Social Security Disability
As we go about our daily routines, most of us do not think about the possibility of becoming disabled and being unable to work. But statistics show that a 20-year-old worker has a 30 percent chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement. Fortunately, the federal government provides assistance to disabled workers and their families through its Social Security Disability Insurance program. If you or a loved one is affected by a disability, it is important to investigate whether you are entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance – or SSDI – benefits.
A worker may receive SSDI benefits if he or she becomes unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last or has lasted for 12 months, or is terminal. But being unable to work or having a doctor say that you are unable to work does not automatically entitle you to benefits. To receive benefits, you must contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to apply for them. If you meet certain requirements, your application should be approved. However, less than half of all claims are approved upon application. This makes it critical to seek the aid of a skilled attorney who will help you present your application in the best possible way. At Stampone Law, our caring lawyers can help you build as strong a case as possible and can handle your appeal should your application be denied. It is important to understand that while most claims are denied at the initial level, the majority of those claims are later approved during the appeals process.
Social Security only pays for total, long-term disability. This is because the federal government assumes that you and your loved ones can rely on other sources of income, such as Workers’ Compensation, insurance, and savings, during periods of short-term disability. The Social Security Administration will only grant SSDI benefits to those workers who are unable to do the work that they did before and cannot perform other tasks due to their medical conditions. To receive benefits, you must also have worked in the recent past (typically, five out of the last 10 years). This is because the SSDI program is funded by taxes on workers’ earnings.
To determine whether your physical or mental impairment is severe enough to interfere with basic work-related activities, the SSA will look to its list of medical conditions that are automatically considered disabling. If your condition is on the list, you will most likely be considered disabled. If it is not on the list, the SSA will decide whether it is of equal severity to one that is. If it is, you will most likely be considered disabled. If your condition is not equally severe, your claim can still be approved if the SSA decides that you cannot perform the work you did previously and are unable to adjust to other work. To make its decision, the SSA will examine your medical condition, your age, your education, your past work experience and other factors.
Some examples of conditions that may be considered disabling are Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Diabetes, Depression, Cancer and Congestive Heart Failure.
Hard-working employees deserve to be fairly compensated and treated with respect. Unfortunately, workers from all walks of life frequently suffer discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination (also known as wrongful discharge). Employers frequently fail to honor their employees’ contracts, or to provide health, disability, retirement or other benefits to which their workers are entitled.
The skilled attorneys of Stampone Law provide legal services in a wide range of employment matters including disability, wrongful termination; racial, age, religious and other discrimination; sexual harassment; disabilities and accommodations; retaliation; contract disputes; unemployment compensation; and hearings before regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
We know that our clients and their families depend on their jobs, salaries and benefits. When employers engage in unlawful employment practices, the lawyers of Stampone Law can help. Our law firm provides vigorous representation in employment cases in state and federal courts and in alternative dispute resolution forums, including mediation and arbitration.
If you or a loved one requires assistance with an employment matter, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance. We are always here to address your questions and concerns.Our caring attorneys will work hard to help you. At Stampone Law, you are our first priority, every step of the way.
Wills, Trusts & Estates
Though it is never pleasant to contemplate what will happen at the time of your death, knowing that you have provided for your loved ones and for yourself by putting your affairs in order can bring peace of mind. The most common method through which people transfer their estates – that is, real property such as a home and personal property such as bank accounts, cars and jewelry – is a Last Will and Testament. But there are many other ways to transfer property, for example by creating a trust or making gifts during your lifetime. The process of drafting a will and arranging other methods of property transfer is called Estate Planning.
Estate Planning often takes a back seat to concerns that seem more immediate and pressing, but regardless of your age or the size of your estate, it is important to set out your wishes and make sure that your loved ones will be provided for in your absence. With the help of an experienced attorney at Stampone Law, proper planning can identify to whom you wish to transfer your assets and can minimize the taxes that your estate will incur. Proper estate planning can also relieve your loved ones of making funeral arrangements and can indicate what kinds of medical care you wish to receive in the event of mental or physical incapacity. Individuals with children should also name a guardian for their children in the event of their untimely passing.
Why You Should Have a Will
Stampone Law attorneys can help you to draft the main estate-planning document – A Will. It is our job to ensure that your will is written within the legal guidelines and that it properly addresses all of your needs and desires. We will help you describe your estate and list how you want to transfer your property. You can also use a will to specify who will care for your children in the event that something happens to you and their other parent, and to name an individual to serve as your personal representative after you pass.Unfortunately, the majority of Americans do not have valid wills which means that their estate is divided and handled the way the state sees fit – not necessarily the way you would have wanted. In the event that a person dies without a will (intestate), a “probate” court will divide up the person’s estate for him or her, based on the Laws on Intestacy. “Probate” is the process by which property is transferred from someone who has died to someone who is living. So when someone dies without a will, probate can become particularly complicated and expensive. In addition, your state’s rules for distribution may differ greatly from your wishes. Dying without a will may also impose a substantial tax burden on an estate’s assets. For these reasons, it is much better to execute a valid, thoughtfully drafted will to make your wishes known and preserve your property for your loved ones.
Trusts, Life Insurance and Other Estate Planning Tools
In addition to a will, the many available estate-planning tools include trusts, powers of attorney, life insurance, and gifts that you make during your lifetime. The attorneys at Stampone Law are skilled in the use of these tools. For example, establishing a trust allows you to designate one person – the trustee – to hold legal title to property for another person, called a beneficiary. A trust can be used to help avoid probate and decrease estate taxes.
You may also wish to name a trusted individual to handle your finances for you should you become unable to do so. Such an arrangement is known as a durable power of attorney. However, the individual you select (called an “attorney-in-fact”) does not have to be an attorney.
Many spouses and parents of young children also choose to purchase life insurance policies. Life insurance permits death benefits to pass directly to its named beneficiaries without detouring through probate. The amount of life insurance you may wish to purchase will vary depending on factors such as your age, the needs of your survivors and your other resources.
Health Care Decisions: Planning for Incapacity
In addition to creating a will and deciding upon other methods of property transfer, you may want to plan for the possibility of mental or physical incapacity. Our attorneys can help you to establish advance health care directives, which allow you to instruct others about the types of medical care you wish to receive and under what circumstances. You can also specify another person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Health care directives (also called “Living Wills”) can help your family avoid painful disagreements about medical treatment and will help ensure that your wishes are respected.
Estates and the Business Owner
If you own your own business, you will also need to think about whether the business will continue after you pass. If you want your business to carry on, you will need to decide in advance how that will happen. This is known as succession planning. Similarly, individuals who have business partners may want to decide on buyout or other arrangements that will allow their businesses to continue. This may help to avoid headaches for the remaining partners and ensure the business’ survival.
As you can see, enlisting the help of an experienced, skilled attorney to aid with estate planning is a must. The attorneys of Stampone Law through our association with trained estate planners will help you make your wishes known, minimize the taxes that will be imposed upon your estate and develop the best strategy to provide for your loved ones after your passing. Only a qualified attorney will be able to help you navigate the murky waters of the many laws related to estate taxes, property transfer, wills, trusts and probate to achieve your desired results.Further, if you are named the executor or administrator of a loved one’s estate, we can help you with the responsibilities of negotiating the often complicated probate process which includes notifying lawful heirs about your loved one’s passing, determining valid claims against the estate, filing tax and inheritance returns, and submitting an accounting of the estate to the probate court, among other tasks.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance. At Stampone Law, our goal is to make your life easier, every step of the way.
Real Estate Transactions
Delving into the commercial real estate market has historically been a volatile and risky undertaking. Whether business is booming or the market is uncertain, successful real estate transactions require the legal services of capable, experienced lawyers. The attorneys of Stampone Law are prepared to assist you with your commercial real estate and real estate transaction needs.
Our real estate attorneys emphasize thorough research and preparation as we assist clients with structuring, financing and closing real estate transactions. We also offer services related to developing, managing, leasing and selling commercial property; zoning and land use; real estate investment; professional service and construction contracts; and litigation. If we may be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.
