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Scott Lewis

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May 26, 2010

What is a Medical Vocational Allowance?

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis has many clients that win their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim by means of a Medical Vocational Allowance. You may wonder what this means when it comes to Social Security disability claims. As Attorney Scott Lewis explains to his clients, it is a way of winning a disability claimant’s claim not based on one of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) qualifying “Listing of Impairments.” So, how can a disability claimant possibly win a disability claim if they don’t meet or exceed one of the medical listing of impairments defined by the SSA?  A Medical Vocational Allowance (also known as Med-Voc) is a term used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to define when someone is awarded Social Security disability benefits when the disability claim does not match one of the disabilities listed in the “Listing of Impairments.”  How does this work?  When the SSA is reviewing a disability claimant’s application, the examiner will request all medical records from sources the claimant has listed on their application.  Once the medical records are received, the SSA will evaluate the claimant’s condition and compare the impairment with the listings of the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments” (Blue Book).  The “Listing of Impairments” is a list of all qualifying conditions and impairments with their symptoms that a claimant must meet in order to be eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits.  If a claimant does not meet or exceed a particular listing, the claimant is often denied disability benefits.  However, this is how the Med-Voc comes into play.  When a disability claimant does not meet a listing, but the SSA examiner decides based on the claimant’s medical evidence that the claimant’s disability is severe enough, that the claimant is unable to work, and the … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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May 19, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits for Degenerative Disc Disease

How is an Indiana Social Security disability claimant supposed to prove they are unable to work due to degenerative disc disease? Degenerative disc disease is a very common disability among Indianapolis Scott D. Lewis‘ clients. In Attorney Scott Lewis’ experience, degenerative disc disease can be difficult claim to win without the appropriate medical evidence and especially for anyone under the age of 50. On the other hand, a disability claimant under the age of 50 with appropriate medical records may find themself winning a disability claim by meeting a listing in the Social Security Adminsitration’s Listing of Impairment or having such reduced physical capacity that they are unable to work.  Disability claimants may wonder why it is so difficult to win their claim when they are experiencing so much pain. Unfortunately, the only person that knows the amount of pain the claimant is experiencing is the claimant. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does list degenerative disc disease along with other qualifying disabilities such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, herniated nucleus pulposus, and spinal arachnoiditis under their “Listing of Impairments,” Section 1.04, Disorders of the Spine.  To meet this listing, it is important for the disability claimant to prove their disability is severe enough to cause them to be unable to work by providing medical evidence supporting their claim.  When the SSA receives a disability claim based on degenerative disc disease or other disabilities such as back pain, lumbar problems, herniated disc, spinal stenosis or degenerative joint disease, the SSA should immediately look for supporting medical evidence.  Some supporting medical evidence may include: diagnosis of the disease by a treating physician x-ray reports, MRI studies, or CAT scans indicating disc deterioration Because degenerative disc disease may be diagnosed based on the claimant’s symptoms, it is extremely important to have imaging studies such as MRI studies … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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May 18, 2010

Scoliosis and Social Security Disability Benefits

Are you an Indiana resident that is unable to work because you have been diagnosed with scoliosis?  Social Security disability claimants that have been diagnosed with spinal impairments such as scoliosis may be able to win their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits claim even though the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments do not include scoliosis.  Scoliosis is a spinal deformity that is characterized by both lateral and rotational curvature of the spine.  Whether you are diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis or congenital scoliosis, both types have similar symptoms.  Such symptoms may include: uneven muscle development on one side of the spine, rib hump, uneven shoulder blades, uneven shoulders and hips, or asymmetrical breast development in females. Treatment for scoliosis varies depending on the age of the individual.  Typically, younger individuals are often treated with braces to prevent the progression of scoliosis.  However, braces are not used on adults. Some believe that surgery remains the most successful treatment method for individuals with large curvatures of the spine. Spinal fusions with instrumentation may be the most successful surgical procedure although these procedures will not completely straighten the spine, but do provide good correction. So, how do I win my disability claim if the SSA doesn’t have medical criteria for abnormal curvature of the spine such as scoliosis?  Since the SSA does not have a listing in their “Listing of Impairments” specifying the medical criteria for disability based on curvature of the spine, a claimant must prove their disability in other ways.  The disability claimant will need to be awarded disability based on a type of approval known as a medical vocational allowance.  What is medical vocational allowance and how does it work?  When an SSDI or SSI disability claimant’s case is evaluated, a determination will be made as to whether or not the disability claimant is capable of returning … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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May 11, 2010

