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Scott Lewis

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January 5, 2011

Is There A Way I Can Get My Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing Faster?

Maybe you are getting tired of waiting for your Indiana Social Security disability appeal hearing and now you are wondering if there is some way to get in front of a Judge quicker.  You may now find this long wait to have your disability claim heard has put you and your family in financial turmoil and cannot believe it is taking this long to enter an Indiana Social Security disability courtroom.  Indianapolis Social Security lawyer Scott Lewis fields many calls asking this very question, and he lets these Indiana residents know there are ways to get there faster, but the criteria to do so may not sound very appealing. There are circumstances where the Social Security Administration (SSA) will at times move you up in the waiting process and these situations are  considered “dire circumstances”.  These critical cases include: Military service casualty cases Compassionate allowance cases The claimant is homicidal or suicidal The claimant has a terminal illness Shelter, food, or medicine is unavailable and the claimant is unable to obtain it The aforementioned criteria to establish an Indiana Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim as “dire need” is only a framework to go by, the facts in each individual case vary and can effect a case differently.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis can discuss your particular case in more detail.  If a claim is determined to be dire need, a hearing office should take immediate action to expedite the Social Security disability claim. Unfortunately, with the current hearing backlog many Indiana Social Security disability claimants find themselves not fitting into a dire need circumstance, but struggling to make it to their hearing date.  If you have questions concerning Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits contact Scott D. Lewis for a … Continued

Filed under: Claims Process, Hearings Process || Tagged under:
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January 3, 2011

Indianapolis Disability Lawyer Scott Lewis Discusses Why Your Age Matters When it Comes To Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana residents may not all agree getting older is a good thing.  Lets face it, as we age it seems to be a bit harder to bounce back from physical problems we encounter.  As we age, we may also find it more difficult to find employment.  Believe it or not, the Social Security Administration (SSA) believes it may be more difficult for older individuals to find suitable employment.  Now, don’t be misled that the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t look at various other factors when determining if your disability prevents you from working, but age is one very important factor they examine. Age is just one of the factors considered in what is known as “the grid”.  This is a table composed of various factors to help the SSA determine if your disability meets the requirements necessary to “grid out”, or be granted Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Other factors include education, the skill level of past employment, and whether you are able to do sedentary, light, medium, or heavy work.  The age criteria is broken down into four categories: 18 – 44 years old considered young individuals 45 – 49 years old considered younger individuals 50 -54  years old considered approaching advanced age 55 years of age and older considered advanced age While all of the above may seem difficult to understand, the simple truth is that those individuals over 50 years of age usually benefit from the grid scenario much more than those individuals younger than 50 years of age. Those individuals over 50 years of age with unskilled work experience that is not transferable combined with a limitation of sedentary work often find themselves on the favorable end of a Social Security disability decision.  With that being said, your disabling condition is still … Continued

Filed under: Residual Functional Capacity || Tagged under:
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December 30, 2010

Social Security Disability Claims Continue To Grow

Recent reports indicate a rise in the amount of individuals filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. This could be due to many factors including the rise in unemployment and even the ease of applying for disability benefits online may be a culprit. Whatever the reason, Indiana Social Security disability claimants are not immune to the ramifications of a rising number of disability applications. Indianapolis Social Security Lawyer Scott Lewis fears this rise may result in even longer processing times of applications and create an even more burdensome backlog of individuals waiting on an Indiana Social Security disability hearing. Sources show that Social Security disability applications have increased by 21 percent recently and in Indianapolis Disability Attorney Scott Lewis’ experience Indiana has been no exception. Mr. Lewis has noticed an increase in the amount of interest shown in individuals asking if they may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  While the requirements of being entitled to Indiana Social Security benefits may appear straightforward, there are many variables that can enter into the equation.  For instance, many of these Indiana residents applying for Social Security disability benefits are receiving unemployment benefits.  While this should not be an absolute bar to receiving Social Security disability benefits, some Administrative Law Judges look on the payments of unemployment as a factor in turning down an otherwise valid Social Security disability claim. What does all of this mean to a disabled Indiana resident?  It may mean a longer waiting period for your claim to be processed.  It should not discourage you or a family member from applying for Social Security disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Just because there are more people applying for disability benefits does not mean they are more difficult to obtain.  As always, … Continued

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December 21, 2010

How Do Resources Affect My Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Claim?

