Author: perrylawoffice

Why have a Lawyer help with your Social Security Disability Claims?

Being found disabled has never been easy. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has 4 stages in the application process for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The 4 Stages are: 

  1.  Filing an Application for Social Security Disability Benefits/Supplemental Security Income;
  2.  If denied you then file a Request for Reconsideration;
  3. If your Request for Reconsideration is denied  you file a Request for Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ); and
  4. If you receive an unfavorable decision from an ALJ you may appeal the unfavorable decision with the Appeals Council (AC).

Number of applicants winning their disability is decreasing:

Over the years less and less applicants filing for disability have received disability at the Hearing level in front of an ALJ (after step 3). And even fewer have received disability benefits prior to this stage. The average approval rate has dropped to around 36% nationally.  In the past the approval rate has been above 50% at the hearing level. Unfortunately approval rate appears to be continuing to decrease. The trend is less and less people are being approved for disability benefits.

Why you need an Attorney:

The lesson to be learned is if you are seeking disability benefits from the SSA, you need all the help you can get. After an initial denial, it is wise to engage the services of an attorney who practices Social Security Disability law. This is not a guarantee of success, but it does increase the odds. Once you receive a denial you have a strict time frame to file an appeal. An experienced attorney will help guide you through the appeals process and ensure your medical record is updated. As each Social Security Hearing Office is different, a local attorney will have a feel for the various local judges and may have some additional insight that is helpful.

If you have been denied Social Security Disability, call the trusted lawyers at Perry Law Office.

 

Landlord 101 – General rules all Landlords should be aware of

Partial Payments: 

In general if a Landlord wants to evict someone who has not paid rent, they should not accept any future rent. Acceptance of rent, even partial rent, could prevent a landlord from receiving an order of possession from the Court or from the Sheriff enforcing such an order during the Writ process.

Personal Property Left in Unit:

Allen County has a local rule regarding personal property left in a rental unit after the Landlord regains possession. A landlord must send a letter, giving a Tenant 14 days to remove their belongings.

Security Deposit Letter:

Some refer to this as the 45 Day Letter. Once a Landlord regains possession of the unit/house they MUST send a letter itemizing how the security deposit was applied to damages or back rent. If there is any deposit left, the letter must also include a check for the remaining amount. This needs to be sent to the forwarding address provided by the tenant.

Prorate carpet:

In Allen County the court requires that a Landlord prorate carpet to a 7 year life span. To do this a Landlord needs to have a copy of the invoice when the carpet was originally installed (for the install date) and an invoice for the newly installed carpet (for the install date and cost). The Landlord may only charge for the remaining life of the carpet, not the entire replacement cost of the carpet. Creating a Carpet Prorate sheet to show how you came to this amount is highly suggested and in most cases required.

 

Some of these Rules are solely for the Allen County, Indiana area. Many courts treat the above slightly different and may have their own local rules. Please contact your local court or attorney for the common practices/rules in your area. Facts and history between the Landlord and Tenant may also change the actual outcome.  Perry Law Office can help with your eviction needs.

Collecting on a Debt is NOT as Easy as It May Seem

 

I got my Judgment, now what?

There is a misconception that getting a money judgment against someone, means they will pay you. In general this is NOT the case. We, at Perry Law Office, have found that on average it can take up to two (2) years to collect on a judgment depending on the various circumstances and how old the debt is. There are of course those rare circumstances when you get paid immediately upfront. But in most circumstances that is not the case.Getting the money judgment is only the first step.

How do I find assets to collect from?

Debtors, tend to move. Debtors, tend to switch jobs. Debtors, tend to be unwilling to voluntarily pay a debt they owe. Debt Collection takes some time and hard work. Finding employment, personal assets, or bank accounts can be very difficult. Not to mention, finding the debtor and getting proper service in order to enforce your claim against them. There are many methods and ways to find the location of a debtor, bank accounts, or where they are employed. Companies offer services to do just that. However, this cost money to hire the company or to buy the program, plus the time to do the legwork.