Schizophrenia & Social Security Disability Benefits

Mental illness, such as schizophrenia, can be disabling. Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects how a person experiences reality. Schizophrenia must be diagnosed by a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or other clinician, and may be characterized by: paranoia, hallucinations, bizarre delusions & perceptions, lack of emotions or motivations, and social and occupational dysfunction. Schizophrenia is a complicated disorder that is commonly treated by antipsychotic drugs, which can alleviate symptoms in some patients, but not cure the disease. Persons with a serious mental illness are just as entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments as persons with a serious physical illness. Since the criteria to qualify for Social Security disability benefits may be fairly complex, most Indiana claimants with schizophrenia elect to have a Social Security disability lawyer represent them in their disability claim.  Schizophrenia is addressed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Listing of Impairments, Section 12.03, Schizophrenic, Paranoid, and Other Psychotic Disorders. A disability claimant may qualify for disability benefits by either meeting or equaling the specifications of listing 12.03.  Stated in this listing, a disability applicant’s medical records must show the existence of intermittent or continuous: Delusions or hallucinations or Catatonic or other grossly disorganized behavior or A state of illogical thinking, incoherence, loosening of associations, or poverty of content of speech (associated with either a blunt, flat, or inappropriate display of mood or affect) or Emotional withdrawal and/or isolation. For an Indiana disability claimant to satisfy the requirements of listing 12.03, their records must also indicate that at least two of the following apply:  Markedly restricted daily activities; Marked restrictions in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; Marked restriction in the ability to maintain social functioning; Extended and repeated episodes of decompensation; If a disability applicant does not qualify for disability on the basis of the above criteria, a disability claimant … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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April 30, 2010

Autism and Social Security Disability

Autism is recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a disabling condition. Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder that affects social interaction and communication skills. Some symptoms of autism include, but are not limited to, repetitive or restricted behavior or lack of communication. The majority of Attorney Scott Lewis‘ disability clients attempting to receive disability benefits for autism have been children. While most of these clients are children, adults with autism may also qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability payments. Indiana disability claimants facing this impairment may be entitled to disability benefits. Found in the SSA’s Listing of impairments, Section 12.10, Autistic Disorder and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders (in both the adult and childhood listings) are the criteria required by the SSA for meeting the requirements for people with autism. There are several different types of autism including, but not limited to, Classic Autism and Aspergers Syndrome.  According to the SSA, the required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied. A.  Medically documented findings of the following:  All of the following for autistic disorder: Qualitative deficits in reciprocal social interaction; and qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity; and markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests; OR Both of the following for other pervasive developmental disorders: Qualitative deficits in reciprocal social interaction; and qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity; AND B.  Resulting in at least two of the following: Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration. Many of the types of autism that Attorney Scott Lewis observes are Classic Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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April 28, 2010

Can I Get My Social Security Disability Hearing Date Expedited?

It may be a painful reality that the Indiana Social Security disability claims process is a long drawn out process. In some cases, disability claimants are faced with some unfortunate situations while they are waiting the 18-24 months to be in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Indianapolis Social Security Disabilty Lawyer Scott D. Lewis often gets asked by his Social Security disability clients how they will be able to get their hearing date expedited. Mr. Lewis understands the client’s frustration with the waiting process, but getting a hearing date faster than anyone else is not as easy as he’d like. As most Social Security disability attorneys would share with their clients, getting a hearing date expedited may be difficult but not impossible. In some circumstances, a disability claimant may be able to prove a “dire need” to expedite the hearing. As most claimants experience, living without a paycheck, with existing ongoing medical bills, needing a place to sleep, and needing to eat can cause a lot of difficulty when it comes to survival. Attorney Scott Lewis often recommends to his clients to find a good support system during this difficult time. So, how does someone tell the Social Security Administration (SSA) that they are in a dire need to expedite the date of their disability hearing? First of all, the claimant and/or their disability lawyer must submit a “dire need” letter to the SSA explaining their extreme financial hardship. A “Dire Need” situation exists when a person has insufficient income or resources to meet an immediate threat to health or safety, such as lack of food, clothing, shelter or medical care.  The claim must allege specific immediate circumstances.  In Attorney Scott Lewis’ experience, the preceding factors may be looked at, but the three main factors the Indiana Social Security Administration will focus … Continued

Filed under: Hearings Process
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April 28, 2010

Qualifying Disabilities for Social Security Disability Benefits

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis represents claimants that are fighting to win Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Many of his Indiana clients ask him what disabilities will qualify them for these disability benefits programs. Even though a claimant doesn’t always have to meet one the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Listing of Impairments in order to win their claim, a claimant can win their claim if they do in fact meet the criteris of one the qaulifying impairments. The SSA has listed the criteria for each of these listed impairments that will medically qualify a person for SSDI or SSI benefits. This listing may also known as the SSA’s “Blue Book.” Impairments listed in the SSA’s Blue Book fall under one of the following categories: Musculoskeletal System Special Senses & Speech Respiratory System Cardiovascular System Digestive System Genitourinary Impairments Hematological Disorders Skin Disorders Endocrine System Impairments the Affect Multiple Body Systems Neurological Mental Disorders Malignant Neoplastic Disease Immune System Disorder Every impairment has its own criteria for qualification or approval.  Disabling conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, personality disorders, anxiety, spine disorders, leukemia, and a variety of other cancers are included in this list of impairments.  Many times, the disability examiner that is reviewing the claimant’s application will simply open the SSA’s blue book and compare the disorder requirements with the medical evidence of the claimant.  If the disability claimant’s supporting medical evidence meets the criteria of the listing, the claimant will be approved for disability benefits.  Unfortunately, not all disabling conditions are included in the SSA’s listing of impairments.  For example, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome are among some of the impairments not listed in the qualifying listing of impairments.  Disability claimants with such conditions might wonder … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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April 21, 2010

