Answering Common Questions About Negligence and Injuries Sustained in Florida

Come get your personal injury and accident questions answered on topics including motorcycle accidents, automobile accidents, disability insurance, and workers’ compensation matters. We handle cases throughout Florida concentrating on the greater Central and North Florida area, and we have the in-depth answers you need.

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  • Will my family be allowed to collect my Social Security benefits after I die?

    budgetIf your family depends on you financially, you may be concerned about how your loved ones will survive when you pass away. The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows families of workers to collect survivors' benefits, a monthly payment that helps ease financial burden.

    However, a worker must have paid enough in Social Security taxes during his or her lifetime for the family to be eligible.

    Who Can Get Social Security Survivors Benefits?

    Spouses and families of Social Security claimants may be eligible for two different kinds of benefits after a worker passes away. A one-time lump sum death payment of $255 is available
    to spouses or children who apply for payment within two years
    of the family member’s death.

    In addition, family members can collect survivor’s benefits, or a portion of the amount the deceased worker would have gotten at his or her full retirement age.

    Family members who qualify for survivors benefits include:

    • A spouse. Widows and widowers may be entitled to your Social Security benefits if they're 60 or older, or 50 or older if they're disabled. A spouse may be eligible regardless of age if he or she is caring for your disabled child under the age of 16.
    • A divorced spouse. A divorced widow or widower can be eligible for your benefits if the marriage lasted 10 years or more. The rules and age limits for surviving divorced spouses are the same as those for current spouses.
    • Children. Unmarried children who are under 18, or those are between the ages of 18 and 19 and enrolled full-time in a secondary school, could be eligible to receive your benefits. Additionally, benefits may be paid to a disabled child older than 18 who became disabled before the age of 22.
    • Other dependents. In some cases, step-children, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and adopted children are entitled to receive your Social Security benefits. Parents over the age of 62 who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their income could also be eligible.

    You should be aware that if your spouse works, gets remarried, or is eligible for his or her own retirement benefits, this can affect eligibility for your Social Security survivor benefits. If you have more questions about your Social Security insurance or want help with a claim, contact the lawyers of Johnson & Gilbert today.

     

  • How does my work history affect my Social Security disability insurance?

    calendar_pageThe Social Security program pays disability as a form of insurance: you pay into it with each paycheck, and you can make a claim if you paid into the fund for a long enough period of time.

    To determine whether you qualify for the disability benefits program, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers your physical condition, your work history, and your date last insured (DLI).

    How Your Last Insured Date Affects a Social Security Disability Claim

    The easiest way to think of a DLI is the last day you're eligible for disability benefits. Like any other form of insurance, your coverage has an expiration date.

    Your DLI affects many aspects of a Social Security disability benefit claim, including:

    • Technical eligibility. To technically qualify for the disability program, you must have worked the past five out of 10 years and worked 20 of the last 40 quarters in jobs that paid Social Security taxes. Both of these measurements can affect your DLI.
    • Medical eligibility. Not only do you need to have an approved disability to medically qualify for Social Security disability, but you must also be able to prove that you became disabled prior to your DLI.
    • Likelihood of approval. If your disability occurs before this date, you'll likely be eligible for benefits. If the date expired, the SSA will probably deny the application unless you're able to show why you didn't complete an application sooner. In many cases, claimants need the help of an attorney to make a case to SSA after their DLI has expired.

    The amount of your disability payments varies widely, so it pays to consult an attorney who might maximize your compensation. Our attorneys can explain your options in your free consultation, and we don't collect any legal fees unless we win your case.

    Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our Social Security attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • What percent of my wages will I get if I am out on workers' comp?

    paycheckThe workers’ compensation system was created to allow employees to recover from their injuries without worrying about how they will pay their bills while they're out of work.

    However, employers and insurers will want you to go back to your job as soon as possible, so the amount you can receive in lost wages from workers’ compensation is limited.

    Florida Workers’ Compensation is Paid as a Portion of Your Wages

    Under Florida workers' compensation laws, how much you'll receive while you're out of work depends on the degree of your disability and how much you earn. 

    Most employees receive temporary total disability benefits following an injury, since they are completely unable to work after an accident. Temporary disability benefits are paid until you reach maximum medical improvement or for 104 weeks, whichever comes first.

    The amount you receive in lost income depends on whether you're classified as having:

    • Temporary Total Disability (TTD). These benefits are paid at two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage (AWW). The calculation for the AWW is based on 13 weeks of an employee’s earnings prior to the injury, including overtime, bonuses, and other benefits, such as health insurance. If the worker suffered a severe injury, such as blindness or paralysis, he or she may receive up to 80 percent of his or her regular wages for the first six months.