What can a collection attorney do for you?

The experienced staff and attorneys at Perry Law Office are equipped to find these debtors and collect from them. We can find where they are working and garnish their wages, levy on their bank account, or set up voluntary payments.  Perry Law Office and similar collection attorneys have methods and processes in place to efficiently and effectively collect on debt.

How do I pay an attorney?

If someone owes you money and you are not sure how to collect, hire an experienced debt collection attorney to help you collect the money that is owed to you. Hiring an attorney is not as painful as you may believe. In most cases, you do NOT have to pay the attorney any attorney fees. Normally collection attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning if they do NOT collect, you do not owe the attorney anything.

 

Contact Perry Law Office an experienced Fort Wayne debt collection attorney today. Call our Fort Wayne, Indiana law firm at (260) 483-3110 to discuss legal collection services at any stage of delinquency. We offer retail (consumer) and commercial (business to business) Debt Collections.

Key Terms You need to know for Debt Collection

 

If you owed money and are thinking about filing a lawsuit to attempt to collect, here are some key terms to become familiar with:

  • Debt/Delinquent Account/Deficiency amount: This is what someone owes you. The amount of money a person or company owes you.
  • Debtor/Defendant: This is the person who owes you money.
  • Creditor/Plaintiff/Client: This is the person who is owed the money.
  • Court Costs/Filing Fees: This term is used to explain the cost of filing the lawsuit and paying for service of court pleadings to the debtor.
  • Private Process Server/Sheriff Service/Certified Mail: These are methods to serve a debtor the legal pleadings. The type of service to use depends on certain facts and situations.
  • Contingency Fee: This is a fee structure where the attorney and creditor split the amount collected. Attorney does not get a fee unless monies are collected. This is the most common fee agreement between collection attorneys and clients.
  • Statute of Limitations (SOL): This is a the deadline to file a lawsuit. Each type of debt has a different deadline to file a lawsuit. If you miss that deadline, you are not eligible to file suit against the person or entity who owes you money. Some SOL are very short so do not sit on the debt and not do anything. Depending on the debt, the SOL starts at different times. Most common is date last payment made.
  • Judgment: This is the decision of the court on whether a person owes someone money or not. The Judge/Magistrate can give a judgment for Creditor stating the Debtor owes $X or could rule in favor of the Debtor.
  • Judge/Magistrate: A judge is elected. A magistrate is appointed by a Judge and usually handles less complicated cases. Most Small Claims courts have Magistrates vs Judges. Both can give final judgment.

Contact Perry Law Office an experienced Fort Wayne debt collection attorney today. Call our Fort Wayne, Indiana law firm at (260) 483-3110 to discuss legal collection services at any stage of delinquency. We offer retail (consumer) and commercial (business to business) Debt Collections.

 

Basics of Indiana Collection Law

What is Small Claims?

If you are owed money and the person or entity that owes you refuses to  pay you will have to make the decision whether or not you want to take the matter to court to enforce collection of the monies owed to you. In Indiana for claims involving $6,000 or less ($8,000 or less in Marion County Indiana), there is a simplified procedure for filing a lawsuit in what is called Small Claims Court. The filing fee generally changes slightly from year to year but it should be around $90. You may even file a request that the filing fee be waived based on financial need. Most courts in Indiana are going to e-filing. As a pro-se plaintiff, you are able to file at court or online. But that law could change in the future.

Advantages of Small Claims:

The advantage to filing in Small Claims Court is a faster route to trial if a trial is necessary. In addition to a streamlined process for obtaining a judgment, Small Claims Court is also designed for a streamlined process for the collection of the judgment. If a trial is required then it usually can be scheduled in a relatively short period of time. One month up to six months. This is a much quicker time frame in which to get in front of a judge than you would have in a court outside of Small Claims Court. Many claims are reduced to judgment without the need for a trial and in that case, you might have a judgment within 2 months after filing the lawsuit. The rules of evidence are also relaxed, allowing for a more conversational presentation of your claim, vs worrying about the proper method of submitting your evidence proving the debt is owed.

