Get Answers to Your Legal Questions in Our FAQ
Dealing with a legal issue whether it be applying for and receiving disability benefits, fighting for a personal injury claim, or navigating through a divorce, can be a challenge, and many people are left with questions about what they can do to get the help they need. At the law offices of Loyd J. Bourgeois, we understand how hard it can be to get the answers you need. That’s why we’ve put together the following list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers dealing with family law, personal injury, disability benefits, claims, and appeals and the related law in Louisiana.
The following are some FAQs that I receive as a Louisiana attorney. They may answer some of the questions you have regarding your Social Security Disability appeal, your long-term disability insurance denial, your personal injury claim, or your Louisiana divorce. If you have a question that is not answered here, please call the legal team of Loyd J Bourgeois, LLC at 985-240-9773.
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How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in Louisiana?
This is an interesting question because the answer is not as easy as the question or as easy as it first appears. The amount of time you must wait will vary depending on the specific issues involved.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Louisiana with No Minor Children?
Under Louisiana law, you can receive a divorce in 180 days if there are no minor children. You must be separated or living apart during this time.
How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced in Louisiana with Minor Children?
If there are minor children involved, you can receive a divorce in Louisiana after living apart and separate for 365 days.
How Long Does a Divorce Take if You Entered into a Covenant Marriage in Louisiana?
If you entered into a covenant marriage, you may have a different mandatory waiting period to get divorced.
For a divorce with a covenant marriage, one of the following grounds must be met:
- a felony conviction
- abandonment for a year or more
- physical or sexual abuse of the spouse or children
- The couple has lived separate and apart for two years; or the couple is judicially or legally separated and have lived separate and apart since the legal separation for (a) one year and six months if there is a minor child or children of the marriage; (b) one year if the separation was granted for abuse of a child of either spouse; or (c) one year in all other cases.
If you entered into a covenant marriage and are filing for divorce, you should consult a skilled Metairie divorce lawyer to discuss your best path forward.
How Long Does a Divorce Take from Start to Finish?
The facts of your case will be different than others. An experienced divorce attorney can help you figure out what is best for you in your case.
For an uncontested divorce, usually you can resolve issues without the involvement of a judge and this will lead to quicker results.
For a contested divorce, you will need the legal advice of a family law attorney. Besides finalizing the divorce, there will also be issues of child custody, child support, spousal support/alimony, property division, and debt division. If agreements cannot be made, you will need to wait for court dates to proceed with the divorce process.
Signing Divorce Papers is Rarely the End of the Road
Just because a divorce is granted does not mean the divorce proceedings are over. There may be property issues and some may take extensive time to resolve – like selling a business, a property, or valuing either.
And, if you have minor children, sure the divorce can happen in 365 days, but is it ever “over?” What about if changes occur – job, marital status, criminal history, etc.? Will the original custody order work or will it need modification?
If you have these questions, a compassionate, local family law attorney can help!
So, in my opinion – this is a question without an easy answer.
Can I file a lawsuit if I was partly at fault in a car accident? Learn about Comparative Fault in Louisiana
In some car crashes or auto accidents, determining who was at fault is easy. But, sometimes in a Louisiana car accident, two or more drivers share responsibility. In these cases, an injured driver may ask – can I file a lawsuit even if I was partly at fault in the collision?
Some examples of accidents where fault can be spread among multiple people:
- A speeding car changes lanes on Interstate 310 but collides with a pickup truck traveling without headlights even though it is nighttime;
- A motorcycle driver “splits the lane” driving between two lanes of traffic and in doing so is hit by a car changing lanes not using its turn signal;
- An SUV attempts passing a tractor-trailer in a no-passing zone, but the 18-wheeler swerves out of its lane and collides with the SUV.
Can I sue if I was injured in an accident that was partially my fault?
In Louisiana – the answer is YES because Louisiana is a comparative fault/comparative negligence state.
Louisiana’s comparative fault law is found in Louisiana Civil Code 2323.
What does Comparative Fault mean?
Simply put - the Comparative Fault rule states that to the extent that someone was responsible for an accident, their damage amounts would be reduced proportionally.
For the injured and deceased parties, they would only be able to recover for that percentage of fault attributed to others, not including their employer (which falls under worker’s compensation protections).
How Does Comparative Fault work in Louisiana?
Louisiana is a comparative fault state for negligence claims.
This means that in court, a judge or jury will assess fault to each party who is found negligent for an incident.
The fault assessed can be anywhere from 1%-100% (if a party is 0% at fault, then they are not a cause of the incident).
Under Louisiana law, if a party is responsible for 1% of the incident, they are responsible for 1% of the total damages and if a party is responsible for 100% for the incident, they are responsible for 100% of the damages.
