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May 31, 2011

Can I Represent Myself at My Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing?

Most Indiana Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants initiate the disability claims process by filing their initial application for benefits on their own or with assistance from a family member or friend. Unfortunately, some statistics report that nearly 80% of disability claims are denied at the initial application level. Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer, Scott D. Lewis, has experience in the disability appeals process.  Mr. Lewis offers a free consultation to those individuals that are unable to work due to a disabling condition or a combination of disabling conditions. Once the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies your disability claim, you may want to contact a qualified Social Security disability lawyer or representative to discuss your Indiana disability benefits claim.  Although optional, Mr. Lewis recommends having legal representation at your disability hearing.  An experienced disability attorney or representative can be trained in presenting and arguing disability cases in front an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and may be trained in questioning the vocational expert or medical expert that may potentially be at your hearing.  Indiana disability claimants may argue their own case in front of an ALJ, but some statistics show that disability claims that are argued by a disability attorney or representative are more likely to win. Once Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis and his staff receive a copy of the claimant’s Social Security file, he and his staff carefully review it. Reviewing the file will inform him what the disability examiners at the initial and reconsideration levels looked at when the claim was denied at those levels. This also gives Mr. Lewis an idea of how strongly or not your own treating doctors support your case. Additionally, reviewing your file allows Mr. Lewis and his staff to identify whether or not certain evidence from some of your medical sources was simply not gathered. Many times, Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis finds an … Continued

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April 22, 2011

Who Can Help Me with Filing a Social Security Disability Claim?

“I am filing for Social Security disability benefits and I need help with the application process!”  This is a common concern heard among Indiana Social Security disability applicants.  The Social Security disability claims process can be long and frustrating and many claimants struggle with the application process.  Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis assists Indianapolis disability claimants with their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims.  During a free consultation offered by Attorney Lewis, he will ask the claimant where they are in the claims process.  If the claimant is in the initial application stage, he will refer the disability claimant to one (1) of the following sources in order to file their initial application for disability benefits: Visit the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) website at www.ssa.gov to apply online.  Once on the SSA’s website, select the “disability” tab at the top of the home page.  You will be directed to a new page, where you will select the “Apply for Disability” box.  Then you will follow the steps instructed on the application.  It should be noted that this application is for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and that if you are applying for Supplement Security Income benefits that a SSA representative will need to discuss your application. Call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.  Explain to the Social Security representative that you would like to apply for SSDI and SSI benefits and you would like to schedule an appointment to apply in person. Visit your local Social Security Administration to schedule an appointment to apply for SSDI and SSI benefits. Applying for disability benefits online is convenient and fast.  Although applying online has it’s advantages, it may have some disadvantages.  Unless you have a family or friend assisting you with the online application, you are completing it on your own.  … Continued

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April 14, 2011

Why Was I Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?

It is not uncommon for an Indiana disability claimant to have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits since majority of disability claims  are denied at the initial application level.  Many SDDI and SSI claimants face the same question after they have been denied benefits by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Attorney Scott D. Lewis gets calls from disability claimants on a daily basis asking him why they have been denied disability benefits and what should they do next. Mr. Lewis always directs the claimant to the denial letter that they have received by the SSA.  This letter specifically states the reason for denial.  So, take the time to read the decision the SSA sent to you to figure out exactly why you were denied in the first place.  Once you know why you were denied, you can begin to collect the necessary documentation to appeal this decision.  Some reasons for denial may include: In 2010, you make more than $1,000 per month.  If you exceed this amount, you will immediately be denied disability benefits. Based on the information you provided the SSA when filing your claim, they have determined that your disability will not last or be expected to last a minimum of 12 months. You failed to comply with the SSA’s request for information or medical records.  Not complying with this request may ultimately cause you to be denied benefits. The SSA has attempted to locate you and was unable to reach you. At the law office of Scott D. Lewis, Attorney at Law, LLC, Mr. Lewis assists disability claimants with appealing their denied claim.  Either him or his staff will often ask his clients to retrieve the denial letter so he can discuss the reasons for denial prior to appealing the claim.  It is important … Continued

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March 23, 2011

I Have Been Denied Social Security Disability Benefits and I Don’t Know What To Do Next!

