Scott Lewis

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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March 2, 2010

Pain and Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits claimants often experience pain from their disability, but find it difficult to explain the level of pain to the Social Security Administration (SSA). It may be likely that pain interferes with the claimant’s ability to work. So, how does a SSDI or SSI claimant prove to the SSA that the pain they experience limits their ability to working? Indianapolis Social Security Disability Lawyer, Scott D. Lewis, has represented claimants that experience pain causing them to be unable to work.  In these cases, it is important to effectively prove to the SSA that this pain prevents the claimant from performing their job and any other job.  Since pain is subjective, it may be hard to describe.  Pain is not a visible condition which makes it even harder to prove.  It is essential to identify the physical location of the pain.  Attorney Scott Lewis may ask his clients to rate their level of pain on a scale from one to ten, one being minimal pain such as a mild headache and ten being excruciating pain so severe that the individual must go to the hospital.  It is important not to exaggerate your pain because it may destroy your credibility in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  When alleging pain, it is important to be credible.  Claimants should be specific about the level of pain during certain times.  For example, if you have constant pain at a level 5 but the level increases when you vacuum the house to a level 10, then the claimant should describe this change when performing certain activities.  If there is something that specifically triggers your pain, this triggering activity should be described.  For example, if you experience pain in your back from walking or if you experience migraine headache pain … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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February 24, 2010

Cancer and Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana Social Security disability claimants diagnosed with cancer, often find themselves being denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. As most cancer patients know, the typical reaction once diagnosed with cancer is the fear of dying. Many cancer patients undergo extensive treatment for their cancer. This treatment can include chemotherapy or radiation therapy. This treatment often causes side effects causing the patient pain and other unpleasant symptoms . As though this is not enough for a cancer patient to experience, it may not be a disabling condition that is guaranteed to receive disability benefits in the eyes of the Social Security Administration (SSA). You may wonder what it would take for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to award a cancer patient disability benefits. To qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits, any disability must last or be expected to last for at least twelve consecutive months or the disability must expect to result in death. This includes claimants with cancer. Fortunately, some disability claimants respond to treatment and may not necessarily need the assistance of an experienced Social Security disability attorney.  To obtain Social Security disability benefits from the SSA, it is imperative to understand what the SSA will consider in determining your disability. The SSA will consider to what extent the cancer is involved, frequency, duration and how responsive the disability claimant is to treatment.  In addition, the SSA will consider where the malignancy began (origin) and what effects post-therapeutic residuals have on the cancer patient. Social Security disability claimants filing an appeal might find it beneficial to consider the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments” to determine if the cancer they experience is acknowledged by the SSA.  In the Listing of Impairments, Section 13.00 Malignant Neoplastic Diseases, you will find: Lung Cancer Leukemia Breast Cancer Cancer of the Head and Neck Sarcoma … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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February 15, 2010

Arthritis and your Social Security Disability Appeal

Are you a Social Security disability claimant suffering from arthritis and have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits? Is your disabling condition preventing you from working but you’ve received an unfavorable decision from the Social Security Administration (SSA) regarding your disability claim?  Indiana disability claimants with arthritis often ask how they can win their disability claim after they have been denied. It’s important to understand how to get approved for Social Security disability benefits.  In all Social Security disability claims, the SSA will review the claimant’s claim by using their 5 step sequential process.  In summary, these five steps include: Is the claimant working? Is the disability severe? Is the claimants disability or condition in the SSA’s listing of qualifying impairments? Is the claimant able to do work that they previously performed? Is the claimant able to perform any other type of work? If you are a claimant with severe arthritis who is unable to work, you may qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits.  Arthritis is one of the leading disabilities for benefits.  Arthritis is included in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, Section 1.00, Musculoskeletal Disorder.  Some categories of this section include Inflammatory Arthritiis and Degenerative Arthritis.  A claimant with Inflammatory Arthriits (such as Rheumatoid Arthritis) should experience persistent swelling, pain and limitations to the joints to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  The limitations to the joints may include limitations to: hips; shoulders; knees; elbows; ankles; wrists; or hands. A claimant with Degenerative Arthritis (such as Osteoarthritis) should safisfy the SSA’s requirement if they are experiencing limitations with their arms and hands or if they have significant issues with walking or standing.  Individuals with neck or back problems due to their Degenerative Arthritis must have persistent sensory, motor & reflex loss in order to qualify for disability benefits. It … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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February 10, 2010

What does the Social Security Administration (SSA) Mean by “A Combination of Impairments” When Deciding if I am Disabled?

It is important when trying to obtain your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to let the Social Security Administration (SSA) know all of your impairments or disabling conditions. Indianapolis lawyer Scott D. Lewis finds when interviewing his clients they often leave out some of their disabilities when attempting to receive Social Security disability benefits. You should not leave it up to the SSA to inquire what your disabling conditions might be. It may be beneficial to make a list of the severe and non-severe conditions that you experience. It is important to remember the Social Security Administration may also consider non-severe conditions in combination with severe conditions when deciding whether you will receive Social Security disability benefits. Indiana claimants should always remember the question at hand is whether you can perform your past relevant job(s) or other jobs that exist in the national economy. So, while you may consider the fact you have asthma as a minor problem, it may keep you from performing jobs around dust or fumes. Another example could be an individual suffering from anxiety cannot perform jobs requiring the individual to interact with the general public. While you may consider your back impairment the primary reason you cannot work, it is important that you let your Social Security disability attorney know that you have other medical issues that have an effect on your activities of daily living and your ability to hold down a job. Other conditions many individuals may not consider can include but are not limited to: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) Depression Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Diabetes Hepatitis Arthritis Learning Disorders Visual Impairments Hearing Loss Remember, just saying you have asthma is probably not enough. Seeing a medical professional on a regular basis and seeking treatment for your condition(s) … Continued

Filed under: Evaluation Process
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February 8, 2010

Social Security Disability and Amended Onset Dates

After a long wait for an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing, Indiana residents may find themselves negotiating with an ALJ as to the onset date of their disability. What can this mean to you?  It sometimes means that it may be less money paid to you in past due benefits. The past due disability benefit payment, commonly paid in a lump sum for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants may be reduced substantially by agreeing to an amended onset date. Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis sometimes finds that an ALJ is willing to find a favorable ruling for his client, but at times a judge may ask the disability claimant to amend the onset date. The reasoning for agreeing to an amended onset date can vary, but many times it is because the judge believes the medical records do not establish the claimant’s disability until after the date the claimant alleges the disability began. There can be other reasons for amending the disability onset date that can also include the disability claimant reaching a particular age. It seems that some judges want to amend onset dates much more often than others in disability claims. Many times when the above scenario happens at a hearing, the judge may be open to an argument from an attorney, representative, or the client as to why an earlier date should be established. Some judges may be swayed if a certain medical record can be cited as to a firm diagnosis or other facts in the record to substantiate an earlier date. Indiana residents finding themselves with an option of taking an amended onset date and receiving a favorable ruling often concede in order to start receiving their much needed disability benefits. The fact remains that if a claimant does not take the judge’s offer, an unfavorable ruling still can … Continued

Filed under: Claims Process
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