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February 24, 2010

Cancer and Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana Social Security disability claimants diagnosed with cancer, often find themselves being denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. As most cancer patients know, the typical reaction once diagnosed with cancer is the fear of dying. Many cancer patients undergo extensive treatment for their cancer. This treatment can include chemotherapy or radiation therapy. This treatment often causes side effects causing the patient pain and other unpleasant symptoms . As though this is not enough for a cancer patient to experience, it may not be a disabling condition that is guaranteed to receive disability benefits in the eyes of the Social Security Administration (SSA). You may wonder what it would take for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to award a cancer patient disability benefits. To qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits, any disability must last or be expected to last for at least twelve consecutive months or the disability must expect to result in death. This includes claimants with cancer. Fortunately, some disability claimants respond to treatment and may not necessarily need the assistance of an experienced Social Security disability attorney.  To obtain Social Security disability benefits from the SSA, it is imperative to understand what the SSA will consider in determining your disability. The SSA will consider to what extent the cancer is involved, frequency, duration and how responsive the disability claimant is to treatment.  In addition, the SSA will consider where the malignancy began (origin) and what effects post-therapeutic residuals have on the cancer patient. Social Security disability claimants filing an appeal might find it beneficial to consider the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments” to determine if the cancer they experience is acknowledged by the SSA.  In the Listing of Impairments, Section 13.00 Malignant Neoplastic Diseases, you will find: Lung Cancer Leukemia Breast Cancer Cancer of the Head and Neck Sarcoma … Continued

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February 15, 2010

Arthritis and your Social Security Disability Appeal

Are you a Social Security disability claimant suffering from arthritis and have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits? Is your disabling condition preventing you from working but you’ve received an unfavorable decision from the Social Security Administration (SSA) regarding your disability claim?  Indiana disability claimants with arthritis often ask how they can win their disability claim after they have been denied. It’s important to understand how to get approved for Social Security disability benefits.  In all Social Security disability claims, the SSA will review the claimant’s claim by using their 5 step sequential process.  In summary, these five steps include: Is the claimant working? Is the disability severe? Is the claimants disability or condition in the SSA’s listing of qualifying impairments? Is the claimant able to do work that they previously performed? Is the claimant able to perform any other type of work? If you are a claimant with severe arthritis who is unable to work, you may qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits.  Arthritis is one of the leading disabilities for benefits.  Arthritis is included in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, Section 1.00, Musculoskeletal Disorder.  Some categories of this section include Inflammatory Arthritiis and Degenerative Arthritis.  A claimant with Inflammatory Arthriits (such as Rheumatoid Arthritis) should experience persistent swelling, pain and limitations to the joints to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  The limitations to the joints may include limitations to: hips; shoulders; knees; elbows; ankles; wrists; or hands. A claimant with Degenerative Arthritis (such as Osteoarthritis) should safisfy the SSA’s requirement if they are experiencing limitations with their arms and hands or if they have significant issues with walking or standing.  Individuals with neck or back problems due to their Degenerative Arthritis must have persistent sensory, motor & reflex loss in order to qualify for disability benefits. It … Continued

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February 8, 2010

Degenerative Disc Disease and Social Security Disability Benefits

The quality of life Indiana residents experience can be greatly diminished by Degenerative Disc Disease. Due to chronic pain in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, hips, and legs may make it difficult to be gainfully employed. Disability claimants sometimes find themselves having extreme difficulty walking, standing, and even sitting for short periods of time. Other symptoms can include the inability to lift even light objects, experiencing pain when bending and twisting, and numbness and tingling in the extremities. Does any of the above sound like things you experience on a daily basis?  If so, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Degenerative Disc Disease and other back impairments can be severe enough to limit your activities of daily living in such a way that you are simply unable to function in a way that you can be gainfully employed. So if you find yourself in this situation, you may ask what to do. If you are financially able, it may be beneficial to see a physician, preferably a physician that specializes in this type of disorder. Get appropriate testing such as an MRI, and remember the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers whether you follow your physician’s advice concerning treatment. Some treatments can include: physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, spinal injections, and  surgery. Disabling back conditions and Degenerative Disc Disease are no secret to the SSA.  Many disability claimants’ experience severe chronic back pain.  If your back impairment does not rise to the above stated levels, but you experience other phyical and mental impairments, the SSA may consider you disabled due to a combination of impairments.  The above is not intended as medical advice, just a brief summary as to what an experienced Social Security Disability Appeals Attorney has come into contact with. If … Continued