Each party therefore only bears responsibility for their contribution to the incident.
For example, let’s say you were the driver of that speeding car that collided with the light-less truck in the above example. At the end of the trial, a jury found you were 40% at fault and the driver of the truck was 60% at fault. The jury awarded a total of $100,000 for your damages. To figure out how much you would ultimately receive, you would take the total award ($100,000) and multiply it by the fault of the other party (60%), so you would receive $60,000. You cannot recover for your own fault.
How is Your Fault Determined?
There is no hard-and-fast formula to figure out how much fault is yours and how much is others. The percentage of fault is left up to the discretion of the insurance company adjusters (during settlement) or the jury/judge (in trial).
It is important to understand that in settlement negotiations the other party's insurance company and their adjuster will try to emphasize your fault in the accidents and lead you to believe that you cannot recover damages. You need to know your rights.
In cases where your own fault is an issue, a Louisiana personal injury attorney can help advocate for a fair percentage of responsibility.
A good accident lawyer will work to minimize your fault and maximize the fault of all others, based on the evidence and the laws applicable to the case at hand.
You make the decision – will engaging a qualified Louisiana personal injury lawyer help you protect your rights and interests?
If you were seriously injured in an accident that was only partially your fault, you should probably consult a Metairie car accident lawyer.
The LJB Legal team has experience fighting for fair settlements for their clients.
Give us a call at 985-240-9773 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident.
How Much Is My Bone Fracture Worth After a Car Accident in Louisiana?
Broken or fractured bones are some of the most common injuries in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident.
The power and high forces of an impact exerted on the body during an automobile accident can cause serious and life-threatening injures.
Many people call our office wanting to know the average settlement for a broken bone in a car accident.
What Causes Bones to Break or Fracture During an Automobile Accident?
The combination of sudden deceleration and forward propulsion of the body is capable of causing extensive damage during an accident especially if the body is thrown into contact with other objects and debris.
Speed is a major factor and contributes to the severity of the injuries that people suffer in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident.
Though bruising, muscle soreness or pain, and soft tissue injuries often occur during an automobile accident, broken bones and fractures are particularly common after a wreck.
What is the Difference Between a Fracture and a Break?
A fracture is any loss of continuity of the bone. It could be a tiny, hairline crack or a complete shattering of the bone.
Many people believe that a bone break is more serious than a fractured bone. This is not the case. Medically, the two terms can be used interchangeably.
However, it is not as common to not refer to a hairline crack as a break.
All fractures are classified as either simple or compound.
What is the difference between a simple fracture and a compound fracture?
A simple fracture occurs beneath the skin and does not result in any lacerations or protrusion of the bone from the flesh.
A compound fracture is when the bone exits the body at some point during the injury.
5 Most Common Injuries Caused by a Car, Truck, or Motorcycle Accident
1. Lower Extremity Fractures
The most commonly reported broken bones in auto accidents are lower extremity fractures.
Common lower extremity fractures include:
- Upper and Lower Leg Fractures
- Hip Fractures
- Pelvis Fractures
- Patella (Knee) Fractures
- Ankle Fractures
2. Upper Extremity Fractures
The second most commonly reported fractures are upper extremity fractures.
These injuries are often caused by the airbag deploying or when the arm hits a hard surface in the vehicle.
Similar to lower extremity fractures, treatment will depend on the location and severity of the injury. Surgery may be needed, or a cast may be required to be worn for an extended period of time.
Fractures of the upper extremities can take weeks or months to heal.
Depending on the location of the injury, long-term loss of functional use is not uncommon.
Some common upper extremity fractures are:
- Broken Arm
- Wrist Fractures
- Hand Fractures
- Broken Elbow
- Shoulder Fractures
- Broken Clavicle (Collarbone)
3. Facial And Jaw Fractures
The bones in the face are more delicate and can be easily broken in a motor vehicle accident.
Facial and jaw fractures commonly occur when the airbag deploys or when the face comes into contact with the dashboard, steering wheel, window, or the back of a seat.
These injuries may require fixation (e.g., wiring the jaw shut) or reconstructive surgery. Additional specialists such as an ear, nose, and throat specialist, an ophthalmologist, a plastic surgeon, or a neurosurgeon, may be necessary.
Recuperation depends on the location and severity of the fracture.
Some common facial fractures include:
- Broken Jaw
- Broken Nose Bridge
- Fractured Cheekbone(s)
- Fractured Orbital Socket(s)
4. Skull Fractures
Skull fractures are serious injuries that can be life-threatening.
