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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  • What Will Happen to my Social Security Disability if the Government Shuts Down?

    **Click here for information on how the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns will affect Social Security Disability**

    Many New Orleans-area Social Security Disability claimants and recipients are wondering how a government shutdown affects them and their benefits, 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 shut down was only a partial shut down 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.  


    When the 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.


    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 Social Security Disability during 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.

    The Takeaway

    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 will the child support payment be?

    The breakup of any marriage is an emotional and often confusing time. 

    Many questions, thoughts, concerns, and fears you never knew you had start bubbling up to the surface. 

    You're looking for some clear guidance and answers to help you start the process of moving on to your new tomorrow. 

    I'm Loyd Bourgeois, an attorney practicing family and divorce law out of Luling, Louisiana and I'm here to help you get some answers to your frequently asked divorce and family law questions. 

    How much will I get/pay in child support?

    This is another frequently asked question of parents going through a divorce.  Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to this because each case is fact-specific. 

    Typically, courts will look at the gross income of both parents, how many children are involved in the divorce and other special circumstances in determining the amount of child support.

    A person's expenses are not part of the equation in determining child support because if that was the case, you could make your expenses match what you're earning to drive down your child support.  Would not be fair to your children. 

    What next?

    We want you to have our free divorce and family law guide, 16 Sensible and Smart Actions to Help Guide You in Planning and Preparing for your Louisiana Divorce.  Just click and complete the request form on the page, we'll email you this free important information.  

  • Who gets custody of the children?

    The breakup of any marriage is an emotional and often confusing time. 

    Many questions, thoughts, concerns, and fears you never knew you had start bubbling up to the surface. 

    You're looking for some clear guidance and answers to help you start the process of moving on to your new tomorrow. 

    I'm Loyd Bourgeois an attorney practicing family and divorce law out of Luling, Louisiana, and I'm here to help you get some answers to your frequently asked divorce and family law questions.  

    Who is going to get custody of the children?

    This is one of the most frequently asked questions of parents going through divorce, "Who's going to get the custody of the children?" 

    In Louisiana, custody can be determined primarily two ways; one is by consent of the parties where you and the other spouse agree on an arrangement that benefits and is beneficial and works for both of you and the children. 

    The other way is having a judge decide custody

    If the parents can't agree, which is not always possible, it will go to court and a judge will make a determination based on the best interests of the child. 

    What's next?

  • Do I have to sue the other party after a wreck?

    You have a NOT to sue!!
    Wait...did they really say that? 
    Yes, we did! 
    You have the right not to sue in your personal injury case. And more often than not, it’s best you only take your case to court when you absolutely have to because the other side or their insurance company is refusing to pay. 
    This is true even if you were seriously injured and not at fault. Why? 
    First of all, going to court is no guarantee of maximizing what you receive.  And in many circumstances, going to court may actually reduce the total reward you receive because costs are increased. Do I have to sue after an accident?
    Secondly, taking your case to trial will involve a lot of stress and time lost, and may even result in additional legal fees to prepare and represent your case that exceed any additional reward you receive. 
    So we always make sure to advise you on the full cost of going to trial vs. settling before deciding to go to court. 
    And lastly, some personal injury attorneys simply love to go to court to be in the limelight, garner press for their firm, or worse, simply to satisfy their egos. But that strategy can put your reward at risk entirely! 
    We always advise clients to settle and move on with their life whenever fair compensation is being offered.

    Of course, should liable parties refuse to pay fair damages, we’re ready to go to trial to defend your just compensation. But in the vast majority of cases, this simply isn’t necessary.
    If you have questions, please don't hesitate to let us know. Call us at 985-240-9773.

  • What is pain and suffering?

    What is Pain and Suffering?

    Pain and suffering is an element of damages that an injured person seeks from the person causing the injury.  Pain and suffering is usually not available in breach of contract cases, disability cases, or property insurance cases.

