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Scott Lewis

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October 1, 2009

Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Website

Applying for Social Security disability benefits is not the only thing you can do on the Social Security Administration’s website. Do you get frustrated with the long wait while visiting the Social Security Administration (SSA) or get annoyed by being placed on hold before a real person answers your call?  In our fast paced technology rich world in many cases you do not have to stand in a long line at a social security office or be placed on hold trying to contact the SSA through a toll free number.  For those that have internet access, you can simply go to www.ssa.gov and see if what you need is at your fingertips. You may be surprised by some of your options available at SSA’s website.   Some items available to you are: you can find out if you qualify for benefits; you can apply for benefits; or see what your benefits might be in the future If you are already receiving benefits, you can: file a change of address or phone number ask for a letter proving your income If you have misplaced your Medicare card, you can get a replacement just by applying online.  You can even get information of on requesting a Social Security card.  The SSA’s website is very informative and many resources are available such as forms and publications.  You may find the easiest way to locate your local Social Security Administration office is by visiting the SSA’s website.   These are just some of the topics that may be of value to Indiana residents who need to interact with SSA or perhaps apply for Social Security disability benefits.  If you didn’t know, there is even a tutorial video about the website. So if you do not want to waste any more of your valuable time by waiting in lines or have your phone glued to your ear, … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits
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September 17, 2009

Initial Evaluation of Your Social Security Disability Claim

Indiana Social Security disability claimants are often unaware of how their claim is evaluated by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis often explains the evaluation process to his clients.  Scott recommends that once you become disabled, you file your  Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim immediately with the SSA.  Once your claim has been submitted to the SSA, an employee of the SSA will determine if you meet the basic requirements for disability benefits.  The SSA will look at the following basic requirements: work history (evaluating whether you have worked long and recently enough to be insured for SSDI), age, who you are applying for (evaluating whether you are applying for yourself or as a family member of another who is disabled), and current monthly income (a maximum exists on how much you can earn each month and still qualify for disability benefits). If you meet the basic requirements, your claim is forwarded to the state Disability Determination Services (DDS) office for review. The DDS office makes the initial determination regarding your disability claim. The DDS team may consist of the following: a physician a psychologist, and other disability specialists. Before making a decision an examiner will request any missing health documents from your health care provider and will determine if the DDS has all the information and documents needed to make a determination of your claim.  The DDS may also request other information they believe is necessary to properly evaluate your disability claim. It is very important you provide current contact information and that you provide as many documents as you can to speed up the evaluation of your disability claim.  Sometimes, the DDS determines that the claim can not be properly evaluated based on the available information and documents.  The DDS may ask you to attend a … Continued

Filed under: Claims Process
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September 15, 2009

Social Security Disability and Mental Retardation

Those classified as mentally retarded can sometimes find themselves with their claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits denied.  Although some of these claims may be initially denied, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does acknowledge the disabling effects of mental retardation in its listing of impairments.  Listing 12.05 Mental Retardation of the SSA’s Listing of Impairments considers the dependence upon others for personal needs, IQ scores, other impairments that may impose additional and significant work related limitations, and other marked difficulties and restrictions. When evaluating the severity of Mental Retardation, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) can look at the mental residual functional capacity of the claimant.  Mental residual functional capacity is a person’s ability to perform work or work-related activities given their mental limitations. The SSA may find that activities of daily living in mentally retarded individuals are severely affected.  Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis finds perseverance in these types of cases can often be beneficial.  While an individual may not fit SSA listing 12.05 exactly, adequate medical records and an understanding Administrative Law Judge can lead to a favorable result for these claimants. If you would like more information regarding qualifying disabilities and impairments, contact Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis for a free consultation at (317) 423-8888. 

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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August 26, 2009

Social Security to Repay Denied Disability or Retirement Benefits Due to Recent Settlement

A class action lawsuit, Martinez vs. Astrue, was settled in California paving the way for the monies owed to Social Security benefits claimants or recipients.  This settlement may effect over 200,000 people.  In this lawsuit, 120,000 people refused assistance may request back payments or reapply for benefits and 80,000 people wrongfully denied may receive restitution.  Over $500 million is the price tag Social Security will come up with to pay those wrongly denied disability or retirement benefits.   It appears that if your birth date or name matched an arrest warrant in error or even for a minor traffic infraction, your benefits could have been denied or withheld.  Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis believes these wrongful denials and withholding of funds, to those most in need of assistance, could have a devastating effect on these individuals and their families.  Indiana residents that were denied due to this should contact their local Social Security Administration (SSA) or consult a qualified Social Security Disabiltiy Attorney or Representative to see if they may qualify for retirement or disability benefits. Scott D. Lewis, Attorney at Law, LLC offers a free consultation regarding your Social Security disability claim.  Call (317) 423-8888 immediately to get the representation you deserve. 

