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Scott Lewis

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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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February 8, 2010

Degenerative Disc Disease and Social Security Disability Benefits

The quality of life Indiana residents experience can be greatly diminished by Degenerative Disc Disease. Due to chronic pain in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, hips, and legs may make it difficult to be gainfully employed. Disability claimants sometimes find themselves having extreme difficulty walking, standing, and even sitting for short periods of time. Other symptoms can include the inability to lift even light objects, experiencing pain when bending and twisting, and numbness and tingling in the extremities. Does any of the above sound like things you experience on a daily basis?  If so, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Degenerative Disc Disease and other back impairments can be severe enough to limit your activities of daily living in such a way that you are simply unable to function in a way that you can be gainfully employed. So if you find yourself in this situation, you may ask what to do. If you are financially able, it may be beneficial to see a physician, preferably a physician that specializes in this type of disorder. Get appropriate testing such as an MRI, and remember the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers whether you follow your physician’s advice concerning treatment. Some treatments can include: physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, spinal injections, and  surgery. Disabling back conditions and Degenerative Disc Disease are no secret to the SSA.  Many disability claimants’ experience severe chronic back pain.  If your back impairment does not rise to the above stated levels, but you experience other phyical and mental impairments, the SSA may consider you disabled due to a combination of impairments.  The above is not intended as medical advice, just a brief summary as to what an experienced Social Security Disability Appeals Attorney has come into contact with. If … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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January 29, 2010

Back Pain and Social Security Disability Benefits

How does the Social Security Administration evaluate back pain?  In order for an Indiana Social Security disability claimant to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the claimant may receive disability benefits by meeting the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) criteria defined in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, Section 1.00 Musculoskeletal Disorders. Back pain may be due to injury, aging, accident or even may be the result of a medical disorder or condition such as scoliosis.  Regardless of the cause of the claimant’s back pain, the pain may prevent the claimant from working.  If that is the case, the claimant may find it beneficial to meet the SSA’s criteria in Section 1.04 Disorders of the Spine to be awarded SSDI or SSI benefits.    Disorders of the spine include the following impairments: Degenerative disc disease Osteoarthritis Herniated nucleus pulposus Spinal stenosis Spinal arachnoiditis In Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis‘s experience, he finds that most claimants have difficulty obtaining SSDI or SSI benefits for chronic back pain at the initial stages of the claim.  Scott advises that if you have been denied disability benefits at the initial level or reconsideration level, to continue to pursue your claim.  Often, the claimant will have a higher chance of being awarded disability benefits when they appear in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at a disability hearing.  Because back pain is so common among claimants, it is extremely important to have supportive medical documentation regarding your disorder. It’s even more important to prove that your back pain is causing more than the mild to moderate discomfort that is common among everyone at some point.  The claimant should prove that their condition is severe and it prevents the claimant from performing simple jobs that require sitting.  Some ALJ’s may look for the following when reviewing your claim: MRI reports showing evidence of problems in your back … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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January 28, 2010

Social Security’s 5-Month Waiting Period for Disability Benefits

After Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis wins his client’s disability claim, he often finds himself explaining to the claimant why their benefits will not start immediately from their onset date. Although he’s not certain why the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a waiting period, he attempts to explain to his clients when they can expect their benefits to begin. Social Security claimants that are awarded Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefts, must wait five (5) consecutive full calendar months from the determined onset date of their disability. After the 5 month waiting period, the SSA will begin disability payments with the earliest full calendar month but not more than seventeen (17) months before the claimant filed their disability claim. For example, if the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) decided that the claimant became disabled on April 15, 2009, after the five month waiting period, benefits would begin on October 1, 2009. Another example, if the claimant filed for disability on January 1, 2009, but alleged to be disabled since May of 2007, if the ALJ finds that the alleged onset date is correct, he is only allowed to grant an onset date 17 months prior to the filing date. So in this case, the actual onset date would be August 1, 2007. After the five month waiting period, this particular claimant would begin benefits on January 1, 2008. There are a few exceptions to this waiting period. Claimants that were previously entitled to disability beneftis and their disability benefits ended, but then they became disabled again within 5 years of their benefits ending, they would not need to exercise the waiting period. There is no waiting period for claimants that filed for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits or for claimants that are entitled to Childhood Disability Benefits. If … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits Claims Process
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January 26, 2010

Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits for Depression

Does major depression keep you from getting and/or keeping a job? Many Indiana residents find themselves receiving a denial letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) when attempting to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis has found that, at the hearing level, Social Security judges (also known as Administrative Law Judges) are looking for particular things before they will grant a favorable decision on such claims. One of the first questions that a claimant may want to ask themselves is “Can I do a simple unskilled job, or do my depression symptoms keep me from doing this type of work?” If your depression prevents you from doing even simple unskilled jobs, you may be eligible for disability payments. In reality, it is not quite that easy because the SSA is going to want detailed medical information documenting your condition. The best scenario to win your Social Security disability claim would be an ongoing relationship with a qualified health care provider. At the law office of Scott D. Lewis, Attorney at Law, LLC, Lawyer Scott Lewis finds that a psychiatrist or psychologist is usually the most helpful in these types of claims. If the health care providers have detailed descriptions of how your depression affects you in everyday life and prevents you from carrying out normal activities of daily living, this can greatly enhance your chances of receiving SSDI or SSI benefits. One of the ways a claimant may win a Social Security disability case for depression is to meet the SSA’s Listing of Impairment, 12.04 Affective Disorders. This listing deals with depression. Just a few items that the SSA may look for may include: Sleep disturbance Psychomotor agitation or retardation Anhedonia or pervasive loss of interest in almost … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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January 21, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits Award Payment

