Are you a veteran who has been thinking about appealing either a disability denial or rating decision but are holding off because you’ve heard the typical wait time for decisions on appeals is five years? Well, there is some good news. Congress recently passed theVeteran Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, an act created to reduce the wait times for veterans appealing disability claims. Currently, there are 400,000 former GIs waiting for final decisions on disability denials or their rating status. Congress wants the Veterans Administration (VA) to reduce that backlog and shorten the five-year process to 12 months. “Unfortunately it will take the VA about 18 months to gear up and adapt the current system to the new requirements. If you are already in the backlog, the new act is probably not going to help you,” said Jeffrey Freedman, managing attorney, Jeffrey Freedman, PLLC. “But for anyone who is considering an appeal, there is definitely a brighter future.” As the VA attempts to work through pending and backlogged claims more quickly, the number of appeals is expected to increase. About 12 percent of benefits decisions are appealed, according to the VA. With the new legislation veterans will have… Continue Reading Veterans Appeals Act will shorten the appeals process
Imagine yourself in this situation: You have three children (the oldest of which is starting to look at colleges) and you and your spouse both work to support your family. Unexpectedly, your spouse loses their job when the company they work for downsizes. Like many other Americans, you live paycheck to paycheck, just able to meet the expenses of supporting a family of five. When one of you is laid off, it’s not long before you are behind on credit cards, car payments and the mortgage. You start receiving late notices and collection letters. You keep hoping your spouse will find a new job, but unemployment is set to run out, and your mortgage company has served you with a foreclosure notice. This scenario is all too common. A decrease in income due to loss of employment, illness/injury, or divorce can be devastating to financial stability. I spoke with a couple recently who fell behind on their mortgage payments because the wife lost her job, making it impossible for them to meet all of their expenses. They were using credit cards at the grocery store and the gas station, and were barely able to make the minimum payments. They also… Continue Reading When should you consider bankruptcy?
Steve and his wife, Peggy, have been struggling to keep up with their $40,000 in unsecured debt. They have wiped out their savings, but they have been able to keep current on their house and car payments. Every day the couple deals with calls from collectors, but they are hesitant to file bankruptcy, because they fear they will lose their cars and their home. Without vehicles, they question how they would get to their jobs. “It’s not so much a question of losing assets such as houses and cars, as it is how much equity you have in them,” said Christopher J. Grover, an attorney with Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC, who handles bankruptcy cases for the firm. “If you don’t have a lot of equity in them, you may be able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, discharge the unsecured debts, and continue to make payments on your house and your cars.” If Steve and Peggy do have a lot of equity in their home or cars, then they may want to consider filing Chapter 13, which would allow them to keep their home and cars, but requires them to pay back some of their unsecured debt over a specified… Continue Reading How do you keep your house and cars, and get relief from overburdening debt?
Members of the Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys’ staff recently participated in the Lupus Alliance of Upstate New York’s (LAUNY) first annual awards dinner, “Illumination: An Evening to Elevate the Conversation about Lupus.” Christopher J. Grover, attorney with Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC, and a board member of LAUNY, and staff members Allison Cullens and Elaina Perez helped plan the event. Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC, was a sponsor. “The theme this year was ‘Innovation. Collaboration. Expansion,’ the three keys words the LAUNY staff and board have focused on to both improve community awareness, and provide services to those suffering with Lupus and related autoimmune diseases,” Grover said. “The program also gave special recognition to several heroes in our community, who have supported LAUNY this past year.” Those honored were: Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, N.Y. State Senator Catharine Young, Dr. Michael Cummings, Kathleen Arnsten, Pauline Ziatts, and GEICO. The event was held at the Barrel Factory, a multi-use redevelopment project in the Old First Ward which includes an event center, distillery, kombucha company, kayak shop, and art gallery. “We are very proud to support LAUNY in its continuing efforts to raise awareness and eventually find a cure for Lupus,” Grover said. “We have clients… Continue Reading Event shines light on living with Lupus
In today’s world, even people who manage their money carefully can end up in serious financial distress. Some of the most common causes are medical debt, sudden unemployment and divorce. These life-changing events can put an individual or family in a situation where they cannot pay their bills. “Being in debt can be extremely stressful and when you find yourself in a situation through no fault of your own, it becomes overwhelming,” said Christopher J. Grover, attorney, Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. “It is best to recognize the problem as soon as possible, and seek out information to come to a favorable conclusion.” Filing for bankruptcy protection is often a viable solution, however, the general public has a lot of misconceptions about bankruptcy. “It’s not something that we take lightly, but Chapter 7 bankruptcy can give an individual the fresh start they desperately need,” Grover said. One of the biggest myths is that the individual has to give up everything they own in a bankruptcy. Certain assets, however, are exempt from turnover in a bankruptcy — particularly equity in a home. “In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a trustee is appointed to review the value of your assets, sell any assets that… Continue Reading Explaining away the myths about bankruptcy