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits
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August 25, 2009

Social Security Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA)

Indiana Social Security benefits recipients look forward to the annual Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) they receive each year.  COLA is the annual increases that recipients receive in their benefits to offset inflation in the economy.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) began these automatic increases in 1975.  Many disability benefits recipients rely on these increases each year to keep up with inflation. In 2009, Social Security recipients received a 5.8% increase in their monthly payments.  This is the largest increase since 1982.  As of this week, the SSA’s trustees are predicting that Social Security recipients may not receive a COLA increase for the next two years.  This is being justified mainly because 2009 energy prices are below 2008 energy prices.  The SSA is predicting that there will not be an increased inflation this upcoming year, therefore there will be no need for a cost of living adjustment.  Many people argue that while inflation may be down next year, the medical and healthcare cost will continue to rise.  Ultimately, this will affect those with high medical & prescription expenses or Medicare recipients.  Approximately 50 million disabled and retired Americans receive Social Security benefits.  While some of these Americans may need to just watch their spending in the next two years, others may be highly affected.  Although it is law that Social Security COLA can not be negative causing a decrease in benefits, recipients who get Medicare deducted from their payments may be impacted because Medicare costs will continue to increase which ultimately causes a decrease in the monthly benefits payment. Be aware that SSA’s consideration of eliminating the COLA in 2010 & 2011 is to protect the system from depleting and drying out.  As a result, all Social Security recipients will benefit by continuing to receive their monthly payment. Indiana Attorney Scott Lewis represents Social Security disability claimants fight for what they deserve.  Contact Scott at (317) 423-8888 for a free consultation … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits
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August 21, 2009

Social Security Disability and Mental Impairments

Indiana Social Security Claimants attempting to get disability benefits for mental impairments should be aware of the criteria the Social Security Administration (SSA) may look at when evaluating their claim.  The SSA evaluation of a disability on the basis of a mental disorder is based on the following: Documentation of a medically determinable impairment(s); Degree of limitation that the impairment(s) may have on the claimant’s ability to work; and The determination of whether these limitations have lasted or are expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. The following categories of mental disorders are described more in depth on the SSA’s website: Organic mental disorders: described as psychological or behavioral abnormalities associated with a dysfunction of the brain Schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders Affective disorders: characterized by a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome Bipolar disorder Depression Mental retardation Anxiety-related disorders Somatoform disorders:  defined as physical symptoms for which there are no demonstrable organic findings or known physiological mechanisms; Personality disorders Substance addiction disorders Autistic disorder Other pervasive developmental disorders Contact Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis for questions regarding Social Security Disability and Mental Impairments.  For a free consultation, call 317-423-8888. 

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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August 20, 2009

Social Security Benefits for Disabled Children

Can a child with a disability qualify for Social Security benefits?  A child under age 18 can qualify if he or she meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability for children, and if his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility limits.  The requirements for children can differ from adults.  Since children do not have a work history, the funds for children with disabilities are paid through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.  There are a few things to keep in mind when attempting to receive SSI benefits for your disabled child: 1.  The child must financially qualify.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) will take a look at the amount of income and resources that the child and the family members living in the household have access to.   If the child’s income and resources, or the income and resources of family members living in the child’s household, are more than the amount allowed by the SSA, the child’s  application for SSI payments will be denied. Also, if the child lives in a medical facility where health insurance pays for his or her care, the SSA will limit the monthly SSI payment to $30 per month. 2. The child must have a condition or combination of conditions that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or expected to result in death.  These physical or mental conditions must result in “marked and severe functional limitations.”  Marked and severe limitations means that the child’s activities are very seriously limited, it can cause the child to be in a grade level inappropriate for his or her age, it can cause your child to be constantly hospitalized, etc.  While some attorneys are hesitant to take children’s Social Security claims cases, Indiana Attorney Scott Lewis believes many of these cases can be won at the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) level.  It is important to secure good physician’s treatment … Continued

