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February 2018 Archives

Tax law changes can alter estate planning strategies

Many people in California and across the country may be wondering about how they can benefit from the estate planning implications to changes made in federal tax law by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017. Provisions in the new law double the exemption provided for estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes, which reflects the intensification of an ongoing trend in federal law to reduce estate taxes and other costs associated with wealth transfer after death. The law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and the exemption for a single person rose to $11,180,000 and for a married couple to $22,360,000. These amounts are slated for a further annual increase every year in line with inflation.

Fast track programs for certain Social Security Disability cases

People in California disabled by severe injuries or specific diseases sometimes qualify for a fast track review of an application for Social Security Disability benefits. Although the agency attempts to identify priority applications for people with obviously debilitating conditions, applications might still get caught up in the typical timeline of three to six months for an initial decision and over one year for an appeal. The programs known as Compassionate Allowance or Quick Disability Determination, however, provide a path to faster answers from the agency.

An explanation of SSDI and back pay.

Some California residents who are applying for Social Security Disability benefits are confused at the concept of 'back pay" when an award is given. They should understand why back pay is normally awarded. It is due to the passage of time involving the application date, the date determined for disability, and the award date.

Social Security Disability applicants benefit from representation

People in California who are unable to work may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. However, the process to apply for and receive these benefits can often be difficult and challenging. It can be important for applicants to have representation at a hearing to maximize their likelihood of success.

Past work as it applies to disability benefits

Those in California and elsewhere who apply for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits will be asked for information relating to their mental and physical abilities. This information is used to create a residual functional capacity score. When determining what type of work a person may be suited for, an examiner may look at past work performed during the relevant period.

Response times have no bearing on the merits of an SSD case

It is not uncommon for a person's initial Social Security Disability or SSI benefit application to be denied. The speed of which a California resident's application is denied has no bearing on the strength of an individual's case. Those who handle cases generally have no deadline as to when a case must be resolved. Furthermore, cases are not necessarily reviewed in the order that they are received.

The many advantages of a trust

California residents may believe that trusts are only worthwhile for those who are wealthy. However, this is not necessarily the case. An individual may benefit from creating a living trust that may go into effect if that person becomes incapacitated. During that time, a designated person or entity would manage the individual's affairs in accordance with the trust's terms.

SSD appeals

California residents who have had their Social Security Disability benefit claims denied can appeal that decision. As a general rule, a response has to be received by the appropriate office within 65 days of the denial notice. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Typically, late responses are more likely to be accepted at the reconsideration level as opposed to the administrative hearing level.

Nursing homes are expensive: Determine coverage now

Nursing homes are expensive, especially when you don't have long-term insurance that can help with costs. Unfortunately, not everyone who is going to face the prospect of living in a nursing home takes time to get their affairs in order to defray the costs of living in one of these facilities.

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