TheElder & Disability Law Firm, APC
Contact Us To Set Up A Strategy Session Toll Free:800-409-6271

Redlands California Estate Planning Blog

New life for bill that may extend Agent Orange benefits

California readers may be interested in learning that Congress is working on a bill that would extend health benefits to approximately 90,000 sailors who may have been exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The legislation ran into resistance in November, but an effort to get it passed was resumed by the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs' chairman in early May.

Agent Orange is a toxic herbicide that is known to cause lung cancer, heart disease, Parkinson's disease and other serious medical conditions. For years, the government has presumed that American ground troops serving in Vietnam were exposed to the substance and provided health benefits to treat them. However, Navy sailors who served in the war, known as Blue Water veterans, were denied the same coverage. This was because the Department of Veterans Affairs claimed there was not enough evidence to prove they were exposed.

Disability hearings provide opportunities for SSD applicants

Many people in California may wonder whether they have a better opportunity to be successful in their application for Social Security Disability benefits when they have a hearing before a judge. During the first two levels of the disability application process, disability examiners make the decision as to whether a person should be granted benefits. There are often few chances for an applicant to improve their likelihood of approval during the initial application or the reconsideration appeal.

The initial application process for Social Security Disability does not enable applicants to address decision-makers face to face. The lack of ability to answer direct questions and provide new information can make it more likely that a claimant will be denied. On the other hand, when an applicant has a disability hearing before an administrative law judge after being denied at earlier stages, they have the opportunity to review and revise their materials. In addition, applicants have the chance to add missing medical documentation to their files that were never collected by the initial disability examiner. They can also answer questions about their situation and clarify open questions.

Determining appropriate care for elderly people

Those who are looking for a care facility for their aging parents in California often have questions as to how to choose the right one. The first thing that a person should do is determine how much care a family member needs. For instance, a person who is highly confused or can't groom themselves may need different levels of care than someone who can still live a relatively independent lifestyle.

Individuals who only need a moderate level of help around the house could benefit more from in-home care as opposed to living in a retirement community. However, those who need medical care or who have concerns about the cost of in-home care could benefit more from living in a retirement community or similar environment. Those who are looking to help their elderly parents find quality care should know about the benefits available to them.

Seven tips that can get executors on track

California residents who have been designated as executors of an estate will want to consider the following tips toward making the process easier. As long as the executor is methodical and organized, the tips will not be hard to follow.

First, executors will want to request multiple copies of the death certificate to send to banks, life insurers and, if applicable, organizations like the VA and SSA when notifying them of the death. Secondly, they should obtain a copy of the will and/or trust documents: the former must be filed with the probate court, while the latter can be used for the immediate disbursement of trust assets.

How to quicken the pace of a benefits case

Those in California who have applied for disability benefits may be able to ask that their case be handled in an expedited manner. A dire need request could be granted if a person feels that he or she is in danger of losing a home or not being able to afford medication. In some cases, an application will be reviewed faster because an applicant has a terminal illness of because an applicant has a presumptive disability.

However, at the initial application and reconsideration level, there is generally no other way to have a case reviewed quicker. Once a case gets to the hearing level, a dire need request could allow the case to be heard in a more timely manner. An attorney may also request an on-the-record review of the matter, which could reduce the amount of time it takes to grant benefits.

Delays in Social Security Disability decisions

For people in California who apply for Social Security Disability benefits, the lengthy process that follows can often be confusing. Disability examiners do not have a mandatory deadline to issue a decision on an application for disability benefits. However, most people who apply receive an initial decision within the first few months after their application is filed. There are some cases that are decided more quickly and others that can take up to a year for that initial determination although both alternate cases are rare.

When someone applies for Social Security Disability benefits and seems to be facing longer delays than average, they may wonder what it means for their case. In general, people who work with disability benefits have an incentive to close cases more quickly rather than more slowly. Employee evaluations are based on the number of disability cases they close and how quickly they close them. However, several factors can make the processing of a claim for disability benefits even slower than usual.

The right type of trusts

People in California can use a trust to protect their legacy and to lessen the tax assessments on their estate. However, it is important that they designate the right person to administer the trusts.

Trusts can be used to incorporate tax planning into one's estate so that the beneficiaries of assets in the trusts are not overly burdened with taxes issues. Assets, such as IRAs, life insurance policies or annuities, that are placed into trusts can grow while being assessed no taxes or having their taxes deferred. There are a multiple options individuals can consider when choosing what type of trust to use for the assets they want to give to their heirs.

Muddy Waters' estate still not settled 35 years after his death

Thirty-five years ago this week, blues legend Muddy Waters passed away at the age of 68. However, his heirs are still slugging it out over a $2-million royalty claim.

Waters was born in 1915 in the tiny Mississippi Delta town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi. His birth name was McKinley Morganfield. He was a seminal figure in the country blues sound, and his music was the inspiration for many British musicians like the Rolling Stones.

Applying for Social Security Disability benefits

Many people in California need the income provided by Social Security Disability benefits after experiencing an illness, injury or other form of disabling condition. However, the road to receiving SSD benefits can be difficult with many deserving applicants rejected in the initial stage and requiring lengthy appeals processes in order to receive their benefits. However, there are some tips that applicants can keep in mind to improve their chances of success in securing the disability benefits they need.

There are over 9 million people in the United States who receive Social Security Disability benefits, an important recourse for former workers. However, the application process can be challenging, especially when simultaneously dealing with the stress of one's disabling condition. Learning about the eligibility requirements can help people more effectively complete the disability application process. People must have a severe impairment that is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death; in addition, in order to be eligible for SSD benefits, applicants must have paid FICA taxes for 5 out of the previous 10 years. Compiling one's employment history can assist in making a case for SSD benefits.

Trump Signs Measure to Protect SSI and SSDI Beneficiaries

In California, SSI and SSDI recipients will receive more protection from the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 (H.R. 4547) recently signed by President Donald Trump. The measure seeks to protect individuals with disabilities by preventing criminals, and people with criminal records, from representing SSI and SSDI recipients as their representative payees. The measure was supported by Congress for the purpose of protecting recipients from unscrupulous representative payees who use the recipient's social security benefits for their own selfish purposes.

Furthermore, the measure will offer beneficiaries opportunities to choose their own representative payees instead of the government making the selections. Additionally, the California legislature will ensure that representative payees are subject to periodic reviews. The California legislature, along with other state legislatures, will ensure that representative payees are subject to frequent periodic reviews in lieu of submitting annual accounting forms. The new protective measure signed by President Trump will ensure that the Social Security Administration's representative payee program is a system that fully protects beneficiaries from possible fraudulent activities.

Keep In Touch

Firm Numbers:

Firm Location:

Redlands Office
104 E. Olive Ave., Suite 103
Redlands, CA 92373

Toll Free: 800-409-6271
Redlands Law Office Map

Riverside Office
3610 Central Ave., Suite 400
Riverside, CA 92506

Map & Directions

Satellite Office:

follow us on: