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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December 16, 2009

Social Security Disability Benefit Payments

Are you an Indiana Social Security disability claimant that has recently been approved for disability benefits?  Like most claimants, you are wondering when you will receive that first payment from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are designed to replace a claimant’s income once they are no longer able to work due to their disability.  As with all claimants, these payments are usually desperately needed.  Since all benefits are not equal and every situation is unique, Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis states that it is very difficult to determine when you will receive your first disability payment.  Factors may include:   how soon the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) made his decision, how soon the decision is written, and how soon the payment center is notified of a favorable ruling.  Also, it should be noted that many delays may be contributed to human error.  The above factors are not the only variables in receiving your first disability payment.  Other issues may arise creating substantial time delays in the process.  Today, millions of Americans are waiting even longer for their disability payments, unemployment checks, and food stamps.  Some sources state that the number of people waiting for their first disability checks has increased 38% in 2009 from 2008 due to the recession.  Many states have had to furlough payment processors causing substantial backlog in the processing centers.  When you receive your notice of award, there may be specific information regarding your disbursement of benefits. Regardless of how long you have to wait for the first payment, any past due payments that you are entitled to are usually being processed at the same time.  Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis finds achieving a favorable outcome at the hearing level should be your first priority and hopefully with the approval of … Continued

Filed under: Claims Process, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
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November 10, 2009

Social Security Disability and Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

When Indiana residents are attempting to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, they may find themselves questioned about their Activities of Daily Living or otherwise known as ADL. ADL are the things most people perform in the course of a regular day.  This may include personal hygiene, making meals, grocery shopping, and household chores such as doing the dishes, cleaning your home, and doing laundry. Why does Social Security care about your Activities of Daily Living?  Social Security typically will ask claimants, or third parties, questions about the claimant’s ability to perform ADL to determine whether or not they can perform work like activities and therefore be employed.  For instance, if you tell the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you are able to vacuum your house, clean your bathrooms, and do your laundry; the SSA might not find it too difficult to believe that you can do other work activities. At the hearing level, Administrative Law Judges (ALJ’s) are interested in your Activities of Daily Living.  During the claims process, questionnaires are usually completed by claimants or third parties regarding the claimant’s ADL.  Who is a third party?  These are names of individuals that the claimant has provided to the Social Security Administration of people who know of their personal situation. It is important for claimant’s to only provide the names of people who really know and understand what is going on in the claimant’s life.  These third parties are often contacted and asked questions regarding the claimant’s ADL, and it is important that they can provide correct and current information regarding the claimant’s ADL. In summary, it is important that Social Security claimants and third parties provide accurate information as to what a claimant can or cannot do. So keep your friends, neighbors, and relatives you have listed as third … Continued

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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

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June 4, 2009

Obtaining Social Security Disabiltiy Benefits with Good Medical Records

Most people are not familiar with the Social Security disability claims process.  When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the success of your claim often depends on providing good supporting medical records.  It is important to know what medical documentation that the Social Security Administration (SSA) needs.  Without an attorney, it is the SSA’s responsibility to secure your medical records.  An attorney has experience in knowing how to request this information from doctors and other medical professionals.  Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis sees a variety of medical records every day and knows how important good supporting medical documentation can be in getting your Social Security benefits approved.  Here are a few key things to keep in mind when seeing your doctor and accumulating medical records: An abundance of pertinent records relating to your disability will usually help the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in finding a favorable result in your case. Try to make it easy on the Social Security Administration (SSA) by seeing your doctor(s) on a regular basis and providing the SSA with good medical records. Adequate progress notes can help in obtaining a favorable decision.  If your physician can document your disabilities on a consistent basis showing the disabilities you are having, it can greatly enhance your case. Tests verifying your disabilities can have an impact on a favorable outcome.  MRI’s, EKG’s, and various other objective tests showing the severity of your disability are things the SSA and your attorney can use to substantiate your case. A clear diagnosis or assessment of your disability is critical in getting your benefits.  The Listing of Impairments defines disabilities that the Social Security Administration recognizes.  If you have a distinct diagnosis by your physician that meets or equals one of these listings your ability to obtain Social … Continued

Filed under: Claims Process, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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