In Uncategorized on 01/25/2021 at 17:36

I direct this to my colleagues who practice in the field of personal injury, but specifically those whose practices involve Workers’ Compensation. Beware Section 86, and the comp-meets-Social-Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) shunt.

Here’s Dianne S. Hairston and Steve R. Hairston, 2021 T. C. Sum. Op. 2, filed 1/25/21, from Judge Colvin, one of the small-claimer read-and-heeds that make blogging so much fun.

It’s Steve’s story. Steve was getting Comp, until the VA Comp Bd (that’s Virginia, not Veterans’ Administration) cut him off, and SSDI took over paying, which included some payments for year before year at issue. Then VA decided they’d wrongfully cut Steve off, started paying him again retro to cutoff. Whereupon SSA wanted the SSDI money back, which Steve paid.

Steve never paid tax on the SSDI. He claimed that he’d paid that back in another year.

Judge Colvin sorts it out. Each year stands on its own. What Steve paid back in years after the year at issue is nothing to the point.

OK, so why should PI practitioners care?

Well, pardon an old beaten-up, beaten-down, single-shingle “general practitioner of mediocre qualifications and limited experience,” as a much finer writer than I put it, but I doubt the VA Comp Bd was suddenly, out of the blue, struck with the injustice of cutting Steve off, then sua sponte and ex proprio motu reinstated and paid him retroactive. Could happen, but don’t hang by your cliché until it does.

I’ll wager a couple ales in Jake’s Saloon (hi, Judge Holmes) that Steve had a lawyer. Don’t take the bet.

“Petitioners also raise three questions regarding actions taken by the SSA and their former attorney: (1) why did petitioner husband receive Social Security disability benefits rather than retirement benefits starting in 2013; (2) why did petitioners’ attorney tell petitioner husband to sign up for Social Security disability benefits; and (3) why did neither the SSA nor petitioners’ attorney inform petitioner husband about his receipt of Social Security benefits.” 2021 T. C. Sum. Op. 2, at p. 8.

Judge Colvin ducks.

“We do not consider those questions because they do not relate to matters within our jurisdiction, which in this case is limited to petitioners’ tax liability for 2014. See sec. 6214(a).” 2021 T. C. Sum. Op. 2, at p.8.

Steve’s lawyer may not be able to duck.


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