Have you won your Social Security disability claim but are still waiting for your first disability payment?  When Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis gets a favorable outcome for his Social Security disability client’s claim, the claimant often asks him, “When will I receive my first payment?” Unfortunately, it is just simply impossible for Attorney Lewis to respond accurately to this question. Realistically, a claimant will only know when their payment is coming when it actually arrives in the mail. In Scott’s experience, there are many inconsistencies when claimants receive their first monthly payment or their back pay payment from the Social Security Administration (SSA). He often sees claimants receive their payment within 60 days of being approved but some claimants have to wait months and months before receiving their first payment. Don’t be too surprised if you receive the back pay deposited in your account before you receive your decision from the SSA. Indiana claimants may wonder what causes this inconsistency in payments. Although it is difficult to understand the delay, it may be because back pay payments are not processed at the same Social Security office where a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits claim is initially processed.   SSDI payments are handled at “Payment Processing Centers” which are often located at states other than the one the claim is initiated.  Additionally, it’s only stating the obvious that there are large amounts of payments to process at the processing centers which may cause delays.  As frustrating as it may be, be patient because your payment should arrive.  If you have successfully made it through the claims process, waiting a little while longer should be worth it when that first payment arrives.  If you have been denied Social Security disability benefits and would like a free consultation regarding your claim, call Attorney Scott Lewis at (317) 423-8888.  … Continued

Filed under: Claims Process
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January 17, 2010

Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer

As an Indiana Social Security disability attorney, Scott D. Lewis often find himself explaining to his clients what his role is in their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits claim. It may be the clients best interest to understand what his/her Social Security disability lawyer does for them. Seeking an attorney to represent you can be an easier task if you understand what the role of your attorney actually is.  When a claimant gets denied Social Security disability benefits, the claimant has the right to appeal that unfavorable decision. A claimant may choose not to seek the advice of a Social Security disability attorney or representative until the claimant receives their initial denial. Those seeking disability often times retain the services of a lawyer after their initial denial and when asking for a “request for reconsideration” or when requesting a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  Although some claimants may choose to go to their hearing without representation, many statistics show having a much higher success rate when a claimant has representation. A Social Security disability lawyer’s basic job is to figure out what has gone wrong with the client’s claim and attempt to resolve those problems. An experienced attoney will review the inital claim, along with medical and non-medical evidence collected by the SSA, to determine why the claim was denied. The lawyer will also attempt to work with your doctors to get additional medical records that may support your disability claim. It is important to ensure that your Social Security file is complete with up-to-date medical records to help achieve a favorable outcome. Attorney Scott Lewis and his staff always attempt to work closely with their clients throughout the appeals process. Scott offers a free consultation to qualified claimants that contact his office to discuss their claim. Scott Lewis strives to stay in contact with … Continued

Filed under: Hearings Process
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January 12, 2010

Crohn’s Disease and Social Security Disability Benefits

Crohn’s disease is an ongoing disorder causing inflammation in the digestive tract (also known as gastrointestinal (GI) tract.) As Crohn’s disease may affect any area of the GI tract, it most commonly affects the lower portion of the small intestines. The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are abdominal pain and diahhrea. Some other symptoms include rectal bleeding, arthritis, weight loss, and skin problems. Because the symptoms of Crohn’s disease are similar to other intestinal disorders, such as ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it may be difficult for doctors to diagnose. Unlike ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease may cause inflammation to all layers of the intestine. A person with Crohn’s disease may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. If you are an Indiana Social Security disability claimant with Crohn’s disease, it’s most likely necessary that you meet the Social Security Administration’s criteria in order to qualify for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates Crohn’s disease in their “Listing of Impairments,” Section 5.00 Digestive System; Section E. Claimants with Crohn’s disease may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if he/she has the following: Persistent and recurrent intestinal obstruction causing abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, etc. Persistent and recurrent systemic manifestations (such as iritis, arthritis, fever or liver dysfunction) Intermittent obstruction due to intractable abscess Body weight loss Although it may be very difficult to get disability benefits for claimants with Crohn’s disease, it’s not impossible.  Claimant’s that can prove their disability is severe may have better luck in getting approved for disability benefits.  It’s important to have good medical evidence supporting your claim.  Many claims may be denied for claimants that are not following prescribed therapy for their Crohn’s disease.  You must meet the SSA’s criteria for Digestive disorders for at least 12 consecutive months or expected … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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