The Fate of Social Security Disability Insurance

It seems like every year, new information circulates regarding cuts to social security Social Securityprograms. However, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is experiencing pressures at a significant pace. If not for a last-minute effort by Congress and the White House at the end of last year, SSDI payments could have been reduced by nearly 20% by the end of 2016. While there will be no cuts to SSDI in 2016, the stopgap is only in place until 2022 and programs funds are being drained much quicker than they can be replenished.

Social Security Disability provides financial payments to individuals (and potentially members of their family) if they have worked long enough to accumulate sufficient credits and have a medical condition that has prevented them from working or is expected to prevent them from working for at least 12 months or end in death.

To keep SSDI afloat, Congress approved a fund-shifting scheme from the Social Security retirement fund. That was a short-term solution to a problem that is not going way.  The question now, however, is how long will these benefits last and what will the benefits program look like after 2022?

Before Congress will sign off on extending the program beyond 2022, there will be long looks at how to reduce costs and get more people off the books. Other changes to watch for include modifications in program eligibility and substantial modifications to the benefit formula.

If you believe you have a disability which prevents you from working and have not applied for Social Security Disability, it would be wise to consider doing so now. Changes to SSDI are coming, and it’s better to be ahead of the changes than trying to catch up from behind.

The attorneys at Howland, Hess O’Connell have handled Social Security Disability claims extensively over the years. We are experienced in preparing the documentation and supplementing the application in a way which provides our clients with the best chance of obtaining benefits. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced team of attorneys to discuss the possibility of you obtaining social security disability benefits, call 215-947-6240.

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.

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SPOT the SCAM: Phony Fire Inspector Scamming Businesses

As a local business with roots in the community, it has recently been brought to our attention that there is a male and female in the Lower Moreland area claiming to be fire marshals. They are contacting businesses by phone and stating they wish to inspect either your fire extinguishers or your fire alarm, or both.

Here’s the scam: the two are contacting business owners, setting up appointments, and coming on-site to the business location. The two are allegedly clipping off legitimate inspection tags, putting their own counterfeit tags on the extinguishers and/or alarms, and charging owners for the service. It’s the definition of a double whammy: not only are you being charged for having a fake tag put on your fire extinguisher, but it’s also a fineable offense to not have a valid inspection tag supplied by the township or municipality in which you do business on your fire extinguisher.

Remember, only the fire department has the enforcement authority to regulate Fire Code requirements. Whether or not you do business in Lower Moreland, if someone wants to come out and inspect your business for any reason, it is good practice to call your township or municipality to verify their identity and authority. Be sure to alert employees of this situation as well, as it seems plausible the couple may target businesses on the weekends when owners/managers may not be physically present.

If you suspect these two, or either of them individually, are trying to run this fire extinguisher/alarm scam on you or are seeking to inspect your business for ANY reason, you or your employees should immediately call the Township to check on them.

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.

St. Patrick’s Day 2016 DUI Crackdown Starting Early

As we’ve detailed previously, Southeastern Pennsylvania has taken a strong stance against DUI’s. In a recent article by Chadds Ford Live labeled “PennDOT: DUI Patrols for St. Paddy’s holiday,” the state’s most recent initiative is detailed.

According to the PennDOT press release cited in the above article, the crackdown starts TODAY (March 11, 2016) and will run through March 19th. Similar to the New Year’s Eve Crackdown in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, PennDOT’s efforts will largely be in the form of DUI Checkpoints and roving police patrols.  The major difference? This time, the efforts are extending beyond just Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Instead, PennDOT is unleashing a more full-scale DUI task force comprising SEVENTY (70) police departments throughout Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

The Chadds Ford Live article highlights a feature of Pennsylvania’s DUI Laws which cannot be ignored: For normal drivers of a legal age (those without a special operating privilege), DUI Checkpointthe legal alcohol limit is .08. However, that limit drops down to .04 for commercial drivers and .02 for school bus operators. For all drivers, but especially those in the lower blood alcohol brackets, it is critical to realize that excessive drinking during a late night may still have residual effects the following morning!

To understand the reason for the crackdown, consider the following (albeit somewhat outdated) statistic provided by the Pennsylvania DUI Association: 2 out of every 5 crashes over St. Patrick’s Day weekend in 2013 involved drunken driving, with 31 people killed by drunk drivers.

For many, whether they’re Irish or not, St. Patrick’s Day  and the associated events represents a time to celebrate with family and friends. However, it cannot be overstated how important it is to be smart and safe. Happy (early) St. Patrick’s Day from Howland Hess O’Connell!

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.

 

Starting a Business? Here are a Few Key Legal Issues to Consider.

I am awed by the drive, ingenuity and courage of those willing to make the jump and carry out their dream of being their own boss. It takes a lot of hard work and skill, and for those of you who have recently started your own business or are planning to in the future, here are a few legal issues to keep in mind as you make the jump!

  • Business Form: In today’s market, businesses take on many different shapes and sizes. There are sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, Subchapter S Corporations (S Corporations), and Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs), to name a few. Why is the business form decision so important? Because, depending on your state, it will likely affect how much you pay in taxes, the amount of paperwork your business is required to prepare and file, the personal liability you face and your ability to borrow money. Notably, sole proprietorships remain the most popular business structure, which is likely due to the ease of their formation (you may not even realize you’ve created one!).
  • Exit Strategy: It may seem like a strange proposition, but arguably just as important as considering how to get your business off the ground is considering how to get out or how to get others out. What’s your plan if you or one of your partners wants to withdraw from the venture? How much are you being paid to go or paying your partner to go? What other terms will apply to your or their buyout? What happens if one of you passes away unexpectedly? These are key issues to consider (and document) when starting a business to avoid confusion down the line.
  • Employees: Whether you have one or one-thousand employees, make no mistake: employee issues will arise. The number of employees under your hire will determine whether you are subject to certain laws (such as those relating to age discrimination, for example), but regardless of the number of your employees there are several key provisions to include in your agreement to hire. The two most important are non-compete and non-disclosure agreements. It is your obligation as the employer to make the terms extremely clear as ambiguity in a contract is read against the party who drafted it. If you’re not sure what to say and/or how to say it, you should consider speaking to a business law attorney in your area!
  • Dollars and Cents: It’s a beautiful thing to start seeing money come in, not always so beautiful seeing it go out. However, you have to be incredibly diligent in accounting for both. Bookkeeping is critical in managing finances, and a small mistake today could cost you big down the line if you don’t exercise caution. There is software and CPAs to help you manage your dollars and cents, and this is one area you definitely don’t want to spare.

There are a multitude of other legal issues to consider in starting your own business, like business permits, licenses, federal tax ID numbers, business names, and protection of intellectual property, just to name a few. As an aside, those of you in the process of starting your own business or with the intention to do so in the future should be wary of using solely the services of an internet-based company to form and register your company without also consulting an attorney. The attorneys at Howland Hess O’Connell are experienced and well-versed in the field of business law and are available to assist you today.

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.