Bankruptcy: Legal Solution to Regaining Financial Freedom

Mar 28

Loss of job and lesser chances of finding a high-paying one are two major effects of unstable economy. Anyone who loses the privilege of earning good income can lose the chance of maintaining his/her life style; it can also affect his/her capability to pay all his/her bills, including credit card billings and other monthly bills. Next to failure in payment of monthly bills is most likely financial worries as this will result to the increasing debts that may soon become hard, if not impossible, to manage.

This is one common situation to thousands of Americans. For like a chronic disease that develops and worsens overtime, so too do debts, becoming too overwhelming and impossible to settle.

After only two to three months of failure to make payments, especially car loans and mortgages, banks and credit card companies would already consider a person’s loan or account as bad debt. This would most likely be referred to a collection agency, which will do anything, even resort to harassing tactics to make a debtor pay.

Crushing debts have caused many individuals so much worry and stress, besides having ruined many families and professional relationships. Debts, however, are not unsolvable problems, for the law offers legal means that will enable individuals with overwhelming debts to address their debts and regain control of their financial situation. One such legal alternative is bankruptcy, a legal declaration of one’s inability to settle personal or business loans. One immediate beneficial effect of filing for bankruptcy is that once it is filed in court, all attempts by agencies to collect debt payments will be stopped (a protection “automatic stay”). Creditors will also lose any right to have a debtor’s salary garnished or his/her bank account levied.

There are different Chapters of Bankruptcies that a person may apply for, depending on his/her financial standing, work or assets and properties. These are

  • Chapter 7, also known as liquidation bankruptcy. Through this chapter, a person is enabled to pay his/her non-dischargeable debts through the liquidation of some of his/her non-exempt assets. With regard to business firms, these will need to cease operations, as a court-appointed trustee will need to sell or liquidate their entire assets. Residual proceeds, after having paid all creditors, will be returned to individual debtors or business owners;
  • Chapter 11, or business reorganization. The business owner usually acts as a trustee (if the court does not appoint one). He/She also becomes a debtor-in-possession since the law allows continuous operation of his/her business;
  • Chapter 12, which is designed for farmers and fishermen with a regular annual income and who own the whole or more than half of the farming/fishing business; and,
  • Chapter 13, which allows a debtor to make a three-year or five-year proposal through which to pay his/her debts.

Very helpful information to those with overwhelming debts is shared by the Amerio Law Firm. According to this firm, “When you are facing overwhelming debts and dealing with non-stop creditor calls, filing bankruptcy may be your best option.

The benefits of bankruptcy are clear:

  • Completely discharge your unsecured debts through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or
  • Work out an effective repayment plan over the course of 3 to 5 years
  • Stop harassing creditor calls
  • Stop wage garnishments, bank levies, property liens, and foreclosures
  • Get your financial freedom
  • Re-build your credit

Bankruptcy can certainly be the financial solution to your current situation. However, if you do not qualify for a bankruptcy, or may be struggling with the idea of filing bankruptcy, an experienced bankruptcy lawyer will be able to provide you alternative solutions, including debt negotiation or tax services.

Read More

Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Dec 22

More than 15,000 registered nursing home facilities in the U.S. offer care and shelter to at least 1.5 million elders, mentally incapacitated young adults, patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and victims of accidents requiring therapy and rehabilitation. Though sending a loved one to a nursing home, where his/her needs is believed will be provided, is a common practice, many Americans are beset by worries due to widespread news of abuses committed to nursing home residents.

The most common reported abuses committed against elders include emotional abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse and sexual abuse, the most wicked of all types of abuses. Mistreating elders and other residents sexually can be done through many different ways. It can be through fondling, showing of pornographic materials, forced nudity, forcing another resident to kiss or touch the victim and, worst of all, forced penetrative acts.

Many nursing homes reason out that they do not have enough number of nurse aides, staff and/or registered nurses, thus their employees are often overworked, tired and fatigued from all the needs and requests of residents which seem to be endless.

Sexual abuse is usually never immediately obvious, but being really observant of sudden changes in a resident’s behavior may just manifest the fact that something is wrong. Sexually abused residents typically:

  • Begin to display low self-esteem;
  • Avoid having eye contact with other residents;
  • Stop speaking openly, to hide the abuses they are suffering from;
  • Start feeling hopeless, disturbed, or afraid;
  • Become depressed and withdrawn; and,
  • Begin to show abrupt mood swings

While injuries or any kind of harm sustained by residents in a nursing home facility may be considered a personal injury and, thus, deserving compensation, the act of abuse itself is considered a criminal act, deserving harsh punishments.

In the website of the law firm Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, it is said that “Allegations of sexual abuse are serious and will need to be duly investigated by the appropriate authorities. That being said, you need to take immediate action to protect your loved one if you suspect he or she has experienced unwanted or otherwise non-consensual sexual contact.”

Read More

The Supplemental Security Income Program Cash Benefits: Who Can Receive These?

