Author Archives: James Mitchell

Handling an Overpayment from the SSA

When you are receiving disability payments, there may be a chance the SSA may make an overpayment. The overpayment amount is the amount you received against the amount that was actually due to you. Different things can cause overpayment including higher income than estimated, living situation changes, marital status changes, or you have more resources than allowed. You may also no longer have a disability but continue to receive benefits or changes are not reported. The SSA also may incorrectly figure benefits because of incorrect information. If you get an overpayment, you must respond to any letters you will receive.

If the SSA finds that you are overpaid, you will receive a notice that outlines the overpayment. They will ask for a full refund within 30 days, and there are consequences for non-compliance of repayment. If the refund is not returned, the notices acknowledge the purpose of withholding overpayment at the rate of 10 percent less or the entire monthly payment. The notices also state the month the withholding will start and give you information to appeal. It explains how you can have the overpayment reviewed and waived. You may apply to appeal the decision, so you don’t have to make the repayment. There are other options available if you’re overpaid.

If you feel you did not receive an overpayment, you can request a reconsideration. You can ask for an appeal within ten days from the date the notice was received, and payments will continue until a decision is reached. If you feel overpayment was made but the decision was not your fault, you can ask to get a waiver for the overpayment. You can also request a form and fill out a request for a waiver. You can ask for the waiver anytime, and you will not have to make a repayment if you receive an exemption.

To qualify for an exemption, you need to provide proof that the overpayment was not your fault. You must also show that you cannot make repayment because you need the money to meet your regular living expenses. You can provide bills to show your monthly expenses, and any repayment will be a hardship for you to make. There are plenty of options available for anyone who feels they were overpaid by accident. As long as you have proof that you were not at fault, and you cannot make the repayment, the SSA will assist you to correct the situation.

Disability and Chronic Liver Disease – Social Security Benefits

To be considered for Social Security disability benefits, applicants must prove they suffer from at least one chronic liver disease that severely limits their ability to work:


  • Cirrhosis of the liver/alcoholic liver disease
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hepatitis B
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver failure






Chronic Liver Disease





People with liver disease attributed drug abuse may also be approved for Social Security disability benefits.


What is the Criteria for Meeting the SSA’s Liver Disease Listing?


A doctor must diagnose you with chronic liver disease lasting more than six months or with end-stage liver disease accompanied by at least one of the following:


  • Excess fluid in the pleural or peritoneal cavity
  • Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (infection if the stomach lining)
  • Gastrointestinal and/or esopheageal hemorrhage
  • Hepatorenal and/or hepatopulmonary syndrome
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • End-stage liver disease (SSA CLD score of 22+)


The Social Security Administration has a different liver disease listing for people who have had a liver transplant. To qualify for Social Security benefits under this listing, you must provide documents proving you have had a liver transplant. The SSA will then consider you disabled for at least one year following the transplant


Failing to meet requirements for liver disease disability benefits means the SSA won’t automatically approve applicants for benefits but may examine whether the person has functional limitations that prevent them from working.


What are Functional Limitations of Liver Disease?


Although people with chronic liver disease may not suffer symptoms described under the SSA’s liver disease listing, they are often too tired or too weak to stay employed. Pain from liver diseases can also prevent someone from standing, walking or sitting for extended periods. In some cases, liver disease patients take multiple medications that cause adverse side effects such as nausea, cognitive problems and fatigue.


The disability attorneys James Mitchell Brown have helped many individuals with a liver disease get approved for Social Security disability benefits without being initially denied. Call our office today to schedule an appointment if you have liver disease and plan to file for disability.

Applying For Social Security Benefits due to Blindness

There are varying levels of visual impairment up to and including legal blindness. Many times these impairments can make it difficult for those with the condition to find work and be able to adequately support them financially. For cases where blindness has become a burden up to that point, there can be help in the form of Social Security benefits.

benefits for the blind

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI is a benefit that pays a benefit based on the claimant, or qualified family members, work history and payments to Social Security. If the minimum work and earnings requirements have been met then this program can be used.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI is based on the income level and financial needs of a claimant. To qualify the claimant must have a sufficiently low enough income and lack of other assets showing the need for assistance. This program can be applied for regardless of work history, but both programs can be used in conjunction with each other if qualified.