    You know all too well that pain and suffering is part of the aftermath of an injury. Legally, though, "pain and suffering" describes the physical pain and emotional distress a victim endures as a result of a personal injury accident.  Emotional distress (also called "mental anguish") can include depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and more. Compensation for pain and suffering is more than money for physical ailments—it also entails mental and emotional pain. It is also above and beyond you actual money damages (like your lost wages, medical bills, etc.).
    You may be eligible for compensation for pain and suffering if you have:
    • Grief
    • Worry
    • Insomnia
    • The loss of enjoyment of lifeWhat is Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Claim

    What Kinds of Things Does "Pain and Suffering" Include?

    When we say "pain and suffering," we're talking about a variety of ways that an accident can affect your life. Pain and suffering is a type of non-economic loss. Non-economic losses are intangible— and not clearly enumerated.
    You can recover pain and suffering damages for:
    • Past and Future Pain and Suffering – This includes any past and future physical pain, mental anguish, discomfort, inconvenience, and stress.
    • Embarrassment and Humiliation – This covers anything caused by the accident that could leave the victim feeling ashamed of their injuries, such as burns, paralysis, and amputation.
    • Loss of Enjoyment of Life – This compensation is for victims who have lost enjoyment of the pleasures of life due to the accident.
    • Disfigurement – This represents any scars or permanent damage caused by an accident or the surgery necessary to treat the car accident injuries.
    • Loss of Consortium— The spouse of an injured victim can receive money for what is known as Loss of Consortium, which means that they've lost companionship and the ability to be close to their husband or wife.

    How is pain and suffering compensation calculated?

    It's difficult to calculate how much a pain and suffering claim could potentially be worth because no two accidents or injuries are the same—and they can affect each person differently.
    The amount of money a person is able to recover for pain and suffering is most dependent on the evidence presented during your case, like testimony from medical experts, copies of medical bills, etc.
    When the insurance company or a judge or jury evaluates your case, they consider all evidence along with information such as:
    • Your age
    • The type of injury you suffered
    • And how your injury affects your life—including how it has impacted your ability to socialize, enjoy hobbies, and complete household chores and other everyday activities.

    At the end of the day, if you are like most people, there's nothing you wouldn't give to have your old, pre-injury life back again. Unfortunately, we cannot unwind the clock.  Compensation for pain and suffering, however, attempts to make up for the many hardships you have to endure.

    This is something we consider in every case and in advising you on an acceptable settlement or demand amount, both before and during litigation.

    We hope this helps you understand how these damages are considered in your case.  If you have any questions, please give us a call at 985-240-9773.

  • Who should pay my medical bills after I'm injured in a wreck? My health insurance or their car insurance?

    I'm Louisiana personal injury attorney Loyd Bourgeois. Here to answer a frequently asked question that we get here in our office.

    "Who pays the medical bills after you've been injured in an auto accident?"

    Often times, this is the most pressing question we get from clients. They're facing medical treatment and bills. They don't know exactly how to get them paid for. They don't want to have collections calling them. They don't really know what to do.

    Should I use my health insurance for my Louisiana car accident case?

    If you’ve been in a car accident in Louisiana, you’ve probably been asked by your health care providers whether you want to use your health insurance for your bills.  (Or perhaps a health care provider has refused to take your health insurance “because your treatment was due to an accident.”)  If you are lucky enough to have health insurance through your employer or through your spouse, you should absolutely use your health insurance to pay for your medical treatment and medical bills.  

    Now at the end of the day, they may have a subrogation claim against any recovery you getWhich Insurance Pays After an Accident?

    But in the short term, it is best to get the treatment that you need for your injuries through your medical insurance provider. Now you may ask, "Why? I thought the other party was responsible for paying for my medical bills." And, you would be right.

    Why does my health insurance have to get involved if the accident was someone else’s fault?

    The other party or insurance company will not pay for your medical bills as you incur them. They will basically wait until the case is fully resolved. Whether that be through a settlement or a judgment, to pay all the medical bills at one time, in one lump sum along with paying you for any pain and suffering.