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January 29, 2010

Back Pain and Social Security Disability Benefits

How does the Social Security Administration evaluate back pain?  In order for an Indiana Social Security disability claimant to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the claimant may receive disability benefits by meeting the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) criteria defined in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, Section 1.00 Musculoskeletal Disorders. Back pain may be due to injury, aging, accident or even may be the result of a medical disorder or condition such as scoliosis.  Regardless of the cause of the claimant’s back pain, the pain may prevent the claimant from working.  If that is the case, the claimant may find it beneficial to meet the SSA’s criteria in Section 1.04 Disorders of the Spine to be awarded SSDI or SSI benefits.    Disorders of the spine include the following impairments: Degenerative disc disease Osteoarthritis Herniated nucleus pulposus Spinal stenosis Spinal arachnoiditis In Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis‘s experience, he finds that most claimants have difficulty obtaining SSDI or SSI benefits for chronic back pain at the initial stages of the claim.  Scott advises that if you have been denied disability benefits at the initial level or reconsideration level, to continue to pursue your claim.  Often, the claimant will have a higher chance of being awarded disability benefits when they appear in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at a disability hearing.  Because back pain is so common among claimants, it is extremely important to have supportive medical documentation regarding your disorder. It’s even more important to prove that your back pain is causing more than the mild to moderate discomfort that is common among everyone at some point.  The claimant should prove that their condition is severe and it prevents the claimant from performing simple jobs that require sitting.  Some ALJ’s may look for the following when reviewing your claim: MRI reports showing evidence of problems in your back … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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January 26, 2010

Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits for Depression

Does major depression keep you from getting and/or keeping a job? Many Indiana residents find themselves receiving a denial letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) when attempting to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis has found that, at the hearing level, Social Security judges (also known as Administrative Law Judges) are looking for particular things before they will grant a favorable decision on such claims. One of the first questions that a claimant may want to ask themselves is “Can I do a simple unskilled job, or do my depression symptoms keep me from doing this type of work?” If your depression prevents you from doing even simple unskilled jobs, you may be eligible for disability payments. In reality, it is not quite that easy because the SSA is going to want detailed medical information documenting your condition. The best scenario to win your Social Security disability claim would be an ongoing relationship with a qualified health care provider. At the law office of Scott D. Lewis, Attorney at Law, LLC, Lawyer Scott Lewis finds that a psychiatrist or psychologist is usually the most helpful in these types of claims. If the health care providers have detailed descriptions of how your depression affects you in everyday life and prevents you from carrying out normal activities of daily living, this can greatly enhance your chances of receiving SSDI or SSI benefits. One of the ways a claimant may win a Social Security disability case for depression is to meet the SSA’s Listing of Impairment, 12.04 Affective Disorders. This listing deals with depression. Just a few items that the SSA may look for may include: Sleep disturbance Psychomotor agitation or retardation Anhedonia or pervasive loss of interest in almost … Continued

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January 12, 2010

Crohn’s Disease and Social Security Disability Benefits

Crohn’s disease is an ongoing disorder causing inflammation in the digestive tract (also known as gastrointestinal (GI) tract.) As Crohn’s disease may affect any area of the GI tract, it most commonly affects the lower portion of the small intestines. The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are abdominal pain and diahhrea. Some other symptoms include rectal bleeding, arthritis, weight loss, and skin problems. Because the symptoms of Crohn’s disease are similar to other intestinal disorders, such as ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it may be difficult for doctors to diagnose. Unlike ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease may cause inflammation to all layers of the intestine. A person with Crohn’s disease may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. If you are an Indiana Social Security disability claimant with Crohn’s disease, it’s most likely necessary that you meet the Social Security Administration’s criteria in order to qualify for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates Crohn’s disease in their “Listing of Impairments,” Section 5.00 Digestive System; Section E. Claimants with Crohn’s disease may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if he/she has the following: Persistent and recurrent intestinal obstruction causing abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, etc. Persistent and recurrent systemic manifestations (such as iritis, arthritis, fever or liver dysfunction) Intermittent obstruction due to intractable abscess Body weight loss Although it may be very difficult to get disability benefits for claimants with Crohn’s disease, it’s not impossible.  Claimant’s that can prove their disability is severe may have better luck in getting approved for disability benefits.  It’s important to have good medical evidence supporting your claim.  Many claims may be denied for claimants that are not following prescribed therapy for their Crohn’s disease.  You must meet the SSA’s criteria for Digestive disorders for at least 12 consecutive months or expected … Continued

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January 6, 2010

Cardiovascular Impairments and Social Security Disability Benefits

How does the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluate a disability claim based on cardiovascular impairments or heart disease?  Indiana claimants with heart disease or other cardiovascular impairments may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The SSA defines Cardiovascular Impairments in the Blue Book “Listing of Impairments,” Section 4.00 Cardiovascular System.  According to the SSA, Cardiovascular Impairments are any congenital or acquired disorder that affects the circulatory system or the proper functioning of the heart.  The circulatory system includes the veins, arteries, capillaries, or the lymphatic drainage.  Heart impairments result from one or more of four consequences of heart disease: Chronic heart failure, Pain or discomfort due to myocardial ischemia, Central cyanosis due to reduced oxygen in the arterial blood or pulmonary disease, or Syncope (or near syncope) due to lack of cerebral perfusion from any cardiac cause. When filing a Social Security disability claim for heart (cardiovascular) disorder, it is important to support your claim with sufficient documentation.  Supply the SSA with detailed history reports, physical examination records, laboratory testing results, and prescribed treatment or medication.  This medical documentation should allow the SSA to assess the severity and duration of your impairment.  The SSA has categorized Cardiovascular System impairments in the Listing of Impairments.  Some examples of cardiovascular impairments that are defined on the SSA’s website are: Chronic heart failure Ischemic heart disease Recurrent arrhythmias Symptomatic congenital heart disease Heart transplant Aneurysm of aorta or major branches Chronic venous insufficiency Peripheral arterial disease Many individuals attempting to get Social Security disability for heart impairment(s) consult Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis about problems that they experience.  Many claimants have had heart attacks and other cardiovascular events that have rendered them unable to work.   Individuals with medical records showing stent placement, pacemakers, and other medical devices used to … Continued