Indiana residents that have been denied Social Security disability benefits often wonder what to do next in order to get the benefits they deserve. Statistically, it is stated that nearly 2% of Americans apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits each year. SSDI and SSI benefits are available to those individuals with a medical condition or a combination of medical conditions preventing them from working working for twelve consecutive months or longer or expected to be unable to work for 12 months. Unfortunately, approximately 80% of these claims are denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA) at the initial stage of the claims process. Once denied, many disability claimants wonder what to do next. Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis often encourages his disability clients to be patient and to not panic. Although the claimant was denied initially, there may be hope for winning your claim. Even though the Social Security disability appeals process is long and may be complicated, it can be manageable and ultimately your claim may be approved. Once the disability claimant receives their initial denial by the SSA, the claimant should file an appeal within 60 days from the date of the decision letter.  Most of the time, appeals can be filed online at the SSA’s website.  The first appeal the claimant must file is the “Request for Reconsideration.”  This appeal is simply asking the SSA to review your claim again for consideration of SSDI or SSI benefits.  Within a certain amount of time, the SSA will either approve or deny this appeal.  Again, don’t stop there!  As stated before, the majority of these claims are denied so it is important to continue the appeals process.  A second appeal must be filed in order to have your disability case heard in from of a judge.  This second … Continued

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March 10, 2011

Social Security’s Electronic Folder and Your Indiana Social Security Disability Claim

With all of the increasing technology we experience on an everyday basis, it should be no surprise for Indiana disability claimants to find out their Social Security disability claim file is loaded onto a compact disc (CD) for viewing purposes. In an attempt to go paperless the Social Security Administration (SSA) has turned to having all of your disability development scanned and turned into space saving technology.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis believes this transition is not only easier for viewing purposes, but has cut down on unnecessary file storage for the Social Security Administration and also Indiana Social Security disability representatives. Indiana Social Security disability appeals claimants may wonder what exactly is contained in their electronic Social Security disability claim folder.  The items in your Social Security disability claim folder are referred to as exhibits.  There are different sections of the folder and they may include: Payment documents/decisions Jurisdictional documents/notices Non disability development Disability development Medical records If you are currently waiting on an Indiana Social Security disability hearing and the Social Security Administration has mailed you a compact disc with your Social Security disability file on it you will want to take a good look at it to ensure your file is complete.  While some of the sections may be difficult to understand, the medical records section should be closely examined to ensure all of your physician(s) records are present and up to date.  Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis strives to ensure his clients electronic file is complete and all necessary documents have been submitted to the Indiana offices of the Social Security Administration. If you show up at your Indiana Social Security disability hearing and your file is not complete, some Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) will allow you additional time to submit missing documentation; however, there is no guarantee an … Continued

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February 26, 2011

The Third Party Function Report and Your Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits

Scott D. Lewis often hears from his Indiana Social Security disability clients and their families that they are confused by the paperwork they receive from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  The forms are usually requesting information in applying for and appealing their Indiana Social Security disability claim.  One of these forms is called the “Function Report – Adult – Third Party”.  It is also known as form SSA – 3380 – BK.  Now with that mouthful out, are you afraid to pick up your pen and start the application and appeals process?  Well, Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis advises his clients and their families to not be intimidated in completing forms required by the Social Security Administration.  Most of these forms Mr. Lewis’ office can assist in completing or guide you, family, or friends through in completing the forms if you wish to complete them for yourself. The Third Party Function Report has various parts and these include: General Information that includes names, relationship to the disabled person, contact information, and other data. Information about daily activities including how a typical day is, whether the disabled person can care for themselves on a personal level, preparation of meals, house & yard work, mobility, shopping, money management, hobbies, and social activities. Information about their physical and mental abilities of the disabled person. Finally, a remarks section. Indiana disability attorney Scott D. Lewis tells these third parties that complete this form to be as thorough as possible.  It is important to be truthful and remember their is a reason this form is being asked to be completed.  It is to determine if the Indiana disability claimant has a disabling condition that is severe enough to prevent them from securing and maintaining substantial gainful activity.  In other words, if the Social Security Administration believes you are able to … Continued

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February 25, 2011

Appointment Of Representative Forms For Your Disability Claim

Some individuals applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may decide they need representation to help navigate what can be a confusing disability process.  In order for Indiana disability attorney Scott Lewis to represent you in your disability claim and be recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA), he must have an Appointment of Representative Form (Form SSA 1696) completed and submitted to the SSA. The Appointment of Representative form is a fairly easy form to complete, but at the same time is a vital piece of paperwork to ensure representation in your Indiana Social Security disability claim.  The main parts of SSA form 1696 include: Claimant information including name and Social Security number. The authorization to appoint the representative which includes the type of claim, release of information, and whether you have more than one representative.  A signature, address, telephone number, and date are also needed by the claimant. The acceptance of appointment is then completed which contains information about the lawyer or representative involved with the claim. The two final sections concern waiver of the fee and waiver of direct payment. When Indiana Social Security Lawyer Scott Lewis is hired to represent a disabled claimant, he tries to get this form into the Social Security Administration early so he has access to the disability claimant’s information.  Without the submission of the Appointment of Representative form, the Social Security Administration will not release any information or speak with Mr. Lewis about the Indiana disability claimant’s appeal. Many Indiana disability claimants do not know they have a right to be represented in their Social Security disability claim.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis offers a free consultation and his fee agreement is contingent on a favorable outcome in your case.  In other words, plain … Continued

