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July 8, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits for Indiana Residents With Emphysema

Emphysema affects 2 million Americans annually. People with this condition often wonder if they can receive social security disability benefits. The answer is yes, you may be able to receive social security disability benefits for emphysema and other lung conditions including asthma, cystic fibrosis, and lung cancer. Mayo Clinic defines emphysema as a condition that limits the amount of airflow when you breathe out. Some symptoms of emphysema might be shortness of breath and/or expansion of the chest caused by the trapped air in the lungs. The primary cause of emphysema is the smoking of cigarettes, but it can also be caused by an alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency. The diagnosis of emphysema will be confirmed by a pulmonary function test and most likely an x-ray. Emphysema is an irreversible degenerative disease. The only thing to do to slow the progression is to stop smoking and/or not breathing any other lung irritants in. Pulmonary rehabilitation can help improve the patient’s quality of life and teach them how to manage their condition, but will not cure them. The only true cure for emphysema is a lung transplant but many of the patients are not strong enough to survive the surgery. This is due to the many drugs that emphysema patients are given to help the quality of life that cause damage to the other organs. The risk of infection is also very great with transplants because of the anti-rejection drugs that the patients must take. These drugs suppress the immune system therefore making infections deadly.

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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June 23, 2010

Indiana Residents Claiming Disability for Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia

Many disability applicants wonder if they can receive disability benefits for panic disorders and agoraphobia. Those suffering from these disorders often find everyday life difficult to live. Agoraphobia is commonly known as an anxiety disorder revolving around fear. Agoraphobia can be fear of public places, fear of large crowds, or the presence of people in general. At its simplest definition it is the fear of experiencing anxiety or panic attacks in public places. Many agoraphobics most often have attacks when they feel insecure or trapped. The cause of agoraphobia is still unknown but women are more often diagnosed with it than men. People that abuse alcohol and other drugs also have an increased risk more than people that do not. The onset of agoraphobia can come at any time in a person’s life but is most common starting in the teen years to early twenties. Agoraphobics tend to isolate themselves so that they do not have panic attacks. If the condition gets severe enough it could include never leaving home; things like work, shopping, or school can be nearly impossible. Even though agoraphobia is a psychological disorder, many times it causes physical symptoms. A few examples are chest pains, difficulty breathing, or dizziness. While it is often thought there is no way to prevent agoraphobia there are treatments. Treatment consists mainly of medications and psychotherapy. If treatment does not start early, agoraphobics’ phobias may become worse over time.

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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May 19, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits for Degenerative Disc Disease

How is an Indiana Social Security disability claimant supposed to prove they are unable to work due to degenerative disc disease? Degenerative disc disease is a very common disability among Indianapolis Scott D. Lewis‘ clients. In Attorney Scott Lewis’ experience, degenerative disc disease can be difficult claim to win without the appropriate medical evidence and especially for anyone under the age of 50. On the other hand, a disability claimant under the age of 50 with appropriate medical records may find themself winning a disability claim by meeting a listing in the Social Security Adminsitration’s Listing of Impairment or having such reduced physical capacity that they are unable to work.  Disability claimants may wonder why it is so difficult to win their claim when they are experiencing so much pain. Unfortunately, the only person that knows the amount of pain the claimant is experiencing is the claimant. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does list degenerative disc disease along with other qualifying disabilities such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, herniated nucleus pulposus, and spinal arachnoiditis under their “Listing of Impairments,” Section 1.04, Disorders of the Spine.  To meet this listing, it is important for the disability claimant to prove their disability is severe enough to cause them to be unable to work by providing medical evidence supporting their claim.  When the SSA receives a disability claim based on degenerative disc disease or other disabilities such as back pain, lumbar problems, herniated disc, spinal stenosis or degenerative joint disease, the SSA should immediately look for supporting medical evidence.  Some supporting medical evidence may include: diagnosis of the disease by a treating physician x-ray reports, MRI studies, or CAT scans indicating disc deterioration Because degenerative disc disease may be diagnosed based on the claimant’s symptoms, it is extremely important to have imaging studies such as MRI studies … Continued

