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January 6, 2016

Finding an Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer for your Child

If you have had a difficult time finding an attorney to represent you in your child’s claim for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you may not be alone.  When I speak to new clients in my Indianapolis Social Security disability law practice, they often tell me that many of the Social Security disability attorneys they had consulted simply do not take children’s cases.  Some Administrative Law Judges have told me that children’s SSI cases can be more difficult to win than adult cases.  In my experience, the chances of winning a child’s case are affected by the same factors that affect adults’ cases – we need good treatment records, statements from a treating physician supporting the claimant’s descriptions of his or her symptoms, and good preparation for the hearing.   I take great pride in helping the families of disabled children, and I believe my experience with these cases helps to ensure that my clients have the best chance possible at a favorable outcome. One of the reasons some attorneys may be reluctant to accept children’s cases is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses different criteria in evaluating a child’s disability that it does when it evaluates an adult’s impairments.  For example, Social Security has a separate Listing of Impairments for adults and children.  Further, the SSA evaluates children’s and adults’ functional limitations using different frameworks.  The main issue in an adult’s case is whether his or her disability is severe enough to prevent full-time work.  Obviously, since children do not work, Social Security cannot analyze a child’s functional limitations in this manner.  Instead, the SSA determines whether a child has “marked” limitations in at least two (or “extreme” limitations in at least one) of six areas of functioning Social Security calls “domains”: Acquiring and using information:  the child’s ability … Continued

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September 28, 2015

Do I Need an Attorney at My Social Security Disability Hearing?

At a recent Social Security disability hearing in Indianapolis, I brought one of my employees along to observe.  When I asked my employee for his impressions after the hearing, he said, “I can see why it’s so important to have an attorney with you at your hearing!”  Since I represent claimants at hundreds of these hearings every year, I have forgotten what it’s like to walk into the hearing room having no idea what is going to happen.  I hadn’t realized all of the little things (and some big things) an attorney can do to maximize the effectiveness of your Social Security disability hearing.  Here are a few reasons why I believe it may be in your best interest to hire an attorney or representative to assist you in your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Your attorney can ask you questions the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) did not ask.  Without the aid of a lawyer you may be limited to answering only the questions the ALJ asks.  For instance, if you are alone at your hearing and the judge is concentrating on your bad knee when your real problem is your back, the judge may not let you discuss your back as much as you would like.  You may take for granted the judge knows about your back problems when he/she does not.  An attorney who has discussed your case with you and who knows your medical records may be able to give you the chance to testify about issues the judge may have missed when reviewing your file.  The ALJs and their staff do their best to be prepared for your hearing, but sometimes your medical file does not paint a full picture of all of your impairments.  This is especially true if … Continued

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May 22, 2014

Is My Initial Consultation Really Free?

Your initial consultation with our office is free, and there are many reasons why.  When you call our office to initially discuss your claim, you will probably have many questions.  So will we.  We will need to talk to you to get an idea of whether you qualify for one of Social Security’s disability programs.  Also, during this first interaction with you we can get pertinent information that will give us a better “feel” for how we can help you.  Some of the questions we will probably ask you include, but are not limited to:  Are you still working?  It is possible to qualify for Social Security disability benefits even if you are working, but there are limits on the number of hours you can work and the amount of monthly gross income you can earn. When is the last time you worked?  What is your household income?  The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two disability programs: eligibility for Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI) is based on the number of work credits you have earned in the past ten years; Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is based on your household income and financial resources. What medical conditions do you have that keep you from being able to work?  These conditions can be mental, physical, or a combination of both; Social Security typically requires medical evidence showing that you have been diagnosed with these conditions and are receiving treatment for them. There are many other factors involved in a Social Security disability claim, including your age, education, and prior work experience.  You may wonder why these things are important.  The SSA determines your ability to work based on many things.  In some cases, Social Security takes into account the fact that there are fewer job opportunities in the economy for people over the age of fifty. … Continued

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March 18, 2013

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis Is Back!