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February 15, 2011

Social Security Disability Benefits and Completing the Disability Report Appeal

Many forms need to be completed when appealing a denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis advises his clients to be as detailed as possible when completing these forms. One of these forms is referred to as the “Disability Report Appeal”. The Disability Report Appeal (also know as form SSA 3441-BK) is filed in combination with forms needed to file a “Request for Reconsideration”, “Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge”, and “Request for Reconsideration Disability Cessation.”  It is important that Indiana Social Security disability appeals claimants file the correct forms to ensure there are no unnecessary delays in processing the needed paperwork. The Disability Report Appeal has various sections concerning: Information on the disabled person; (This includes basic contact information.) Information about the claimant’s disabling condition, illness, or injury; Medical record information; Medications the claimant may be taking; Medical tests that have been performed; Job/work information; Information regarding training and education; Support services you may have received; and A final section where the claimant can put information you do not believe was addressed in other sections of the report. Indianapolis Social Security attorney Scott Lewis receives many calls from his clients asking how they should fill this lengthy form out.  Mr. Lewis believes it is important to be as detailed as possible, but also stay focused on the question being asked.  The section(s) involving the Indiana disability claimant’s medical treatment can be very important when completing the form. It may be beneficial to take your time keeping in mind there are time constraints when filing a “Request for Reconsideration” or a “Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge”.

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January 5, 2011

Is There A Way I Can Get My Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing Faster?

Maybe you are getting tired of waiting for your Indiana Social Security disability appeal hearing and now you are wondering if there is some way to get in front of a Judge quicker.  You may now find this long wait to have your disability claim heard has put you and your family in financial turmoil and cannot believe it is taking this long to enter an Indiana Social Security disability courtroom.  Indianapolis Social Security lawyer Scott Lewis fields many calls asking this very question, and he lets these Indiana residents know there are ways to get there faster, but the criteria to do so may not sound very appealing. There are circumstances where the Social Security Administration (SSA) will at times move you up in the waiting process and these situations are  considered “dire circumstances”.  These critical cases include: Military service casualty cases Compassionate allowance cases The claimant is homicidal or suicidal The claimant has a terminal illness Shelter, food, or medicine is unavailable and the claimant is unable to obtain it The aforementioned criteria to establish an Indiana Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim as “dire need” is only a framework to go by, the facts in each individual case vary and can effect a case differently.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis can discuss your particular case in more detail.  If a claim is determined to be dire need, a hearing office should take immediate action to expedite the Social Security disability claim. Unfortunately, with the current hearing backlog many Indiana Social Security disability claimants find themselves not fitting into a dire need circumstance, but struggling to make it to their hearing date.  If you have questions concerning Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits contact Scott D. Lewis for a … Continued

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December 30, 2010

Social Security Disability Claims Continue To Grow

Recent reports indicate a rise in the amount of individuals filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. This could be due to many factors including the rise in unemployment and even the ease of applying for disability benefits online may be a culprit. Whatever the reason, Indiana Social Security disability claimants are not immune to the ramifications of a rising number of disability applications. Indianapolis Social Security Lawyer Scott Lewis fears this rise may result in even longer processing times of applications and create an even more burdensome backlog of individuals waiting on an Indiana Social Security disability hearing. Sources show that Social Security disability applications have increased by 21 percent recently and in Indianapolis Disability Attorney Scott Lewis’ experience Indiana has been no exception. Mr. Lewis has noticed an increase in the amount of interest shown in individuals asking if they may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  While the requirements of being entitled to Indiana Social Security benefits may appear straightforward, there are many variables that can enter into the equation.  For instance, many of these Indiana residents applying for Social Security disability benefits are receiving unemployment benefits.  While this should not be an absolute bar to receiving Social Security disability benefits, some Administrative Law Judges look on the payments of unemployment as a factor in turning down an otherwise valid Social Security disability claim. What does all of this mean to a disabled Indiana resident?  It may mean a longer waiting period for your claim to be processed.  It should not discourage you or a family member from applying for Social Security disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Just because there are more people applying for disability benefits does not mean they are more difficult to obtain.  As always, … Continued

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