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May 18, 2010

Scoliosis and Social Security Disability Benefits

Are you an Indiana resident that is unable to work because you have been diagnosed with scoliosis?  Social Security disability claimants that have been diagnosed with spinal impairments such as scoliosis may be able to win their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits claim even though the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments do not include scoliosis.  Scoliosis is a spinal deformity that is characterized by both lateral and rotational curvature of the spine.  Whether you are diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis or congenital scoliosis, both types have similar symptoms.  Such symptoms may include: uneven muscle development on one side of the spine, rib hump, uneven shoulder blades, uneven shoulders and hips, or asymmetrical breast development in females. Treatment for scoliosis varies depending on the age of the individual.  Typically, younger individuals are often treated with braces to prevent the progression of scoliosis.  However, braces are not used on adults. Some believe that surgery remains the most successful treatment method for individuals with large curvatures of the spine. Spinal fusions with instrumentation may be the most successful surgical procedure although these procedures will not completely straighten the spine, but do provide good correction. So, how do I win my disability claim if the SSA doesn’t have medical criteria for abnormal curvature of the spine such as scoliosis?  Since the SSA does not have a listing in their “Listing of Impairments” specifying the medical criteria for disability based on curvature of the spine, a claimant must prove their disability in other ways.  The disability claimant will need to be awarded disability based on a type of approval known as a medical vocational allowance.  What is medical vocational allowance and how does it work?  When an SSDI or SSI disability claimant’s case is evaluated, a determination will be made as to whether or not the disability claimant is capable of returning … Continued

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May 11, 2010

Schizophrenia & Social Security Disability Benefits

Mental illness, such as schizophrenia, can be disabling. Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects how a person experiences reality. Schizophrenia must be diagnosed by a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or other clinician, and may be characterized by: paranoia, hallucinations, bizarre delusions & perceptions, lack of emotions or motivations, and social and occupational dysfunction. Schizophrenia is a complicated disorder that is commonly treated by antipsychotic drugs, which can alleviate symptoms in some patients, but not cure the disease. Persons with a serious mental illness are just as entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments as persons with a serious physical illness. Since the criteria to qualify for Social Security disability benefits may be fairly complex, most Indiana claimants with schizophrenia elect to have a Social Security disability lawyer represent them in their disability claim.  Schizophrenia is addressed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Listing of Impairments, Section 12.03, Schizophrenic, Paranoid, and Other Psychotic Disorders. A disability claimant may qualify for disability benefits by either meeting or equaling the specifications of listing 12.03.  Stated in this listing, a disability applicant’s medical records must show the existence of intermittent or continuous: Delusions or hallucinations or Catatonic or other grossly disorganized behavior or A state of illogical thinking, incoherence, loosening of associations, or poverty of content of speech (associated with either a blunt, flat, or inappropriate display of mood or affect) or Emotional withdrawal and/or isolation. For an Indiana disability claimant to satisfy the requirements of listing 12.03, their records must also indicate that at least two of the following apply:  Markedly restricted daily activities; Marked restrictions in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; Marked restriction in the ability to maintain social functioning; Extended and repeated episodes of decompensation; If a disability applicant does not qualify for disability on the basis of the above criteria, a disability claimant … Continued

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April 30, 2010

Autism and Social Security Disability

Autism is recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a disabling condition. Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder that affects social interaction and communication skills. Some symptoms of autism include, but are not limited to, repetitive or restricted behavior or lack of communication. The majority of Attorney Scott Lewis‘ disability clients attempting to receive disability benefits for autism have been children. While most of these clients are children, adults with autism may also qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability payments. Indiana disability claimants facing this impairment may be entitled to disability benefits. Found in the SSA’s Listing of impairments, Section 12.10, Autistic Disorder and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders (in both the adult and childhood listings) are the criteria required by the SSA for meeting the requirements for people with autism. There are several different types of autism including, but not limited to, Classic Autism and Aspergers Syndrome.  According to the SSA, the required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied. A.  Medically documented findings of the following:  All of the following for autistic disorder: Qualitative deficits in reciprocal social interaction; and qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity; and markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests; OR Both of the following for other pervasive developmental disorders: Qualitative deficits in reciprocal social interaction; and qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity; AND B.  Resulting in at least two of the following: Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration. Many of the types of autism that Attorney Scott Lewis observes are Classic Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, … Continued

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April 28, 2010

Qualifying Disabilities for Social Security Disability Benefits

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis represents claimants that are fighting to win Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Many of his Indiana clients ask him what disabilities will qualify them for these disability benefits programs. Even though a claimant doesn’t always have to meet one the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Listing of Impairments in order to win their claim, a claimant can win their claim if they do in fact meet the criteris of one the qaulifying impairments. The SSA has listed the criteria for each of these listed impairments that will medically qualify a person for SSDI or SSI benefits. This listing may also known as the SSA’s “Blue Book.” Impairments listed in the SSA’s Blue Book fall under one of the following categories: Musculoskeletal System Special Senses & Speech Respiratory System Cardiovascular System Digestive System Genitourinary Impairments Hematological Disorders Skin Disorders Endocrine System Impairments the Affect Multiple Body Systems Neurological Mental Disorders Malignant Neoplastic Disease Immune System Disorder Every impairment has its own criteria for qualification or approval.  Disabling conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, personality disorders, anxiety, spine disorders, leukemia, and a variety of other cancers are included in this list of impairments.  Many times, the disability examiner that is reviewing the claimant’s application will simply open the SSA’s blue book and compare the disorder requirements with the medical evidence of the claimant.  If the disability claimant’s supporting medical evidence meets the criteria of the listing, the claimant will be approved for disability benefits.  Unfortunately, not all disabling conditions are included in the SSA’s listing of impairments.  For example, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome are among some of the impairments not listed in the qualifying listing of impairments.  Disability claimants with such conditions might wonder … Continued

