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Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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My spouse suffers from a degenerative organic disability that

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My spouse suffers from a degenerative organic disability that increasingly impairs cognitive functioning. He is unable to negotiate the disability benefits application. His employer's HR is giving him conflicting information, and he is in danger of making errors that would have long-term consequences. He is too disabled to apply for his disability benefits, and I believe that is being exploited. What could someone in his situation do?

I'm sorry to hear about your situation and hope I can help.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX my goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

I need a bit more information from you before I can proceed to provide you with a complete and thorough answer to your question.

Have you filed for power of attorney for your husband?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have not filed for power of attorney. The rapidity of the degeneration is not atypical for his disorder, but it has been difficult, until recently, to assess his mental status. I have heard of surrogate decision making. Would durable power of medical attorney apply to this task?

Hello Gina,

You will need to have him sign a power of attorney form designating you power of attorney, so you can negotiate disability benefits and obtain them on his behalf, in order to prevent him from being exploited in the process.

A good general durable power of attorney form is available online here:

A power of attorney gives you the same rights to make decisions for your husband that he would have on his own, including negotiating and making decisions regarding his disability insurance benefits.

You can take it to a notary and have it notarized after filling it out and it will be immediately effective so you can represent your husband's interests in all disability insurance matters going forward.

I hope the above information is helpful.

Please let me know if you have any clarifying or follow up questions as I want to ensure that you are completely satisfied with my service. Please contact me first if you are contemplating leaving me a negative rating, as I’ll be happy to continue to address your concerns until you are satisfied with my service.

If not, please remember to rate my answer positively so I get credit for my work. Please also rate me highly (9-10) when you receive your customer satisfaction survey as well.

Thanks and best of luck!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Dear XXXXXph,


I do have one followup question, thank you. I am now the sole caretaker of our severely developmentally disabled teenage child, and I work full time. I am not sure that I am able to effectively take on the additional task of advocating for my spouse, who is separating from my own employer-we both are faculty at the University of California. Is there any service that might be available to my spouse to gain his benefits because he is disabled? I am unable to determine whether he has any rights to patient advocacy based upon cognitive impairment. Would it be helpful to hire a disability lawyer, even if it is in regard to disability benefits specific to this employer?

Hello Gina,

Yes, there is a group called Disability Rights California that would help provide assistance to your husband in gaining these benefits, since they advocate on behalf of disabled individuals state wide.

However, I would still recommend that you get the power of attorney completed, as you will definitely still need it, if you are the one that would be signing off on the disability benefits approval, even if you are able to get Disability Rights California to do the negotiating and advocating on your husband's behalf.

Here is a link to the group, including their contact information:

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you very much for your help, Joseph. I amended my question at the last minute to ask if consulting a disability lawyer might be warranted. If you could give me feedback on that question, I believe I have the information that I need. Your advice has been extremely useful, and I will be reflecting that in your rating.

Hello Gina,

Happy to help.

Yes, I would suggest that speaking to a local disability lawyer could definitely be helpful. However, I'd avoid hiring on unless necessary. Many disability attorneys are of the social security variety and get paid on commission based on successful claims (including claims that could have easily just been brought by the individual him or herself), sometimes preying off the disabled instead of assisting them. This is the exception to the rule, but it is worthwhile to keep on a lockout for this.

Joseph and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

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