    So, you may have to go years without any recovery from the other responsible party. During that time you're going to need treatment. So you should use your own insurance company to pay for your medical treatment and bills. That will include Medicare or Medicaid if you have that as well.

    When does the auto insurance come into play?

    Some people do purchase medical payments or med pay coverage through their own auto insurance, and if you do have that you can submit your bills through them to be reimbursed. Again, it probably won't be on an as you incur them basis right away, but you'll be able to get it reimbursed sooner. But they too may have a claim against any future recovery you may get as a result of your injury.

    Once you’ve fully recovered (or if you’re approaching the statute of limitations on your case), you will pursue your personal injury action. However, this can be far down the road (Louisiana has a 1-year statute of limitations/prescriptive period for most auto claims and 2 years for your UM coverage).

    Therefore, early in your case, you should focus on physically recovering and making sure that your bills are being submitted to your health insurance. Once you’ve got a sufficiently solid idea of what your injuries are, you can then pursue money from the defendant’s insurance company.

    What if the defendant doesn’t have enough insurance to cover my claim?

    If you’re lucky enough to have been following Loyd J. Bourgeois, LLC prior to your accident, you know we stress the importance of Under-Insured Motorist Coverage (UIM). If a defendant doesn’t have enough insurance, you can make a claim against your own policy. If you’ve bought enough to cover your claim, then you don’t have to worry.

    My health insurer sent me a letter about my Louisiana accident case. Why do they care?

    As we said above, you should have your health insurer pay your medical bills. However, in many instances, they have a right to be reimbursed for what they paid on your behalf IF you get money from the accident case.

    Keep in mind, however:

    1. The health insurer only gets paid what it pays out (generally health insurers get discounts for medical bills [so a $100 bill might only require $40 from a health insurer],
    2. The health insurer helped you keep your finances stable for you to have time to pursue your auto case, and
    3. You may be able to negotiate with your health insurer on the amount claimed and paid back to them. What’s more, not all health insurers will ask for reimbursement in all auto cases.

    But, I hope this answers your question about who pays for your medical bills after your auto accident. I'm Louisiana personal injury attorney Loyd Bourgeois. I trust you found this answer helpful.

    Quick Guide to Louisiana Accident and Injury ClaimsI've written a book Quick Guide to Louisiana Accident and Injury Claims. This is a helpful and informative guide that will lead you through some of the common mistakes that can wreck your personal injury claim.  Discover why you may not even need an attorney! Get answers to your questions about recorded statements, paying medical bills, getting your vehicle repaired, negotiating a settlement, and much more! Don't make a costly mistake that could cause you to accept a settlement that is too small to cover your medical bills and lost wages! You need to read this before you talk to an attorney or insurance adjuster.  I'd love to send you a copy. Just click here to receive your free copy of my book Quick Guide to Louisiana Accident and Injury Claims.

    Request Book

    If you're looking for help, do not hesitate to give us a call at 985-240-9773.  Our team is here to help you fight for the compensation you deserve after an injury.

  • Can You Get SSDI for Anxiety?

    As a Greater Metairie SSDI lawyer, I am often asked if a person can get social security disability because of an anxiety disorder.  The short answer is – yes, but it depends.

    Is Anxiety a Disability?

    To determine whether you are disabled by your anxiety disorder, Social Security will first consider whether your condition meets or equals a listing.  If so, you are considered disabled and entitled to benefits.  

    If your anxiety disorder, such as phobias, panic attacks, OCD or PTSD, is not severe enough to equal or meet a listing, Social Security will assess your residual functional capacity (RFCand determine whether you can perform your past relevant work or any other work.  This is known as Step 4 and Step 5 of the Sequential Evaluation Process.


    The listing for anxiety disorders is 12.06.

    The anxiety disorder must be either your predominant disturbance or experienced if you attempt to master your symptoms – for example, confronting the dreaded object or situation in a phobic disorder or resisting the obsessions or compulsions in obsessive-compulsive disorders.