Impacts with a dashboard, steering wheel, side window, or windshield can cause severe damage. (Hence why wearing a seatbelt is so important.)
Skull fractures require immediate medical treatment to prevent further tissue damage and life-saving surgery may be necessary to stop swelling or bleeding in the brain.
Fractures of the skull can result in traumatic brain injury (TBI), seizures, stroke, paralysis, or death.
This type of injury can also result in long-term or permanent medical impairments and personality changes that can be short-term, long-term, or permanent.
5. Spinal Fractures
Fractures to the spine occur when there is sudden deceleration and the spine is propelled forward.
Immediate medical care is necessary for spinal fractures.
Treatment of spinal fractures depends on the location and severity of the injury.
Even a very small fracture, bone chip, or bone spur can press on a nerve or deform a disc, causing excruciating pain.
If the damage to the spine is severe enough, fractures may cause temporary or permanent paralysis or death.
Fractures in the neck are also a result of spinal trauma and are common auto accident injuries that can result in paralysis or death. Recovery can vary by the severity and location of the injury, the age and health of the patient, and how well the patient responds to treatment.
Healing time can take several weeks to several months and physical therapy may be needed. Permanent damage or paralysis is not uncommon.
How Much is My Broken Bone or Compound Fracture Worth?
If you have been injured in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident and have suffered a fracture or broken bone, you know how expensive and painful the recovery process can be.
You may be experiencing long-term medical treatment that can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Especially if your break requires surgery and/or physical therapy.
Even when a broken bone doesn’t require extensive surgical procedures, it can still limit a person’s ability to work or do the things they use to enjoy until the fracture is fully healed.
Being out of work for weeks or months at a time is bad enough. And in some cases, a broken bone never fully heals, and patients must contend with a long-term disability and a lifetime of pain.
You are likely wondering how much a fractured bone is worth in a lawsuit or what a fair settlement for a broken bone would be.
Because each accident is different – different types of vehicles involved, different circumstances that led to the crash, different injuries, etc. – there is no set number for determining the amount of damages you will receive.
If your accident was caused by another person’s negligence, you are entitled to recover damages for the cost of your immediate medical treatment, any surgical procedures, long-term care, lost wages, out of pocket expenses, and pain and suffering.
How Can a Local Personal Injury Help Me With My Broken Bone Injury?
You may not be the type to hire a lawyer, but keep in mind, the insurance company isn’t on your side. They may lowball you with their offer and ask you to settle right away before you’ve even had a chance to get properly diagnosed. It is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney about your legal rights and options for recovering financial compensation.
An injury lawyer can help you analyze the details of your case and come up with an amount that you may be able to receive from a jury verdict. Only after you know this number, should an accident victim or their attorney begin negotiating for a fair settlement.
Keep in mind that the accident wasn’t your fault. If you've suffered a broken bone, there’s no shame in wanting your medical bills paid and your property replaced.
An experienced accident attorney will work with your doctors to get a full understanding of your injury and limitations.
During this difficult time you need someone who will listen, someone whose only interest is your best interest.
What Will Happen to my Social Security if the Government Shuts Down?
Many New Orleans-area Social Security Disability claimants and recipients are wondering how a government shutdown affects them and their benefit checks, application, and/or hearing.
The government briefly shut down fully twice in under a month in early 2018. On December 22, 2018, the government entered a partial government shutdown after President Trump would not sign the temporary spending bill passed by Congress. This shutdown was only a partial shutdown due to the fact that some departments had already been funded through September 2019. The Department of Health and Human Services which includes Social Security was included in this previous spending bill and therefore was not affected by this partial shutdown.
For 2020, a continuing resolution funded the government from October 1 through December 11. Since then, 4 more temporary extensions have passed. The last short-term resolution passed as Congress came to an agreement on a spending bill to give them time to finalize the details and send the bill to the president for his signature. The bill was flown to the president on Christmas Eve, but he has indicated that he will not sign it unless major changes are made.
Without his signature, the government will enter a partial shutdown on Tuesday, December 29, 2020.
Government shutdowns are often averted at the last minute. Hopefully, that will be the case again this time as well.
Every time a government shutdown is in the news, I get calls asking "Is Social Security affected by a government shutdown?"
Are Social Security Checks Affected by a Shutdown?
The first thing most people want to know is "Will I Still Receive my Social Security Disability Benefits in a Government Shutdown?"
When the federal government shut down in 1995 and again in 2013, all Social Security payments continued to be sent out on time. This included Social Security Disability.
During the 1995 shutdown, which lasted about a month, the Social Security Administration mailed checks throughout the shutdown.