I have Judgment, now what?

Obtaining a money judgment against the person or entity that owes you money is often the easiest part of the process. You then have to collect on the Judgment the court provided to you. This is not automatic. Just because you have a judgment does not mean the person or entity that owes on the judgment will voluntarily pay.

In Indiana, the most common form of collecting on a judgment once one is obtained is through the garnishment of wages. The wage garnishment statutes in Indiana are favorable for creditors. An employer will be required to pay a percentage of an employee’s wages into the court if they receive the proper paperwork from the Judgment creditor. The formula that is used is 25% of net income (net income is take-home wages after deducting only taxes and Social Security withholding’s). If the Judgment debtor takes home less than $217.50 per week, which is 30 hours at minimum wage of $7.25 then nothing is taken from their wages on a garnishment. If they make between $217.50 and $290 the entire amount over $217.50 up to $290 is taken as garnishment. If their net income is over $290 then 25% of their wages are garnished. This formula is provided to employers on the paperwork they receive from the court instructing them to garnish the employee’s wages to satisfy the judgment. There can be other considerations such as support payments and independent contractor issues that could change this formula.

What if a debtor has multiple garnishments?

First in time pays. If your garnishment is taking the max 25%, any other garnishments filed after yours has to wait until yours is paid in full. This also works against you, if you are behind another garnishment. This is also where the streamlined process of Small Claims may help you get to a garnishment sooner and beat out other creditors.

Contact Perry Law Office an experienced Fort Wayne debt collection attorney today. Call our Fort Wayne, Indiana law firm at (260) 483-3110 to discuss legal collection services at any stage of delinquency. We offer retail (consumer) and commercial (business to business) Debt Collections.

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS A WINDFALL OFFSET IN SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY?

Many times people who file for disability with the Social Security Administration (SSA) have claims for both Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Also, many times, the person who is found disabled is really only entitled to, at most, five months of past due SSI benefits. Yet, SSA will start off paying the person many more months of SSI to which they are not really entitled. When SSA tries to figure what you are owed in past due DIB, they reduce that amount by what you have been overpaid in SSI. This is called the windfall offset.

Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? But it is not. SSA withholds the past due DIB until the offset is calculated. In about a twenty-one percent (21%) of the time it is not calculated at all and another thirty-one percent (31%) of the time it is not done in a timely manner. Two percent (2%) of the time it is done incorrectly. Only about forty-five percent (45%) of the time are things done properly. This can be very confusing to individuals receiving disability benefits. It can also make it difficult for the disabled person to receive all past due benefits to which they are entitled.

At Perry Law Office, after we help a person obtain a favorable decision that they are disabled, we follow their claim in an effort to see that all past due benefits are properly paid.

 

WHAT HAPPENS TO MY CLAIM IF THE PERSON THAT OWES ME MONEY DIES?

If someone owes you money (a debtor), does your claim die with that person?

The short answer is NO, however you have a limited time to act and preserve your right. This does not mean you are going to get paid as this will depend on the decedent’s assets but it allows you the option of getting paid.

 

Time-frame/Deadline to file Claim

Indiana Law provides creditors with a very short window of opportunity to present a claim against a deceased debtor. Indiana code  29-1-14-1 provides that all claims against a deceased person are barred if not filed within nine (9) months after the date death. This means that you must file a claim in the debtor’s estate within nine (9) months of the date of  their death.

  • It does not matter if you were not notified.
  • It does not matter if an estate was not opened for the debtor.

What if no Estate is opened?

If an estate was not opened for the debtor you would need to take action to have an estate opened in order to file your claim. Obviously doing this might not be economically feasible unless your claim is substantial and you believe or know that the debtor might have assets sufficient to cover the amount of your claim. You would have to pay any filing fees or other associated costs, if any. By doing this you are hoping the debtor has sufficient money to pay all expenses ahead of yours (administrative expenses, other creditors who may be head of you, ie, mortgage company). This may not be known until you open the estate and file your claim.

