• How Long Will My Disability Benefits Last?

    Once your lawyer in Baltimore helps you secure your disability benefits , you should continue to receive them for as long as you meet the eligibility criteria. There are a few things that can cause your benefits to be terminated. First, know that while on disability, you’re responsible for promptly reporting whether your medical condition improves or whether you return to work. If your health improves to the point at which the Social Security Administration (SSA) no longer considers you to be disabled, then your benefits will be terminated. The SSA will periodically review your case to assess whether you are still disabled.

    It’s possible to return to work without automatically forfeiting your disability benefits. The SSA refers to this as a “work incentive.” It’s designed to encourage benefit recipients to test their ability to work, while still having the safety net of benefits. If you are able to return to a level of work that gives you substantial earnings, then you’ll no longer receive benefits. How the SSA defines “substantial earnings” is subject to change over time—you can consult your lawyer about the current regulations.

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  • Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim After Someone Runs Over My Dog?

    Pets are regarded as property in the eyes of the law. For years, pet parents have been distressed to find that their options for legal recourse do not sufficiently reflect the significant, long-lasting emotional trauma of losing a pet to someone else’s negligence. Some states have slowly begun to change this approach, including Maryland. If you live in Baltimore, you can talk to an accident attorney to find out if you could file a lawsuit against the person who caused the car accident that killed your dog.

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    Consulting an Injury Lawyer

    The sudden loss of a beloved member of the family can interfere with your clarity of thought. As difficult as it is to discuss the event, you do need to see a lawyer promptly. He or she will review your case and evaluate the value of the claim. Depending on the circumstances, you may wish to settle the case out of court. Your attorney can contact the negligent driver or the insurance carrier to explain the monetary value of your loss, and offer to settle the case instead of filing a lawsuit. If compensation isn’t forthcoming, you can take legal action.

    Filing a Lawsuit

    You can only sue for wrongful death if a human was killed. However, you can still file a civil lawsuit against the person who killed your pet. Your lawyer will present evidence to prove that the defendant’s negligence directly caused the car accident that killed your dog. Once the defendant is served with the paperwork, it’s quite possible that he or she will be more willing to settle the case out of court.

    Assessing Damages

    A key component of any lawsuit is the assessment of damages. In many jurisdictions, dog owners are limited in the amount of compensation they can recover. A court will typically award the amount the dog would cost, plus related veterinary bills. The following factors may play a role in determining the dog’s value.

    • Purchase price
    • Breed
    • Training
    • Age
    • Health (prior to the car accident)
    • Special characteristics of value
    • Usefulness

    If the dog was a champion show dog, a service dog, or specially trained law enforcement dog, the value would increase. Recently, Maryland courts have ruled in favor of allowing bereaved puppy parents to secure compensation for their emotional distress. Claims of mental anguish can be substantiated by records that show you sought mental health counseling in the wake of the death.

  • Is HIV/AIDS a Qualifying Condition for Social Security Disability Payments?

    Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a chronic, incurable disease that attacks the immune system. This leaves patients vulnerable to other serious infections and diseases. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the end stage of HIV infection. Because HIV can take years to progress, patients might not qualify for Social Security disability benefits for a while. A lawyer in Baltimore who handles Social Security disability claims can provide personalized guidance based on the factors that are unique to each case.

    HIV - AIDS

    When HIV/AIDS Qualifies for Disability Benefits

    The primary infection results in acute, flu-like symptoms that typically last no longer than a few weeks. After this point, the patient enters the clinical latent infection stage, also known as chronic HIV. If the patient does not take HIV medications, the stage may last 10 years before progressing to AIDS. With medications, it may take a few decades before reaching the end stage. During the chronic HIV stage, patients often experience few to no symptoms. This means they might not be classified as disabled. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits before HIV progresses to AIDS, patients must prove that they have one or more “opportunistic” illnesses that arise as a result of the suppressed immune system.

    How to Prove Disability

    HIV/AIDS patients must first prove that they were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. This is easily accomplished via medical records. The next step is more complex. It involves sorting through the Social Security Administration’s “blue book,” or listing of official disability requirements. Patients would be well advised to consult a lawyer about these requirements before filing a claim. Here’s a brief, incomplete overview of the requirements:

    • Bacterial infection, including multiple infections that required hospitalization
    • Viral infection, including treatment-resistant shingles
    • Fungal infection, including pneumonia caused by Pneumocystis fungi
    • Protozoan or helminthic infection, including toxoplasmosis
    • Cancer
    • Skin or mucous membrane condition, including treatment-resistant lesions
    • HIV encephalopathy with brain swelling that causes cognitive/physical impairment
    • HIV wasting syndrome, with loss of 10% or more body weight
    • Diarrhea that requires intravenous hydration

    Other illnesses can qualify. Consult a lawyer for further guidance.