Social Security was able to continue mailing benefits due to the fact that doesn’t need Congress to authorize funds for it each year.
Instead, Social Security benefits are considered mandatory spending and are paid from the program’s trust fund, and therefore, the agency has the funds to continue paying benefits.
In 1995, Social Security maintained enough employees to continue mailing checks without delay.
Since payments are now direct deposited and/or loaded onto debit cards, Social Security continued processing payments during the 2013 shut down with fewer employees than were needed to mail benefit checks during the 1995 shutdowns.
Are Social Security Offices Open During a Shutdown?
Currently, most local Social Security offices are already closed to in-person visits due to COVID-19 precautions.
The Social Security Administration is asking the public to first try to use their online services before calling them.
During a government shutdown, many SSA employees will be furloughed and staffing will be limited. Using online services before calling is still the best course of action.
If you cannot use these online services, you can find the phone number for your local office by using the Field Office Locator.
What Happens to my Scheduled Social Security Disability Hearing in a Government Shutdown?
Most likely, hearing offices will continue to hold Social Security Disability and SSI hearings if a shutdown occurs.
During the 2013 government shutdown, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) still held previously scheduled hearings, but staffing was limited to Administrative Law Judges (ALJs), medical experts, vocational experts, and security personnel.
New hearings were not scheduled.
Lack of support personnel caused delays in exhibiting files and decisions were not written during the shutdown.
So, if a claimant was waiting for an already scheduled hearing, it in most cases proceeded and was decided.
But, the writing of the decision did not take place, so if benefits were granted, there was a further delay before benefits were paid since the decision was not actually formally written until the shutdown ended.
What Happens to my Social Security Disability Application in a Government Shutdown?
During the Clinton-era shutdown, new Social Security claims were not being processed because the agency furloughed 61,415 employees. As the shutdown wore on, the agency adjusted its plan and recalled workers to start processing new claims. Whether new claims are processed at all or with a delay due to fewer workers will depend on how many employees the SSA decides to maintain and how many they decide to furlough.
The SSA’s 2013 government shutdown contingency plan stated that new and pending Social Security applications would continue to be processed as well as requests for appeals.
However, because these functions are carried out by the state Disability Determination Offices, each state will decide whether to continue these operations or stop them.
The most likely scenario is that applications will be processed but with some delay.
The delay will be dependent on how many employees are retained and how long the shutdown lasts.
Whenever a threat of a shutdown looms, I monitor the situation checking Social Security's contingency plan often.
If the government shuts down again, I will be in touch with all of my current clients to advise them on how this situation will affect them depending upon the current status of their claim.
How Much Can I Get for a Bulging Disc Injury After a Car Accident?
So What Exactly is a Bulging Disc?
To a radiologist, a bulging disc is very different than a herniated disc.
A bulging disc is when a portion of the disc extends beyond where it should be but has not ruptured.
Some bulging disc injuries are more likely to cause nerve root impingements and can be just as painful if not more than a herniated disc in many cases.
A herniated disc is a disc in your spine that has ruptured.
Bulging discs are often caused by aging, but can also be caused or aggravated by trauma, like a car accident.
How Much Compensation Can I Expect for My Bulging Disc?
After a car accident, many of my clients wonder what their bulging disc claim is worth.
Generally speaking, the main things that impact any injury case’s worth are:
What Is the Average Settlement for Bulging Disc Injuries?
It is difficult to determine average bulging disc settlement figures because most settlements are confidential.
Because bulging disc injuries are not considered to be as severe as herniated disc injuries, settlements for bulging discs can vary wildly.
Often, the credibility of the injured plaintiff is what drives the amount of the bulging disc compensation.
Would I Have Better Results If Took My Bulging Disc Case To A Jury?
The average bulging disc injury jury verdict is $125,000 with a median of only $30,000.
There are many variables the jury must consider when reaching their conclusion.
Symptoms of a Bulging Disc May Not Happen Immediately After the Accident
If you’ve been involved in an accident, you may not feel the symptoms of a bulging disc right away.
Even if you are treated in the emergency room after your accident, your bulging disc won't show up on a physical exam or a CT scan.
An MRI is generally needed to diagnose many back injuries.
Depending on the severity, symptoms of a bulging disc may range from mild tingling and numbness to moderate or severe pain.
Most people have problems in the lower back and experience pain in the buttocks, thighs, and feet.
Bulging discs can put pressure on the sciatic nerve or compress the nerves that control the bladder.
It is very important for your health and your injury claim that you follow all of the medical advice given to you.
Treatments can include steroid injections, physical therapy, and in some cases endoscopic spine surgery.
