Thursday, December 1, 2016

Are My Workers Compensation Benefits Taxable?

Are My Workers Compensation Benefits Taxable?

One of the most common questions we get around this time of year is:  "Do I need to report my Arizona workers compensation benefits or settlement proceeds to the I.R.S.?"  or, "Are my Arizona Workers Compensation Benefits taxable?"

Almost always, the answer is NO!!!  Generally speaking, Workers' compensation benefits are currently not subject to federal income taxation.  However, if your workers' compensation benefit reduces your Social Security Disability benefit, the portion that reduces is considered Social Security for taxation purposes.  One of the justifications for workers compensation benefits being only 66 2/3% of your regular wage is that they are tax exempt. 

If an injured worker has specific questions about this matter, we recommend you contact the Internal Revenue Service or your tax advisor.

Snow, Carpio, and Weekley are attorneys with offices in Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma.  They have represented thousands of injured workers before the Industrial Commission of Arizona. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC will be launching our new website on July 1, 2014. 

In anticipation of the new website and marketing efforts, we have revamped our YouTube Channel and have added multiple new videos including videos of our employees!

So if you haven't taken a look lately, please do!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Workers Compensation and My Social Security Case

Workers Compensation and My Social Security Case
By Nicholas Wearne, Attorney
Social Security Disability Department
Snow, Carpio & Weekley

Many workers compensation clients who are unable to return to work after their injury apply for social security disability benefits.  One of the first questions or concerns they have is how being on workers compensation will affect their social security case and vice versa.  There are two questions there so lets take each in turn.

1. How will being on social security affect my workers compensation case

While your case is open and you are receiving medical care, social security will not have any affect on your workers compensation case.  While you are actively recovering you can receive both social security and workers compensation benefits.  However, being on social security may come into play when and if you decide to settle your case.  First of all, being on social security disability sends a message to the workers compensation insurance carrier that you do not intend to go back to work.  It suggests to the carrier that you intend to collect your workers compensation benefits for life.  If the insurance carrier believes you will collect your benefit for the rest of your life in may increase your settlement amount.  Secondly, being on social security disability benefits will affect the way your workers compensation settlement agreement is written should you decide to settle.  If the agreement is incorrectly written your social security benefits could be terminated.  At Snow Carpio and Weekley we build these protections into all of our workers compensation settlement agreements but some firms do not.  It is important to inform your attorney that you are collecting social security disability benefits so they can write the agreement correctly.

2. How will being on workers compensation affect my social security disability case

As far as applying and getting on benefits go, collecting workers compensation benefits will not hurt you.  However, if you are approved for social security disability benefits your monthly benefit amount received from social security is likely to be affected (i.e. reduced) based on what you are receiving from your workers compensation case.  Do not worry, when and if you stop receiving workers compensation benefits, you can and should contact the Social Security Administration Office so your monthly benefit amount can be increased.  The great thing about applying for social security disability while your workers compensation case is open is you have doctors who are willing to state specifically what you can and cannot do as far as work.

If you have either a workers compensation case or a social security disability case and have questions regarding how the two will affect each other feel free to contact Snow Carpio and Weekley for a free consultation statewide at 855-325-4781. You may also learn more about us by visiting our website at

Monday, July 11, 2016

Social Security Disability FAQ's

Social Security Disability FAQ's
By Nicholas Wearne, Attorney
Social Security Disability
Snow, Carpio & Weekley

Unemployment and Other Potential Roadblocks to Social Security Disability Benefits

The social security system is not for the faint of heart.  It is a long, hard, and harsh road that can be financially devastating.  It can take months if not years of waiting while you are trying to get approved for benefits.  Clients often struggle financially because they are no longer working and are forced to live with family or friends.  Many clients apply for food stamps and AHCCCS insurance in order to make ends meet.  Some clients are lucky enough to have a workers compensation case going while they apply for social security benefits so they have some form of continued income.  The matter of fact is clients are forced to explore options they perhaps had not previously considered due to the financial hardship.  But be cautious as your explore these options.  Below are some examples of roadblocks that people run into which prevent them from getting social security benefits.

Going back to work:

Clients will call me informing me that they need to go back to work because the application process for social security disability is taking too long.  Sometimes you can work while you are waiting for a determination on your social security benefits but be very cautious and consult with an attorney regarding what you will be doing and how much you are going to make.  Certain work, or making too much money, could completely derail your chances of ever getting approved.

Working under the table:

After hearing they should not work, some clients then proceed to work under the table and do not pay taxes hoping that social security will never find out.  The Social Security Administration Judges will often ask you about what if any kind of work you are doing.  Lying to social security disability about what you are and are not doing for work is considered fraud and could result in serious consequences.  Again, if you are considering working under the table speak with an attorney about what you can and cannot do so that you can be honest about it at the hearing.

Applying for unemployment:

Applying for unemployment is something I advise all of my clients against.  On its face it is seemingly harmless.  Perhaps you were fired from your job due to your illness.  You cannot get disability benefits for periods in which you were collecting unemployment.  Unemployment requires you to be looking for a job.  You essentially certify that you are able and willing to work but merely cannot find a job.  When you apply for social security disability we are trying to prove that you cannot work.  Unemployment may be tempting but do not apply if you intend to apply for social security disability benefits.

If you or someone you know has been injured at work or suffers from a medical condition or injury that will keep them from working for 12 months or longer, contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley at 855-325-4781 for a free consultation statewide. You may also learn more about us by visiting our website at

Friday, July 8, 2016

Things to keep in mind at a work-site....

