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Scott Lewis

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October 19, 2010

How Do I Pay My Indianapolis Social Security Disability Lawyer?

When the Social Security Administration (SSA) has turned down your Indiana Social Security disability claim and now you are wondering how you can afford to hire an Indiana disability attorney.  Financially, it may not be as difficult as you think.  Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott D. Lewis receives many calls asking how he gets paid if he is hired to represent an individual on their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Currently, Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis’ fee agreement is contingent on him winning his Social Security disability clients claim.  This means if he does not win the claim, he does not ask his client for any money.  Another advantage is there are no up front costs to the client. Mr. Lewis finds that most of his Indiana Social Security disability clients are struggling to keep their heads above water with medical bills and providing food & shelter for themselves and their families.  The thought of paying a Social Security disability lawyer up front is not even an option for most disability claimants. Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis gets paid a percentage of the Social Security disability claimant’s past due award and it is capped at a certain amount determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  The Social Security Administration takes this fee directly out of any past due benefits the Social Security disability claimant is awarded. When Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis wins his clients claim, he will also ask to be reimbursed for medical records expenses he has incurred to support the Social Security disability claim.

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October 15, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis represents individuals that are unable to work due a disabling condition or a combination of impairments. His disability clients have applied for Social Security disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) and have been denied disability benefits.  Scott Lewis assists disability claimants with appealing their denied claim at the reconsideration level and at the hearing level.  At the Law Office of Scott D. Lewis, Attorney Scott Lewis and his staff offer a free consultation to all disability claimants prior to representing them in their claim.  When Attorney Lewis is consulting with a disability claimant, he often finds himself explaining to the claimant the different disability programs offered by the SSA. In many cases, the disability claimants are unaware of the two different types of programs.  It’s important for Mr. Lewis to discuss with the claimant what the difference is between these two programs and which, if not both, program(s) is appropriate for the claimant to apply for.  The two disability programs offered by the SSA are Social Security Disability Insurance (also referred as SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (also referred as SSI). The SSDI and SSI disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide financial assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the SSA and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program. Whether you are a disability claimant suffering from cancer, heart disease, mental disorders, back pain, or any other disabling condition, your impairment has nothing to do with which disability program is right for you.  To determine which program you may qualify for it is based on work history and/or your income & resources. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is a payroll tax funded federal insurance program that is offered to disabled people … Continued

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

Testifying At Your Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing

Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis often finds his Indiana Social Security Appeals clients are very nervous about giving testimony at Social Security disability hearings.  The fact is many of his disability clients find the hearing to be much more informal than they had originally thought.  The hearing rooms in the Indianapolis Social Security disability office are not a grand courtroom as many disability clients are expecting.  Instead, hearing rooms are typically small, carpeted, wallpapered rooms with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) usually sitting at an elevated desk.  So, now that you have an idea what the hearing room looks like where an Indiana disability client will give testimony, what type of questions will you be asked? Almost all Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) follow a different routine when questioning Social Security disability appeals claimants.  With that being said, Indiana Social Security disability clients should realize the underlying question is “how does your disability keep you from working?”  Indianapolis Social Security disability Attorney Scott Lewis usually finds that most Administrative Law Judges will ask a series of questions and then let the Attorney or representative follow up with their own line of questioning.  The questions usually fall into four main groups: General background questions.  These can include how old you are, your height and weight, your marital status, who you live with, whether you are right or left handed, and many other similar questions. Past jobs you have performed.  Here the Social Security Administration (SSA) is usually concerned with how much you lifted, how much standing and sitting you did, and what your duties where at your previous job(s).  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis tells his clients to be prepared to discuss jobs over the last fifteen (15) years that lasted more than three (3) months. Discussion of your medical problems either physical or mental that prevent you from working.  It is important … Continued