Taking the Next Step Towards Finding Out How Much Your Bulging Disc is Worth
If you’ve been in an accident and are experiencing some of these symptoms or have been diagnosed with a bulging disc, don’t hesitate to call Loyd Bourgeois and the LJBLegal team!
You need the advice of an experienced accident attorney to ensure that you get a fair settlement from the insurance company.
You probably don't like the idea of filing a lawsuit. Most people don't.
However, you owe it to yourself and your family to receive fair compensation for your injuries.
And the fact of the matter is that the insurance company holds all of the cards.
Our team will walk with you every step of the way. No gimmicks.
We will work with your doctors to get a full understanding of your injury and limitations.
We know that this is a stressful time for you so we take on the burden of tracking down medical records and forms.
Right now, you don’t just need an injury lawyer. You need a trusted advocate and confidant – someone whose only interest is your best interest.
Should a Witness Testify at my Social Security Disability Hearing?
As a Metairie disability attorney, I am often asked this question by my clients.
My usual response is probably not, but this is a case by case determination.
In most cases, the medical records are available and provide a good picture of your medical impairments.
As a disability attorney, it is my job to help prepare you for your hearing and the questions that will be asked.
You are usually the best person to relay how your medical impairments impact your daily life and talk about the limitations that you deal with as a result of your impairments.
However, in some cases, if either the medical records are not sufficient or if you are unable to adequately explain how you are affected, a witness can be important.
Can I Bring A Witness to my Social Security Disability Appeal Hearing?
A sincere, straightforward person talking about how you are affected by your condition can result in a favorable decision.
Witnesses can be a husband/wife, son, daughter, neighbor, friend, co-worker, supervisor, or anyone else that can provide information on the extent of your limitations.
When deciding whether or not you should use a witness at your hearing, you need to choose only one or two of the best people to help you present your story.
As an attorney, I would never call a witness who I had not at least spoken with in advance of the testimony to see what their impressions are.
Your witness can provide testimony that supports your medical evidence and may add to your testimony.
I often find if I ask a spouse to share how their husband or wife is impacted by the disability, the spouse often relays much more difficulty than the claimant, having a different impression of the impact.
Will a Witness Help my SSDI Hearing?
You need to know before calling a witness whether the witness’s testimony will help your case.
If possible, the best witness is someone who an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) can view as more objective about your claim as opposed to someone close to you, who is likely to be viewed as less than objective and more willing to help you.
Good objective witnesses are more likely co-workers, supervisors, neighbors, social workers, etc. as opposed to family members and close friends.
Regardless of the witness chosen, the witness should provide observational testimony and not conclusory testimony.
What does that mean? An example of observational testimony is, “I have seen Mary return from the store and need to get her son to unload the groceries.”
Another example is, “While at work over the past few months, I have noticed John needed to get up from his work station and go lay on the floor for about 20 minutes each morning and each afternoon.”
Conclusory testimony is more like, “I know Mary is disabled because I see her come from the store and need help getting inside the house.”
The conclusion is that Mary is disabled. Statements like that can hurt a witness’s credibility.
If you think a witness may be necessary to help prove your claim during the appeals process, you may need an attorney as well.
A Louisiana disability attorney can help you prepare your case and your witness to give you the best chance of success in obtaining Social Security Disability benefits.
Our law firm is dedicated to helping people like you.
How Much Does a Disability Attorney Cost in Louisiana?
As a Metairie area disability attorney, one of the first questions I am usually asked is "How much will this cost me?"
Many people know that a Social Security representative will improve their chances of getting disability benefits.
But, they are understandably worried that they can't afford an attorney or advocate to help them fight for their benefits.
There are many falsehoods and misconceptions out there about how much a disability advocate charges.
What is the Most an Attorney can Charge for Disability?
Here's the great news, an SSDI lawyer will not cost anything upfront.
Federal disability law fees are set by law and cannot exceed 25% of your back benefits.
In many cases, the maximum is $6,000 (if we win at the first hearing). That’s because I generally use the fee agreement process.
AND that amount is ONLY due if I am successful in representing you.
If your claim is denied, you owe no attorney fees.
Fees are only due when/if we win your case.
For example, let’s assume that we are successful in getting your disability benefits.
Your onset date is set 17 months prior to today’s date (that means that SSA will owe you back benefits).
Due to SSA laws, you can be paid 12 months of back benefits in this scenario (because SSA does not pay for the first 5 months).
If your benefit amount is $850 per month, your back benefits would equal $10,200 ($850 X 12).
The attorney’s fee on this amount would be $2,550 ($10,200 X 25%).
If this number were above $6000, then only $6000 would be paid to your attorney.
Will a Disability Attorney Take a Percentage of my Future Benefits?