Things to keep in mind at a work-site  
to protect yourself in case of an injury.
By Erica Melendez, Attorney
Snow, Carpio & Weekley

I have had too many conversations with injured workers that go like this:

Me:               “Where were you working?”
Client:          “I had just started there, its over on Southern and 48th Street.”
Me :              “Who saw the accident”
Client:          “Uh, Gordo (nickname for fat guy), the foreman - Guero (nickname meaning light- skinned) and a tall American guy.”

….As you can imagine, this is not helpful when trying to file a claim and piece together a witness list. Many times when I first meet a client who is battling a claim denied by the employer/insurance company, and the client no longer works for the company where he was injured, I wish I could go back in time with the client to gather information at the workplace which would be useful in defending the claim. Such as:

#1 – Know the name of the company you work for!!  Sometimes when a worker is referred to a job site through a friend or family member and begin to work before actually filling out a job application, the actual name of the company who has hired the worker can become unclear.  This happens especially with smaller companies.  It is very important to know the name of the company you work for.  You can look around the worksite to find this out, does a supervisor come onsite?  If so does he or she drive a truck with the company logo?  Are you picked up by a truck that has a logo?  Are there signs with the company logo at the worksite?  Do others wear shirts with the company logo?  Where are the headquarters of the company you are working for?
#2 – Know the names and last names of your supervisors and co-workers.  Not only are these people potential witnesses to a work injury, they can also testify as to the fact that you were even working at the work site (yes, sometimes even the fact of your employment becomes an issue)  I’ll get people come in with descriptions of co-workers, where they are from, and nicknames, but not first and last names.
#3 – Keep your pay stubs, if you are paid in cash, keep a log of payments, deposit slips or receipts.  This is helpful in proving you worked for a company or establishing the amount you were paid while working for a company.

Obviously no one wants to get hurt on the job, but taking simple precautions and gathering information will help protect you should you ever sustain an injury on the job and are in the difficult situation of not working there AND trying to prove you worked there and had an injury.

If you have been injured on the job or suffer form a condition that will prevent you for working for 12 months or longer, contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley at 855-325-4781 for a free consultation statewide. You may also learn more about us by visiting our website at

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Independent Medical Exams (IME)

Independent Medical Exams (IME)
By Dennis Kurth, Attorney
Snow, Carpio & Weekley

Independent medical exams (IME) can be problematic for injured workers receiving workers' compensation benefits.  Insurance carriers providing compensation and medical benefits have a right to an IME to assess a claimant's condition from time to time under the statue and the rules.  They often avail themselves of such right when a claimant's treatment and recovery are not progressing at a suitable (to them) pace.

Claimants have only very limited rights to object to IME's and only three days after receipt of an IME notice to file their objections with the Industrial Commission under the Rules.  The Industrial Commission rarely issues a Protective Order against an IME especially if the objection is solely related to the identity of the particular examiner.

Due to the extremely short window of time for a claimant to file a written objection (Motion for Protective Order) to an IME, many claimants, especially those unrepresented by counsel, simply bypass the opportunity to object.  Others, thinking that such exams are easily changed by a phone call to the examiner or the agency scheduling the IME, find out too late that they are not easily changed at all.

Irrespective of the fact that workers' compensation carriers keep recycling the same tired group of friendly examiners to the great detriment of claimants who are awaiting approval for surgery or other procedures, just innocently missing one of these exams can result in the carrier unilaterally suspending both compensation and medical treatment and assessing costs of the IME which can run from a couple thousand dollars for an orthopedic or spinal surgeon to several thousand dollars if a psychiatric or psychological exam is missed.  In many of these situations the examiners are paid guaranteed fees if the claimant doesn't show up.

Fortunately for aggrieved claimants, the appellate courts in Arizona have put a humane interpretation on the statutory penalties for missing IME's and the carriers must prove that the claimant intentionally rather than accidentally missed the IME to be able to impose any penalties at all.  Enlightened members of the Industrial Commission judiciary usually limit cost assessments to exactly what the carrier paid the examiner for a no-show fee or what a typical first examination would cost with that type of specialist.

Even if a suspension is ultimately found to be unjustified however, it can take months in litigation to undo the effects of the suspension and get compensation and medical benefits reinstated imposing great financial hardship on the claimant's family which might already be suffering mightily with the breadwinner being out of work.  Consequently, claimants facing IME notification are best advised to seek legal advice immediately upon being notified of an IME.

If you or someone you know has been injured at work or suffers from a medical condition or injury that will keep them from working for 12 months or longer, contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley at 855-325-4781 for a free consultation statewide. You may also learn more about us by visiting our website at

Critics call for AZ sheriff to resign, be indicted

Critics call for AZ sheriff to resign, be indicted

Monday, July 4, 2016

Can I apply for SSD if I am not a citizen?

Can I apply for SSD if I am not a citizen?
By Nicholas Wearne, Attorney
Social Security Department
Snow, Carpio & Weekley

If you are a documented permanent resident and have worked 5 of the last ten years in the United States at a job where you have paid taxes then you will likely have enough credits to apply for social security disability.  If you are undocumented the unfortunate truth is you cannot apply for social security benefits regardless of how many years you have worked in the United States.

Si estas aqui en los Estados Unidos como un residente permanente y has trabajado un minimo de 5 anos en un trabajo donde pagas impuetos, debes de tener lo credito suficiente para aplicar para seguro social.  Desafortunadamente, si estas aqui en los estados unidos y no estas documentado, no puedes aplicar por seguro social irrespectivo de los anos que has trabajado aqui en los Estados Unidos.

If you or someone you know has been injured at work or suffers from a medical condition or injury that will keep them from working for 12 months or longer, contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley at 855-325-4781 for a free consultation statewide. You may also learn more about us by visiting our website at