    How to Qualify Based on Limited Functional Capacity

    Even if patients do not qualify under the disability listing, they may qualify for benefits based on their limited functional capacity. A residual functional capacity (RFC) rating determines whether a person can perform sedentary, light, or medium work. The SSA will probably consider a person disabled if he or she lacks job skills and higher education, and can only perform sedentary work.

  • Qualifying for Disability with Low Vision or Blindness

    If you are living with low vision or blindness, you could qualify for Social Security disability benefits. However, the qualification requirements are strict and the procedure is lengthy, so it is helpful to have an experienced attorney in Baltimore to assist during the approval process. Here is what you need to know about applying for disability benefits for low vision or blindness.

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    How does the Social Security Administration define blindness?

    In order to be considered blind under Social Security guidelines, you must not be able to correct your vision to better than 20/200 in your better eye for a period of at least 12 months or a period that is expected to last for at least 12 months. Alternatively, you can have a visual field of 20 degrees or less in your better for the same time period. If your vision doesn’t meet the definition of blindness but you have low vision that prevents you from working either alone or in conjunction with other health issues, then you still may be eligible for benefits.

    What kind of disability benefits can I receive?

    Two disability programs may provide benefits when you’re blind or have low vision: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is based on credits earned while working, so you are only eligible for it if you have ever had a job, or in some cases, based on your parents’ or spouse’s earnings. SSI is not based on past employment, so you are eligible for these benefits even if you don’t have any work history.

    How do I apply for benefits?

    Although you can apply for benefits by contacting the Social Security Administration on your own, having a lawyer guide you through the process is recommended. Many people are rejected for benefits on their first try, and having an attorney can help you avoid an initial rejection and the need to appeal. An experienced attorney knows how to avoid application errors and build your case effectively.

  • FAQs and Answers About Maryland’s DUI-Related AEP Requirements

    Maryland’s Alcohol Education Program, or AEP, is a rehabilitation initiative for people who have been convicted of DUI or DWI. If your attorney in Baltimore advises you to attend one of these programs as a result of your court case, here is a look at what you need to know.

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    What exactly is the AEP?

    Maryland’s AEP is a 12-hour class designed to educate people about alcohol use and abuse as well as the risk of driving while intoxicated. It is frequently required for people who have been convicted of DUI or DWI before they can regain their licenses. In some cases, a 12-hour AEP program is recommended by the court in lieu of jail time or other penalties, especially for a first offense. If the court has identified you as an alcohol abuse or alcohol dependent, you may be required to take a longer program than the 12-hour AEP.

    What are some reasons I may need to take the AEP?

    You could be referred to the AEP on the recommendation of a district court judge or by an administrative law judge from the Office of Administrative Hearings. If your license was revoked because of an alcohol-related offense, you will be referred to the AEP when you apply to have your license reinstated. Your lawyer may request that you be referred to the AEP as well to reduce some of the other potential punishments associated with your DUI or DWI conviction.

    What are the consequences of not attending the AEP?

    When you are referred to the AEP, you must begin the class within 90 days of your referral. If you do not, then you will receive a letter telling you that you are required to surrender your license to an MVA location. You will need to complete the course before you can get your license back. If you were instructed to attend the AEP in lieu of another punishment, the court may enforce that punishment instead.

  • What Is Occupational Asthma?

    Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory condition that affects the airways and causes trouble breathing. Periodically, the inflammation can become significantly worse in a flare-up called an asthma attack. There are different types of asthma, including occupational asthma, which is a disease triggered by a workplace. If your doctor informs you that you have asthma and you suspect your job may be to blame, talk to a workers’ comp attorney in Baltimore right away. Under workers’ comp law , your medical treatment may be covered and you may be entitled to receive additional benefits.

    Your workers’ comp lawyer may ask to see your medical records, which might indicate whether you have work-aggravated asthma or true occupational asthma. Work-aggravated asthma refers to pre-existing asthma that is worsened by conditions in the workplace. True occupational asthma originates directly from the workplace. Jobs that require exposure to chemical irritants or sawdust, for example, can irritate the airways. A workers’ comp lawyer can make sure your employer follows all the necessary steps to protect employees, such as implementing a health surveillance program and establishing effective irritant control measures.

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  • Common Questions About Insurance and DUI Convictions

    Getting arrested on suspicion of drunk driving is a serious matter. A DUI conviction can lead to many more problems than simply a fine and some time behind bars. If you’re convicted, you could face long-term consequences, including higher insurance rates and problems finding a job due to your criminal record. It’s in your best interests to get in touch with a DUI lawyer in Baltimore as quickly as possible. Remember not to answer any of the police officers’ questions about your alcohol use until you speak with a lawyer.

    DUI - Conviction

    What insurance problems may occur after a DUI conviction?

    It’s common sense that your motor vehicle insurance premiums would increase considerably after a DUI conviction. After all, drunk drivers are often repeat offenders, and having this type of criminal history substantially increases the risk of a major car wreck. Some people convicted of DUI find that their current auto insurance carrier refuses to renew the policy, forcing them to look elsewhere for a company that will accept a questionable driving history. But beyond auto insurance, DUI convictions can have an impact on other insurance policies, such as life insurance. After a DUI conviction, you may have a hard time finding a life insurance carrier that will insure you. If you do, you can expect to pay high premiums.