Here is another important aspect of a disability representative’s fee: you do not owe a fee based on future benefits.
That is, you will not have to keep paying your disability attorney 25% of your monthly disability check.
Once the disability lawyer is paid from the back benefits, that is all you owe with respect to fees.
In some cases, disability attorneys charge costs (which are different from fees) whether your disability claim is successful or not.
What About Costs?
Costs include things such as expenses incurred for medical records, long-distance phone calls, mail, parking at your hearing, and other costs paid to develop your disability case.
As a Social Security disability lawyer in Louisiana, I generally handle the cost issue on a case-by-case basis.
You should ask your disability lawyer (or disability representative) how they charge costs.
One thing to keep in mind if you use a disability representative from a national firm that must travel to your area is whether or not those travel costs will be charged to you.
This could include airfare, rental car, hotel stay, and meals. These costs can get expensive and really decrease the amount you end up with at the end of the day.
While the maximum amount of fees is limited by the law, costs are not limited in the same manner.
Thus, you need to watch costs and be mindful of them when you hire a disability lawyer. In Houma and other places, these costs for national lawyers and advocates can get excessive.
There is a possibility that a disability attorney may get more than the $6,000 if your case involves extensive work (usually because of multiple appeals to and from SSA and federal court).
However, even in that case, the fee charged to you cannot exceed 25% of your back benefits.
In this case, the fee petition process would have to be used. Your attorney would have to file a fee petition and have it approved by the Social Security Administration.
This is a helpful and informative guide that will guide you through some of the common mistakes and errors that lead to unfavorable Social Security Disability decisions.
Don't make a costly mistake that could cause you to lose the benefits that you need to survive! I'd love to send you a copy.
Just click here to receive your free copy of my book 9 Mistakes That Can Disable Your Social Security Disability Claim.
How Long Should I Wait To Apply For SSDI Benefits?
The surprising answer is – YOU DON’T NEED TO WAIT!!
When Can I Apply for SSDI Benefits?
You can file for social security disability benefits on the day that your doctor diagnoses you with a disability, or on the first day that you can no longer work because of your disability.
Many people mistakenly believe that they must be disabled for a certain period of time before they can even apply for social security disability benefits.
You must prove that your disability will last at least 12 months or is expected to result in death.
You do NOT need to wait to apply until after you have already been disabled for 12 months.
This is true for Houma social security disability claimants, Thibodaux SSDI claimants, and even those in Galliano applying for social security disability. In fact, it is true throughout Louisiana and the Nation.
If you have a serious illness, disability, or impairment that will last at least a year (or is likely to result in death – like cancer or Lou Gehrig’s disease), you can apply on the day the illness, disability, or impairment impacts your ability to work.
As my wife often tells our kids, just because you CAN do something, that doesn't mean that you SHOULD.
When Should I Apply for Social Security Benefits?
If you expect to be out of work for a year or longer or you have a terminal condition, you should not delay in filing a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
You should file your claim for SSDI benefits as soon as you become disabled.
The longer you wait to file, the longer you will have to wait to receive your disability benefits if you are disabled.
Remember, a large number of disabled individuals, especially in Louisiana, are denied social security disability benefits when they first apply.
Then they have to go through an appeal process, often including a hearing with a judge. Some even have to go to court to have their case approved. The process takes time.
The longer you wait to apply, the longer it takes for the process to get started.
And, if you wait for over a year to apply, you risk losing some of the hard-earned benefits that you are entitled to.
I usually recommend that my Louisiana disability clients apply for social security disability as soon as they can no longer work because of their disabling condition to get the process started.
Is There a Time Limit to Apply for Social Security Disability?
There is no "time limit" to apply for SSDI benefits.
You can apply for benefits at any time after you become disabled.
However, as soon as you, in consultation with your doctor(s), determine that you are unable to work and that you will not be able to work for at least 12 months due to your medical condition, you should file for benefits.
Any delay may result in you losing benefits that you are legally entitled to by waiting longer than necessary to apply.
If you are eligible to receive SSDI (or disability insurance), the Social Security Administration can only pay you retroactive benefits for the 12 months before submitting your application for benefits regardless of your disability onset date.
Therefore, if you wait for more than a year from the date you stop working to apply for benefits, you risk losing more benefits with each month that passes.
For example, one prior client became disabled in 2012 but did not file for disability benefits until 2019. While we were successful in proving he was disabled in 2012 when he stopped working, SSA could only pay him benefits from 2018 forward. He lost benefits he was entitled to from 2012 through 2018. This cost him thousands of dollars in benefits.
