Charlottesville Disability Attorney
Helping Virginians with Disabilities and Special Needs Live a Better Life
The federal and Virginia legislatures have each enacted laws that protect and provide benefits for people living with disabilities and special needs, temporary and permanent. Norton Health Law has extensive experience with these laws and is prepared to guide you through them and get you all the help to which you're entitled.
We can help you with your disability claims, including but not limited to those regarding:
- Social Security Disability
- Private and employer-sponsored Short-term and Long-term disability insurance
- Workers' Compensation
- Americans with Disability Act (ADA)
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
- Fair Housing Act
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Veterans (VA) Disability
- And more
Social Security Disability
If you've worked and ever looked at your paystub, you know that FICA takes a big chunk (7.65%) out of your paycheck every month, with your employer also matching that amount. What you may not know is that FICA stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act. So, between you and your employer, you are paying over 15% of every dollar you make to purchase insurance through the federal insurance program created by the Social Security Act. The Act provides retirement income, healthcare (Medicare) and disability benefits to those who are legally entitled. Like any private insurance policy, your FICA payments constitute, in part, premiums for disability insurance that entitle you to coverage if you become "disabled" as that term is defined by the law.
Like private insurance companies, however, the Social Security Administration does not make it easy to obtain benefits, even when a person is clearly entitled. Instead, they generally deny disabled applicants as a rule until the application reaches the level of a formal Appeal, which involves a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. An applicant must receive two denials before a hearing can be scheduled and the applicant can be formally represented by an experienced disability attorney. This is an extremely lengthy and frustrating process, especially in light of the fact that the applicant is dealing with a disabling condition and living without income. The administration knows that many people give up before their claim is finally approved following the hearing, which is why they do it. It saves them money.
If you've become disabled and are struggling to have your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) approved, we can help. Our experienced disability attorney will prepare a solid case for you and will advocate on your behalf at the hearing on your appeal. You paid for these benefits and we will make sure you get all the benefits you paid for.
Private and Employer-sponsored Short- and Long-term disability Insurance
Similar to the SSDI insurance you paid for each payday, you and/or your employer may also have paid into a private disability policy. Whereas SSDI insurance only provides long-term benefits, many employers offer short-term benefits as part of their employee benefits packages.
The insurance company will do everything in its power and try to use every legal loophole it can to deny your claim for short- or long-term benefits. Norton Health Law is familiar with all their tricks and is not intimidated by them and their tactics. You paid for these benefits and we will make sure you get all the benefits you paid for.
Workers' compensation is a state-created form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured on the job. In Virginia, the workers' compensation program is a benefit system designed to be "no-fault," meaning it is irrelevant whether your employer's negligence contributed to your work-related injury or occupational disease. What matters is that you were involved in a workplace injury or suffered an occupational disease in the course of your employment. This no-fault system was designed to protect both workers and employers. It protects employers from expensive, time-consuming lawsuits and runaway jury verdicts, and protects employees by ensuring medical care and time off without having to prove their employers were negligent.
Because of the no-fault system, the amount you can recover is limited. For example, because you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer, you cannot get punitive damages, although workers' compensation benefits can be substantial.. Workers' compensation benefits include lost wages, medical bill reimbursement, and disability benefits. They may also include death benefits if a worker is killed on the job.
Worker's compensation claims can be extremely complicated, so you should always call an experienced Workers' Compensation attorney to determine the best course of action for receiving the compensation you deserve. Norton Health Law has all the experience you need to for to achieve maximum success on your Workers' Compensation claim.
Workers’ Compensation Disputes
Your employer has a legal responsibility to run a safe workplace. Should you become injured or ill as a result of performing your normal work duties, you are entitled to compensation under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. However, you must immediately take certain steps in reporting your condition.
An injury or illness incurred on the job should be reported directly to your employer immediately in most circumstances. In order to protect your compensation, you must not wait more than 30 days to report an injury or illness. Your employer is then obligated to inform the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission within 10 days of your report.
You then have a statute of limitations of 2 years to file a report with the Commission yourself. This will begin the process of evaluating your injury or illness and determining what compensation you are owed. Unfortunately, some employers will attempt to argue an injury or illness was not actually suffered on the job to avoid having to pay. We can represent you in these negotiations, help you file your report with the Commission with as much evidence as possible, and fight to make sure you receive the maximum benefits you are owed.
Americans with Disability Act (ADA)
The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. The ADA provisions differ considerably depending on the context, but with regard to employment, it prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment. It restricts questions that can be asked about an applicant's disability before a job offer is made, and it requires that employers make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, unless it results in undue hardship. ADA complaints regarding employment are generally filed with the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or designated State or local fair employment practice agency, while ADA claims pertaining to State and local government agencies are generally filed with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Norton Health Law has extensive experience assisting people with ADA claims and will do everything in its power to ensure all your rights are protected.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The IDEA requires public schools to provide all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs. It also requires public school systems to develop appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEP's) for each child, which includes the specific special education and related services each individual needs to receive. If parents disagree with the proposed IEP, they can request a due process hearing and a review from the local school division. They may also request that the dispute be resolved by a mediator provided by the Virginia Department of Education. If all else fails, they also can appeal the decision in State or Federal court.
Norton Health Law believes every child deserves the opportunity to succeed in life, beginning with an education tailored to his or her needs, and we are committed to helping parents ensure their child receives the highest quality of education the law entitles them.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act requires owners of housing facilities to make reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people with disabilities equal housing opportunities. For example, a landlord with a "no pets" policy may be required to grant an exception to this rule and allow an individual who is blind to keep a guide dog in the residence. The Fair Housing Act also requires landlords to allow tenants with disabilities to make reasonable access-related modifications to their private living space, as well as to common use spaces, although the landlord is not required to pay for the changes. The Act further requires that new multifamily housing with four or more units be designed and built to allow access for persons with disabilities. This includes accessible common use areas, doors that are wide enough for wheelchairs, kitchens and bathrooms that allow a person using a wheelchair to maneuver, and other adaptable features within the units.
Complaints of Fair Housing Act violations may be filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. If you aren't satisfied with the response you've received from the department, we may be able to help.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to:
Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
- the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
- the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
- to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
- a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
- any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or
- Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).
If your employer isn't giving you the leave the FMLA entitles you to, call Norton Health Law. We may be able to help.
Military service carries significant risk and can unfortunately end in disability. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers tax-free monthly compensation for veterans who became sick or injured, or had an existing illness or injury that was exacerbated, as a result of time served in the military. These benefits are not limited to physical injuries either. They may also extend to mental or emotional conditions, such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Navigating the VA is not always easy and can quickly become confusing. Our legal team can assist in preparing your claim and representing you in an appeal, if that becomes necessary.
“We highly recommend Beth and her firm for all of your needs within her area of practice.”- Shane W.
Our founding attorney had her life changed by a disability, so we understand what is at stake. We are patients-first and will do everything in our power to make sure you get the benefits you need to comfortably adjust or recover. We will help you navigate the process for obtaining both private and government-sponsored benefits and will help you assert your rights under the law. We are committed to the long-term wellbeing of our clients and will do everything in our power to make sure you live the fullest, best, most independent life possible.