Unemployment Benefits & Social Security Disability Benefits

Is it a problem if I am receiving unemployment benefits and I am trying to get Social Security disability benefits? Indiana disability applicants often ask Attorney Scott D. Lewis if receiving unemployment insurance benefits will be frowned upon by the Social Security Administration (SSA) when attempting to receive Social Security disability benefits. In his opinion, this “may” create a problem. He believes that when a disability claimant is collecting unemployment, but is applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the disability claimant is making two inconsistent statements. First, by collecting unemployment insurance benefits the person is saying that they are able to work. On the other hand, by applying for disability benefits the claimant is saying they are unable to work. The SSA states that receiving unemployment insurance benefits do not preclude a person from receiving Social Security disability benefits. Although, the SSA goes on to add receiving unemployment benefits can be one of many factors considered in determining if an individual is disabled. In Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis’ experience, Administrative Law Judges (ALJ’s) often question his clients as to why they are making these too very different statements. Typically, the judge has the record of the disability claimant’s earnings including unemployment at his or her fingertips during the hearing and may raise an eyebrow when confronted with this issue. One way to combat this potential disability dilemma is to attempt to amend the disability onset date to sometime after the unemployment payments have stopped. This may help the ALJ give you a favorable ruling in your appeal. In these tough economic times, a disability claimant can only hope an Indiana Administrative Law Judge may be sympathetic in that many individuals feel they may starve without these much needed unemployment funds. … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits
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April 20, 2010

Part-Time Job & Social Security Disability Benefits

Can I get Social Security Disabilty Benefits If I have a Part-Time Job? As an Indiana lawyer serving the Indianapolis & the surrounding area, Attorney Scott D. Lewis would never advise a Social Security disability claimant to not work if they are able to do so. In fact, many times he tells his disability appeals clients that they will not get rich by receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments and it is usually in the claimant’s best interest to work if they are able. Often times, claimants may find it much more lucrative to work rather than not work and receive disability payments. On the other hand, some Social Security disability appeals claimants find that they are able to work on a part-time basis. It is true, it may be alright to work as long as your earnings do not exceed the limit set by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This limit is called the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount. The monthly SGA amount may change each year. It may be concerning to some claimants as to how this part-time work may be looked at by the adjudicators at the SSA. Many claimants wonder if the SSA will look at the part-time work and wonder if they are able to work more than part- time. Attorney Scott D. Lewis believes that this may a possibility. The SSA may believe the disability claimant can work more hours than he or she is currently working and the claimant is attempting to just stay under the SGA amount. The Social Security adjudicators may also believe the claimant is not seeking full-time work opportunities while remaining in a job setting that only offers part-time positions. Attorney Scott D. Lewis has been present for Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearings where his disability claimant has been questioned extensively about a part-time … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits
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April 15, 2010

How Can I Improve My Social Security Disability Claim?

Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis represents Social Security disability claimants that have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In his experience in working with disability claimants, there seems to be one common question his clients ask him. “How can I improve my Social Security disability claim?” Mr. Lewis believes that there is no one trick to winning your Social Security claim but there are ways of effectively presenting your claim to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to help support your claim.  When a claimant is filing their initial claim to the SSA, the claimant should submit all medical records that support their claim with this initial application.  It is very important to provide the SSA the medical records that support the claim.  It is Attorney Lewis’s experience that you should not depend on the SSA to retrieve all of your medical records.  While you are waiting for the decision of your initial application, continue to see your medical doctors and continue any and all treatment for your disability.  It’s important not to miss any doctor’s appointments during this period.  If you have been denied disability benefits, immediately file an appeal.  The claimant should file a “Request for Reconsideration.”  This is when the claimant disagrees with the SSA’s decision and would like the SSA to reconsider their claim.  At this point, you may have an attorney represent you in this claim.  There are many benefits to having an attorney represent you during the appeals period.  The attorney may keep you informed of any deadlines, can help you obtain medical records, may assist in completing the appeal and may assist in submitting all necessary paperwork to the SSA.  Whether you have an attorney or not, during this appeals period, submit all new medical records and test results to the … Continued

Filed under: Claims Process
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