Applying for Benefits Based on Vision

Being legally blind doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has no vision at all. The way the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines blindness that qualifies for benefits is that the vision of both eyes must be worse than 20/200 when corrected. Meaning that while wearing glasses, contacts or other corrective measures, neither eye sees better than 20/200. One eye may be much worse than that, as often both eyes aren’t impaired to the same extent, but the better eye must be at least that impaired. There is another qualifying factor as well, if the angle of vision is 20 degrees or less in both eyes then that can qualify the applicant as well, if vision is better than 20/200.


If you meet one or both of those qualifications above then applying for benefits can be accomplished in person, by phone or online via the SSA’s website. Before applying, ensure that a full medical history documenting the blindness is on hand and ready to be provided with the application. The records should show any diagnoses, when the condition was discovered, how long the condition is likely to persist and what limitations it creates for the applicant.


It generally takes three to six months to receive notification from the SSA regarding the application. If at any point in the process things are unclear or difficult to understand, or if benefits are denied, it is highly advisable to seek out a qualified attorney to help the claimant through the process. Most applications are denied at first, and the appeals process can be frustrating and time consuming, so having an experienced professional assist with the process can make it much easier to deal with.

How do you determine your onset date for Social Security disability?

A question that is also asked and plays a critical role in your SSD process is the date that you became disabled. At times, applicants can struggle answering this because if they have multiple impairments, chances are, they didn’t start at the same time, but simply developed over time. Picking a wrong onset date can cost you a lot of money in your benefit pay period or even hurt your chance in being accepted. Generally, your onset date will be the day that you were unable to perform daily tasks at work because of your medical condition. The onset date is also determined based on your medical records as well.

social security disability benefits

How To Determine Your Onset Date

SSD will consider all of these factors into deciding your onset date:

1. Applicant claim: Your claim will list when you became disabled. This will be listed in the application as well as the disability report.


2. Work History: Your local Social Security office will review your claim and document the day you stopped working based on the Work Activity Report.


3. Medical evidence or relating to the disability: You should submit all medical records that are relevant to your disability so they can be reviewed by SSA. These records will show the impairments you have and the duration of time.


The onset date is the day the injury or disorder happened and caused you to not work. Based on disability ruling, the disability should expect to interfere with your work for at least a year. Based on the facts of the evidence, a medical advisor will be able to guide Social Security in dictating when your onset date should be.


It is easiest to determine your onset date if you apply for SSD shortly after your accident. If you established your disability as soon as the incident happened, the medical records will be accurate and there shouldn’t be any issues in Social Security determining your date. Those who do qualify for SSD benefits will set their onset date prior to the application, but you must be able provide evidence to back up your date. There will only be problems in determining your onset date if you wait too long to claim for disability benefits. If you need further help, please contact a disability attorney who can guide you and help fill out your application.

How is Pain and Suffering Valued in a Car Accident Case ?

If you find yourself in a car accident the costs can go beyond just repairing or replacing a vehicle. If injuries are involved there are the medical treatment costs, and other losses of income that could fall into pain and suffering categories.

car accidents lawyer

Pain and Suffering Explained

Pain and suffering is the legal term for bodily injury and mental or emotional anguish resulting from the actions of another. Sometimes that can be hard to quantify, while doctor’s bills and diagnoses show what kind of injury was caused and how much they charged to treat it that doesn’t adequately describe the pain you feel. Pain is invisible when looking at a person, as only they can feel the consequences of an injury. Mental suffering is even harder to accurately describe because the stress one individual feels or suffers from is different from others in similar situations. This makes proving pain and suffering challenging, but in most cases there are two ways of estimating the cost incurred from the injuries.