What if an Estate is opened?

If an estate has been opened and you find out about the estate within the nine (9) month period you can file a claim for the money the deceased owed you. However, there could be another roadblock. Normally when an attorney opens an estate for a decedent they publish notice of the opening of the estate in a local newspaper and notify by letter the known creditors of the decedent. You only have three (3) months from the date of first publication in the newspaper of the notice to file a claim. This could be less than  nine (9) months from the date of death.

If a person that owes you money dies, your best chance of recovery is to immediately contact an attorney knowledgeable in filing claims in estates.

 

 

WHAT DOES A PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF AN ESTATE NEED TO DO TO GET STARTED?

Who is a Personal Representative?

A Personal Representative is a gender-neutral legal term used in Indiana and is the person(s) named to wrap up a deceased’s affairs and distribute the assets. Other states may refer to this person as the Executor (male) or executrix (female) of the Estate. If the Decedent had a Will, they typically would have named their choice for Personal Representative in this document. Once the estate is opened with the court, the court will officially approve the Personal Representative, thus giving them the authority to handle the affairs and assets of the decedent.

What does a Personal Representative have to do?

There are several things you are tasked with handling, while some of them may not seem difficult, they can be time-consuming and hiring an attorney may help.

1.     Locate the Will and determine how distribution of assets is to go. This is more involved than just               finding the assets and handing them out to the heirs, and there are time frames that should be                   followed. Must probate the Will.

2.     Locate and secure all assets making sure they are locked, insured, and harbored in a safe place.             This includes securing the house, vehicles, bank accounts, and personal belongings.

3.     Keep the utilities and mortgage paid, but cancel the non-essentials like cable, dish, internet and                 the newspaper.

4.    Open an estate bank account.

5.    Review all bills, and determine what must be paid now.

6.    Determine if tax returns must be filed.

7.    Everything must be kept separate than the Personal Representative’s assets.

8.    Determine all heirs to inherit under the Will. Get approval by all to close the estate and distribute                the funds.

9.   Adhere to deadlines set by the court to close the estate and file certain documents.

10.   You as Personal Representative could have personal liability if handled incorrectly.

This is not an exhaustive list of the duties of a Personal Representative and every case is different.

Having an experienced attorney guide you through the process helps ensure you do not miss something important and can answer any questions that may arise. 

 

Where are your Assets?

 

HAVE YOU “MAPPED OUT” YOUR ASSETS FOR YOUR HEIRS?

You probably have a Last Will and Testament describing how assets are to be distributed, but have you made a list of where those assets can be found?

 

You want to make sure your family is able to locate everything you have worked so very hard for. An asset inventory is a simple list which makes it easier on your loved ones by telling them exactly where to find all your assets and various accounts.

What are my assets?

Assets are tangible and intangible things you own or have a right to when alive or after you die. You may have numerous bank accounts with different banking institutions, cash, collectibles, online accounts, emails, retirement plans, (life) insurance policies, and perhaps even receive “paperless” statements only via email. It is a good idea to leave a list of passwords, account numbers and locations. Your asset inventory may include:

  • Bank and investment accounts
  • Safe Deposit Box
  • Insurance and annuity policies
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Deeds and titles
  • Retirement Accounts (IRA, 401K, etc.)
  • Life Insurance policies (any post-death benefits)
  • Cash, jewelry, valuables
  • Email and online accounts with passwords.
  • Certain bills or premiums you pay may also be included
  • Combinations to a safe or location of a safe key

What does this matter?

This is a very important Estate Planning step that most people forget about. Doing this very simple step, could save your loved ones hours of time and energy trying to locate and organize all your various assets. Plus it will ensure all your assets are accounted for. Once you die, holders of most of these assets have knowledge of your death or even if they did, an obligation to notify your heir that the asset exact. This huge responsibly falls onto your Personal Representative (or Executor of your Will). This is the person you named in your Will to collect, manage, and distribute your assets and pay your last bills.