    The required level of severity for anxiety disorder is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied, or when the requirements in both A and C are satisfied. You must satisfy the requirements of A.

    A. Medically documented findings of at least one of the following:

    1. Generalized persistent anxiety accompanied by three out of four of the following signs or symptoms:
      1. Motor tension; or
      2. Autonomic hyperactivity; or
      3. Apprehensive expectation; or
      4. Vigilance and scanning; or
    2. A persistent irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation which results in a compelling desire to avoid the dreaded object, activity, or situation; or
    3. Recurrent severe panic attacks manifested by a sudden unpredictable onset of intense apprehension, fear, terror, and sense of impending doom occurring on the average of at least once a week; or
    4. Recurrent obsessions or compulsions which are a source of marked distress; or
    5. Recurrent and intrusive recollections of a traumatic experience, which are a source of marked distress;


    B. Resulting in at least two of the following:

    1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
    2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
    3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
    4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.


    C. Resulting in the complete inability to function independently outside the area of one’s home.

    Part A requirements are associated with a specific anxiety disorder.  A(1) is for a generalized anxiety disorder.  A(2) is for phobias.  A(3) is for panic disorders.  A(4) is for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  A(5) relates to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  You need to have a medically documented finding of one of these disorders to meet the listing.

    Additionally, treatment by a licensed psychologist is preferred over treatment by only a family practitioner.  However, treatment by any medical doctor is better than no treatment at all.


    While there is a Listing for Anxiety Disorders that can qualify you for Social Security Disability, most people with anxiety issues do not meet the listing.  In these cases, the disability claim is evaluated by determining whether your residual functional capacity allows you to perform your past work and any other work.


    With an anxiety disorder, your residual functional capacity (RFC) will likely be a Mental RFC. 

    An RFC for mental impairments is expressed in terms of whether you can do skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled work in spite of impairments, or whether you cannot even do unskilled work.

    If you have a mental RFC saying you have the ability to perform unskilled work and have no additional physical impairments, you will face an uphill fight to have your claim approved.  Some factors can weigh into making your case better.  These include no more than a limited education; are close to retirement age; or a lifelong history of unskilled work that you can no longer perform.

    The reason for the denial is that the Social Security Administration will cite and identify many jobs that require only unskilled work that you can still perform.


    If you can show that you have a “marked” impairment in any of the abilities required for unskilled work, your SSDI claim has a much greater chance of being approved – even in the absence of any physical impairment.

    How do you show impairment of ability to perform unskilled work?  You need to show some limitations associated with:

    • Memory;
    • Following directions;
    • Maintaining focus;
    • Reliability;
    • Need for supervision;
    • Ability to work with others;
    • Decision making;
    • Ability to work at a consistent pace;
    • Handle changes;
    • Awareness.

    Development of evidence of the above and the associated limitations can be complicated and time-consuming.

    For example, how do you show memory deficit or your lack of decision-making skills?

    Information from family members about how you behave at home and in social situations can help. Specific work-setting information may be obtained from former supervisors or co-workers if available. Treating physicians may have made observations or have opinions regarding your ability to perform these basic capacities.

    9 Mistakes That Can Disable Your Social Security Disability Claim Book OfferIf you're preparing to apply for Social Security disability or appeal a claim denial, I've written a book 9 Mistakes that Can Disable Your Social Security Disability Claim. 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.

    A disability lawyer can help you develop a sufficient record and evidence to help show that your anxiety disorder limits your functional capacity to such an extent that you are not able to compete in jobs that may be available. If you have specific questions about your claim, contact disability attorney Loyd Bourgeois for a free consultation at 985-240-9773

  • What is the difference between Joint Custody and Sole Custody?

    These two terms are often misunderstood when the care and decision making concerns of children are at stake in a divorce or child custody case.  While often used, each has a very specific meaning under Louisiana Law!

    What is Sole Custody?