Filed under: Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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August 12, 2009

Social Security Disability and Bipolar Disorder

Indiana residents who suffer with Bipolar Disorder often find themselves in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) when attempting to get their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the existence of Bipolar Disorder in their “Listing of Impairments” under listing 12.04 Affective Disorders. Individuals suffering from Bipolar Disorder that are attempting to get disability benefits, may find it easier to win their case when they have a good long standing relationship with their health care professional.  It has been the experience of Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis, that many ALJ’s and medical experts that may testify at the hearing level, will put greater emphasis on medical records from a treating physician with a long relationship with that particular patient.  There are certain aspects of Bipolar Disorder the SSA will focus on for depressive syndrome: loss of interest in activities appetite disturbance with loss or gain in weight sleep disturbance psychomotor agitation or retardation decreased energy feelings of guilt or worthlessness difficulty concentrating thoughts of suicide hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thing There are other aspects of Bipolar Disorder the SSA will focus on for manic syndrome: hyperactivity pressure of speech flight of ideas increased self esteem decreased need for sleep increased distractability involvement in activities with a high probability of painful consequences that are not recognized The above factors may cause restrictions in activities of daily living, difficulties in maintaining social functioning, difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence or pace, and episodes of decompensation each of extended duration. The aforementioned are just some of the areas a Social Security ALJ may consider when deciding whether you have a disability that affects your ability to perform substantial gainful activity. This information is not intended to be legal advice and Attorney Scott D. Lewis recommends you consult a qualified attorney or representative … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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July 29, 2009

Social Security Disability Benefits for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a degenerative condition where the median nerve in the wrist area is compressed causing inflamation or swelling of the tissue.  This can result in the nerve being pinched and symptoms can include: pain weakness in the hand and forearm wrist and hand numbness a burning sensation decreased ability to grasp with one’s fingers Indianapolis Social Security disability claimant’s ask how does the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  Currently, CTS is not a listing in the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments.”  Although, the SSA does recognize the disabling effects of this impairment.  If hand manipulation were a key element in a claimant’s past relevant work, and the CTS is severe enough, it may be found that the individual is unable to return to their past work. The SSA will then determine if there is other work in the National Economy that the claimant may be able to perform.  In my experience as a Social Security Disability Attorney, it should be noted that many jobs in the economy require fine hand manipulation.   Medial tests and medical records documenting the severity of the claimant’s Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are often the key to a successful disability claim.  Share with your physician how severe your symptoms are and how your life is being affected by these symptoms. If you have any questions regarding your Social Security disability claim, call Attorney Scott D. Lewis for a free consultation at (317) 423-8888. 

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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July 28, 2009

Obtaining Disability Benefits with a Completed Residual Functual Capacity Assessment

A Social Security disability claimant’s Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is the most that he/she may do despite their limitations.  The RFC Assessment is a form completed by a health care provider that states a claimant’s limitations caused by the impairment(s) that affect the claimant in a work setting.  This form can be very beneficial in obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  When a claimant submits their initial disability application, the claim is reviewed by a Social Security Administration’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) Examiner.  Before the examiner can make the final decision, the examiner must submit the claim to the Social Security Administration’s medical or psychological physicians to complete the RFC form.  The doctors will review the claimant’s medical records and rate the claimant’s RFC physical and mental RFC based on these records.  Often times, RFC forms completed by the SSA’s doctors are rarely of any benefit to claimant because typically they are used to support denials more often than approvals.  While the SSA may have one of their health care providers complete a RFC, it is important that individuals attempting to get disability benefits have their own medical professional complete a RFC.  Your own treating physician usually has more insight to the patient’s medical history, diagnosis, and limitations.  Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis finds a completed Residual Functional Capacity Assessment can be very helpful when appearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Appearing in front of an ALJ can allows time for the claimant to get a completed RFC assessment from a doctor that has personally treated the claimant. The treating physician has a relationship history with the claimant and has provided medical care for the claimant which allows the treating doctor to have the knowledge of a claimant’s medical condition.  As long as the treating physician’s opinions are consistent with the medical records and are documented properly, the SSA should consider the treating physician’s opinion in determining … Continued

Filed under: Residual Functional Capacity
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