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September 21, 2011

Why Does It Take So Long To Receive A Decision After Your Social Security Disability Hearing?

Indiana disability claimants who have endured a lengthy wait for their disability hearing should not be surprised to find themselves staring at their mailbox waiting for a decision to arrive.  Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis receives many calls from his clients asking why it takes so long to find out whether or not they have won or lost their Social Security disability appeal.  Mr. Lewis understands it can be a frustrating wait when the bills are due and families are having a difficult time putting food on their tables. There is always a possibility there is still work to do on your Social Security disability claim after you leave the courtroom.  Perhaps the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is not through reviewing your case.  All Judges conduct hearings differently and some take testimony first and then look deeper into the medical documentation to make a decision.  If there were no experts at your hearing, the Judge may want to ask questions regarding employment to a vocational expert after the hearing has concluded. On the other hand, some Administrative Law Judges have made a decision during the hearing or as soon as you walked out the door. There can be other reasons for a lengthy wait. It may be a problem of too much workload put on Administrative Law Judges and their staff.  Considering the large number of claims that are backlogging the hearing offices, it would not be too far fetched to think they are having a difficult time keeping up.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis deals with numerous hearing offices and has noticed some offices are simply slower than others.  With that being said, there are certain judges that seem to work at break neck speed to get decisions out.  It is important to remember though that the … Continued

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August 19, 2011

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Benefits Lawyers May Be Able to Give You A Good Idea Of What To Expect At Your Appeals Hearing

Indianapolis disability attorney Scott D. Lewis believes one of the most important aspects of his job is to advise his clients as to what they can expect during a Social Security disability hearing.  While Social Security Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) may have varying formats in the way they run the hearings, a general theme usually guides their line of questioning. Disability lawyer Scott Lewis finds the questioning generally falls into three categories and these include: General questions Job related questions Medical questions General questions most likely the easiest questions for the claimant to answer.  Questions concerning your name, address, age, marital status, number of children you have,  height, weight, right or left handed, and even the type of home you live in.  Why does the Social Security Administration care about these things?  Remember, the facts always matter.  If you testify you are unable to take care of yourself, but also testify you have three young children you care for, the Judge may not put as much weight into the testimony that you are unable to care of yourself.  Sound fair? Maybe not, but it is important to remember there is usually a legitimate reason for every question you are being asked. As for job related questions, usually the Social Security Administrations is only concerned with jobs you performed over the last fifteen years that lasted over three months.  Okay, so now you’re thinking, “I have had so many jobs that it’s going to be hard to remember one I performed fifteen years ago.”  Well, the judge at your hearing may have a printout of your past occupations and through a line of questioning can usually help you remember your past relevant employment.  Also, at some hearings a vocational expert or “job expert” may be present and possibly has already examined … Continued

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July 15, 2011

Are Indianapolis Social Security Disability Hearing Wait Times Shrinking?

Indiana Social Security lawyer Scott Lewis has noticed a few changes concerning the waiting period for getting your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) hearing.  Have the wait times for Social Security disability hearings been reduced?  Mr. Lewis is not so sure there is a clear cut answer to this question. The Indianapolis Indiana Social Security disability hearing office has been attempting to get the number of days you have to wait for your hearing down to a manageable number.  The use of video hearings with Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ’s) from other states presiding over the hearings held at the local Indianapolis office has seemed to make a dent in this huge backlog at times.  Although it is surprising to find an Indiana Social Security disability claimant to be at a video hearing within 12 months of their date of application, while in the next video hearing room an individual has waited for 30 months, there seems to be little explanation for why this discrepancy exists.  This can make it very difficult for Mr. Lewis to give his clients a good idea of when they might find themselves at the hearing office. There have been reports that while the Social Security Administration is taking measures to reduce the backlog, it is actually growing.  If this is indeed the case, the Social Security Administration may need to hire even more Administrative Law Judges and open more hearing offices.  Perhaps more concentration on finding individuals disabled in the earlier stages of the application process could be an answer.  Mr. Lewis knows one thing for sure: the individuals suffering the most from a hearing backlog are those disabled claimants who are unable to provide for themselves and their families. If you have questions concerning your Social Security disability claim … Continued

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June 23, 2011

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Hearings Office Holds Numerous Video Hearings