Now, this does not mean, that if you have a minor illness or injury that will heal within one year, you need to rush out and apply. Don’t do it. Your claim will be denied, I cannot help you, and you will be taking up valuable resources needed by those truly disabled.
Should I File a Disability Claim?
The information provided here is not advocating that you file a Social Security claim if you are truly capable of working full time.
If you believe that you can do some sort of work on a full-time basis, your medical records are going to reflect that and you will ultimately be found not disabled, no matter how many appeals you file.
The Social Security disability application and appeals process is extremely lengthy and stressful.
Why face financial ruin waiting on Social Security to process an appeal if you can still work?
Even if you eventually win, the amount of disability benefits you receive will likely not replace all of the income you could make by working.
I realize that one of the hardest things for a formerly strong and independent working person to admit is that you need help.
But realize that you are not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed of.
If you are unable to work due to your disability, disability benefits are available to you under the law, and you have earned the right to pursue them and attain them.
You have worked your entire life to pay for these benefits in case you ever needed to use them.
Will I Qualify for SSDI Benefits?
Wondering if you qualify for Social Security Disability?
With our years of experience, we can tell you through this quick, free, and easy SSDI claim evaluator whether or not we believe you have a case and if we can help you!
Do You Qualify? Take the quiz now!
How do I fill out the Adult Function Report for Social Security Disability?
Complete the Function Report questionnaire right away and provide truthful and specific answers!
You only have a limited time to comply (10 days from the date of the letter) with Social Security’s request so don’t delay. But, don’t rush through your answers either.
Your Adult Function Report, also known as SSA 3373, stays on the record through your entire case and cannot be modified.
The Adult Function Report is often used by Social Security to discredit your claim.
The ten-page form asks about your daily activities, personal care, meal prep, household and yard work, hobbies, and social activities.
If you answer any of the questions incorrectly, incompletely, or inconsistently, we can never update your answer.
What Is a Disability Function Report?
If you are filling out an Adult Function Report, Social Security is trying to get an understanding of the activities that you are still able to do (your Residual Functional Capacity).
When you are filling out your Adult Function Report, we recommend you watch our video about Residual Functionality first. In 5 short minutes, Loyd explains the purpose and importance of Residual Functional Capacity.
When filling out forms, always keep your Residual Functional Capacity in mind.
What Do I Say on a Disability Form (SSA-3373-BK)?
Be honest but don’t exaggerate. Be specific about your limitations.
If you do not clearly describe your limitations or give vague answers on your Adult Function Report, Social Security will take that to mean your disability really isn’t that bad and you should have no problem returning to work.
Your Social Security Disability claim will likely be denied.
It's a good idea to consult with an attorney or at least read these tips before you complete the form.
5 Biggest Mistakes on Adult Function Reports
1. Not reading the entire question.
Take your time when filling out your Adult Function Report and make sure your answers match up to the question being asked.
One recommendation our firm makes to clients is to answer the questions separately on another piece of paper first before transferring your response to the form.
This will allow you to work on your answers without messing up the form.
2. Not being clear about how long it takes you to do things.
If you tell Social Security that household chores -- like doing dishes for example -- take you an hour, then Social Security is going to think that you can get things done with no problem.
Be clear when answering questions like this.
Do you have to sit down when you do the dishes? Do you have to take breaks or lie down? Is that hour broken up into several days because you are unable to do them all at once?
3. Not being clear about what you do all day.
Telling Social Security that you “get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, go outside to read, eat lunch, etc…” lets them think you have normal days like everyone else.
Be specific about what you do all day.
Did it take you a long time to get out of bed because your back hurt so bad?
Did you need help putting on your shoes?
How long did it take you to make breakfast? Or did you have help?
Were you so exhausted after making breakfast that you needed a nap? Is that why you had to sit down and read?
4. Not listing the side effects of your medications.
Side effects of medications can cause unexpected limitations. If you tell Social Security you are able to sit for an hour or so, they may think you can perform office work.
You need to speak up about the side effects of your medications and how they affect your ability.
Does your medication make you feel drowsy? Do you need to take naps during the day?
Does your medication have you going to the bathroom more often than normal (frequent urination or diarrhea)? If so, you won’t be getting much work done in an office.
5. Not answering questions consistently.
Consistency is key. It is so important that you answer questions consistently throughout the form.
Being consistent with your answers will help prove your credibility.
Do not answer some questions as if it's a "good day," and some as if it is a "bad day."
If your answers do not match what you have told your doctors or Social Security representatives, it will harm your credibility.
Providing answers like “I sit outside for 3 hours a day” and then saying, “I can’t sit down for long periods of time” doesn't give Social Security a clear understanding of your disability and limitations.