    Why do life insurance companies care about my criminal record?

    Life insurance companies care about your DUI conviction because it speaks to your overall health and safety. They know that drunk drivers are likely to be repeat offenders, which means there is a possibility that you will die in an alcohol-related crash before a term life policy expires. Drunk drivers are also considered to be risk-takers who may be more likely than the average person to engage in other dangerous behaviors. Furthermore, convicted drunk drivers are more likely than the average person to have existing health problems that may shorten life expectancy, such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.

    What about life insurance policies that don’t require a medical exam?

    Many convicted drunk drivers assume that life insurance policies that do not require a medical exam will extend coverage at a reasonable premium. However, even if a carrier doesn’t require an exam, it will still check your DMV record.

  • Preventing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in the Workplace

    Occupational hearing loss is a significant risk for employees and a common cause of workers’ comp claims. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to protect your hearing at work. If you do suffer hearing loss, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer in Baltimore to determine what steps you should take next.

    Start by recognizing the risks at your job. If you work around heavy machinery, at an airport, in landscaping, or as a first-responder, your hearing could be in danger. Once you understand the risks, determine what kind of device, from earplugs to protective headphones, will provide the best protection for your ears at work. Your employer also has a responsibility to provide training about hearing protection and to set workplace rules that require employees to use protective gear as appropriate for the environment if hearing loss is a risk.

    If you have suffered hearing loss on the job, talk to a workers’ compensation attorney. He or she can help you determine what steps you should take to get the compensation to which you are entitled.

    hearing - loss

  • Survivor Benefits 101

    If your loved one who was receiving Social Security benefits passes away, you may be entitled to survivor benefits. These benefits help a spouse or children cope with the financial burden of losing a loved one who received monthly disability payments. If your spouse or parent was receiving Social Security disability benefits and passed away, you may wish to consult with an attorney in Baltimore to ensure that you get the survivor benefits to which you are entitled. Here are the facts you need to know.

    social - security

    What are survivor benefits?

    Survivor benefits are paid to a spouse or child after someone receiving Social Security disability payments passes away. The amount of benefits you can receive depends on a number of different factors. If you are at retirement age, then you can receive 100% of your spouse’s benefit. If you are under retirement age, however, you may receive less. The Social Security Administration considers several factors when awarding survivor benefits, so it can be helpful to have an attorney with experience in Social Security disability law apply for benefits on your behalf, to avoid complications.

    Can adult children receive survivor benefits?

    In most cases, survivor benefits for children are restricted to unmarried children younger than 18. Adult children who are under 19 and in high school full-time can receive the benefits, and adults who are disabled and were disabled before age 22 can also receive the benefits. Children of any age who receive benefits get 75% of their parents’ payment. Except in the case of qualified adult children with disabilities, payments stop within one month of the child’s 18 th birthday or within two months of the 19 th birthday if the recipient is still in high school after 18.

    Can divorced spouses receive disability benefits?

    Surviving divorced spouses can receive benefits in some cases, provided that they are still unmarried and meet certain other criteria. If you remarried but then divorced again or became widowed, you may still be able to receive disability benefits. These rules are complex, and your application is more likely to be successful if an experienced attorney guides you through the process.

  • Does Your Car Have an Emergency Kit?

    If you experience a car accident near your Baltimore home , an emergency kit could be an essential part of mitigating injuries for yourself and your passengers. The right time to think about an emergency kit is now, before a car accident occurs. Here are some tips for putting together a kit that has the things you need in the event of an accident.

    emergency - kit

    First-Aid Kit

    A first-aid kit is the foundation of any good emergency kit. Make sure yours is stocked with Band-Aids, gauze, antiseptic creams and wipes, and aspirin or another pain medication. If your family has special medical needs, these supplies should be in the kit as well. For instance, if someone in your family has diabetes, keep glucose tablets or gel or another non-perishable source of sugar on hand. You will still need to get emergency care after a car accident injury, but having basic first-aid supplies can help you cope with an injury until the first responders arrive.

    Basic Repair Tools

    Whether after a car accident or during a roadside emergency, having basic repair tools can be handy. Keep things like jumper cables, tire foam, and a multipurpose utility tool in your kit. You should also have things that can assist with repairs and general safety, such as gloves, rags, duct tape, and a flashlight with extra batteries on hand. A tire gauge is also a useful tool.

    Charged Cellphone

    Having a charged cellphone is essential every time you get behind the wheel. Charge your cellphone every time you get in the car, and keep a spare charger in your emergency kit. Some people find it helpful to have a backup phone with a portable charger in their kit as well. Because you never know what is going to happen on the road, consider programming the number of a car accident attorney into your phone so that you can always reach a lawyer when you have been injured and need to act quickly to preserve your rights.