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October 12, 2010

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

Indianapolis Social Security disability benefits recipients receiving either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are entitled to a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) each year.  COLA is an automatic adjustment to the recipient’s benefits that may occur each year.  Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis tries to explain to his clients how COLA may affect their disability payments.The purpose of COLA is so the purchasing power of SSDI or SSI benefits is not eroded by inflation.  The increase in payments is determined by 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. In 2010, there was no increase in COLA.  As all SSDI and SSI recipients experienced, this is the first time in history, dated back to 1975, that there was not an increase in COLA. There was no SSDI and SSI COLA increase in 2010 because there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2009. Therefore, SSDI and SSI payments remained the same in 2010. Indiana SSDI and SSI benefits recipients may be wondering if there will be a COLA increase in 2011.  According to recent studies, experts are predicting that there may not be a COLA increase in 2011 and possibly in 2012 due to lack of inflation. Official projections will be determined later this month.  Most Social Security disability recipients rely on these benefits as their only source of income. In some cases, the effects of no increase in COLA may be financially painstaking. At the … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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October 7, 2010

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits based on Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability. Indiana disability claimants suffering from arthritis may qualify for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if the claimant meets the criteria set by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis is experienced in representing claimants with various types of arthritis.  Many Indiana residents suffer from arthritis and are unable to work due to their condition. How does a person suffering from arthritis qualify for Social Security disability benefits? As all disabling conditions, the SSA uses a 5 step sequential evaluation process to determine if a disability claimant will receive SSDI or SSI benefits based on arthritis. In Step 1 of the evaluation process, the SSA wants to know if the claimant is working.  In this step, the SSA simply determines if an individual is “working.”  If so, the claimant must prove that they are earning less than the monthly Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) set by the SSA.  Earning more than the monthly SGA amount is enough for the SSA to deny the disability claimant’s SSDI or SSI application. In the next step of the evaluation process, Step 2, the SSA will ask if the claimant’s arthritis is severe.  The impairment must be severe enough to significantly limit the claimant’s ability to perform basic work activity. In addition, the arthritis must last, or be expected to last, for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.  It’s the claimant’s responsibility to prove that the disabling condition such as arthritis is severe enough that his or her ability to perform basic work activities are limited and will last a minimum of 12 months. If a disability claimant suffering from arthritis can pass Steps 1 & 2 of the evaluation process, the SSA will continue to Step 3 of the evaluation process.  In Step 3, the SSA … Continued

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October 7, 2010

Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits and Attorney Advisor Decisions

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis has noticed in the recent past more Attorney Advisor favorable decisions. Indiana disability appeal claimants may ask what is an Attorney Advisor. An Attorney Advisor gives support to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the form of technical and legal help. This can help process Social Security disability appeals claims in a more time efficient manner. Social Security Attorney Advisors may help an Administrative Law Judge research and formulate a decision.  Social Security Attorney Advisors should have expertise in the areas of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in order to help the ALJ make an informed accurate decision regarding Social Security disability benefits. Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis often receives telephone calls from Attorney Advisors inquiring about his Indiana and Indianapolis Social Security disability clients. Some of the information an Attorney Advisor might request or inquire about may include: More medical evidence.  At times a Social Security disability Attorney Advisor may want additional medical records either concerning a physical disability or a mental disability.  The Social Security Attorney Advisor may be on the verge of approving your Social Security disability claim, but may be missing an essential document(s) to approve the disability claim. Amending an onset date.  Many times the Social Security disability Attorney Advisor is willing to approve your Social Security disability claim, but wants to change the date you say you became disabled.  The Attorney Advisor is essentially saying the medical evidence does not support your earlier date of onset, but he/she is willing to award you Social Security disability benefits if you are willing to change the date you became disabled to a later date. While there are other items an Attorney Advisor may want to discuss with an Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney the above two items seem to be the most common … Continued

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September 29, 2010

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Your Indiana Social Security Disability Claim

Indianapolis Social Security disability Attorney Scott Lewis often talks to potential clients about disabling conditions that are very difficult to live with. Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS can affect a Social Security disability claimant’s life in such a way as to make it impossible to maintain a full time job. For that reason, individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Irritable Bowel Syndrome may cause abdominal pain and cramping among other painful symptoms.  It can also be characterized by periods of loose stools and periods of constipation.  This painful condition can intrude on almost all aspects of a person’s life.  While there may be physical disabilities associated with IBS, there may also be mental disabilities including anxiety, stress, and even depression. How does the Social Security Administration (SSA) look at Irritable Bowel Syndrome?  The Social Security Administration recognizes Irritable Bowel Syndrome in its Listing of Impairments under Listing 5.06 Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).  What happens if your case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome does not precisely meet the listing?  You may still be able to win your Indiana Social Security disability claim or Indiana Social Security disability appeal.  If you can show Irritable Bowel Syndrome effects you in such a way that you cannot perform substantial gainful activity.  Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome may prevent you from working because you have to take unscheduled breaks.  Most employers are unable to tolerate a worker that cannot stay on task for certain periods of time. Indiana residents that suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS and are unable to perform work like activity because of this disabling condition may want to consult with a Social Security disability attorney to evaluate their claim.  Many disabilities such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be difficult to discuss, but it is important for Indiana and Indianapolis Social Security disability claimants to … Continued

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September 23, 2010

If I Try to Work, Will My Social Security Disability Benefits Stop?