      There's a maximum amount set for TTD each year—for example, the maximum benefit is $917 per week in 2018.
    • Temporary Partial Disability (TPD). If your doctor declared that you can return to work, but you cannot perform the duties you used to, you may be entitled to receive 64 percent of your AWW in partial disability benefits. These benefits are paid if you're only able to earn a portion of your previous wages. These benefits are paid at 80 percent of the difference between 80 percent of your previous wages and your current wages.

      For instance, let’s say you earned $2,000 before your injury, but now are only able to do part time, earning only $1,000. Workers’ compensation takes 80 percent of $2,000—which is $1,600—and subtracts your current wages, which are $1,000, to get $600. You would be paid 80 percent of $600 in TPD benefits, which is $480.

    Once you've recovered from your immediate injuries, your doctor must evaluate whether your injury could have resulted in permanent disability. If you're permanently disabled, you may be able to receive workers’ compensation payments for life.

    To find out more, order our free book, It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Workers’ Comp, or fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule your no-cost consultation with our work injury attorneys.

     

  • Should I file a workers' compensation claim even if my employer offered to pay my medical bills?

    employer_giving_checkAbsolutely. Workers' compensation insurance was created to pay for lost income and medical care after a workplace accident. 

    However, there's been a rise in cases from injured employees who didn't file for workers' compensation because their employers talked them out of making a claim.
     

    Why You Should Always File a Workers' Compensation Claim for a Work Injury

    There are many reasons employers would prefer that an employee not file a workers' compensation claim, such as increased insurance premiums, or the ability to discredit an employee at some point in the future. Even if an employer threatens to fire an employee, Florida laws prevent employers from retaliating against workers for filing workers' compensation claims. 

    We've represented literally thousands of injured workers at Johnson & Gilbert, P. A., and we know that it's almost always a mistake to agree to have an employer cover medical expenses outside of the workers' compensation system. Here are a few things that often happen when an employee fails to file a workers' compensation claim for a work injury:

    Private health insurance provided by the employer stops paying medical bills.

    Private health insurers aren't obligated to pay for injuries sustained on the job. If your insurance company discovers you've made claims for work-related injuries, it will stop paying for your appointments and treatment—and likely demand that you reimburse the company for any amount it paid to treat your work injury. Although the coverage is provided “through” the employer, the insurance company will demand payment from you, not the company you work for.

    On the other hand, if you file for workers’ compensation, you'll have all of these appointments paid for and likely not have any co-payments for your treatment.

    Employers suddenly refuse to pay out-of-pocket when treatment gets expensive.

    An employer that promises to pay medical expenses for an employee may suddenly forget that promise when the employee needs surgery, diagnostic studies, or other costly treatments. In some cases, employers encourage (or require) employees to tell a doctor or hospital the injury didn't occur at work, ruining the employee’s credibility when he or she ends up filing a workers' compensation case later.

    Employees are unable to pay bills because they're unable to work.

    Unlike employer-sponsored healthcare, workers' compensation also pays a portion of lost wages to employees while they're off work treating their injuries. These payments allow the workers’ income to continue all the way through recovery.

    The bottom line is this: if you're injured on the job, don't hesitate to file a workers' compensation claim. For more information, order our free book, It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Workers’ Comp, or fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule your no-cost consultation with our work injury attorneys.

     

  • Can I get Social Security disability and workers' compensation at the same time?

    going_over_paperworkdYes, but not exactly how you might think. While many people who are injured at work will be able to reenter the workforce in a short time, some will suffer temporary or even lifelong disability.

    Employees who claim Florida workers’ compensation usually apply for Social Security disability benefits when they discover their injuries are permanent.

    However, there just because you apply for both forms of compensation doesn't mean you'll be “doubling” your benefits.

    Problems with Getting Both Social Security Disability and Workers' Comp

    There are many areas of overlap in these two major benefit programs.

    Workers’ compensation is issued by Florida state law to give temporary wage loss and medical benefits to injured employees.

    Social Security disability insurance is a federal program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides payment to workers whose conditions prevent them from earning a sustainable living.

    Although it's possible to collect multiple forms of benefits at the same time, the total amount you receive may be reduced due to:

    • State laws. Unlike some other states, Florida workers' compensation laws prohibit injured workers from collecting temporary total disability or permanent total disability for any weeks where the claimant received re-employment assistance or unemployment benefits.
    • Offsets. Florida law actually requires all permanent total disability claimants to apply for Social Security disability. If you're approved, the insurer who provides your workers' compensation insurance will likely reduce its payments. This places the burden of the employee’s injury on the state rather than a private insurer. This offset ends when the employee’s workers’ compensation payments end or when the employee reaches full retirement age.
    • Settlements. If you secure a lump-sum settlement for your workers’ compensation claim, the amount you're given is still subject to offsets. Since there are limits on the amount of total public disability benefits you may receive, the SSA considers the amount of your settlement when calculating your disability benefits. It also reduces your disability payment if you're receiving other forms of benefits, such as civil service disability or government-issued disability or retirement.

