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January 21, 2011

Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing Bench Decisions

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants often find themselves being denied their Social Security disability benefits. As these disability claimants fight for what they believe they deserve, they appeal the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) denial by requesting the SSA to reconsider their claim. This is called a “request for reconsideration.” Often, this request is again denied by the SSA which leads to a second appeal in which a disability claimant will request that their claim be heard in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This appeal is called “a request for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge.” Indiana Social Security Disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis represents disability claimants who have been denied SSDI or SSI benefits.  At the law office of Scott D. Lewis, Attorney at Law, LLC, Mr. Lewis and his staff understand their client’s frustration when it comes to the appeals process and the length of time it takes to get in front of an ALJ.  As Mr. Lewis prepares for his client’s disability hearing, he continues to gather medical evidence to support his client’s disability claim, prepares a brief for the judge and also discusses with his clients what they can expect at the hearing.  Most of his clients are eager to know how soon after the hearing they will find out if they won their disability claim. Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis explains to his clients to be prepared to go home from the hearing without knowing if they won their disability claim or not.  In most cases, the judge will give a written decision which may take months.  Written decisions vary in time based on the judge and other factors involved in decision writing.  In some instances, it is very clear that the claim should be granted and in these cases, the ALJ might issue … Continued

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January 14, 2011

How Does a Social Security Disability Claimant Prepare for a Hearing?

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis provides a free consultation to Indiana residents seeking disability benefits. During these consultations, he often finds himself explaining the claims process to the disability claimant. Many individuals are concerned with how they can best be prepared for their upcoming Social Security disability hearing. Mr. Lewis always tries to take the time to explain to his clients how they, as the claimant, can be best prepared for their day in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants who have been denied at the initial level and reconsideration level of the application process must request for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  many sources indicate, although it is not required, statistically claimants with representation, such as a Social Security disability lawyer or a representative, have a better success rate with winning their disability claim.  Once the claimant obtains his/her disability attorney, it’s important that the claimant keep the attorney informed.  At the law office of Scott D. Lewis, Mr. Lewis and his team strive to review the claimant’s file to make sure his/her medical records within the file are current.  If the law office contacts you to complete paperwork pertaining to your medical records, it is the claimant’s responsibility to complete the appropriate paperwork immediately and return it to the law office.  If the claimant does not complete the paperwork in a timely manner, it may delay medical evidence being submitted to the claimant’s record.  Medical evidence is translated by your disability attorney to determine your work limitations, and at times medical professionals list these limitations in the medical records.  It is important that while in the waiting period that claimants should continue to see their medical physicians.  When visiting the doctor(s), report your symptoms … Continued

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January 10, 2011

The Hearing Brief and Your Indiana Social Security Disability Appeal

Indianapolis Social Security Lawyer Scott D. Lewis often finds it helpful to write a hearing brief in preparation for an upcoming Indiana Social Security disability hearing.  A hearing brief can serve as a theory of the case and provide a framework for how your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case may be argued.  Attorney Scott Lewis believes there are many advantages to submitting a brief before a hearing, and these may include: A concise explanation of how the claimant meets or equals the criteria for disability. Citations to medical records of importance and citations to Medical Provider Questionnaires and Physical/Mental Functional Residual Capacity Assessments if they are contained in the file. The brief can help the attorney or representative prepare for the hearing and make him/her aware of positive and/or negative aspects of the claim. Some Administrative Law Judges ask for a brief to be submitted. Set the attorney/representative apart from those individuals who do not submit a brief. Make it easier for the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to render a favorable decision  There are usually numerous medical documents in a claimant’s file; therefore,  Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis believes it makes sense to point the Judge in the correct direction and hope he/she agrees with your summary of the case. The above are just a few reasons a hearing brief may be beneficial in being awarded Social Security disability benefits.  It should be noted all Administrative Law Judges handle Social Security cases differently and the submission of a hearing brief may not have an impact on your Indiana Social Security disability claim.  It has been the experience of Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis that a well written brief can help him in the formulation of a well thought out consistent theory of your … Continued

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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 7, 2010

Indianapolis Social Security Appeals Lawyer Scott D. Lewis and Why Honesty May Be The Best Policy

Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis often lets his Social Security disability clients know how important it is to be honest at your Indiana Social Security disability appeal hearing. You have waited two years to get a hearing and now you are in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for your day in court to try to secure Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. You have worked hard your entire life and accumulated enough work credits to be entitled to your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, or you are simply disabled and have not worked enough but are still entitled to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The ALJ starts his questioning and you are surprised they are a little more in depth about personal issues in your life and now you find yourself squirming in your chair and wondering why in the world the ALJ is interested in these topics. Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis has seen the above scenario on numerous occasions, and at times, squirms in his chair awaiting an answer to be uttered by his apprehensive client.  The truth is many Administrative Law Judges already know the answer to the question they are asking.  They are simply seeing if the Indiana Social Security disability claimant will tell the truth. Clients may be surprised to find when they go to their physician many times he/she is writing down things that an individual might not believe have much to do with their physical or mental disability.  Maybe that you did some very light yard work, went out with friends for a beer, watch your grandchildren occasionally, smoke cigarettes, and many other topics you may regard as meaningless when it comes to a disabling condition.  For example, if you tell the Administrative Law Judge you do … Continued

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December 6, 2010

Hiring an Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney or Representative Is Your Right!