Daily Rate Method

One way to calculate the pain and suffering is to use a daily rate method, or what is commonly referred to as the Per Diem Method. Basically this is a way to break down the cost incurred for each day of recovery, though sometimes the calculation can be based on a weekly rate instead. As a general baseline, the daily rate might be what you would usually earn in that day. If the injuries prevented you from working and you normally received $100 a day, then you could claim that because you could make $100 a day then that is what you are owed on top of any covered medical treatments.


Multiplier Method

Insurance companies often use this method by assigning a multiplier to the actual damages. Say the damages were $10,000, the multiplier could be a 3, so the pain and suffering would be $30,000. The multiplier is created based on the severity of the injury, 1 being minimal and normally only going up to a 5 for serious harm. For more debilitating injuries exceptions can be made to use a multiplier greater than 5.


When making a final decision on what cost the pain and suffering incurred, using a combination of both methods above can be the most effective way of arriving at an appropriate value. Contacting an experienced attorney can help you determine what you’re most likely going to be able to receive and begin the settlement process to make yourself whole again, reducing the stress of having to take the case on alone.

Serious Personal Injury and Negligence Claims

When you suffer a personal injury due to the fault of someone else, you most likely have a negligence claim. It can be a difficult time after suffering an injury such as this one and it’s important to understand your options as you move forward. It is in your best interest to work with an attorney to fully understand your rights and have more chance of success with your case.

negligence claims

The key elements of negligence:


– Duty of care.

Duty of care is a legal term that is in reference to the responsibility that someone has to avoid causing harm to another person. When you move forward in your case, you need to prove that this person had a duty of care in this particular situation that gave rise to the injury.


– Breach of duty of care.

In a personal claim or lawsuit, it needs to be shown that the other person breached or failed to abide by this duty. If the conduct of this person breached this duty, then negligence can be proven by showing that injuries were sustained because of this breach.


– Standard of care.

It can be difficult to understand what the appropriate standard of care is in a certain situation. This is assessed on a case by case basis.


Examples of duty of care in injury-related cases:

– Vehicle accident.

A driver has the legal duty to operate the vehicle with reasonable care whenever it is being driven. This includes adjusting depending on traffic conditions, visibility and weather. The driver is expected to drive with reasonable care in all situations. In most cases, if a driver violates a driving law, it will be assumed that the duty of care to other drivers, pedestrians and passengers has been breached if it caused an accident and people were injured.


– Medical malpractice case.

Any doctor or medical professional is expected to provide the same treatment with the same care and skill as other reasonably competent healthcare providers would in similar circumstances. This can be backed up with medical expert witnesses and practices in the same medical specialty.


– Slip and fall case.

When someone slips, falls and is injured, many times the property or business owner is blamed for negligence. This is because this owner has a legal obligation to keep the property free from any known hazards. They also need to act within a reasonable amount of time to find and fix other dangers as they occur.


– Defective product case.

The distributor, manufacturer and seller of a product have a responsibility to both produce and sell products that are free from dangers.


How fault is established in negligence claims that cause serious personal injury:


– Any laws that were broken.

Fault can be established by showing that the defendant broke any laws. This is especially applicable in car accidents with injuries.


– Testimony of eyewitnesses.

If there were any witnesses to the accident, they will be able to testify about what happened to back up the plaintiff’s claims.


– Plaintiff’s testimony.

The plaintiff will also testify as to what happened and how the injury occurred.


– Other evidence from the scene.

Any other evidence from the scene will also be taken into consideration to help establish fault.


– Expert witnesses.

The testimony of expert witnesses can also help your case. This is especially helpful in cases of malpractice suits.


– Show that the injury was caused by defendant.

The last thing that will need to be done is show how the injury was caused by the defendant.


When dealing with a negligence claim that caused serious personal injury, it’s important to gather the necessary evidence in order to prove negligence as well as fault. A skilled attorney will be able to assist you with your case and the best way to move forward. Contact us for more information.