    The amount of income you receive each month varies widely depending on the type of benefits you collect. It's important to consult an attorney who can maximize your compensation. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our Social Security attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • What is comprehensive auto insurance and why do I need it?

    car_insuranceFlorida requires all drivers to have a minimum amount of insurance in order to drive legally.

    While comprehensive coverage is one of the many types of Florida auto insurance not required by law, it can be highly beneficial for drivers to purchase this kind of insurance—especially if they drive rare or valuable vehicles.

    Common Events Covered by Comprehensive Auto Insurance

    Comprehensive insurance covers your vehicle for damage caused by something other than a crash with another vehicle. Since a wide range of damages is covered, comprehensive insurance can be an expensive option for your car. However, it might be extremely useful if you drive frequently or live in a big city.

    Covered events under comprehensive insurance can include:

    • Animal strikes. Striking smaller animals such as opossums or squirrels can pop tires, while hitting larger wildlife may cause major damage to your car.
    • Running off the road. If you manage to swerve off the road in time to avoid hitting an obstacle, comprehensive insurance can cover the damage sustained to the undercarriage or body work.
    • Glass repair. Comprehensive insurance reimburses you after incidents with falling or missile objects, including windshields broken by tree limbs, rocks, or flying debris.
    • Weather damage. Hurricanes, flooding, hail, and landslides may all be covered.
    • Theft and vandalism. Comprehensive insurance can restore your property if your car is stolen, burgled, or vandalized.
    • Fire damage. An engine that catches fire from a mechanical problem is not only a deadly occurrence, but also costs thousands of dollars to repair.

    Comprehensive insurance may also be used to cover the overflow costs of an accident. For instance, liability insurance doesn't pay for damage to your vehicle in a crash, nor will it help with the financing or interest costs of your car if you're still making payments.

    If you're unsure which insurer should be paying for your damages, simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our car accident attorneys.

     

  • After I apply for Social Security disability, how long will I wait for benefits?

    calendar_pagesThe timeframe between applying for Social Security disability and receiving benefits varies from person to person. Some applicants receive a determination within a month, while others can wait a year or more before their benefits are paid. In most cases, it depends on the stage at which your claim is approved.

    The Different Stages of Social Security Disability Approval

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) can potentially approve disability applications at many different points in the claims process. The more steps it takes to approve your claim, the longer you'll wait for benefits.

    The length of time before you receive benefits will depend on whether your application is approved:

    • The first time. It takes up to 90 days to get a decision on a new disability claim. However, many claims are denied the first time, so it's likely you'll have to proceed to a first appeal.
    • On reconsideration. If your first application is denied, you can appeal the decision by filing a request for reconsideration. Appeals generally take between 60 and 90 days to process and notify the claimant of the determination. If the appeal is denied, the next step is to request a disability hearing with an administrative law judge.
    • At a disability hearing. There's typically a backlog of cases waiting to be heard by a judge, so it can take anywhere from a few months to over a year to schedule a disability hearing. However, disability applications are more likely to be approved at a hearing than at any other level of the process.
    • For a terminal condition. Claimants who apply for benefits based on a terminal condition or a class of severe disabilities may receive expedited benefits through the Compassionate Allowance Program and quick disability determination programs.

    There are many things claimants can do to speed up their cases and increase their chances of approval. Providing complete and convincing medical information and filing for disability as soon as you're unable to work can both increase approval rates, as can hiring a Social Security disability attorney to present your case.

    Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our Social Security attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • Can I receive Social Security disability and retirement benefits at the same time?

    woman_and_financesThe Social Security Administration (SSA) primarily pays disability benefits to people who cannot work and are too young to retire. Since disability benefits automatically transition into retirement benefits, most people cannot collect both Social Security (SS) retirement benefits and SS disability benefits at the same time.

    However, some claimants may qualify for both types of benefits as well an additional amount of income based on their circumstances.

    How Retirement Affects Your Social Security Disability Benefits

    The SSA allows people to receive SS retirement benefits when they reach full retirement age, which is 65 or 67 years old, depending on what year you were born. Since a person who is retired is assumed not to be working, disability payments stop and retirement benefits kick in at one of those two ages. While the type of benefit changes, payments continue automatically and the amount stays the same.

