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December 6, 2010

Why The Social Security Administration Cares If You Can Make Your Bed

As silly as that may sound, when the Social Security Administration (SSA) is trying to determine if you are disabled they may want to know if you can make your bed, bathe & dress yourself, sweep & mop your floor, and take out the trash, among other things. These are called “Activities of Daily Living” or ADL’s. Activities of Daily Living are the things a person usually does on a routine basis to maintain their household and take care of themselves. Why does the Social Security Administration (SSA) or an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) care about activities of daily living?  In Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis’ experience, the SSA is trying to determine how much the Indiana disability claimant is restricted by examining what the disability claimant can or cannot do.  At times, Indiana disability claimants applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may be asked to fill out a form concerning their activities of daily living.  While it is important to be honest when completing these forms, it is also important to FULLY explain what you can or cannot do.  If it is necessary to take breaks due to pain, or other disabling conditions (either mental or physical), it is important to document these restrictions accurately.  Sometimes the Social Security Administration (SSA) may ask a third party to comment on your activities of daily living.  This may be a friend or neighbor.  It is important you let these third parties know what your restrictions and symptoms are.  Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis often finds these third party evaluations are not completely accurate regarding the claimants disabling condition(s). This line of questioning regarding your activities of daily living usually gets addressed when you find yourself in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  … Continued

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November 29, 2010

Indiana Disabililty Lawyer Scott Lewis Thoughts on Social Security Administration’s New Website

Many Indiana residents applying for Social Security disability benefits online may find the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) new website a bit easier to navigate compared to the older website.  While it may be more pleasing to the eye, the revamped website appears to be very similar to the old website.  Actually, it is not too difficult to apply for disability benefits online by just following the simple prompts provided by the website. By typing in www.ssa.gov you can enter the new Social Security website.  At the top of the SSA website home page you will see a tab for “disability”.  By clicking on this tab you will see directions for following four steps to get the process started.  This page not only gets you started on applying for disability benefits, but you may also check your disability application status and also appeal a denied medical decision about your claim.  There are a number of other things you can do online with the Social Security Administration’s website, you may want to take a moment to see if any other areas of the website are of interest. While you can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits online, it is still Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis’ understanding you cannot apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits on the www.ssa.gov website.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis advises his clients to call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis advises his clients to apply for both programs in the event you are not eligible for one program then the other program may be appropriate for your circumstances.

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November 13, 2010

Indianapolis Disability Lawyer Comments On Hearing Backlog And Virtual Screening Units

Indiana Social Security disability claimants waiting for a hearing have had their patience tested.  Currently, the Indianapolis Social Security hearings office known as The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) has a very lengthy wait. Now add in the ever growing amount of individuals applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims, which have been estimated at perhaps 700,000 more initial claims in Fiscal Year 2010 compared to the number in Fiscal Year 2008, and it becomes obvious measures must be taken to alleviate this tremendous caseload. What is the Virtual Screening Unit and will it help me?  This is a tool to identify cases that may receive a favorable outcome without the use of a hearing.  By identifying certain factors and forwarding these cases to the Social Security Administration’s senior attorneys it is believed this will help alleviate the hearing backlog because a fully favorable determination can be made on the record.  In Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis’ experience the majority of the individuals sent to the virtual screening unit are over 50 years of age.  Although, some are younger than 50 years old, it would appear these younger individuals selected by the Virtual Screening Unit have substantial severe disabilities that the virtual screening unit may believe can be found fully favorable without a hearing. At times, an attorney advisor may contact Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis’ office and request more recent updated medical records to help further a determination on their Indiana Social Security claim. As always, Indianapolis Social Security attorney Scott Lewis advises his disability clients to keep seeking medical attention while their claim is pending.  When it comes to your day in front of an Indiana Administrative Law Judge or in selected cases the eyes of an Attorney Advisor … Continued

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October 28, 2010

Indiana Social Security Disability Claimants and Quick Disability Determinations

If you are an Indiana resident trying to get Social Security disability benefits, the word “quick” may not sound too familiar to you. At the present, processing times to receive a hearing from an Indiana Social Security disability Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is very long and may be putting a huge financial burden on you and your family.  On the other hand, if you were lucky enough to be one of the few claimants to have received a “Quick Disability Determination” (QDD), then you probably wouldn’t be reading this article. What is a “Quick Disability Determination” (QDD)? A QDD is a Social Security disability case that is selected by a computer when it has a high probability of the Social Security claimant being disabled and that all evidence can be obtained in a quick and easy manner, and that the Disability Determination Services (DDS) can process the claim quickly. Indiana Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis can only tell his Indiana Social Security clients to cross their fingers and hope they are selected by the computer to be a QDD.  The Social Security Administration has set up this QDD process to help alleviate the overwhelming amount of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applications that they are receiving. Indiana disability claimants who are experiencing a disabling condition that is not very common or may be lacking extensive medical records, may find themselves not considered for a QDD.  The criteria to be considered for a QDD may be very easy to identify and perhaps would have been caught on an initial application anyway.  Indianapolis Social Security lawyer Scott D. Lewis welcomes anything that will speed up the process for Indiana Social Security disability claimants as the current wait process is putting a strain on some of the most deserving Indiana residents.

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September 22, 2010

When Should I File For Social Security Disability?

Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis often gets telephone calls from Indiana residents asking when they should file their initial Social Security disability claim.  Many disability claimants make the mistake of waiting because they believe they must be disabled for a period of one year before they can file a Social Security disability claim.  There are a number of things to consider when deciding to file a Social Security disability claim: 1.  Has your disability or combination of disabilities prevented you from making enough money to take care of yourself and/or your family?  The amount of money the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers to meet this level is called the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount.  In 2010 the SGA amount for non-blind individuals is 1,000.00. 2.  Will you meet the “durational requirement”?  Your disability must actually last for 12 months or be expected to last for 12 months.  Many times Lawyer Scott Lewis tells his clients if there is a question as to whether the disability will last for 12 months, do not give up on the claim.  If the disability is preventing you from performing SGA, as stated above, it may be in your best interest to appeal your disability claim if you are unsure as to whether you may recover from your disabling condition.  Also, due to the lengthy hearings process in your Social Security disability appeal you may have very well met the durational requirement before you find yourself before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). 3.  Don’t jeopardize your “date last insured”.  Based on your work history and paying into the Social Security system you will establish a dale last insured.  A Social Security disability claimant must prove they became disabled before the date last insured in Title II also known as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. 4.  Also in Title II or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims … Continued

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September 15, 2010

My Initial Social Security Disability Claim Was Denied, Now What?

You just received a letter stating your Social Security disability claim was denied and you are wondering what to do next?  Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis receives calls asking this very question every day. Indiana residents receiving a notice of disapproved claim need to know they have certain rights and can appeal a denial of their Social Security disability claim. There can be a few reasons you find yourself denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  When Attorney Scott Lewis hears that your Social Security claim was denied because the Social Security Administration did not feel that your disability was severe enough to prevent you from working, he realizes you may have grounds to appeal the decision. Why did you get denied?  One reason you may have been denied your Social Security disability benefits is because your medical record was incomplete.  In your initial application you may have unintentionally omitted important medical sources.  Another reason could be the SSA was unable to get important medical documentation that you told them about.  There could have been an oversight by the SSA or an oversight by the medical source you provided to them.  In any case, by the time you reach an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing it is very important that your Social Security claim file is up-to-date and complete.  While the above may be one reason you are denied, there can be many other reasons for a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) denial. What to do next?  A “Request for Reconsideration”, sometimes referred to as an appeal by Social Security disability claimants is usually the next step when receiving an initial denial.  Basically, what you are saying to the Social Security Administration is “hey, you made a mistake take another look at my disability claim”.  You have 60 days plus some mailing time from the date of … Continued

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September 8, 2010

Describing The Pain You Are Experiencing At Your Social Security Disability Hearing

Indianapolis Attorney Scott Lewis often finds himself talking to his clients in depth about the pain they are experiencing.  Describing your pain in detail may help a Social Security disability client win their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.  Other than your medical records and possibly a medical expert, the only other information an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at your disability appeal may be able to rely on is your testimony.  With that in mind, disability lawyer Scott Lewis believes it is very important to describe the pain you feel as accurately as you possibly can. Different Social Security disability claimants experience and tolerate pain at varying levels.  Due to the subjective nature of pain, it may be difficult to explain to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and make them understand how painful your condition is.  Many physical conditions can cause pain including back problems, fibromyalgia, diabetes, migraine headaches, COPD, heart problems, and other conditions.  A Social Security disability claimant may experience pain from not one physical condition, but a combination of physical conditions. Many times at a Social Security disability hearing, Indiana Attorney Scott Lewis will ask his disability clients questions to help them better explain the pain they experience.  For example: Where do you feel the pain?  If you experience pain in your back and it radiates down your legs, you should let the SSA know the exact location of your pain. What does the pain feel like?  If it is a sharp, dull, or burning sensation, you should describe it in as much detail as possible. Many times, Attorney Scott Lewis may ask his Indiana disability clients to describe the pain they experience on a zero to ten scale.  Zero being no pain and ten being pain so severe they must go to the hospital. How often do you feel the pain?  Is it hourly, daily, weekly, … Continued

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April 15, 2010

How Can I Improve My Social Security Disability Claim?

Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis represents Social Security disability claimants that have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In his experience in working with disability claimants, there seems to be one common question his clients ask him. “How can I improve my Social Security disability claim?” Mr. Lewis believes that there is no one trick to winning your Social Security claim but there are ways of effectively presenting your claim to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to help support your claim.  When a claimant is filing their initial claim to the SSA, the claimant should submit all medical records that support their claim with this initial application.  It is very important to provide the SSA the medical records that support the claim.  It is Attorney Lewis’s experience that you should not depend on the SSA to retrieve all of your medical records.  While you are waiting for the decision of your initial application, continue to see your medical doctors and continue any and all treatment for your disability.  It’s important not to miss any doctor’s appointments during this period.  If you have been denied disability benefits, immediately file an appeal.  The claimant should file a “Request for Reconsideration.”  This is when the claimant disagrees with the SSA’s decision and would like the SSA to reconsider their claim.  At this point, you may have an attorney represent you in this claim.  There are many benefits to having an attorney represent you during the appeals period.  The attorney may keep you informed of any deadlines, can help you obtain medical records, may assist in completing the appeal and may assist in submitting all necessary paperwork to the SSA.  Whether you have an attorney or not, during this appeals period, submit all new medical records and test results to the … Continued

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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

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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

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