What do I do after I “Map my assets”?

After you have mapped it all out, tell a loved one where you are going to keep the list. Generally you keep it in your safe along with your Will and other important documents (remember you should give someone the combination to your safe or a way to access it). Remember to periodically update your asset inventory, and always update your Will with major life events.

Call Perry Law Office now and our experienced attorneys will help you decide if now is the time to make changes to your Will or help you with your other Estate Planning needs.

 

WHY YOU SHOULD NOT DRAFT A WILL ONLINE

There are many websites where you can draft your Will, but do you really know what you are getting?

Always remember, you get what you pay for.

Before you have some website create important Estate Planning documents for you, consider the following:

1. Generic Documents

Many of the sites offer generic documents that are intended to be a “one size fits all”. When it comes to estate planning, this is not the time for you to try on a “one size fits all” document. You may have very specific needs that cannot be addressed in the generic document. What if you want to leave someone out of your will? What if you want to leave a specific item to someone? What if you want to make sure if a child predeceases you that your grandchild gets their share? These documents are often templates and may or may not allow you to address your questions and concerns.

2. Every state has different legal requirements.

Each state has its own inheritance tax laws, as well as certain requirements to make a valid Will. Are you confident that the generic forms cover your state’s requirements? In Indiana, you must be 18 years old, of sound mind and the Will must be signed by two disinterested witnesses. The website does not offer you witnesses to sign your Will, so even when you are done printing there are still steps to be followed to make sure the Will is valid.

3. Consulting an attorney?

Many of these sites do not have an attorney walking you through the process, or even offer to have an attorney contact you before drafting your documents. If you have questions there is little guidance. Often you will even find a disclaimer that this is not to be considered legal advice. Who will you ask the important questions of what can I and what can’t I put in a Will? Or how do leave or specifically not leave someone, something? What is best for you, based on your current martial, familiar, or financial situation? There are various types of Wills and Trusts, depending on your specific needs that you should consider before choosing a Will.

4. Making changes.

Many times your Will is not retained by the website and any changes you may want to make requires you to start over. Before you make those changes, are they even necessary? The website will not be able to advise you on whether changes are necessary or not.

5. You retain your own Will. Sounds great, right?

What happens if you spill your morning coffee on the file you just safely placed your Will in? What happens if you have a fire? Or the safe with your Will was just stolen? Your original Will is now gone and cannot be replaced. You will have to go online and start over, and probably pay the cost again to recreate it. Most courts require the original Will, not a copy in order to probate it. As a courtesy to our client’s, we retain your original Will in a fire proof safe, and you are welcome to it at any time.

6. Other essential Estate Planning documents.

Along with a Will, do you have a Power of Attorney? Did you know a Will only kicks in after death? What if you or your significant other becomes incapacitated? Who will make your, financial and medical decisions? These are documents we strongly suggest everyone have. See if the website you are one explains the need for a Power of Attorney and that there are different types, financial and health care. An experienced attorney can explain each of these to you and when and how they may come into play, to help you make an informed decision on whether you need them or not.

 

We are experienced attorneys at Perry Law Office and offer free phone consultations. We will happily walk you through the process and answer all of your questions and resolve any of your issues. We then draft your Estate Planning documents to fit your individual needs.

Wills, Financial Power of Attorneys, Health Care Power of Attorneys, and Living Wills, are important documents and choosing the right combination of estate planning documents can be daunting. Do you need all of these? Maybe? Let’s talk about it and decide what is the appropriate for your current needs. There are also reasons that arise that would cause you to update your plan, and you should be reviewing it with every major life change. Since our attorneys have been working with you from the beginning, they will help you make changes to your plan with ease and advise you on whether an updated Will or Power of Attorney is necessary for you.

Perry Law Office, your local Fort Wayne attorneys. Call us today, 260-483-3110