    Although this is the general rule, some retired claimants can receive multiple kinds of SS benefits if they:

    • Take early retirement. The SSA allows people to claim retirement benefits as early as age 62, but the amount these claimants received is reduced. However, if a person qualifies for both early retirement and disability, the SSA may provide a disability payment on top of their early retirement benefit that makes up the difference.
    • Receive back pay. A retired person who qualifies for disability will also likely be approved for retroactive disability benefits for the months in which they were disabled before application.
    • Qualify for Supplemental Security Income. If you're already receiving disability or retirement benefits, you could also qualify for Supplemental Security Income if you can demonstrate financial need and few resources.

    If you're unsure what kinds of benefits you may qualify for, our attorneys can determine how much you've paid into Social Security during your past employment and see how your personal circumstances affect what you're owed. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our Social Security attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • Can I get workers' compensation for job-related stress in Florida?

    workplace stressMany people suffer from anxiety, depression, and even panic attacks as a result of their work environments.

    As it can be difficult to prove the medical extent of these injuries, workers’ compensation for stress is usually not an option unless the stress is related to a physical injury.

    Workers’ Comp Requirements for Mental or Nervous Injuries

    Under Florida law, an employee can only collect workers’ compensation for job-induced stress if he or she also suffers a physical injury. In addition, the employee’s stress and injury must have a significant impact on one another.

    Florida law allows a workers’ compensation claimant to get additional benefits for stress if he or she:

    • Demonstrates the link between the mental condition and the injury. The employee’s physical injury must be at least 50 percent responsible for his or her nervous condition. For example, if you suffer an injury that causes disability, you may be entitled to further compensation for the depression caused by the disability. On the other hand, if you had anxiety before you suffered a broken leg at work, the two conditions may be seen as unrelated.
    • Provides adequate evidence. Claimants must have a diagnosis and prognosis from a licensed psychiatrist according to the criteria established for mental disorders by the American Psychiatric Association.
    • Suffers unduly. Workers’ compensation will only provide nervous condition benefits for anxiety related to the specific compensable injury. Therefore, no benefits will be paid for psychological injuries related to being out of work, suffering pain, losing out on job opportunities, or resulting from a pre-existing mental condition.
    • Claims short-term benefits only. A person may only claim stress or nervous suffering benefits for up to six months after the date that his or her physical injury reaches maximum medical improvement.

    If your physical injury was caused by stress, or you're suffering a great deal of mental and emotional trauma as a result of an injury at work, we can help you get the medical and wage loss benefits you are owed. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our work injury attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • How does Social Security issue back pay on disability benefits?

    gov_checkIt can take several months for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to issue a decision on a disability claim. For this reason, nearly every person who is awarded Social Security disability will be owed past due benefits, also called disability “back pay.“

    However, the amount of back pay granted to each claimant varies depending on the date used to calculate benefits.

    Dates That Affect the Amount of Social Security Disability Retroactive Benefits

    Claimants can receive up to 12 months of Social Security disability back pay for the months in which they were waiting for benefits to be paid. After the claim is approved, the full amount of retroactive benefits is issued in one lump sum, with regular monthly benefits continuing as usual.

    The number of previous months for which you will be awarded benefits depends on three different but important dates:

    • Date of disability. When the SSA approves an application for benefits, it decides a date on which the claimant's disability began. This is known as the established onset date (EOD), and is determined by a disability examiner using the claimant’s medical records and work history. An EOD can be several months before the application date, greatly affecting the amount of back pay. For this reason, it's not uncommon for a claimant and a disability examiner to disagree on the exact date of disability. A Social Security disability attorney can help by gathering additional medical information and other evidence to prove the claimant wasn't able to perform work.
    • Application date. Claimants can receive benefits back to the date they applied for disability, as long as their medical evidence supports they were disabled on or before this date. If their medical evidence shows they were disabled in the year before applying for benefits, retroactive payments may be granted for the months before the application date.
    • End of the waiting period. Social Security disability benefits have an automatic five-month deduction to allow a reasonable period for benefit processing. In other words, a person isn't entitled to benefits until five months after his or her disability began. For example, let’s say a claimant files an application on December 1 and is given a disability date of January 1 of the same year. Although the claimant has been “officially” disabled for 11 months, he or she will only be entitled to six months of retroactive benefits.

    Make the Process Easier With Our Help

    As you can imagine, the established date of your disability can have a big impact on the amount of benefits you receive. If you win your disability claim on appeal, you could potentially get back pay for the many months you were forced to live without your rightful benefits.

    If you're having trouble collecting rightful payment from Social Security, simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our attorneys at no cost to you.