Law Office of Michael Tonder, P.C.

3040 S Alabama Ave.
Monroeville, AL 36460

P.O. Box 337
Excel, AL 36439‎

251.575.7177


Michael Tonder

18 Wheeler Accident

If you or a family member are unfortunate enough to be involved in an 18-wheeler or big truck accident in Monroeville, Alabama, or in southwest Alabama, there are many things you must do to make sure you are made right.

The injuries associated with 18-wheeler or big truck accidents are usually very severe. It might take surgeries, therapy, and rehab before you completely heal. The medical expenses can be very high. You will probably miss many days of work and your income will decrease. Your life will not resemble your life prior to the accident.

The trucking company’s insurance will offer a quick settlement that might seem like a lot of money. It’s not. Once you consider all of your doctor bills, ambulance rides, hospital bills, and wages lost, you realize that your case is worth much more than you are being offered.

What should you do? Obviously, I’m going to recommend that you call an attorney located in Monroeville, Alabama. Why? If you hire a local personal injury lawyer, the trucking company knows it can’t get away with injuring you. Lost in all the mounds of documents and evidence is usually that one thing that causes the trucking company or insurance company to sit up and take you seriously. A good attorney will find that evidence.

You never asked to be injured. Make sure everything is made right.

What to expect if you are in a car wreck

Don’t go it alone if you are injured in a car accident.

If you are injured in a car wreck while in Monroeville, Alabama, and it is not your fault, you will be contacted by the other party’s insurance company within a few days. The insurance company will act like it is your friend and that it wants to make everything right. Don’t believe it. The insurance company’s only obligation is to save as much money as it can. It is not worried about how the car wreck disrupted your life and whether your injury will have long-lasting consequences. The insurance company is hoping to make you go away by waiving a few dollars in your face.

What can you do? Obviously, I’m going to recommend that you call an attorney located in Monroeville, Alabama. Why? If you hire a local personal injury lawyer, the insurance company knows it will have to start making fair offers. It cannot keep low-balling you. It knows it will be held accountable.

You never asked to be injured. Make sure everything is made right.

Disabilty due to Seizures

Why is so difficult to be found disabled due to a seizure disorder?

People often call me with questions about disability due to a seizure disorder.  Usually the person has been denied benefits and they are upset because the seizure disorder disrupts their life and they believe they cannot work.

I tell them that Social Security is extremely skeptical of someone filing a claim for benefits due to seizures.  In fact, Social Security takes the view that it is usually the claimant’s fault that their seizure disorder is disabling.   Social Security Ruling 87-6 clearly states:

“Situations where the seizures are not under good control are usually due to the individual’s noncompliance with the prescribed treatment rather than the ineffectiveness of the treatment itself. Noncompliance is usually manifested by failure to continue ongoing medical care and to take medication at the prescribed dosage and frequency. Determination of blood levels of anticonvulsive drugs may serve to indicate whether the prescribed medication is being taken. In a substantial number of cases, use of alcohol has been found to be a contributory basis for the individual’s failure to properly follow prescribed treatment.”

So how do you overcome Social Security’s mindset? I advise my clients to:

1. Create a seizure log.

2. Get statements from people who have witnessed your seizures.

3. Take your medicine and make your doctor appointments.  This is vital.  If you are taking your medications and still having seizures, your doctor will more than likely check your blood to see if your medication levels are ideal.

4. Do not drink alcohol.


Remember, you have the burden of proving you are disabled.

False claim of U.S. citizenship leads to nothing but trouble.

Here lately, I have had to break bad news to people seeking to adjust their status. It usually is because that person falsely asserted U.S. citizenship to their employer.

There is basically one cardinal sin in immigration. Never, EVER, claim to be a U.S. citizen if you are not one. This comes up a lot when an alien states on an I-9 Employment Verification Form that they are a U.S. citizen.  They eventually file for adjustment of status and USCIS reviews the documentation and notices that the applicant lied on the I-9.  USCIS takes this offense seriously and more than likely the applicant will be deported.   There are very few defenses if USCIS seeks to deport someone because they falsely claimed to be a citizen.

Please contact me if you have any questions about an I-9 form or adjustment of status.

The VA denied your claim for service connection. Now what?

While you were in service, you tweaked your left knee.  You only went to the doctor a few times to get it checked out while you were in service. You are not the type of person who complains a lot. You told your buddies when your knee hurt and also complained to your spouse every now and then about it.

You have now been out for five years.  Your knee has started hurting more often.  You eventually see an orthopedist and he recommended surgery for your left knee. You heard some of your old buddies talk about how they are getting compensated for their service-connected impairments.  You decided to apply for benefits because it was obvious that your condition was connected.  You applied.

