Law Office of Michael Tonder, P.C.

65 Pineville Road, Suite 2
Monroeville, AL 36460

P.O. Box 337
Excel, AL 36439‎


Monthly Archives: March 2013

What is an IEP?

What is an IEP?

An Individual Education Program is defined in 20 U.S.C. § 1414 (d)(1)(a).   An IEP is basically a contract between the school and a child who is identified as having a disability under the IDEA who needs special education. Usually this comes about because the child has a condition that interferes with the ability to learn and the parent or teacher notices the child is having trouble keeping up with their peers.  After the condition is identified and it is noted that the child qualifies for help, an IEP is created.  The IEP sets goals for the child and details the services the school will provide.  An IEP meeting will take place to determine the needs of the child and how to meet those needs.  School staff, teachers, other professionals, and the child’s parents are usually present at the IEP meeting and a plan is created.

As the name indicates, the IEP is individualized for the child.  Once the IEP is in place, the school follows the plan to help the child excel.    If your child is struggling in school and has a condition you believe is the cause of his or her struggles, please bring it to the attention of your child’s teachers.  I’m sure your child’s teachers would be more than willing to help.

Immigrant v. Nonimmigrant

Immigrants and Nonimmigrants.

Noncitizens are generally placed into one of three categories: immigrant, nonimmigrant, or refugee.  Immigrants and nonimmigrants will be briefly discussed in this blog post.

What is an immigrant?  An immigrant is a noncitizen lawfully admitted to the U.S. with the intention of becoming a permanent resident. Usually, noncitizens seeking permanent residence fall into one of three classes: family sponsored, employment based, diversity immigrants, and refugees. Future blog posts will discuss these areas, among other things.

What is a nonimmigrant?  Generally, a nonimmigrant is someone who enters the U.S. only for a specified period and whose activities are limited by a visa.  There are numerous visas types covering individuals from students to famous international musicians.

Normally, a nonimmigrant visa must be obtained at a U.S. consulate.  If the consulate issues a visa, the nonimmigrant may then travel to the U.S., where a second review can take place.  Once the nonimmigrant is admitted at the boarder, he or she is given an I-94.  The nonimmigrant may then act within the limitations of the visa.  Many types of nonimmigrants can file for an extension of status to extend their stay and some may even change their status if conditions warrant.   Generally, when the visa expires the nonimmigrant is expected to leave the U.S.


Future blog posts will discuss the specifics for obtaining different types of nonimmigrant visas and how to adjust status.

Social Security/SSI

How to apply for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income.

If you are reading this, you are probably thinking about filing for disability for yourself or loved one. There are many misconceptions about these programs and everybody “knows someone” that knows all the tricks of the trade. Let me start by saying that usually advice from someone who “knows” the tricks of the trade is not sound advice.

To be disabled you have to show an inability to work for one year due to a medical condition or you must show that the medical condition is going to kill you. Although it sounds relatively easy to show disability, when you factor in all the statutes, regulations, agency rulings, agency operational manuals, and case law, it turns out to be not as easy as it sounds.

To get the ball rolling, you need to contact Social Security either via website at or call their toll-free number 1.866.593.1922.  If you would rather go in person, the addresses for the local Social Security Administration offices are:

Mobile, AL

Suite 100

550 Government Street

Mobile, AL 36602


Baldwin County, AL

101 Courthouse Drive

Fairhope, AL 36532


Pensacola, FL

411 W Garden Street

Pensacola, FL 32502

Be prepared to give basic information, such as your Social Security number, address, date of birth, who are your doctors, and where did you last work. Most of this can be done over the phone or online. However, if you are filing an SSI application you might have to do this in person with the Social Security worker.

If you are hesitant to contact Social Security and talk with anyone at their office to get your application started, you might want to contact the office of an attorney who/specializes in disability cases.