What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Injuries and accidents can happen at almost any time and any place, and for most people, there’s no one to blame in particular. However, you may have been involved in an accident that was directly caused by someone else — which means that that person can be legally liable for your medical expenses, recovery and lost productivity if you can prove that their actions led to your injury.

personal injury lawsuit

To do this, many people may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit — a legal dispute between someone who has been injured in an accident, and the person that may be legally responsible for causing that accident. But what options do you have, and what steps do you need to take? Read on to learn more about personal injury lawsuits:


What is a personal injury lawsuit?

If you decide to pursue a personal injury case, you can do so through two methods: a formal lawsuit in civil court, or an informal settlement that is reached out of court. In the first case, the person who has been injured (the “plaintiff”) would file a complaint in civil court, which is separate from criminal court (in which the case involves the government). The plaintiff alleges in the lawsuit that a person or entity (the “defendant”) has acted in an irresponsible manner that led to the accident. If a formal complaint is filed, the case will make its way throughout the courts, perhaps even going to a civil trial. These stages are detailed later in this article.


Though a personal injury lawsuit is the formal method for getting compensation after an accident, in most cases the case is settled informally before it ever reaches the courtroom. In this situation, the plaintiff, defendant and lawyers or insurers from both sides will come together to discuss a payment that will be made, in return for both sides signing a form saying they won’t proceed with further action — like taking the case to court. A settlement is the most common way to tackle a personal injury case because it keeps the situation from dragging on through a court trial and provides nearly immediate relief to the plaintiff, but it may also be a less desirable scenario if you feel you could win a court case and get a greater compensation that way.


What are the stages of a personal injury case?

A personal injury case begins by talking to a lawyer, who can help evaluate your situation and work with you to understand what your options are. An attorney will advise you on what course of action to take, and will help you to file the initial papers that are required to formalize the suit — such as complaints, answers and other motions. The next stage is fact-finding and “discovery,” in which both sides share information and lay out what evidence they have in the case. If the case is not then dismissed by a judge (as the defendant may file motions to get it thrown out), both parties may go on to reach a settlement, as described above.


Finally, if all other methods don’t pan out, the case could end up going to trial, during which both sides will argue their case before a judge and a jury. Afterward, if the case is decided in the plaintiff’s favor, they will have to follow through to collect on their compensation; if the plaintiff loses the case, however, they can still appeal the judgment to get a decision from a higher court.

Seeking Justice for Police Brutality

The news lately has been full of stories about police officers overstepping the bounds of normal police work and committing injustices against ordinary citizens. Whether it’s an officer beating a suspect without cause, shooting an unarmed opponent or planting evidence, these stories have become all too common lately. And even with the intense scrutiny that is now facing our police forces, these cases still occur every single day. We get it: it’s a difficult job that often puts its officers in life-threatening situations where they have to make quick judgements. However, this doesn’t excuse them from their actions when they cross the line.

seeking justice for victims

We know that the majority of police are good, hardworking citizens that just want to make their community a better place. Still, cops shouldn’t just get a free pass when it comes to violating the rights of the citizens they are sworn to protect. That’s why James Mitchell Brown is committed to seeking justice for the victims of police brutality. If you think you have been the victim of police brutality, you owe it to yourself and your community to contact Jim Brown today.


As a licensed attorney, Jim Brown has spent his entire career fighting for the rights of citizens just like you. Even though we are all supposed to be equal under the law, Jim Brown knows that some people aren’t given their fair chance when it comes to defending themselves. This is when the law is needed the most.


Cases involving police force can be especially difficult in court. Even with modern technology such as body cams, it can often be difficult to prove exactly who is at fault, and what type of force is considered “excessive.” It can also be difficult to find witnesses to speak on your behalf, because many people are either intimidated by the police or feel that they are doing their community a disservice by speaking ill about the boys in blue. What’s more, police officers are notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to speaking against their own in court.


All of this means that you need an experienced attorney on your side in cases like these. If you think you have been a victim of police brutality, contact Jim Brown today. Not only will this help you get justice, but it can also help protect future victims as well. Contact Jim Brown today to set up a consultation. It costs nothing to talk to someone, and you could be doing a good thing for you and your community in the long run.