    Sole Custody vs Joint CustodySole Custody means one parent has the sole, legal care and decision-making ability for a child.

    Sole custody is rare and is usually limited to situations where one parent is unfit or incapable of having any form of responsibility for a child -- for example, due to drug addiction or evidence of child abuse.

    With sole custody, the other parent may have periods of visitation.

    What is Joint Custody?

    Joint Custody means both parents share the care and decision-making ability for a child.

    Joint custody is preferred in Louisiana.

    Even if one parent has more actual physical custody of a child than the other, the custody is likely joint, with each parent able to exercise parental rights during their periods of custody (not visitation).

    If you are going through a divorce or have questions about your custody agreement, give us a call at 985-240-9773.

  • Can a Partially Favorable ALJ decision be appealed? Can you lose your benefits?

    Many Social Security Disability applicants in the New Orleans area and beyond are confused when they receive a partially favorable decision. 

    Two common questions I hear are “Can I appeal a Partially Favorable decision by an ALJ?” and “If I appeal the decision, can I lose my awarded benefits?”.

    Should I appeal a partially favorable ALJ decision? Could I lose my disability benefits?A partially favorable decision occurs when the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) has granted you disability benefits, but not the full amount you requested.

    In the majority of partially favorable decisions, the ALJ finds that you are disabled, but moves your onset date to a later date than the one that you claimed.

    Moving the onset date can severely affect your back pay and your future monthly benefits. You lose out on the back pay for the months between your alleged onset date and the ALJ’s revised onset date. This could amount to a large sum of money.

    Additionally, if your onset is moved to a date beyond your date last insured, you may miss out on disability benefits altogether and be forced to accept only supplemental security benefits. The revised onset date may also reduce your monthly benefit.


    Yes. You have the right to appeal this decision to the Appeals Council. But there are risks.


    The AC will review the entire claim and determine if the proper decision was made. This means they will review the onset date and the disability determination. So, while the AC may agree with you that an earlier onset is appropriate, the AC could also disagree with the judge and find that the record does not support disability at all.


    No. You will not receive any benefits while awaiting the result of your appeal.


    If you are considering appealing a partially favorable decision, you should consult with a Social Security Disability attorney to discuss the pros and cons of an appeal in regard to the specifics of your case.

    If you have questions about your application or appeal, call New Orleans area disability lawyer, Loyd Bourgeois at 985-240-9773 or submit an online case evaluation and we will get back to you within one business day.

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  • What if there is much more damage to the vehicle that caused the accident than to your own car? How can that affect your case?

    Some jurors in accident cases believe in the myth that property damage equals injury.

    This means that jurors likely will believe that unless your vehicle sustained substantial property damage, you were not injured.

    Ironically, this commonly-held belief is refuted entirely by the body of medical and scientific evidence that has been developed over years regarding accidents and injuries.

    For example, in a rear-end collision where a car “rear ends” a truck that has a trailer hitch, often most of the property damage will be on the car that rear-ended the truck.

    This is why it is so important in these types of cases that your attorney promptly hires an expert to examine your vehicle to collect evidence that can be used to explain to the jury why one car has much more property damage the other.

    What if there's more damage to the at fault car in an accident?Our firm is working on a case where there was significant property damage to the car that rear-ended our client’s truck. However, the truck has minimal property damage because the car rear-ended our client’s truck right on the trailer hitch. The trailer hitch is attached directly to the frame of the vehicle so damage was far less to the truck than to the car who struck the truck. 

    The fact that the at-fault car had more damage than the truck does not mean that the at-fault party doesn't owe my client for his personal injury or for the property damage to his truck. 

    It is important in these cases to retain an experienced River Parishes Personal Injury attorney that can retain the right experts to help prove your claim and counter the jury's bias. 

    If you were injured in an accident where the other car received more damage than yours, give us a call at 985-240-9773 to discuss your specific situation.  Or you can use our contact form and someone from our office will be in touch with you shortly.