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December 30, 2009

Does Social Security recognize my chronic pain as a disability?

Many times Indiana residents suffering from chronic pain resulting from varying disabilities find themselves denied disability benefits.  They often state they simply cannot work because the pain they experience is so bad it affects concentration, the ability to stand, walk, or sit even for short periods of time. Chronic pain resulting in the inability to perform any type of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) may result from many different disabling conditions such as back problems, fibromyalgia, and migraines, are only a short list of examples.  One of the problems with pain is that it is subjective, and only the claimant experiencing the pain can describe its disabling effects.  Often one person’s pain threshold may be very different from another person’s perception of chronic pain. It is important for Indiana disability claimants to describe their chronic pain in detail.  Let the Social Security Administration know its limiting effects on your ability to perform activities of daily living and your inability to secure gainful employment. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize pain as a disabling condition, but relies on two specific court cases to establish that the pain must be so severe by itself, or combined with other impairments that the Social Security disability claimant cannot perform any substantial gainful employment.  With that being said, the SSA can sometimes be quick to dismiss a Social Security claimant’s complaints of pain.  It seems that they can even make this denial with good medical source documents from qualified doctors who have adequately recorded the chronic pain the patient has experienced in the past and is now experiencing. So what can you do?  See your doctor and explain to him or her in detail the pain you are experiencing.  Also explain to the SSA and your lawyer the pain you experience and how it effects you in everyday life.  Remember, … Continued

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December 21, 2009

Social Security Disability Benefits and Diabetes

Indiana residents that suffer from diabetes may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.   Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis has experience in representing claimants with diabetes.  As specified in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Listing of Impairments, Section 9.0, Endocrine System, a claimant may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for diabetes if the claimant meets SSA’s required criteria.  In order to meet the listing and qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits for diabetes, the claimant must prove a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus with the following: Neuropathy demonstrated by significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities; Acidosis occurring at least on the average of once every 2 months documented by blood chemical test;  or Diabetic retinopathy (significant loss of visual acuity or loss of peripheral vision). Even though diabetes is a serious medical condition, it is not uncommon to be denied Social Security disability benefits for this impairment alone.  Many times individuals seeking disability can receive a favorable ruling due to a combination of impairments if the diabetes alone does not arise to the listing level.  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott Lewis often finds that his clients suffering from diabetes mellitus are also experience neuropathy.  Clients with neuropathy often complain of numbness & tingling in their feet creating difficulty standing for even short periods and numbness & tingling in their hands that can sometimes result in the inability to grasp and hold items.  Most occupations require the use of your hands for even unskilled labor, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may find that there is no gainful activity that can be performed.  The inability to stand for even a short period may limit the disability claimant to sedentary work.  Sedentary work may not be attainable by certain disability claimants based on their age, education level, and prior work experience.  If you find … Continued

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December 4, 2009

Social Security Disability Benefits for Visually Impaired Claimants

Indiana residents may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if they are “legally blind”  According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), “legally blind” is defined as if the claimant’s vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in their better eye, or if their visual field is 20 degrees or less in their better eye.  Some claimants may not meet the legal definition of blindness but may still qualify for disability benefits if their vision problems either alone or combined with other health issues prevents them from being employed.  In order to get SSDI benefits, the claimant must have worked long enough to accrue eligibility for these benefits.  On the other hand, a claimant may be entitled to SSI payments based on disability and blindness, even though they have not worked, but their income and resources are under certain dollar and/or resource limits. Even though you are blind, you may continue to work and receive Social Security disability benefits as long as your income remains under the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount set by the SSA.  Due to the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) not being increased in 2010, the SGA amount for blind claimants cannot exceed $1,640 per month in 2010 as it was in 2009.  Information on current SGA amount appear in the Federal Register at 74fed.reg.55614 (October 28, 2009).  It is always important to remember that an individual with a visual impairment that does not  qualify in itself for disability benefits, may find that their visual impairment combined with any other severe physical and/or mental impairments may entitle them to Social Security disability benefits.  It is beneficial in your disability claim to attain visual acuity tests from qualified medical professionals to substantiate your Social Security benefits claim.  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis may be able … Continued

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