October 23, 2009
Many Indiana Social Security disability claimants endure a long drawn out process while trying to obtain beneftis. The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) backlog of claims may cause hardship to many families. In 2007, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue announced the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance initiative. Compassionate allowances are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the SSA’s Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate allowances permit the SSA to quickly identify the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical information that the SSA can obtain quickly. The SSA has an obligation to provide benefits quickly to applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet disability standards. This initiative speeds up the application process for Social Security disability applicants with any of 25 rare diseases and 25 cancers whose medical conditions are very severe. These 50 conditions were selected for the initiative’s rollout. This list may expand over time. Commissioner Astrue has held four Compassionate Allowance public outreach hearings since 2007. The purpose of these hearings were to obtain the public’s views about how to implement Compassionate Allowances for children and adults with rare diseases. These previous public outreach hearings were on: rare diseases cancers traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias The Commissioner is scheduled to hold the fifth public outreach hearing on schizophrenia in November 2009. Additional information about how compassionate allowances are processed may be found on the Social Security Administrations website. Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis believes that the SSA’s compassionate allowances initiative may greatly benefit people with certain rare diseases. If you are a claimant with a rare disease and believe that you may qualify for the compassionate allowance or believe that you qualify for another impairment, contact Attorney Scott Lewis … Continued
October 21, 2009
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can be recognized as a severe disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Indiana residents experiencing a severe lung impairment can attempt to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits by filing an initial claim. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is listed under the Social Security Administration’s medical Listing of Impairments known as Respiratory System (Listing 3.02). Impairments caused by COPD disorders generally produce irreversible loss of pulmonary function due to: gas exchange abnormalities, ventilatory impairments, or a combination of both. The most common symptoms include: coughing wheezing sputum production (phlegm) dyspnea on exertion (shortness of breath) hemoptysis (coughing up blood) chest pain Because the above symptoms are common symptoms among other diseases, it will be necessary to have a thorough medical examination, medical history and chest x-rays or other imaging tests in order to establish COPD . It may even be required for more sophisticated pulmonary function testing to determine if gas exchange abnormalities contribute to the severity of a respiratory impairment. The severity of the impairment may be determined by further evaluation. Additional testing might include measurement of diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide or resting arterial blood gases. If you find yourself unable to work due to a breathing impairment, it is important to seek medical attention, take appropriate medications, and keep detailed records when attempting to obtain Social Security disability benefits. If you have any questions regarding obtaining Social Security disability benefits for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or any other impairment, contact Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis at (317) 423-8888 for a free consultation.
October 19, 2009
Indiana residents filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits may find themselves answering many questions when they finally appear in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The quality and credibility of your testimony may have a big impact on the outcome of the hearing.While there is no one answer on how to give testimony at a Social Security disability hearing, there have been few things that I have experienced as Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney that clients should be aware of when addressing the ALJ. I advise my clients to always be honest when testifying. Many Administrative Law Judges have done hundreds if not thousands of Social Security disability claims hearings and can typically detect when a claimant is not being truthful. Some judges may try to catch a disability claimant that is trying to tell a lie by asking questions that often lead the client into contradicting their previous testimony. So, it is my belief that honesty is always the best policy. Stay focused. If you are being questioned about your “back” impairment, try to stay on that subject. The other impairments you experience will hopefully be covered through more questioning. It is important to elaborate on your disability, letting the judge know how it interferes with your life, the severity of the pain you experience, and the side effects the medications may have on you, among other things. It’s critical that you get this information across to the judge. Inform the judge of the things that you cannot do. Many people do not want to admit they have a disability that hinders their ability to do daily activities. When attempting to obtain disability benefits, at times you will need to swallow your pride. If you need help with daily activities such as grooming, laundry, cooking, etc. it is important to inform the judge of these difficulties. This is no time to pretend you are a superhero when … Continued
October 16, 2009
Indiana Social Security disability benefit recipients often ask if their benefit is taxable. If you are approved for Social Security disability benefits, your benefits may be taxable. You may have tax obligations if you have other sources of income besides your disability payment, or if your spouse earns a substantial income, and there also may be other factors that may affect your tax situation. Taxable Social Security benefits may include monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Although, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are not considered taxable income. If you have income in addition to your benefits, you may have to file a return even if none of your benefits are taxable. Each personal financial situation with regard to Social Security disability benefits can be unique. It is always important when working with income taxes to either consult a tax professional or do your own extensive research when preparing your taxes. The IRS website can be helpful when determining whether your benefits are taxable or not. The above information concerning taxes and social security benefits should not be construed as tax advice, but rather a brief summary of information gathered from various sources. If you would like a free consultation regarding Social Security disability benefits, please contact Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis at (317) 423-888 for a free consultation.
October 1, 2009
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
September 17, 2009
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
September 15, 2009
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.
August 26, 2009
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.
August 25, 2009
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
August 21, 2009
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.