Common Questions for Our Bankruptcy, Social Security Disability, and DUI Attorney
Will Bankruptcy Hurt My Credit?
Unfortunately, most people who are contemplating bankruptcy already have bad credit scores. Every month that your creditors report negative information to the Credit Bureaus makes your credit score fall further. In many cases, the best option to rebuild your credit score may be to file a Bankruptcy petition. Once the debts are discharged, you are not failing to pay on the debt, so the negative information stops accumulating. In part, your credit score is based on your debt-to-income ratio. Once your old debts are eliminated, this portion of the credit algorithm improves.
Can I Rebuild My Credit After Bankruptcy?
Yes, you can. One way to think of your credit after a Chapter 7 discharge is that, for purposes of your credit, you have turned yourself into an 18 year old again, Your credit will continue to reflect that you had debts that you couldn't pay, and these have been eliminated. The question for a lender is whether you will pay your new debts after the old debts have been eliminated? Like an 18 year old, it isn't clear if you are a bad or good risk. You will need to accumulate positive credit history after the bankruptcy to build your credit. In most cases, it is not difficult to get some small accounts that will report after your discharge. Obviously, interest rates will be steep initially, but if you have poor credit, you wouldn't be able to get favorable rates before you filed. Typically, you can build your score up over a couple of years, like an 18 year old who gets his first accounts and is careful to make timely payments on them.
Will I Have to Give Up My Property?
The law allows you to keep certain types of property up to certain values when you file a bankruptcy. The process of protecting your property is referred to as "claiming your exemptions." The law is complicated in regard to what exemptions can be applied to certain kinds of property. However, the majority of clients we represent are able to protect all of their property in a bankruptcy filing. We examine the exemption issues before your petition is filed so that you know if you have property at risk before getting into the process.
Do I Have To Go To Court?
Unless there is a compelling reason that you cannot attend a Creditor's Meeting, such as medical issues that make it extremely difficult or dangerous for you to appear, you will be required to make an appearance for a Creditor's meeting. These meetings, however, are not usually held in a courtroom, but held in a federal facility.
Should I Consider Debt Settlement Instead of Bankruptcy?
Perhaps. Everyone is in a unique situation, and Debt Settlement may be right for you. HOWEVER, many people are lured into debt settlement programs that fail to deliver the results that they promise. A number of these services offer to take care of your debts if you pay them a monthly fee for a number of months. They then contact your creditors, so communications are directed to the service instead of to you. The break from the harassing phone calls may be appreciated, but it doesn't stop the negative information to the credit bureau. It also does not guarantee that the creditor will not sue you or start repossession proceedings.
Can I Get Rid of Taxes in Bankruptcy?
Maybe yes and maybe no. This is a complicated area of the law. It depends on what type of tax is owed, how long it has been assessed, whether tax liens have been filed and what sort of arrangements you may have previously made with the IRS or State Tax department. This is an area you would need to discuss with an attorney in detail.
Social Security Disability
Why Have I Been Denied Benefits?
There are a number of reasons a claim may be denied. For example, if you have not already been disabled for over a year, or it is not clear from your medical records that your disability will last for more than a year, then you are not entitled to benefits under the rules. If you are still working, and are earning more than approximately $1,100.00 gross income per month, you are not considered disabled under the rules, regardless of your medical condition. If your medical records do not contain specific findings, then the Social Security Administration cannot find you disabled under their rules at the first steps in the process.
What is Required to Qualify for SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS?
When you are working and paying taxes, part of your tax money funds the Social Security Disability (SSD) program. Think of those taxes as purchasing a Long Term Disability Insurance policy. However, your coverage under that "policy" will expire after a period of time. Generally, you can thing of this as a 5 year period, though the rules for computing the period can be complicated. In order to receive benefits under this program, you must be able to prove that you satisfied all of the requirements of the program before that period expired. As a result, it is better to get started as quickly as possible in terms of obtaining and compiling all the records necessary to prove your claim. If you have never paid into Social Security through your taxes, or it has been more than five years since you stopped paying into that program, you may not qualify for SSD benefits even if you can prove that you are unable to work due to physical and/or mental impairments.
What is SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME?
If you can prove that you are unable to work due to physical and/or mental impairments, but you do not qualify for SSD, you may still be eligible for an award of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The benefits paid under this program are smaller than those paid under SSD, and the benefits can be reduced or denied based on assets you may own, assistance you may receive from other sources, or any income you may be able to generate. However, if you are unable to work, any financial assistance is preferable to nothing. The process for proving disability is the same under the SSI and SSD system.
How Long Does it Take to Get Disability Benefits?
If your medical records provide all the proof necessary to satisfy Social Security rules, you can start to receive benefits within a matter of a few months. If your claim is initially denied, you have to go through several steps before your case is scheduled for hearing by a Judge. It is not unusual for it to take approximately 18 months for a case to be heard by a Judge after the case has first completed all the steps within the Social Security Administration. This wait time is frustrating for everyone who applies, but you can't get to the end of the process unless you get started and take all the necessary steps to keep your case proceeding through the system.
Can I Be Convicted If I Blew Below a .08 on the Breathalyzer?
Yes. If the State can offer sufficient evidence that you were appreciably impaired while you were driving, they can obtain a conviction even if you blew below a .08. This could be because of other substances in your system, or because you are highly susceptible to the effects of alcohol. However, it is generally much harder for the State to make a case where you blew at a lower level.
Can I Get My License Back After I'm Charged?
When you are charged with a DUI, your license can be taken in Civil Revocation. This is a separate issue from the criminal charge. If your license was valid at the time of the charge, you can get your license back after 30 days by paying $100.00 to the Clerk of Court's office. It is a good idea to do this. Otherwise, if you are stopped driving, you can be charged with Driving While License Revoked. Further, you cannot get your license back until this fee is paid. There is a process that will allow you to get the license back after 10 days as well. A number of steps are involved in this process.
Can I Be Found Guilty If I Didn't Blow the Breathalyzer?
Yes. The State can make a case based on the testimony of the officer and other witnesses as to evidence of impairment. This is more difficult than making the case based on a breathalyzer or blood test result, but far from impossible. If you refuse to blow the breathalyzer, but are convicted, you face two periods of revocation. One results from the refusal to blow, the second from the conviction.
Can I Get a Limited Privilege If I Blew a .15 or Above?
If you blew a .15 you can get a Limited Privilege, but you will be required to get an ignition Interlock installed on your car. Further, you will not be able to apple for the Limited Privilege until the Interlock is installed, and until 45 days after the date of conviction. As a result, there will be a minimum period of 45 days when you cannot legally drive. This is in addition to the period that you cannot drive as a result of a Civil Revocation.
If the Officer Didn't Read Me My Rights, Do They Have to Throw Out the Charge?
No. This is a common misimpression. If they don't read you your rights after they have taken you into custody, they cannot use what you say against you. If they are making the case based on physical tests, the officer's testimony, and/or breathalyzer, then the failure to read your rights is irrelevant to the case.
What if I Have Been Convicted Previously?
If you have had a prior conviction within 7 years if the date of the pending offense, you are subject to a minimum period of jail time if you are convicted. Also, you may be subject to a longer period of license revocation and you may not be able to obtain a limited driving privilege.
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Attorney Dick is so very knowledgeable and courteous.
Helped a lot , didn't loose my car so I kept may job and my home.
Haven't met Mr. Austin, but Stan Dick helped me big time. Twice. Kept me out of financial disaster.
Attorney Dick is very knowledgeable in your case.
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