process of obtaining it – is a very legal process.

Imagine you’re taking your car into a shop because it is misfiring.

You have someone that’s willing to pay for the repairs, but they need to know how it’s misfiring so they give you a form that says, “please describe what’s wrong with the car.”

You show up to the shop and ask the mechanic to fill out the form, and without context, the mechanic looks at the form and examines the car.  On the form the mechanic accurately describes what’s wrong with the car:

“The car’s tires are 40% worn, they need to be rotated. The car needs an oil change.  Windshield wipers need to be replaced.  Rear window is cracked.  Electrical issues – radio doesn’t work.  Transmission needs service.  Car Idles rough.”  

Technically the mechanic answered the questions.  But when you turn the form back in to get the repair $, your benefactor says, “I looked at the mechanics response, the problems with the car are generally superficial and are what you can expect from a 20 year old car, there’s no mention of a misfire, I’m denying your repair”

“Why,” you wonder?  The reason, without context the mechanic had no idea what to focus their report on.  They didn’t necessarily know that you needed to have that one item assessed.  They didn’t know how their report would play into the overall discussion.  Had they known they might have written something to the effect of:

“vehicle has wear and tear in a number of places, however, there is a critical misfiring causing a rough idle and imminent breakdown.”

Both statements are true – but in one the mechanic didn’t have context, and in the second one the mechanic knew the context.

This happens more often than you can believe!  And it’s not only Social Security disability that this occurs in, VA claim denials are famous for this situation. A doctor will describe a constellation of issues, but not focus on the issue that is material to your disability claim.  As such, it can create predictably poor results.

 

Your Doctor (or you) Didn’t Get Your records to Social Security Fast Enough

 

At every step of the Disability Application and Disability Appeal process you are under a ticking clock.  You have timelines you have to hit, and the system will not wait for you.  From the SSA’s (Social Security Administration) perspective, they have tens of thousands of cases to assess and to keep the process moving forward they have to decide or decline by a standard deadline date.

A side note to this reason is that if you missed timelines as a result of a disability of yours, that would be something you’d want to be documented in your reconsideration/appeal.  You might also want to get help in filing those, as you don’t want to have the same problems at that point.  If your doctor missed timelines, that’s going to be something that needs to be addressed too.  A great advocate or local disability lawyer is great for this.

 

Your Doctor Never Even Met You

 

Be honest.. did you show up to your doctor appointment(s)?  Did you know you had doctor appointments?  Were you aware that the SSA might try to get ahold of medical records for the care you received (or sought to receive) on your conditions?  In some cases, applicants have a pattern of not showing up to doctor appointments, even critical doctors appointments set by SSA for the purpose of evaluating your disability.

This is common enough of a problem that we had to cover it.  It also means that you probably need some additional help when you file your new application or appeal.  If you need someone to remind you, provide you transportation, give you motivation and a helping hand – reach out to them and ask for help.   We don’t mind providing reminders either!

 

You Gave Your Doctor Confusing Information

This is in the same arena as the mechanic story above.  If you’re not clear about why you are seeing your doctor, they may not be clear about what you are needing.

Also, confusing statements that appear to contradict your claims occur very often in medical records.  Consider the simple question, “how are you today?”

Do you even think before answering this question?  Most people don’t – it’s become a salutation like, “hi” and “hey.”  You probably get asked some variation of this question at least 4-5 times a day without giving it a second thought.  Here’s the issue…

If you’re filing a claim for Social Security Disability, there is likely some aspect of your health that is not “fine” – “good” – or “grand.”  And you need to be deliberate, honest, and accurate in answering that question and others like it when speaking to a doctor, or a judge.

 

Your Doctor Isn’t Necessarily an Expert in Your Ailments

We use terms like “doctor” or “lawyer” in generic ways.  However, like lawyers, most doctors have specialties.  For instance, a dermatologist has a different specialty than a neurologist. There’s a lot the two will have in common, including a great understanding of medicine.  However, one is far more prepared to give testimony on skin issues whereas another is better for brain issues.

A general practice physician may not be able to provide enough information to declare the limits of your abilities or disabilities if they’re very specific.  Ideally, a specialist can provide a more thorough diagnosis and prognosis.  If your only medical testimony is from a doctor who doesn’t specialize in your challenges, you may be reliant upon the judgment of an adjudicator at the SSA.

 

On That Note…

You probably want to work with someone who knows disability and disability law if you’re in a situation where you have already been denied benefits.  A social security lawyer is different than a family law lawyer, or a tax lawyer, etc.  In this manner, a social security lawyer in Spokane is different than one halfway across the country!  If you’re going to consult a lawyer, make sure they have experience in Social Security Law, and that they are actually located nearby.

 

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Understanding the Difference Between SSD & SSI Benefits

If you’ve recently developed a disability and lost the ability to work, you should know about the benefits available to you. The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) provides two main types of programs for people with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Make sure you understand the main differences between SSDI and SSI before you start applying.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Also known as SSD, this federally funded program pays disability benefits to people with disabilities under certain conditions. For one, your illness or impairment cannot be partial or short-term: it must prevent you from working for at least 12 months or be expected to end in death. You must be younger than your full retirement age, and you must have worked in a job covered by Social Security long enough to qualify. You can usually continue to receive benefits until you are able to work again on a regular basis, or until you retire, at which point your disability benefits convert to retirement benefits.

While your eligibility for SSI depends on your income, SSDI can theoretically be granted to a disabled person of any income level. Benefits are paid to you and your dependent family members based on a formula applied to your past earnings.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

A federal income supplement program called SSI program is available for people with disabilities who have little or no income and limited access to resources. It is funded by general tax revenues. SSI specifically pays benefits to adults and children with disabilities, as well as people without disabilities who are 65 and older, as long as they meet the financial limits. It provides them with the cash they need to secure basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter.

Generally, anyone who is disabled, blind, or aged 65 or older can qualify for SSI if they also have limited income and resources. You will have to meet a number of other specific requirements—for example, you must be a citizen, national, or eligible alien; you must reside in the US; and you must not be confined to an institution like a hospital or prison, to name a few.

Unlike SSDI, you must stay below a certain income threshold to continue receiving SSI benefits.

The SSA has certain definitions in place for children and adults with disabilities. Children with disabilities generally have a physical or mental impairment that either severely limits their functional capabilities and can potentially lead to death, or that lasts longer than 12 months. The adult definition of disability is similar, but it involves a medically provable physical or mental impairment that prevents the adult from working (or pursuing “substantial gainful activity”). If your medical condition is serious and obvious, the SSA will try to provide your benefits as quickly as possible.

If you meet the legal and medical definition of a disabled person, and you believe you will be unable to work for a year or more, you should look into SSDI and SSI. You’ll need to complete the required application forms and send medical evidence of your disability. You should consult a knowledgeable attorney if you have any concerns about your eligibility or application status. The lawyers at Lilac City Law can offer you advice, file your forms, and make sure you have all the appropriate documentation. We can also help you appeal a previous decision. Give us a call today to get the persistent legal representation you need. We’ll help you secure fair compensation for your disability.

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