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March 22, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits for Epilepsy

Indianapolis Social Security disability claimants filing a disability claim based on seizure disorder (or epilepsy) often wonder how the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates this disorder in order to qualify for  Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  To qualify for disability benefits based on this neurological condition, the following two requirements must be met: A claimant must have a specified number of attacks, or episodes, occurring within a specified period of time; and The episodes must occur even with a claimant’s full compliance with prescribed medications.  Simply stated,the disability claimant must demonstrate proof of a seizure disorder diagnonis or epilepsy diagnosis and must also indicate that anti-seizure medication has been prescribed, is being taken as directed, and that attacks continue to occur regardless of medications being taken. At what frequency must these attacks take place in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits? According to the SSA, it depends on the type of epilepsy, or seizure disorder, that a disability claimant has. There are two types of seizure disorders that are addressed.  These seizures include convulsive epilespy and non-convulsive epilepsy. If a claimant’s particular form of seizure disorder is classified as “convulsive epilepsy” (grand mal seizures), such seizures must occur more frequently than once per month, in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment. If these convulsive seizures occur during the day, these seizures must also involve loss of consciousness and convulsions.  If they occur at night, they must have the effect of interfering with the individual’s activities on the following day. If a claimant’s seizure disorder is classified as “non-convulsive epilepsy” (petit mal seizures or focal seizures), such seizures must occur more frequently than once per week, in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment. Additionally, non-convulsive seizures must involve either loss of consciousness, alteration of awareness (for … Continued

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March 12, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits for Multiple Sclerosis

Indiana Social Security disability claimants living with multiple sclerosis (MS) who are unable to work due to their MS related disability and/or other conditions, may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes MS as a chronic illness or “impairment” that can cause disability severe enough to prevent an individual from working. Disability claimants applying for Social Security disability benefits on the basis of multiple sclerosis can be approved for benefits in one of two ways: By means of a medical vocational allowance; or By meeting the SSA’s Listing of Impairment, Section 11.09 Mutlitple Sclerosis In order to be approved for disability benefits by means of a medical vocational allowance, a claimant’s medical records must show that their condition is severe and has lasted, or can be expected to last, for a period of not less than twelve months. During this actual or estimated twelve month period, the claimant’s condition must also prevent them from working at a job they have done in the past, and prevent them from engaging in other work. The SSA’s Listing of Impairment, Multiple Sclerosis, specifically identifies the criteria required to meet this listing. In summary, the listing provides for three types of criteria that a claimant should meet in order to be awarded disability benefits.  A claimant must meet only one of the following three categories in order to qualify: Motor function impairment Visual impairments Mental impairments If you have any of the following symptoms, or any combination of these or other symptoms, that prevent you from working, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits: Experience difficulty with walking, standing, and other motor skills Experience difficulty with seeing Speech impairment Find it difficult to concentrate or complete simple tasks Experience difficulty with remembering Have extreme fatigue  … Continued

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March 2, 2010

Pain and Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits claimants often experience pain from their disability, but find it difficult to explain the level of pain to the Social Security Administration (SSA). It may be likely that pain interferes with the claimant’s ability to work. So, how does a SSDI or SSI claimant prove to the SSA that the pain they experience limits their ability to working? Indianapolis Social Security Disability Lawyer, Scott D. Lewis, has represented claimants that experience pain causing them to be unable to work.  In these cases, it is important to effectively prove to the SSA that this pain prevents the claimant from performing their job and any other job.  Since pain is subjective, it may be hard to describe.  Pain is not a visible condition which makes it even harder to prove.  It is essential to identify the physical location of the pain.  Attorney Scott Lewis may ask his clients to rate their level of pain on a scale from one to ten, one being minimal pain such as a mild headache and ten being excruciating pain so severe that the individual must go to the hospital.  It is important not to exaggerate your pain because it may destroy your credibility in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  When alleging pain, it is important to be credible.  Claimants should be specific about the level of pain during certain times.  For example, if you have constant pain at a level 5 but the level increases when you vacuum the house to a level 10, then the claimant should describe this change when performing certain activities.  If there is something that specifically triggers your pain, this triggering activity should be described.  For example, if you experience pain in your back from walking or if you experience migraine headache pain … Continued

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