Do not copy SSA-3373-bk sample answers that you find on the internet. Make sure that all answers properly describe you and your limitations.
When filling out your Adult Function Report, make sure your answers fit into the space provided and are short and to the point.
And remember, everything you say on your Adult Function Report is final.
Once your report is submitted to Social Security, no changes can be made.
Need Help Filling Out Your Adult Function Report?
If you are thinking of applying for Social Security disability benefits or have received a denial, you may want to consider hiring an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.
Our firm will take away the burden and anxiety of completing and turning in your Adult Function Report and other forms.
We will walk you through filling out the Adult Function Report (SSA-3373-bk) and all other Social Security forms.
All forms are submitted to our office and are gone over with you to make sure there is a clear understanding of your disability and limitations before we submit them to Social Security.
You will never have to submit any forms or medical records or deal with Social Security by yourself. That’s what you pay us for!
If you are applying for disability and have questions about the function report, it never hurts to talk to or retain an experienced Social Security attorney who can help you properly prepare your case. If you need help with your Function Report call the Offices of Loyd J. Bourgeois at 985-240-9773.
How Much is my Herniated Disc Case Worth?
What Exactly is a Herniated Disc or Ruptured Disc?
Basically, a herniated disc is a disc in your spine that has ruptured.
Discs are the cushions that separate the vertebrae and protect the spine.
A disc becomes herniated when the outside of the disc (the annulus) is cracked and the inner part of the disc (the nucleus pulposus) leaks its jelly-like center and irritates the surrounding nerves.
Herniated discs are usually associated with trauma, such as a car accident while bulging discs are more often associated with aging.
For this reason, juries tend to award herniated disc injuries more favorably than they do bulging disc injuries, though bulging discs can also be caused or aggravated by trauma.
How Much Compensation Can I Expect for My Herniated Disc?
If you’ve been in an auto accident and have suffered from a herniated disc, you may be wondering what your claim is worth.
Only once you know how much your herniated disc claim is worth can you negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement for your injury.
Disc herniations are painful, permanent injuries that require a substantial settlement value due to the seriousness of the injury. That being said, coming up with an injury case evaluation is difficult.
Generally speaking, your personal injury damages include some or all of the following that impacts the case’s worth:
What Is the Average Settlement for Herniated Disc Injuries?
It is difficult to determine average herniated disc settlement figures because most settlements are confidential and the data is not readily available.
If liability is not an issue, most disc herniation cases with surgeries settle above $50,000, occasionally going north of $100,000, and cases without surgeries tend to be below $50,000.
Because there are so many variables involved (surgery/no surgery, insurance coverage of at-fault driver, etc.), herniated disc claims can settle for as high as $1,000,000 or as low as $1,000. It really all depends on the facts of the case.
Would I Have Better Results If Took My Herniated Disc Case To A Jury?
The median jury verdict for a herniated disc case is $75,000 with an average of $350,000.
This means that a few disc herniation cases are awarded very high jury verdicts, but most are under $100,000.
Only about 5% of these cases ever see jury verdicts over $1 million.
There are many variables the jury must consider when reaching their conclusion.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc May Not Happen Overnight
If you’ve been involved in an accident, you may not feel the symptoms of a herniated disc right away.
Even if you are treated in the emergency room after your accident, your herniated disc won't show up on a physical exam.
You probably won’t get diagnosed with a herniated disc because emergency rooms generally use a CT scan and those types of injuries are usually found on an MRI.
Most herniated discs occur in the lower back, although they can also occur in the neck. Signs and symptoms depend on where the disc is situated and whether the disc is pressing on a nerve.
The most commonly reported symptoms are sudden and intense pain in the lower region of the back, numbness in the legs, debilitating pain in the hips, leg pain, and muscle weakness.
It is very important for your health and your injury claim that you follow all medical advice.
Taking the Next Step Towards Finding Out How Much Your Herniated Disc is Worth
If you’ve been in an accident and are experiencing some of these symptoms or have been diagnosed with a herniated or ruptured disc, don’t hesitate to call our law firm!
You need legal advice to ensure that you get a fair settlement from the insurance company.
You have been injured and there’s no shame in getting reimbursed for lost wages and trying to get back what the accident took away from you. Our team will walk with you every step of the way. No gimmicks.
We set ourselves apart by taking the time to actually listen and go the extra mile.
Our team is experienced in handling herniated disc cases. We will work with your doctors to get a full understanding of your injury and limitations. We know that this is a stressful time for you so we take on the burden of tracking down medical records and forms.
Right now, you don’t just need an injury lawyer. You need a trusted advocate and confidant – someone whose only interest is your best interest.