Criminal Defense / DUI
There are two kinds of court cases: civil and criminal. While both are significant to the parties involved and both may have serious consequences, criminal cases can have a negative effect on the reputation, relationships and basic freedoms of the accused. Any criminal matter is a serious matter that requires immediate help from a competent, aggressive attorney. At Stampone Law, we are prepared to vigorously defend you while offering a non-judgmental, professional environment. If you have been – or believe you may be – charged with a crime, contact us now for a consultation. Criminal matters require swift action and can carry very serious consequences. We can help you protect your rights and minimize the damage that criminal charges can bring.
Types of Crimes: Felonies and Misdemeanors
Crimes are classified as felonies or misdemeanors depending on the types of punishment an accused individual may face. Generally, if the law provides for imprisonment of more than one year, the crime will be classified as a felony. A crime is typically considered a misdemeanor when possible jail time totals one year or less. Some crimes can be either felonies or misdemeanors depending on the sentence that the government’s lawyer, who is known as the prosecutor or district attorney, seeks. If you are convicted of a crime, you could be required to pay a fine, serve probation, perform community service, or be sentenced to a prison term. A judge might also order some combination of these consequences depending on the situation.
At Stampone Law, we can help you with criminal charges such as assault and battery; computer crimes; disorderly conduct; drug crimes; DUI/DWI; insurance fraud; tax evasion and theft. If you are facing criminal charges, a qualified attorney from Stampone Law will strive to secure the most desirable outcome for you. You should know that having a knowledgeable lawyer on your side could mean the difference between a prison term and dropped charges.
The Criminal Process: Protecting Your Rights
A person’s initial experience with the criminal justice system usually begins with his or her arrest. Whenever someone is taken into police custody, whether handcuffed or otherwise physically restrained or not, that person has been placed under arrest. Anyone who is arrested has certain Constitutional rights that the police are not supposed to violate. For example, all citizens have the right to remain silent and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. If an accused is able to show that the police violated one of these Constitutional rights, a judge could decide that the arrest was unlawful and dismiss the case.
Following arrest, the first courtroom appearances a defendant will make is at his or her arraignment/preliminary hearing. These are the stages of the proceedings where bail is determined and the accused is given the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. It is imperative that an attorney is present to help you make the right decisions.
Most criminal cases conclude with a plea bargain. The lawyers at Stampone Law can help you decide whether to strike such a deal. When the prosecution and the defense agree to a plea bargain, the defendant will typically plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a reduced penalty and/or the dismissal of additional charges.
If your case proceeds to trial, you will have an opportunity to try to refute the prosecutor’s evidence and present your side of the story. The trial process includes critical stages such as jury selection, witness testimony, cross-examination and closing arguments. At trial, one of our skilled attorneys can help you present your case in the best possible way. It is crucial that you obtain only a knowledgeable, aggressive lawyer to handle your defense.
If You Are Charged With DUI or DWI
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) carries stiff penalties, including license suspension and in some cases imprisonment. Also known as “driving while intoxicated” (DWI), DUI is illegal in every state. In Pennsylvania, a driver is considered intoxicated if his or her blood alcohol content reaches or exceeds .08 percent. If a driver under the age of 21 is found to have any alcohol in his or her system, the driver will be considered intoxicated. This is known as a “zero tolerance” law. You should also know that Pennsylvania takes a “zero tolerance” approach to driving with any measurable amount of drugs –legal or illegal – in your system. In many jurisdictions, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs exist for first time offenders. After successful completion of the program, many jurisdictions will expunge your arrest record. Such procedures will require the attention of an experienced attorney.
While they may seem simple, DUI cases can involve many complex issues, such as the legality of a traffic stop, the validity of chemical testing (a breathalyzer or blood test, for example), refusal to submit to chemical testing and what will happen if you are required to drive as part of your job. If you are charged with impaired driving, you should not assume that you are guilty. Immediately contact Stampone Law to protect your driving privileges.
Our Role in Your Criminal Matter
From arraignment to plea bargaining to defending you at trial, our experienced attorneys are ready to help you resolve your legal troubles and get on with your life. The lawyers of Stampone Law will listen to your concerns and work with you to decide how to handle your case. Whatever the strategy we as a team decide to employ, we will strive to provide a vigorous, effective defense. If you or a loved one has a question about a criminal matter, or need our help, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance. We are here for you, every step of the way.