Indiana Social Security disability claimants need to know they have a right to hire an Indiana Social Security lawyer or representative when appealing their denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.  In Social Security attorney Scott Lewis’ experience claimants are surprised to find out they do not have to pay any upfront fees when hiring Mr. Lewis.  Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis works on a contingency basis, so you do not have to pay him a fee if he is not successful in winning your claim. At some Indiana Social Security disability hearings, there are experts that will testify as to what your medical condition is and whether or not there are jobs you can perform.  You may find an attorney can help question these experts and help you prevail in your Indiana Social Security disability claim.  An Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney may also be familiar with the court proceedings and may help guide you through difficult questioning.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis tries to prepare his disability clients as to what they may expect when entering the courtroom and how their day in court may go. You have a right to hire an attorney or representative.  Whether an Indiana Social Security disability claimant exercises this right is up to them.  Considering Mr. Lewis’ fee is contingent on winning the claim, disability lawyer Scott Lewis feels his clients are more comfortable in this type of fee agreement.  Most of Mr. Lewis’ clients are in no position to pay upfront expenses or pay an attorney if their claim is not approved.  The last thing an Indiana disabled resident needs is another bill with no income to pay it.

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November 30, 2010

Indianapolis Social Security Lawyer Scott Lewis and his Thoughts Concerning Video Hearings

The Indianapolis Office of Disability Adjudication and Review has a tremendous backlog of Social Security disability appeals waiting to be heard by Administrative Law Judges (ALJ).  This is no big secret to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and in an attempt to help alleviate the huge caseload they have turned to video hearings.  Does this mean an Indiana Social Security disability claimant will have a video hearing?  No, there is still a possibility you will appear at an “in person” hearing with the ALJ sitting right in front of you.  Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis has noticed recently that Indiana disability claimants need to expect the unexpected when dealing with Administrative Law Judges from other locations. It is not uncommon for Indiana Social Security disability attorneys to see the same Administrative Law Judges over and over at “in person” hearings at the Indianapolis Social Security hearings office.  Familiarity with the Judges can often help an Indiana Social Security disability lawyer know what to expect at the court proceeding and be well prepared for the type of questions that will be asked by the Judge.  Also, this type of familiarity will usually help the Social Security disability attorney know what particular things a certain judge is looking for to achieve a favorable outcome. Now, lets mix in an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) sitting in a courtroom peering through a small television monitor hundreds of miles away who may have never stepped foot in the state of Indiana.  You may enter the courtroom in a wheelchair, the ALJ may not see, and you may grimace in pain that he may not see, and then he speaks to you in a voice that seems to echo from the audio equipment. You look at your Indianapolis Social Security Attorney for guidance and he displays calm character … Continued

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November 18, 2010

Security Issues At Social Security Disability Hearing Offices

Indianapolis Social Security lawyer Scott Lewis travels to many Social Security hearing offices around the state of Indiana.  There has been much news recently about the safety and security of these Social Security hearing offices.  Due to the large amount of pending Indiana Social Security disability claims, some hearings take place in atmospheres that may surprise Indiana Social Security disability claimants.  With that in mind, it may not be a surprise that the level of security varies from one hearing location to another. The majority of the time an Indiana Social Security disability claimant will have a hearing at the Office of Disability, Adjudication and Review (ODAR).  At the majority of ODAR locations Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis visits, the security is very similar.  Indiana Social Security disability claimants will enter the hearing office and be asked for photo identification, asked some basic questions, and then usually purses and belongings are checked over and a metal detector is used.  If everything checks out, you let the staff know you have arrived and take a seat.  Recently, due to a large amount of pending claims, hearings are being held in what Indiana Social Security disability claimants may think is a strange atmosphere for a hearing.  Some of these locations may even include hotels.  Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis sometimes finds himself and his client in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in a hotel room.  Yes that is correct, a hotel room.  Will your end result be different from a hearing in a hotel room?  Probably not, but it does seem rather odd.  The only thing Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis has noticed at these “make shift” hearings location is that there is minimal security.  At times the Indiana disability client does not even check in.  They simply … Continued

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October 13, 2010

Testifying At Your Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing

Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis often finds his Indiana Social Security Appeals clients are very nervous about giving testimony at Social Security disability hearings.  The fact is many of his disability clients find the hearing to be much more informal than they had originally thought.  The hearing rooms in the Indianapolis Social Security disability office are not a grand courtroom as many disability clients are expecting.  Instead, hearing rooms are typically small, carpeted, wallpapered rooms with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) usually sitting at an elevated desk.  So, now that you have an idea what the hearing room looks like where an Indiana disability client will give testimony, what type of questions will you be asked? Almost all Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) follow a different routine when questioning Social Security disability appeals claimants.  With that being said, Indiana Social Security disability clients should realize the underlying question is “how does your disability keep you from working?”  Indianapolis Social Security disability Attorney Scott Lewis usually finds that most Administrative Law Judges will ask a series of questions and then let the Attorney or representative follow up with their own line of questioning.  The questions usually fall into four main groups: General background questions.  These can include how old you are, your height and weight, your marital status, who you live with, whether you are right or left handed, and many other similar questions. Past jobs you have performed.  Here the Social Security Administration (SSA) is usually concerned with how much you lifted, how much standing and sitting you did, and what your duties where at your previous job(s).  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis tells his clients to be prepared to discuss jobs over the last fifteen (15) years that lasted more than three (3) months. Discussion of your medical problems either physical or mental that prevent you from working.  It is important … 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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