After a bit of a break I am back to blogging.  I enjoy sharing my experiences concerning the Social Security Administration (SSA) with prospective and current clients through my blog, but I must admit, going to hearings and preparing cases for hearings can be time consuming.  So what has been happening since my last blog entry?  The best news for disabled Indiana residents is that the waiting time for a hearing has been getting shorter.  I have seen a noticeable difference in waiting times recently and wonder how long this current trend will last. What does this mean for you?  Depending on your financial situation, getting to a hearing even a few months sooner may be the difference between keeping your home or facing foreclosure, between having continuous access to health care or spending months without health insurance, or between obtaining monthly disability payments or completely depleting your life savings.  On the other hand, you may be in such a desperate situation that having to wait any time at all for a Social Security disability decision is enough to bring you to financial ruin.  So what can you do?  I tell my clients to look for low or no-cost healthcare through local hospitals and clinics, seek help from their local government trustees, and ask their physicians to help them find programs that provide medications at cheaper rates, just to name a few. These days, when I have clients who complain about their waiting time for a hearing, I find myself thinking how fortunate they are to only have to wait about a year to get a hearing.  You heard me right – they are fortunate, compared to my clients from not long ago who typically had to wait nearly two years to get a hearing!  Not only do the shorter wait times help our disabled clients get their benefits sooner, they also save those clients some money.  The sooner a claimant receives benefits, the fewer months of … 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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June 10, 2011

What Factors Can Impact Me Winning My Social Security Disability Claim?

While there are many factors that may have an influence on your chances of receiving a favorable outcome in your Indiana Social Security disability claim, Indianapolis disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis finds a few factors always seem to stand out.  By no means are these the only areas you should be concerned with, but in Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience they usually play an important role in your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. The Social Security disability claimant’s medical records.  Indiana disability attorney Scott Lewis strives to emphasize to his clients that the majority of successful Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims have a well documented medical record history.  If you believe the Social Security Administration (SSA) is going to just take your word on your disabling condition, you may be in for a big surprise when you receive your decision in the mail. How credible the disability claimant is.  In other words, are you telling the truth?  You can probably guess that the Social Security Administration has seen its share of individuals stretching the truth when it comes to how disabling their condition really is.  Indiana disability benefits attorney Scott Lewis attempts to tell all of his clients it is important to be truthful.  In Mr. Lewis’ experience, in general, if the SSA or an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) believes you are not being truthful about one thing, chances are they may not believe you on other aspects of your disability claim. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that is assigned to the disability claim.  This is a big one!  The amount of claims each individual judge approves varies and each ALJ’s approval rating is all over the board.  Some statistics state the average approval rating at the hearing level is … Continued

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May 9, 2011

Indianapolis Disability Appeals Attorneys May Help You From Start To Finish With Your Social Security Disability Claim

Social Security disability lawyers (or representatives) representing Social Security disability claimants in Indiana may help their Indiana neighbors in the disability claims process from the very beginning to the very end if the claimant wishes so. Some disability claimants feel they do not need representation at the initial stages of filing a disability claim with the Social Security Administration (SSA).  While others may have questions from “A to Z ” and may be confused by paperwork they have never seen before.  As a Social Security disability claimant, it is your right to have representation!  Whether you exercise this right to representation or not, some claimants find it comforting in just knowing that help is out there for you if you want it. On a daily basis, Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis answers numerous questions from disability claimants ranging from medical questions to financial eligibility.  Mr. Lewis finds much of his initial contact with potential clients involves many questions on exactly how to get the Social Security disability claims process started.  Indiana residents soon find out that there are a few different ways to get the ball rolling and which process is right one for them.  Also, Mr. Lewis attempts to explain how the disability claims process may unfold and how time constraints play an important role in processing Indiana Social Security disability claims. Another major part of Mr. Lewis’ job is to talk to his fellow Indiana residents about their disabling conditions.  Mr. Lewis understands this can be one of the most difficult times in the disability claimant’s life.  Many individuals not only need the technical aspects of their claim answered, but a compassionate sounding board to talk to about how a disability can make everyday life very difficult.  Indiana Social Security attorney Scott Lewis and his staff strive to help disabled individuals through these very trying times.  Mr. Lewis and his staff spend the majority of their … Continued

