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Scott Lewis

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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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January 11, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefit Payments Going Paperless?

Indiana residence who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments may not be aware of the most recent announcement by the Treasury Department that disability checks may become completely paperless.  In December of 2010, the Treasury Department announced that government issued checks to SSDI or SSI recipients will begin going paperless as of May 1, 2011.  Many Indianapolis disability benefits recipients may wonder why the Treasury Department made this decision and how this will effect the disability recipient. Why did the Treasury Department decide to go paperless with disability payments? Currently, approximately twenty percent (20%) of disability claimants still receive their disability payments by check.  Many factors go into making this decision.  First and foremost, the greatest benefit of going paperless to the SSDI or SSI recipient is that it will eliminate the risks of lost and stolen checks, and provides the disability recipient immediate access to their money on payment day.  From a government standpoint, there will be great savings to the government by going paperless.  The paperless effort is projected to save the Social Security Administration (SSA) roughly $1 billion dollars over the next ten years. This will be beneficial to taxpayers because the SSA spends approximately $120 million each year to mail paper checks to the SSDI and SSI benefits recipients. How will the SSDI or SSI benefits recipients, who are currently receiving their payments by checks, be affected?  Because the paperless effort is going into effect on May 1, 2011, the Treasury Department is going to require SSDI and SSI recipients to arrange for an electronic direct deposit account by March 1, 2013.  Disability benefits recipients will be offered an educational program by the Treasury Department to guide them through this process.  This national program will be directly related to the switch to electronic payments. How will these paperless payments be … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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January 8, 2010

Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing Decision

Are you an Indiana resident that has appeared in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for your Social Security disability benefits hearing? Like most claimants, learning the terminology used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) can very confusing and difficult to understand. Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis always attempts to assists his clients with any confusion that they may have during the appeals process. Once you have had your hearing, the SSA will send you a notice with their decision. Claimants will receive a letter stating one of the following results: fully favorable; unfavorable; partially favorable; or dismissed. The claimant’s ultimate goal is to receive a fully favorable decision.  This means that you have won your claim and should receive the past due and monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits that you deserve.  The next best hearing result would be a partially favorable decision.  This decision means that the ALJ believes that you are disabled and unable to work but did not find you to be disabled on the date that you alleged that your disability began.  The reason for a different onset date can sometimes be attributed to the medical evidence not substantiating the date that you believe that you became disabled.  Lawyer Scott Lewis advises his clients to read this notice carefully because you may lose some of your past due benefits.  If the ALJ found the evidence of your disability to be strong enough to give you a favorable decision but decided that your disability onset date was different than what you alleged, the ALJ will determine the date of your disability and give past due payments based on that date.  If the ALJ decides that your onset date (the date you became disabled) is after your date of … Continued

Filed under: Hearings Process, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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January 6, 2010

Cardiovascular Impairments and Social Security Disability Benefits

How does the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluate a disability claim based on cardiovascular impairments or heart disease?  Indiana claimants with heart disease or other cardiovascular impairments may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The SSA defines Cardiovascular Impairments in the Blue Book “Listing of Impairments,” Section 4.00 Cardiovascular System.  According to the SSA, Cardiovascular Impairments are any congenital or acquired disorder that affects the circulatory system or the proper functioning of the heart.  The circulatory system includes the veins, arteries, capillaries, or the lymphatic drainage.  Heart impairments result from one or more of four consequences of heart disease: Chronic heart failure, Pain or discomfort due to myocardial ischemia, Central cyanosis due to reduced oxygen in the arterial blood or pulmonary disease, or Syncope (or near syncope) due to lack of cerebral perfusion from any cardiac cause. When filing a Social Security disability claim for heart (cardiovascular) disorder, it is important to support your claim with sufficient documentation.  Supply the SSA with detailed history reports, physical examination records, laboratory testing results, and prescribed treatment or medication.  This medical documentation should allow the SSA to assess the severity and duration of your impairment.  The SSA has categorized Cardiovascular System impairments in the Listing of Impairments.  Some examples of cardiovascular impairments that are defined on the SSA’s website are: Chronic heart failure Ischemic heart disease Recurrent arrhythmias Symptomatic congenital heart disease Heart transplant Aneurysm of aorta or major branches Chronic venous insufficiency Peripheral arterial disease Many individuals attempting to get Social Security disability for heart impairment(s) consult Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis about problems that they experience.  Many claimants have had heart attacks and other cardiovascular events that have rendered them unable to work.   Individuals with medical records showing stent placement, pacemakers, and other medical devices used to … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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January 1, 2010