A few months later you received a Rating Decision that denied your claim.  The VA examiner thought paucity of medical records from when you were in service did not show a connection to your current knee condition.  You were in disbelief, and angry.

What can you do to make sure this decision is corrected? What are you options?

To begin with, you have to realize there is a one-year deadline if a veteran wants to appeal a Rating Decision.  To appeal, the veteran files a Notice of Disagreement with the Regional Office that sent the Rating Decision.  The Notice of Disagreement just has to let the VA know you disagree with their Decision.  There are not many formalities for a Notice of Disagreement.

If you have not already done so, you should also ask the VA for a copy of your file. This contains all the evidence the VA used in deciding your claim.   You should get all of your current medical records and also ask if your current orthopedist will look over your service medical records and opine as to whether your complaints from years ago are as likely as not to be the cause of your current problems.

You will eventually get a chance to tell the VA your side of the story.  It is never too early to start preparing.

Average Wait Times Before Hearing

The most common question asked by disability claimants is “how long will it take for a hearing?” Throughout the years the waiting period has fluctuated.  Currently, the Mobile, Alabama Office of Disability Adjudication and Review takes an average of one year to decide a claim. http://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/01_NetStat_Report.html Remember, this is the time period from when the Request for Hearing is filed until decision, and not the time period from when you initially apply.

During this waiting period, it is best to see your doctor and submit any and all evidence connected to your disability appeal.   There are also mechanisms that allow the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to review your case and determine whether it can be approved without having a hearing.  Usually, this requires submission of evidence that overwhelmingly supports your claim.  Keep in mind that some ALJ’s rarely issue a decision without having a hearing and that your case is randomly assigned to an ALJ.  As with many things, the amount of time you have to wait for a decision can sometimes be determined by the luck of the draw.

Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

Earlier in this blog, we discussed how Social Security evaluates a doctor’s opinion in the context of a disability claim. Unfortunately, there are many people that never see an actual Medical Doctor (M.D,) when they go to a clinic. Instead, they see a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) or a Physician’s Assistant (PA).

In the real word, for many patients there is practically no difference between an M.D. and a CRNP/PA. Each comes into the room, examines you, and prescribes medicine. For purposes of a disability claim, there is a huge difference between an M.D., and a CRNP/PA. Under the Social Security regulations, the agency has to consider an MD’s opinion differently: an MD’s opinion is entitled to the most deference. Although the agency can defer to the opinion of a CRNP/PA, the agency can also discard a CRNP/PA opinion much easier than an MD’s opinion.

With that said, it must be stressed that the disability claimant continue to get medical treatment, even if they can only afford to go to a clinic and see a CRNP/PA. The Administrative Law Judge might be willing to adopt the CRNP/PA opinion if it is consistent with the medical records. Most Administrative Law Judges are aware of the different clinics in the area and that not everyone sees a doctor when they visit a clinic.

I have a conditional green card and my spouse wants to leave me.

I often get calls with the following fact pattern.  A  U.S. citizen marries a foreigner (“spouse”).  The U.S. citizen sponsors the spouse and a conditional green card is issued.  Before it is time to remove the conditions, the U.S. citizen and spouse have a falling out.  Now the spouse is worried that the U.S. citizen will not help them remove the conditions on their conditional green card.  What can they do?

Hopefully, the couple will find a way to work things out. If they can’t, the spouse can still get the conditions removed without the help of the U.S. citizen.   If the couple divorces, the spouse can file a divorce waiver with USCIS.  The spouse will still need to show the marriage was entered into in good faith.  It will also help if the foreign spouse’s actions were not the cause of the divorce.

What to do BEFORE filing a disability claim

A Social Security Disability Insurance Benefit (“DIB”) or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) claim can be a life altering experience.  If the claim is awarded, the disabled person will receive monetary benefits plus medical insurance.  Although a person will not get rich from disability, it is better than having zero income and being uninsured.   It is important to put your best foot forward if you are thinking of filing an application for disability.  Here are some tips I give people if they are thinking about filing a claim:

Try to save enough income to cover living expenses for a year.  Sometimes it takes over a year before an application is approved.

Try to keep your medical insurance for as long as you can.

Talk to your doctor about a potential disability claim before your insurance expires.  It might be difficult to see your doctor once your insurance expires.

Try to get all scans, x-rays, and lab work done before your insurance expires.

Obtain letters from former employers detailing how your medical condition affected your job performance.

 

These are a few tips I tell people if they are thinking about filing a disability application.