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November 22, 2010

Indianapolis Social Security Lawyer Scott Lewis Comments on What Amount Your Disability Benefits Might Be

Indiana Social Security disability payments can vary from one person to another.  Indianapolis Social Security attorney Scott Lewis is often asked what a person can expect from the first monthly disability payment his client may receive in the mail.  Depending on what program you qualify for, the amounts can vary and the reason you get that particular amount can also vary.  The criteria to establish the dollar amount for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits versus Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are very different. There are a few things you may want to consider when examining why you receive a particular dollar amount from these two different programs. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):  With this program Social Security disability payments are based on an average of the earnings over the years that you worked.  This program is funded through tax revenue you are paying as you work.  Because individuals incomes can vary greatly, the calculated amount of a disability benefit check can vary greatly also.  This calculation can be complex and to get an accurate amount it is recommended you contact your local Indiana Social Security office. Supplemental Security Income (SSI):  This program does not require a person to pay through payroll taxes in order to qualify for benefits.  It is more of a “need” based program.  Your SSI payments are usually lower the more income you receive.   The Social Security Administration (SSA) may consider income as earned income, unearned income, in-kind income, and deemed income.  Again, this program may seem complicated and relies on different formulas and it may be in your best interest to contact your local Social Security Administration office to receive accurate information. Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis recommends his clients to apply for both the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the … Continued

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November 16, 2010

Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott D. Lewis and Your Free Consultation

It shouldn’t be surprising Indiana disability claimants are usually struggling to make ends meet. Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis understands the financial problems a disabling condition can cause and provides a free consultation to evaluate your Social Security disability benefits claim. Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis receives numerous calls per week from Indiana residents who are confused by the Social Security process and are happy to hear they can receive a free evaluation of their case. What happens in a free Social Security disability case evaluation? Generally, Mr. Lewis finds these calls fall into two categories: Individuals who have not filed for their Indiana Social Security disability benefits.  These individuals usually have questions as to how disabled they must be, if a particular disabling condition qualifies them for benefits, how long they must be off of work, and finally and perhaps most important how do they file their initial claim.  It is not uncommon for these individuals to have numerous questions as the Indiana Social Security disability process can be confusing.  Indiana residents who have not applied for their Social Security disability benefits need to know the majority of Social Security disability claims are denied at the initial stage.  During this initial free evaluation Indiana Social Security clients should ask disability attorney Scott Lewis as many questions as possible to help clear up any confusion regarding their disability claim or about the Social Security disability claims process.  After all, it’s a free consultation so disability claimants should use it to their advantage. Individuals that have been denied their Indiana Social Security disability benefits.  Most of these Indiana residents call disability lawyer Scott Lewis sounding disgruntled and upset that Social Security is disapproving their claim when they know they are unable to work and support themselves and their family.  Questions … Continued

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November 3, 2010

Indianapolis Disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis Thoughts About Unemployment Compensation

Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis routinely runs into some of the same questions and/or concerns many of his Indiana disability clients share.  Many of these are a sign of the times, as many people are losing their jobs and cannot support their families or themselves while waiting on a Social Security disability hearing. A big question they share is “Can I receive unemployment and still try to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?”   Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis has written a previous blog on this issue, but the question is still a dominant matter in his Social Security disability practice.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) states receiving unemployment insurance compensation does not preclude you from receiving Social Security disability benefits, although it can be a factor in determining whether you receive those benefits. Now, let’s talk reality.  In Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience, it depends on what Social Security Administrative Law Judge you get when you are at the hearing level.  Some Judges make this a sole reason for denying your benefits whereas Judges don’t even ask you about it.  Then again, other Judges are somewhere in between.  These judges may want to amend your onset date to the date right after you received your last unemployment payment. When assigned to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) you should ask your Indianapolis Social Security lawyer or representative about the particular ALJ you have.  How does this Judge look at receiving unemployment compensation while attempting to get Social Security disability?  This may help prepare you for the types of questions you will be asked at your Indiana Social Security disability hearing.  If your answer to this question is that you and your family would have went hungry and lost your home, Attorney Scott Lewis suggests you tell the Social Security Administrative … Continued

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