I am receiving Social Security Disability Benefits, are my children paid benefits also?

If I am trying to get or I already receive Social Security Disability Benefits, will my children receive benefits also? Many disability claimants residing in Indiana may ask this question. There are different factors that figure into this equation. It is important to not “put the cart before the horse” because the main issue when trying to receive disability benefits is to win your claim and convince the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you meet the criteria for disability. Once you have achieved that favorable result then tackle the issue of whether your children will receive benefits. So, if it is determined you meet the qualifications for Social Security disability benefits, also known as Title II benefits, your children may be entitled to dependent’s benefits. Dependent benefts can also known as auxiliary benefits. Generally, children under the age of eighteen, or if they are between eighteen and nineteen and are still a full time student in elementary or secondary education, are eligible for these dependent benefits. Other factors for eligibility of these children may include: if you are indeed the child of the insured, whether you are actually a dependent of the insured if the child is unmarried, and that you have actually applied for these benefits. There are also provisions for disabled children relating to the continuation of benefits. If all of the above applies to your situation and you are not receiving auxiliary benefits for your children, it is important that you contact the SSA to see if you qualify. Remember, when you are attempting to receive disability benefits for yourself or your children it may be helpful for you to be proactive instead of inactive. If you or your child are attempting to receive disability benefits and are interested in speaking with an Indiana Social Security Lawyer … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits
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December 30, 2009

Does Social Security recognize my chronic pain as a disability?

Many times Indiana residents suffering from chronic pain resulting from varying disabilities find themselves denied disability benefits.  They often state they simply cannot work because the pain they experience is so bad it affects concentration, the ability to stand, walk, or sit even for short periods of time. Chronic pain resulting in the inability to perform any type of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) may result from many different disabling conditions such as back problems, fibromyalgia, and migraines, are only a short list of examples.  One of the problems with pain is that it is subjective, and only the claimant experiencing the pain can describe its disabling effects.  Often one person’s pain threshold may be very different from another person’s perception of chronic pain. It is important for Indiana disability claimants to describe their chronic pain in detail.  Let the Social Security Administration know its limiting effects on your ability to perform activities of daily living and your inability to secure gainful employment. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize pain as a disabling condition, but relies on two specific court cases to establish that the pain must be so severe by itself, or combined with other impairments that the Social Security disability claimant cannot perform any substantial gainful employment.  With that being said, the SSA can sometimes be quick to dismiss a Social Security claimant’s complaints of pain.  It seems that they can even make this denial with good medical source documents from qualified doctors who have adequately recorded the chronic pain the patient has experienced in the past and is now experiencing. So what can you do?  See your doctor and explain to him or her in detail the pain you are experiencing.  Also explain to the SSA and your lawyer the pain you experience and how it effects you in everyday life.  Remember, … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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December 30, 2009

