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November 9, 2011

Social Security Disability Attorneys In Indianapolis May Be Able To Give You A Good Idea Of Whether Or Not You Won Your Claim

When you leave your Social Security disability appeal hearing you may scratch your head and wonder what exactly just happened.  Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis, at times, can give his clients a pretty good idea of what just transpired in the hearing room.  Mr. Lewis represents hundreds of Indiana Social Security disability claimants each year and has found there can be some signs during a Social Security disability hearing that may indicate an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is leaning one way or another regarding the decision in your appeal.  There are a few factors that may help determine what the outcome will be. Who was your Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)?  Administrative Law Judge approval percentages on Social Security disability claims can be all over the board.  Some Judges may approve a very small number of claims, while other Judges may approve a large percentage of the claims they preside over.  Indiana Social Security lawyer Scott Lewis has represented his Indiana neighbors in front of all of the current Administrative Law Judges in the Indianapolis ODAR office and usually has a pretty good idea how often they find individuals disabled.  Also, there are statistics put out by the Social Security Administration (SSA) showing the approval rates for Administrative Law Judges. What did the Medical Expert (ME) testify to at your hearing?  Medical experts are sometimes used at Social Security disability hearings.  These experts are supposed to analyze the medical records in your Social Security disability file to determine what your medical condition is, whether or not you meet one of Social Security’s Listing of Impairments, and what your limitations may be related to your mental or physical condition.  Some Administrative Law Judges do not use medical experts, but if they do, at times they can rely heavily on their testimony.  It … Continued

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October 24, 2011

Are There Trial Rules at Social Security Disability Hearings?

When getting ready for your Indiana Social Security disability hearing, you may be wondering  just what the atmosphere will be like and how the questioning will go.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis attempts to prepare all of his clients for what they may expect during the course of their Social Security disability appeal hearing.  Although all Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) may be different, the general framework of the questions usually remains the same. You may be familiar with courtroom television shows and perhaps are expecting a very rigid line of questioning following strict court rules, you may be surprised to find a more informal setting at your disability hearing.  At times these hearings often resemble more of a conversation than a strict guideline of rules and procedures that make it difficult for you to follow.  Many times, the judge will simply ask you questions and then when he/she is finished, they will let your attorney or representative cover any issues they feel are important or have been overlooked. Because most judges do not follow strict trial rules, many times an attorney can ask questions that may appear leading in order to expedite the hearing process.  Most hearings are scheduled for one hour or less.  If an attorney was required to lay a foundation for every question being asked, a hearing could last for a very long time and with the huge backlog of Indiana Social Security disability claims this could have a large impact on wait times for others seeking their day in court.  Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis believes this type of judicial inefficiency is not advantageous to the Social Security disability process and can only muddy the water when attempting to get important testimony out in a timely fashion. Indiana Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis believes Administrative Law Judges … Continued

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October 14, 2011

Indiana Social Security Disability Hearings Office

Social Security disability applicants that have been denied disability benefits have the right to appeal that decision made by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  As an individual goes through the stages of appeals, he/she may eventually find him/herself in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  Indiana hearings are heard at one of the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) locations. Most states have more than one ODAR location.  According to the SSA, there are currently 10 regional offices, 169 hearing offices (including 7 satellite offices), 5 national hearing centers, and 1 national case assistance center. There are approximately 1,300 administrative law judges and 7,000 support staff in the field organization. Additionally, administrative law judges may travel to other sites such as local Social Security offices to conduct hearings if needed or appear by video at your location. In addition to the stated above, the SSA may use other facilities throughout the state to conduct the hearing. Don’t be surprised if you are scheduled for a hearing at the Social Security Administration office, a conference room at another facility or in a hotel or bank. Regardless of the location, the ALJ that presides over the case will still review the evidence, listen to the comments made by your disability attorney, and hear testimony from medical or vocational experts. The ODAR Chicago Region services residents in the six state area comprised of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  Indiana residents will find their hearing scheduled at the location closest to their home.  Indiana Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis finds himself traveling throughout the state of Indiana to represent disabled individuals with their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.  If you have been denied disability benefits or if you cannot work due to a disabling condition, contact Indiana … Continued

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September 27, 2011

How Long is the Wait for a Social Security Disability Benefits Hearing?

In the past couple of years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) had high hopes to improve the wait time for disabled individuals to get a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  Because there was such a large number of backlogged disability appeals waiting to get a hearing date, the SSA’s proposed goal was to improve the Social Security appeals system by hiring more ALJ’s to hear cases, add more hearing centers, and implement technologies that would make it easier to process more hearings across the nation. With these intended plans, the SSA did not foresee the significant budget cuts that would later disrupt these proposed plans. Unfortunately, the backlog of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) appeals has not decreased; as a matter of fact, it appears that the number of disability appeals has grown since this initial plan. In 2011, a study shows that a lack of resources, combined with an increased number of SSDI and SSI claims filed, may be having an impact on the wait time for a hearing. Statistically, the study showed that the number of appeals nationally still pending in the current year was 735,660.  In the 2010 fiscal year, the number of individuals waiting for a hearing was 705,367.  As you can see, there is a significant increase in applicants waiting for a hearing from last year. Although there is an increase in the number of backlogged cases, the average wait period for an individual to get in front of an ALJ has decreased from 514 days in 2008 to 369 days in 2010. So regardless, the SSA has been able to improve the wait period from 2008 to 2010. Unfortunately it is very difficult for a disabled individual to get a hearing scheduled faster than other disabled individuals.  Although, there may be measures that a disability claimant can take in order to increase their chances of being approved for benefits … Continued

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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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