Indianapolis Social Security lawyer Scott D. Lewis usually advises his clients to apply for both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits when filing their initial application.  Mr. Lewis believes it is important to apply for both programs because if you are not eligible for one program the other program may be right for you.  Indiana disability claimants should be aware; however, the criteria is different for the two programs.  The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program will look at an individual’s resources to determine if they qualify financially and how much their monthly benefit might be. Why does the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program care about your resources?  Resources are just one of the factors to figure out whether you are eligible for the benefits.  Indiana disability claimants need to know there is a limit for countable resources.  At the current time it is $2,000 for an individual and is $3,000 for a couple.  Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis lets his clients know they will be asked various questions about their resources by the Indiana Social Security Administration (SSA). What does the Social Security Administration (SSA) consider resources?  This is not limited to, but can include things like: life insurance land personal property cash items that can be changed to cash for food and shelter vehicles There is also something called “deemed” resources. This can be some of the resources of a spouse, parent’s spouse, and parent, just to name a few. If you find you have not worked long enough to be awarded Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, then the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program may be the right fit for you.  If you have questions concerning your Indiana Social Security benefits call Indianapolis disability attorney Scott D. Lewis for a free case evaluation.  You can protect … Continued

Filed under: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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December 16, 2010

Your Social Security Disability Claim and Acceptable Medical Testing

Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis finds on occasion his clients have a diagnosis without appropriate medical testing to back it up. At times, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will look through your medical record and remark that while it has volumes of records it is lacking appropriate medical testing. To put it in its simplest terms, you may complain of a broken leg, but without an X-ray you may have a difficult time convincing anyone there is actually a fracture.  Some common tests Indiana Social Security attorney Scott D. Lewis finds absent in a disability claimant’s medical file can include but are not limited to those claiming: Fibromyalgia With this diagnosis, Mr. Lewis has found Administrative Law Judge’s often have a hard time getting their hands around this condition without appropriate testing.  Because currently there is no X-ray or lab testing for the diagnosis of Fibromiyalgia, many times tender points throughout the body are used to determine a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.  A diagnosis of Fibromyalgia may be made when a patient is positive in 11 of 18 of these tender points.  Does this mean you will qualify for Indiana Social Security disability benefits?  Not always, as some Administrative Law Judges are still skeptical as to this diagnosis. Various Breathing Disorders  Pulmonary functioning tests may be beneficial to a claim for a breathing disorder.  A few of these tests can include spirometry and methocholine challenge.  If you suffer from COPD, emphysema, asthma, or any other pulmonary condition you should consult your physician for appropriate testing. Impairments of the Spine  Those Indiana Social Security disability claimants finding they are experiencing a disabling condition due to neck and/or back problems should seek appropriate medical testing such as an MRI.  In Indiana Social Security attorney Scott Lewis’ experience, a MRI can be crucial in … Continued

Filed under: Medical Treatment || Tagged under:
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December 14, 2010

2011 Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) for Social Security Disability Benefits Recipients

As with all Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit recipients, Indiana disability benefits recipients are not going to see an increase in their monthly disability payment in 2011. On October 15th, 2010, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that there would be no Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) for 2011. This is the second year in a row that there was not an increase to SSDI, SSI or Social Security retirement benefit payments.  Over 50 million Americans receive some form of Social Security benefit. What are Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA)? COLA is an automatic adjustment to the SSDI or SSI recipient’s monthly benefits that may occur each year. The COLA increase is based on the percentage increase from year to year of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Worker (CPI-W) during the third quarter of the year.  This percentage increase of COLA is strictly based on the CPI-W increase so, when there is not an increase in the CPI-W then there is no increase in COLA.  CPI-W increases are determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor.  The purpose of the COLA increase is so the purchasing power of SSDI or SSI benefits keep in pace with consumer prices and that benefits are not eroded by inflation. Why isn’t there a COLA increase in 2011?  As in 2010, because there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of the previous year to the third quarter of the current year. Therefore, SSDI and SSI payments will remain the same in 2011.  In the last two years, overall inflation has been low, largely because of the economic downturn.  It has been predicted by the Congressional Budget Office that inflation will remain low for the next several years.  As a result, this may mean that Social Security recipients may not see a COLA increase for … Continued

Filed under: News, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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December 13, 2010

Does The Social Security Administration Offers A “Short Term” Disability Benefit

You may be surprised how often this question gets asked to Indiana Disability Attorney Scott Lewis.  At times, Indiana residents find themselves unable to work due to a disabling condition, but anticipate returning to the workforce.  These short term disabling conditions may be due to the result of an auto accident, a surgery, or any other condition where you find yourself unable to work because of a physical or mental impairment.  Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis even receives telephone calls asking if a normal pregnancy can be a disabling condition.  To answer the question of whether the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers a short term disability program, one must determine how short is short? The Social Security Administration has a condition that must be met that is called the “durational requirement.”  With this requirement, your disabling condition (either physical or mental) must have actually lasted for twelve (12) months or be expected to last for twelve (12) months.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis finds one way the Social Security Administration can turn down many claims is by stating your mental or physical disabling condition is not expected to last twelve (12) months.  Due to the fact that many medical conditions can be very difficult to determine how long they will last, it may be in your best interest to appeal an unfavorable decision if denied for this reason. Let’s say you are denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits because the Social Security Administration states you do not meet the durational requirement and you decide not to appeal that decision. Now you find your disabling condition does not improve and you are still unable to work.  In this scenario, you may be past the time limit to appeal your claim. Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis usually advises his … Continued