Social Security Disability Hearing Backlog

Indiana Social Security disability claimants often experience frustration when attempting to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Claimants may feel aggitated by the repetitive paperwork that they are required to complete in order to file a claim, the lack of communication with the Social Security Administration (SSA), and finally, the painstaking waiting period. Because most disability claimants wait to file their claim until they are desperate for money, the waiting period to get a hearing may seem incredibly long.   The fact is that the waiting period to get a hearing is long!   Many Indiana residents can wait years before getting a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) after filing their claim. The Social Security Adminstration may claim the backlog is caused by lack of funds, lack of workers, increasing caseload, and difficult-to-prove disabilities such as depression and anxiety. Recent records indicated the number of disability recipients has more than doubled since 1990. As of October 2009, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) reports that hearing level processing times and the number of pending cases show improvement in the 2010 fiscal year.  The pending number of cases dropped for the past ten months having the lowest ODAR pending number since February 2008.  Currently, the average processing time is 441 days which is the lowest processing time since April 2005. The SSA’s goal is to reach a processing time of 270 days.  Indianapolis processing time averages 622 days ranking at 139 out of 143 hearings offices.  What is making the improvement in the processing time and pending cases?  The SSA has hired 8,600 new employees in the 2009 fiscal year.  This included 147 new ALJ’s and more than 1,000 ODAR support staff.  This increase in workforce allows faster processing times.  The SSA plans on hiring an additional 226 ALJ’s in the 2010 fiscal year.  By the … Continued

Filed under: Hearings Process
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December 23, 2009

Indiana Disability Determination Bureau (DDB)

What is the Indiana Disability Determination Bureau?  Indiana Social Security disability claimants are often confused by what the Disability Determination  Bureau (DDB) does for the Social Security Administration (SSA).  The DDB is also known as the Disability Determination Services (DDS) in some states.  DDB is a state-level agency is 100% federally funded whose duty is to determine disability eligibility among claimants.  The DDB’s determinations are made based on the SSA’s rules and regulations.  When a claimant has a question regarding the status of their claim, it is best for the claimant to contact the DDB because the DDB examiners evaluate and process the claims.  This should not be confused with the claims representative that works for the Social Security Administration.  Claims reps do not examine or evaluate the disability claims.  Many times, a claimant or the claimant’s attorney may be contacted by the DDB to answer some additional questions to assist in processing the claim.  Additional information may include: Activities of daily living such as how you perform yard work, prepare meals, shopping, and if you care for pets Personal hygiene Drug and/or alcohol use Additional physician information Where you live or who you live with Claimants usually have 10 days to respond to the DDB’s questions.  A claimant may ask the DDB for an extension to answer these questions.  The DDB is where all claims are reviewed and resolved in the initial claim level and the reconsideration level.  It’s typical that most of the claims reviewed by the DDB are denied at these levels.  If a claimant appeals the DDB’s decision, the claim will be heard in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  The ALJ will decide whether the claimant qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Scott D. Lewis, who is a practicing Indianapolis lawyer, finds … Continued

Filed under: Evaluation Process
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December 21, 2009

Social Security Disability Benefits and Diabetes

Indiana residents that suffer from diabetes may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.   Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis has experience in representing claimants with diabetes.  As specified in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Listing of Impairments, Section 9.0, Endocrine System, a claimant may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for diabetes if the claimant meets SSA’s required criteria.  In order to meet the listing and qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits for diabetes, the claimant must prove a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus with the following: Neuropathy demonstrated by significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities; Acidosis occurring at least on the average of once every 2 months documented by blood chemical test;  or Diabetic retinopathy (significant loss of visual acuity or loss of peripheral vision). Even though diabetes is a serious medical condition, it is not uncommon to be denied Social Security disability benefits for this impairment alone.  Many times individuals seeking disability can receive a favorable ruling due to a combination of impairments if the diabetes alone does not arise to the listing level.  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott Lewis often finds that his clients suffering from diabetes mellitus are also experience neuropathy.  Clients with neuropathy often complain of numbness & tingling in their feet creating difficulty standing for even short periods and numbness & tingling in their hands that can sometimes result in the inability to grasp and hold items.  Most occupations require the use of your hands for even unskilled labor, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may find that there is no gainful activity that can be performed.  The inability to stand for even a short period may limit the disability claimant to sedentary work.  Sedentary work may not be attainable by certain disability claimants based on their age, education level, and prior work experience.  If you find … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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