Doctors diagnosed Joseph with Progressive Glaucoma, which is an eye condition that causes damage to the optic nerve resulting in permanent vision loss. He was told his eyesight would gradually fade over several years until he was blind, but little did he know he would be involved in an accident that would dramatically change his life sooner than he thought.
While at work in late 2009, a heavy box fell on the back of Joseph’s neck, back and shoulders, damaging his optic nerve, which controlled his vision. Joseph went completely blind in a matter of months instead of years.
Being remarried and raising a teenage son, Joseph realized he needed to apply for social security disability in order to have an income that, along with that of his new wife, would support both of them and allow them to support their household. After a few months, Joseph was granted Social Security Disability. When someone is awarded Social Security income of any kind, they are no longer required to file a tax return because their income is no longer earned. Although he was no longer required to file, he was included in his wife’s filing as her dependent.
Upon filing, Joseph and his wife were confused and frustrated because they did not understand why they did not receive a tax refund. In addition, his social security benefits were cut off because it appeared to the Social Security Administration that he was working. Joseph did his research and started to believe he might be a victim of identity theft.
LSLA accepted his case and got started right away, requesting 2848 to access his tax refund history, which included a timeline of submitted documents such as W2’s. LSLA instantly noticed W2’s posted from Florida. Also uncovered were three dependents in Florida listed on his report which made no sense since Joseph and his wife only had one child. His attorney immediately knew and confirmed that he was in fact a victim of identity theft.
On top of not receiving a refund, Joseph’s disability income was discontinued since the IRS was able to see reports of a steady income, actually reported by the identity thief. With continued efforts, LSLA made a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request to identify the back and forth communication Joseph had with the IRS, proving his attempts to inform the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that he was disabled and the W2s from Florida were not his own.
All of this overwhelming information about his social security being discontinued due to identity theft was stressful for Joseph and his wife. Over time, his wife became ill and could no longer work. Without her supportive income and no income from his disability award, the family was getting desperate for money.
LSLA submitted an identity theft claim to the IRS, which was accepted. The IRS ended up giving Joseph a protected PIN number that can block others who are trying to access his tax information. LSLA helped Joseph re-qualify for social security disability. LSLA also obtained all of Joseph’s wife’s refund money. Finally, LSLA obtained a determination that Joseph did not owe any money to the IRS.
“I really appreciated the great work you did. The IRS can be a stressful process. Your legal services helped my family recover from financial loss.” Joseph said. “You brought me peace of mind and besides being able to get a refund, getting a peace of mind was by far the greatest result.”
*Names were changed to protect the identity of the individuals involved.