Oct 13

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers four major types of benefits:

  • Disability benefits;
  • Retirement benefits;
  • Benefits for spouses and/or other survivors of a family member who has passed; and,
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

The first two are benefits given to Social Security members or employees (and to family members of employees, as in the case of the third type of benefits) who have worked in jobs covered by Social Security and who have earned the number of credits required by the SSA. A maximum of four Social Security credits are earned annually through payment of Social Security taxes. These taxes, which are identified as Federal Insurance Contributions Act “FICA,” payments, are automatically deducted in employees’ monthly take home pay.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or State Supplementary Payment (SSP), on the other hand, offers cash assistance payments to:

  • Adults who are disabled and have limited income and resources;
  • Children who are disabled and who have limited income and resources; and,
  • Individuals at least 65 years old who may be without any disability, but who meet the financial limits set under the federal benefit rate (FBR).

This cash assistance payment is meant to provide for its recipients’ basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. For SSI purposes, the word “disabled,” is defined as physical or mental impairment and emotional or learning problems that:

  • Have lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months;
  • Can be expected to result to severe functional limitations (in the case of children) or in the inability to perform any substantial gainful activity (in the case of adults); and,
  • Can be expected to result in the disabled person’s death.

With regard to the words “income” and “resources,” “income” refers to :money earned from work; money received from Social Security benefits, Workers Compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs, unemployment benefits, friends or relatives; and, free food or shelter. “Resources refers to things personally owned, like cash, bank accounts, U.S. savings bonds, stocks, life insurance, land, vehicles, personal property, and whatever can be converted to cash and used for food or shelter.

As explained by an Indianapolis Social Security Disability lawyer of the Hankey Law Office, the Social Security system offers a special form of financial assistance for people who are elderly, injured, or ill as well as impoverished. However, applying for SSI benefits can be daunting due to the practice of evaluators to reject applications even for minor errors. The many requirements and the complex application process may bear faster and more positive results if these are to be entrusted to a seasoned SSI claims lawyer.

Read More

How Much Cash Benefit does Workers’ Compensation Award to Injured Workers?

Jul 05

Workers who sustain job-related injuries or who develop an occupational illness can file a claim for benefits with the Workers’ Compensation, also known as Workers’ Comp. Cash benefits will cover cost of medical treatment and hospitalization, wage replacement, rehabilitation, retraining, disability, and death (which includes payment of benefits to survivors of the worker killed on the job). The usual wage replacement is two/thirds of the injured worker’s average wage; however, there is a fixed maximum amount set by states so that the benefits will not go over it.

Workers’ Compensation is an insurance-like program that is mandated and administered by the state. It is designed to provide immediate financial benefits to workers regardless of who was at fault for the injury or illness. Because it is almost exclusively financed by employers, it, therefore, serves as a sort of an exchange wherein injured employees, by choosing to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits, automatically waive their right to sue their employer for additional compensation.

There are limits, by the way, to the types of injuries paid under the Workers’ Comp program. As a rule, benefits will never be paid to workers whose injury was self-inflicted, who were intoxicated at the time of the injury, or whose injury was a result of actions in violation of the law or company policy.

At only two/thirds of the injured worker’s average wage, the amount of monetary benefit that Workers’ Comp awards to injured workers is really low. This amount is definitely not enough, especially if the injury leads to temporary or permanent disability, or a severe chronic illness. Workers’ Comp also does not pay compensation for injured workers’ pain and suffering; it also makes no provision for punitive damages, which would serve as punishment to an employer for failing to eliminate dangerous conditions in the workplace in order to ensure safety of employees.

Despite the low amount of cash benefit, many injured workers greatly rely on Workers’ Comp to save themselves and their families from disabling financial conditions. But worse than the receiving an inadequate amount is not receiving anything at all due to denial of claims, a situation experienced by so many injured workers. The law firm Scudder & Hedrick, PLLC, very strongly emphasizes the right of qualified injured workers to receive the benefits that is legally theirs. Thus, it advises injured workers to seek legal assistance from highly-skilled Workers’ Compensation lawyers, who may be able to help make sure that their application for claims is not denied.

Read More

Coping with the Loss of Independence & Solutions to Maintain Independence

Mar 01

It is difficult to know that a loved one is reaching a point in their life and health where they are no longer safe and secure living on their own. This loss of independence is assuredly frustrating for them, as an adult who was able to take care of themselves before changes to their health. Your loved one may suddenly become completely dependent on you to provide stable care for them. This can be extremely disruptive of your life, but the best method of coping with this change is to maintain patience with your loved one. They need your support through this transitionary phase in their life as they come to terms with the changes that need to take place.

According to SeniorAdvice.com, studies have shown that many older adults fear losing independence more than they fear death. Remaining patient is very important as this process unfolds, but another simple way to help your loved one cope is to be there for conversation. Providing a listening ear to your loved one in concern to their fears and concerns not only brings them comfort, but brings the two of your closer to an understanding of how to handle the situation together.

Perhaps your loved one is still in good enough health to maintain some sort of autonomy. There are solutions that provide a sense of security and assistance to your loved one that still allow for them to remain somewhat independent. Here are two options:

  • Home healthcare: Promotes normalcy, allowing the patient to remain at home and receive care daily or on a more part-time basis from a nurse who comes to them
  • Independent living communities: Offer social benefits and readily available medical care to seniors that can no longer safely live alone, but can still perform many if not most everyday tasks for themselves
Read More