Times are changing and with advances in technology and an increase in Indiana Social Security disability claims it may be a good thing depending on your perspective.  If you have been waiting on a Social Security disability appeals hearing in Indiana you just might find yourself in a hearings office staring at a television monitor.  Does that sound impersonal?  Well, the Social Security Administration says you have a choice if you notify them in time so that you can be heard in person.  Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis believes there can be advantages and disadvantages to a video hearing. So what can be a potential advantage?  You may get in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) sooner by accepting a video hearing.  Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis receives numerous calls from his clients during the long waiting process and the majority of his clients state they are in financial turmoil because they are unable to work and support their families.  The thought of turning down a video hearing and waiting for an in-person hearing with an unknown date often makes this an easy decision for these individuals struggling to put food on the table. Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis believes there can be potential drawbacks to video hearings.  One major drawback can be that the Administrative Law Judge is unable to clearly assess your disability through video teleconferencing.  This may be due to the fact the ALJ cannot see that you entered or exited the hearing room in pain and difficulty.  In Mr. Lewis’ experience at times there can also be difficulties with the audio equipment.  The audio equipment may cut in and out and there are many  times there is a delay in picking up the person’s voice that can cause individuals to talk … Continued

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May 11, 2011

Your Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and the Luck of the Draw

Feeling lucky?  Sometimes an Indiana disability appeal claimant will ask Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis if he/she can select a judge to hear their Social Security disability appeal.  His answer is “No, you pretty much get who you are assigned.”  What does that mean to you?  Indianapolis attorney Scott Lewis tries his best to prepare his clients to be ready for the judge that will hear their case.  If your Social Security disability attorney or representative has been in front of a certain judge before they will probably know better how to prepare you for your hearing. The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Administrative Law Judges are people just like you and me.  While they are all trained to conduct the Social Security disability hearings in a particular fashion, many judges craft their own style of hearing.  In the Indianapolis Office or Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), there are a variety of personalities of judges and with an entire floor now devoted to video hearings with judges from various states it can make for a very wide viewpoint of how the disability hearing process should be conducted.  But, make no mistake, as an adult attempting to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments the question is whether or not you can work. So your Indiana Social Security disability hearing is scheduled and you finally know who your Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will be, so what is next?  Indiana disability attorney Scott Lewis attempts to let his clients know what type of questions their particular judge is most interested in, how detailed your answers should be, and in general the framework this judge will use in conducting the hearing. It is also important to understand the judge’s claim approval rating in which can vary greatly.  For example, some Administrative Law Judges … Continued

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April 25, 2011

Will The Judge Tell Me If I Won Or Lost At The End Of My Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing?

So you have waited quite a long time for your upcoming Social Security disability hearing and think you will finally get an answer to your appeal.  Well the truth is, you probably have another waiting period to endure before you receive a decision in the mail.  Indianapolis Social Security attorney Scott D. Lewis often gets asked by his clients when will they find out if they have won or lost their Indiana Social Security disability appeal.  There are a few different scenarios that can take place at the conclusion of your Social Security disability hearing. If you are one of the lucky few, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may make a bench decision.  After a  judge hears testimony, if he/she believes the claimant is disabled, he/she can make a fully favorable bench decision.  In Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience a bench decision can speed up the time it takes in processing a disability claim.  The Administrative Law Judge usually reads into the record his/her reasons for granting the disability claim.  Some judges make bench decisions on a routine basis when granting claims, while other judges rarely, if ever, use bench decisions.  So what happens if you are not a lucky recipient of a bench decision?  You shouldn’t think you have lost your disability claim because there are other ways judges decide disability claims. Many judges do not make the decision on your disability claim the day you are in court.  Although almost all Social Security disability hearings have a similar theme, many judges decide claims using a different process.  Some Administrative Law Judges will have already looked over your file before the hearing.  These judges then get testimony from the claimant and then make a decision.  Other judges may not have looked at your record at all before the … Continued

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April 18, 2011

Will I Have To Talk At My Indiana Social Security Disbility Hearing?

Indiana residents waiting on a Social Security disability hearing may find themselves anxious  and worried about what will happen when they enter the courtroom.  Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis is often asked by his clients whether or not they will have to speak at the hearing.  Mr. Lewis advises his clients that they probably will have to speak at the hearing, but at the same time they should expect to be prepared for what kind of questions they will be asked. As an Indiana Social Security lawyer, Mr. Lewis believes it is a very important part of his job to prepare his clients for the hearing.  Although no Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is exactly the same, there is usually a general framework of questions that are asked of each client.  Indianapolis attorney Scott D. Lewis lets his disability clients know they are usually asked personal questions, job related questions, and medical questions.  Mr. Lewis believes your answers are sometimes judged as to whether you are credible.  In other words, are you believable, are you telling the truth, and are you exaggerating how much pain you are in. Indiana Administrative Law Judges conduct numerous hearings every year and some can be pretty slick in the way they question you and may even try to trick you into making contradicting statements.  It is important to tell the truth and do not overstate the problems you are experiencing.  If you are honest and realistic about the problems you are experiencing then you will not have to worry about the credibility of the statements you make.  The pain you experience is usually not something a test can measure, so your own opinion of your pain is all an Administrative Law Judge can count on. Indianapolis Social Security attorney Scott Lewis believes a good attorney … Continued

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April 11, 2011

How Long Will I Have To Wait For My Social Security Disability Hearing?