Filed under: Evaluation Process || Tagged under:
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December 12, 2010

Indiana Social Security Lawyer Scott Lewis Answers Questions About Returning To Work During The Claims Process

Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis fields occasional telephone calls from his Indiana disability clients asking what the ramifications will be if they try to reenter the workforce.  As fundamental as it may sound, the facts of a particular case always matter.  Many Indiana residents are finding they are having a difficult time putting food on the table for themselves and their families during a very lengthy application and appeals process.  A few topics Indianapolis disability attorney Scott D. Lewis may encounter may include: Are you considering a full time or part time job?  If your disabling condition(s) do not permit you to work full time, but you think you may be able to work part time, you may be interested in a term call “Substantial Gainful Activity” or “SGA”.  This is an amount the Social Security Administration determines as earnings you can make on a monthly basis and still be entitled to disability benefits.  SGA for 2010 is $1,640.00/month for statutorily blind individuals and $1,000.00/month for non-blind individuals.  There are different criteria for those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) concerning blind individuals. It appears these amounts will also be valid for 2011, but more information concerning SGA can be found on the Social Security Administration’s website. Should you withdraw your claim for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits as soon as you start back to work?  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis usually advises his clients to wait and see if they are actually able to perform a full-time job or a job that creates more than the SGA for a number of months before withdrawing their claim. Many times, individuals believe they can work but find their condition prevents them from performing substantial gainful activity. If you have been waiting for an Indiana Social Security … Continued

Filed under: Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) || Tagged under:
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December 7, 2010

Indianapolis Social Security Appeals Lawyer Scott D. Lewis and Why Honesty May Be The Best Policy

Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis often lets his Social Security disability clients know how important it is to be honest at your Indiana Social Security disability appeal hearing. You have waited two years to get a hearing and now you are in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for your day in court to try to secure Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. You have worked hard your entire life and accumulated enough work credits to be entitled to your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, or you are simply disabled and have not worked enough but are still entitled to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The ALJ starts his questioning and you are surprised they are a little more in depth about personal issues in your life and now you find yourself squirming in your chair and wondering why in the world the ALJ is interested in these topics. Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis has seen the above scenario on numerous occasions, and at times, squirms in his chair awaiting an answer to be uttered by his apprehensive client.  The truth is many Administrative Law Judges already know the answer to the question they are asking.  They are simply seeing if the Indiana Social Security disability claimant will tell the truth. Clients may be surprised to find when they go to their physician many times he/she is writing down things that an individual might not believe have much to do with their physical or mental disability.  Maybe that you did some very light yard work, went out with friends for a beer, watch your grandchildren occasionally, smoke cigarettes, and many other topics you may regard as meaningless when it comes to a disabling condition.  For example, if you tell the Administrative Law Judge you do … Continued

Filed under: Hearings Process
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December 6, 2010

Why The Social Security Administration Cares If You Can Make Your Bed

As silly as that may sound, when the Social Security Administration (SSA) is trying to determine if you are disabled they may want to know if you can make your bed, bathe & dress yourself, sweep & mop your floor, and take out the trash, among other things. These are called “Activities of Daily Living” or ADL’s. Activities of Daily Living are the things a person usually does on a routine basis to maintain their household and take care of themselves. Why does the Social Security Administration (SSA) or an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) care about activities of daily living?  In Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis’ experience, the SSA is trying to determine how much the Indiana disability claimant is restricted by examining what the disability claimant can or cannot do.  At times, Indiana disability claimants applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may be asked to fill out a form concerning their activities of daily living.  While it is important to be honest when completing these forms, it is also important to FULLY explain what you can or cannot do.  If it is necessary to take breaks due to pain, or other disabling conditions (either mental or physical), it is important to document these restrictions accurately.  Sometimes the Social Security Administration (SSA) may ask a third party to comment on your activities of daily living.  This may be a friend or neighbor.  It is important you let these third parties know what your restrictions and symptoms are.  Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis often finds these third party evaluations are not completely accurate regarding the claimants disabling condition(s). This line of questioning regarding your activities of daily living usually gets addressed when you find yourself in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  … Continued

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