Many hard working Indiana residents struggle to accept the fact they are no longer able to work to support their families due to a disabling condition. Depending on your disability working part time or eventually returning to the work force full time may not be out of the question. There are a few things to consider, such as how much money you can make and what programs the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers to get you back in the workforce. The first thing a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient may want to consider is how much money they can make working without jeopardizing their Social Security disability benefits.  This is called the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Amount.  This is a monthly amount an individual cannot exceed after subtracting impairment related work expenses.  SGA is a higher limit for statutorily blind individuals.  In 2010, the monthly dollar amount is $1,640 for statutorily blind individuals and $1,000 for other disabled individuals. A program of interest for Social Security disability recipients wanting to re-enter the workforce is the Trial Work Period.  In this scenario, a person may try to re-enter the workforce and still have earnings and continue to collect Social Security disability benefits. There are rules covering the Trial Work Period in the link provided above.  Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis receives calls on a weekly basis asking what the provisions are for earning money while collecting Social Security disability benefits and routinely steers these questions for more specific information to the Social Security Administration’s website.

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September 22, 2010

When Should I File For Social Security Disability?

Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis often gets telephone calls from Indiana residents asking when they should file their initial Social Security disability claim.  Many disability claimants make the mistake of waiting because they believe they must be disabled for a period of one year before they can file a Social Security disability claim.  There are a number of things to consider when deciding to file a Social Security disability claim: 1.  Has your disability or combination of disabilities prevented you from making enough money to take care of yourself and/or your family?  The amount of money the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers to meet this level is called the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount.  In 2010 the SGA amount for non-blind individuals is 1,000.00. 2.  Will you meet the “durational requirement”?  Your disability must actually last for 12 months or be expected to last for 12 months.  Many times Lawyer Scott Lewis tells his clients if there is a question as to whether the disability will last for 12 months, do not give up on the claim.  If the disability is preventing you from performing SGA, as stated above, it may be in your best interest to appeal your disability claim if you are unsure as to whether you may recover from your disabling condition.  Also, due to the lengthy hearings process in your Social Security disability appeal you may have very well met the durational requirement before you find yourself before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). 3.  Don’t jeopardize your “date last insured”.  Based on your work history and paying into the Social Security system you will establish a dale last insured.  A Social Security disability claimant must prove they became disabled before the date last insured in Title II also known as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. 4.  Also in Title II or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims … Continued

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September 15, 2010

My Initial Social Security Disability Claim Was Denied, Now What?

You just received a letter stating your Social Security disability claim was denied and you are wondering what to do next?  Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis receives calls asking this very question every day. Indiana residents receiving a notice of disapproved claim need to know they have certain rights and can appeal a denial of their Social Security disability claim. There can be a few reasons you find yourself denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  When Attorney Scott Lewis hears that your Social Security claim was denied because the Social Security Administration did not feel that your disability was severe enough to prevent you from working, he realizes you may have grounds to appeal the decision. Why did you get denied?  One reason you may have been denied your Social Security disability benefits is because your medical record was incomplete.  In your initial application you may have unintentionally omitted important medical sources.  Another reason could be the SSA was unable to get important medical documentation that you told them about.  There could have been an oversight by the SSA or an oversight by the medical source you provided to them.  In any case, by the time you reach an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing it is very important that your Social Security claim file is up-to-date and complete.  While the above may be one reason you are denied, there can be many other reasons for a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) denial. What to do next?  A “Request for Reconsideration”, sometimes referred to as an appeal by Social Security disability claimants is usually the next step when receiving an initial denial.  Basically, what you are saying to the Social Security Administration is “hey, you made a mistake take another look at my disability claim”.  You have 60 days plus some mailing time from the date of … Continued

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