There is still a tremendous backlog of individuals waiting for an Indiana Social Security disability hearing. Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis spends much of his day explaining to current and future Social Security disability clients that they are in a long line waiting for their day in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Statistically your chances of winning your claim go up when you finally enter a courtroom to present evidence in front of an ALJ, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) is not going to pay your bills during this long wait. So exactly how long does it take to get your disability hearing in Indiana?  It depends on a variety of factors.  The Indianapolis Office or Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) is currently one of the more lengthy waits if your hearing is in Indiana.  There are other hearing offices throughout the state of Indiana that are quicker to get you your day in court.  Can you pick where you have your hearing?  No, it is assigned a location depending on where you reside. Is there any good news on the horizon?  Things MAY be looking up. Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis has noticed a decrease in the wait time in some cases.  In the recent past,  Mr. Lewis would tell his disability appeals clients the wait was generally running 18 – 24 months from the date they requested a hearing until they would actually see a judge.  Lately, Mr. Lewis has seen individuals receive a Social Security disability hearing in 12 months after requesting a hearing. Does this mean your hearing will be within 12 months of the day you requested it?  Probably not.  Many factors determine your hearing date including what Administrative Law Judge you are assigned, whether you have an in person … Continued

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March 9, 2011

Where Will My Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing Be Held?

Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis travels throughout the state of Indiana and various other states to represent Social Security disability claimants at their Social Security disability hearing.  Due to various reasons, he is able to practice Social Security disability law in many different geographic locations.  At times, when one of his Indiana Social Security disability claimant moves, Mr. Lewis will travel to another city or state to remain as his or her client’s disability case representative.  Many Indiana Social Security disability claimants may wonder where exactly will their disability hearing take place as they are approaching their hearing date.  Once the hearing date is established by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the disability claimant will be notified in writing by the SSA of the date, time, and location of their hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) is in charge of conducting hearings and giving out disability benefit decisions in determining if an individual is eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Currently, ODAR has 10 regional offices, 161 hearing offices (including 7 satellite offices), 5 national hearing centers, and 2 national case assistance centers.  There are approximately 1,300 Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) in the field organization. ALJs may travel to other sites such as local Social Security offices to conduct hearings if needed. In most cases, Social Security disability claimants will be assigned the hearings office or location closest to their listed residency.  In order to find the ODAR office closest to you, visit ODAR’s website.  The Indianapolis ODAR hearings office is located in downtown Indianapolis.  This hearings office services Social Security fields offices for Anderson, Bloomington, Columbus, Indianapolis Downtown, Indianapolis Northeast, Indianapolis West, Kokomo, Muncie, and Richmond. Disability Attorney Scott Lewis frequents the Indianapolis ODAR hearings office … Continued

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February 14, 2011

Indianapolis Disability Attorney Scott Lewis Discusses Absenteeism in the Workplace and Social Security Disability

Indiana Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis has many disability clients who claim that their disability causes them to miss too many days of work to hold down a job.  In Mr. Lewis’ experience, Indianapolis disability claimant’s who have a mental condition or a physical condition that causes them to be absent from work on a regular basis may be a factor in determining whether they receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. When a Social Security disability claimant gets denied SSDI or SSI benefits, the claimant has the right to appeal that decision made by the Social Security Administration (SSA) by requesting a hearing.  Once the disability claimant is in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), the claimant often sees other individuals in the hearing room.  One of these individuals may be a Vocational Expert.  A Vocational Expert is at the hearing to testify to which jobs the claimant may or may not be able to perform due to their disabling condition(s).  As Attorney Scott Lewis questions his clients regarding their disabling condition(s), he often finds that his Indiana disability clients have difficulty with regular attendance in a work setting.  Many times, disabling conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, chronic pain, and other disabling conditions can result in an individual’s inability to get out of bed every morning and make it to their workplace.  At the hearing, a Vocational Expert (or job expert) may testify that two or more absences per month may result in termination of employment. At times, in Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis’ experience, in the above line of questioning when the job expert states that no employers will permit this type of absenteeism, it may result in a favorable decision. At an Indianapolis Administrative Law Judge appeal hearing, claimants often find the line of questioning … Continued

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