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Scott Lewis

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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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April 1, 2010

Consultative Examinations and Social Security Disability Benefits

What is a Consultative Examination?  A consultative examination is paid for by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to help determine what disabling condition(s) the Social Security disability claimant may be suffering from. This examination may be performed by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a medical doctor. The role of the examiner is to generate a report that the Social Security Administration will consider to determine if the disabling condition meets the standards set forth by the SSA to be a disabling impairment preventing the disability claimant from working. This medical professional will not treat you, but instead will most likely question you about your disabling conditions. Do I have to go to the Consultative Examination?  Your claim may be denied if you do not attend the examination. While many Indiana residents complain that the physician at the examination did not adequately evaluate their disability, Attorney Scott Lewis advises his clients to go ahead and “jump through this hoop” in order to move the claim along. Although, it is very important to let the medical professional know all of your disabling conditions and try to explain how these disabilities affect you in everyday life. Can my treating physician do my consultative examination?  Yes, but Attorney Scott Lewis has never seen this done. Perhaps, treating physicians will not accept the low fee the SSA offers, or other reasons may exist. Almost always, the SSA will have a person that has no knowledge of the disability claimant’s condition perform the examination. In Attorney Scott D. Lewis’ Social Security disability practice, almost all disability claimants have similar complaints of consultative examinations. These complaints include: The medical doctor, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist didn’t listen to me and would not even address the actual disabilities I have.  The medical doctor, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist rushed through the examination. The medical doctor, psychiatrist, or phsychotherapist told me that I was disabled and … Continued

Filed under: Medical Treatment
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March 31, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits at Retirement Age

If I am receiving Social Security disability benefits and I reach the age of retirement for Social Security retirement benefits, what will happen? Many individuals receiving Social Security disability benefits wonder what will happen to their disability benefits when they reach full retirement age. Indiana residents often call the law office of Scott D. Lewis to inquire as to if they will get two payments or what exactly they should be prepared for at that time. If you are currently receiving Social Security disability benefits, you should be aware your disability benefits are 100% of your primary insurance amount. Will you receive two disability payments? No, when you reach retirement age, your Social Security disability benefits payment amount will automatically convert to regular Social Security retirement benefits. Will your Social Security disability benefits remain the same forever?  Probably not, because there are periodic cost of living adjustments (COLA) determined and it can have an impact on your Social Security payment amount. There may be one important change when you reach retirement age and your disability payments are converted. Social Security states you are able to receive your benefits with no limits on your earnings starting on the month of your retirement age. For an idea as to what Social Security considers full retirement age, you can refer to the SSA website. If you have been denied Social Security disability benefits or know someone who believes they should be receiving disability benefits, contact the Law Office of Scott D. Lewis. Many times the disability appeal process can be confusing and the aid of an experienced lawyer may help you get the disability benefits you deserve. Contact Indianapolis attorney Scott Lewis today for a free confutation at (317) 423-8888.

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits
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March 22, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits for Epilepsy

Indianapolis Social Security disability claimants filing a disability claim based on seizure disorder (or epilepsy) often wonder how the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates this disorder in order to qualify for  Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  To qualify for disability benefits based on this neurological condition, the following two requirements must be met: A claimant must have a specified number of attacks, or episodes, occurring within a specified period of time; and The episodes must occur even with a claimant’s full compliance with prescribed medications.  Simply stated,the disability claimant must demonstrate proof of a seizure disorder diagnonis or epilepsy diagnosis and must also indicate that anti-seizure medication has been prescribed, is being taken as directed, and that attacks continue to occur regardless of medications being taken. At what frequency must these attacks take place in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits? According to the SSA, it depends on the type of epilepsy, or seizure disorder, that a disability claimant has. There are two types of seizure disorders that are addressed.  These seizures include convulsive epilespy and non-convulsive epilepsy. If a claimant’s particular form of seizure disorder is classified as “convulsive epilepsy” (grand mal seizures), such seizures must occur more frequently than once per month, in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment. If these convulsive seizures occur during the day, these seizures must also involve loss of consciousness and convulsions.  If they occur at night, they must have the effect of interfering with the individual’s activities on the following day. If a claimant’s seizure disorder is classified as “non-convulsive epilepsy” (petit mal seizures or focal seizures), such seizures must occur more frequently than once per week, in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment. Additionally, non-convulsive seizures must involve either loss of consciousness, alteration of awareness (for … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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March 12, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits for Multiple Sclerosis

Indiana Social Security disability claimants living with multiple sclerosis (MS) who are unable to work due to their MS related disability and/or other conditions, may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes MS as a chronic illness or “impairment” that can cause disability severe enough to prevent an individual from working. Disability claimants applying for Social Security disability benefits on the basis of multiple sclerosis can be approved for benefits in one of two ways: By means of a medical vocational allowance; or By meeting the SSA’s Listing of Impairment, Section 11.09 Mutlitple Sclerosis In order to be approved for disability benefits by means of a medical vocational allowance, a claimant’s medical records must show that their condition is severe and has lasted, or can be expected to last, for a period of not less than twelve months. During this actual or estimated twelve month period, the claimant’s condition must also prevent them from working at a job they have done in the past, and prevent them from engaging in other work. The SSA’s Listing of Impairment, Multiple Sclerosis, specifically identifies the criteria required to meet this listing. In summary, the listing provides for three types of criteria that a claimant should meet in order to be awarded disability benefits.  A claimant must meet only one of the following three categories in order to qualify: Motor function impairment Visual impairments Mental impairments If you have any of the following symptoms, or any combination of these or other symptoms, that prevent you from working, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits: Experience difficulty with walking, standing, and other motor skills Experience difficulty with seeing Speech impairment Find it difficult to concentrate or complete simple tasks Experience difficulty with remembering Have extreme fatigue  … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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March 4, 2010

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefit Programs

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis often finds his clients are confused by the difference between the two disability programs offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). These two programs are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI and SSI programs are administered by the SSA, both programs will pay a monthly benefit to qualifying disabled persons, and both programs follow the same procedures when determining if someone is disabled. Although SSDI and SSI have some similarities, they are quite different programs. It is important to understand the difference in these two programs when applying for disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or also commonly known as Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is the disability program that is funded by the Social Security taxes that are paid by employers, workers and people who are self-employed. This program requires the claimant to have earned the appropriate credits which is based on the taxable work of the disability claimant. This means that the claimant must have paid into this program through payroll taxes from previous work. This program was designed to assist those individual workers that paid into the program that become disabled and are unable to work until retirement age so they basically receive those benefits early. Financial eligibility for SSDI is based solely on the F.I.C.A. Social Security (F.I.C.A.) payroll taxes the claimant paid through employment. This program is not based on your current wealth situation. To be eligible for SSDI, you must have paid F.I.C.A. taxes in 20 out of the last 40 calendar quarters (essentially five out of the last ten years). If you are under age 31, that number is reduced. If you are over age 42, the minimum number of quarters increases approximately one quarter for each year over age 42. So, as … Continued

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