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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

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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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

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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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

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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November 12, 2009

What does the Social Security Administration (SSA) mean when they refer to a “Durational Requirement?”

Many Indiana residents attempting to receiveSocial Security disability benefits are confused about what the Social Security Administration (SSA) calls a “durational requirement“.  A durational requirement refers to a time qualification that must be met in order to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  A claimant’s disability must be expected to result in death or be expected to last twelve consecutive months or longer to qualify for benefits.  Indiana residents should not confuse the durational requirement with how long they must wait in order to file a Social Security Disability claim. You should file a claim immediately when you become disabled.   Some people are concerned that they will need to wait 12 months before the SSA will find them disabled.  On the contrary, you may be found disabled if your condition is expected to last for 12 months or longer.  If there is a question of duration, it might be advisable for a claimant to get a medical statement that their condition is disabling and that it is expected to last at least 12 months and furnish this information to the SSA. So remember, while you may presently be disabled, the SSA concentrated on this durational requirement as one of the factors to determine your ability to receive Social Security disability benefits.  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis can assist your with your claim.  For a free consultation, call Scott at (317) 423-8888 immediately.

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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October 21, 2009

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Social Security Benefits

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can be recognized as a severe disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  Indiana residents experiencing a severe lung impairment can attempt to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits by filing an initial claim.  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is listed under the Social Security Administration’s medical Listing of Impairments known as Respiratory System (Listing 3.02). Impairments caused by COPD disorders generally produce irreversible loss of pulmonary function due to:  gas exchange abnormalities, ventilatory impairments, or a combination of both. The most common symptoms include: coughing wheezing sputum production (phlegm) dyspnea on exertion (shortness of breath) hemoptysis (coughing up blood) chest pain Because the above symptoms are common symptoms among other diseases, it will be necessary to have a thorough medical examination, medical history and chest x-rays or other imaging tests in order to establish COPD .  It may even be required for more sophisticated pulmonary function testing to determine if gas exchange abnormalities contribute to the severity of a respiratory impairment. The severity of the impairment may be determined by further evaluation.  Additional testing might include measurement of diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide or resting arterial blood gases. If you find yourself unable to work due to a breathing impairment, it is important to seek medical attention, take appropriate medications, and keep detailed records when attempting to obtain Social Security disability benefits.  If you have any questions regarding obtaining Social Security disability benefits for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or any other impairment, contact Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis at (317) 423-8888 for a free consultation.     

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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September 15, 2009

Social Security Disability and Mental Retardation

Those classified as mentally retarded can sometimes find themselves with their claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits denied.  Although some of these claims may be initially denied, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does acknowledge the disabling effects of mental retardation in its listing of impairments.  Listing 12.05 Mental Retardation of the SSA’s Listing of Impairments considers the dependence upon others for personal needs, IQ scores, other impairments that may impose additional and significant work related limitations, and other marked difficulties and restrictions. When evaluating the severity of Mental Retardation, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) can look at the mental residual functional capacity of the claimant.  Mental residual functional capacity is a person’s ability to perform work or work-related activities given their mental limitations. The SSA may find that activities of daily living in mentally retarded individuals are severely affected.  Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis finds perseverance in these types of cases can often be beneficial.  While an individual may not fit SSA listing 12.05 exactly, adequate medical records and an understanding Administrative Law Judge can lead to a favorable result for these claimants. If you would like more information regarding qualifying disabilities and impairments, contact Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis for a free consultation at (317) 423-8888. 

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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August 21, 2009

Social Security Disability and Mental Impairments

Indiana Social Security Claimants attempting to get disability benefits for mental impairments should be aware of the criteria the Social Security Administration (SSA) may look at when evaluating their claim.  The SSA evaluation of a disability on the basis of a mental disorder is based on the following: Documentation of a medically determinable impairment(s); Degree of limitation that the impairment(s) may have on the claimant’s ability to work; and The determination of whether these limitations have lasted or are expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. The following categories of mental disorders are described more in depth on the SSA’s website: Organic mental disorders: described as psychological or behavioral abnormalities associated with a dysfunction of the brain Schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders Affective disorders: characterized by a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome Bipolar disorder Depression Mental retardation Anxiety-related disorders Somatoform disorders:  defined as physical symptoms for which there are no demonstrable organic findings or known physiological mechanisms; Personality disorders Substance addiction disorders Autistic disorder Other pervasive developmental disorders Contact Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis for questions regarding Social Security Disability and Mental Impairments.  For a free consultation, call 317-423-8888. 

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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August 12, 2009

Social Security Disability and Bipolar Disorder

Indiana residents who suffer with Bipolar Disorder often find themselves in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) when attempting to get their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the existence of Bipolar Disorder in their “Listing of Impairments” under listing 12.04 Affective Disorders. Individuals suffering from Bipolar Disorder that are attempting to get disability benefits, may find it easier to win their case when they have a good long standing relationship with their health care professional.  It has been the experience of Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis, that many ALJ’s and medical experts that may testify at the hearing level, will put greater emphasis on medical records from a treating physician with a long relationship with that particular patient.  There are certain aspects of Bipolar Disorder the SSA will focus on for depressive syndrome: loss of interest in activities appetite disturbance with loss or gain in weight sleep disturbance psychomotor agitation or retardation decreased energy feelings of guilt or worthlessness difficulty concentrating thoughts of suicide hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thing There are other aspects of Bipolar Disorder the SSA will focus on for manic syndrome: hyperactivity pressure of speech flight of ideas increased self esteem decreased need for sleep increased distractability involvement in activities with a high probability of painful consequences that are not recognized The above factors may cause restrictions in activities of daily living, difficulties in maintaining social functioning, difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence or pace, and episodes of decompensation each of extended duration. The aforementioned are just some of the areas a Social Security ALJ may consider when deciding whether you have a disability that affects your ability to perform substantial gainful activity. This information is not intended to be legal advice and Attorney Scott D. Lewis recommends you consult a qualified attorney or representative … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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July 29, 2009

Social Security Disability Benefits for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a degenerative condition where the median nerve in the wrist area is compressed causing inflamation or swelling of the tissue.  This can result in the nerve being pinched and symptoms can include: pain weakness in the hand and forearm wrist and hand numbness a burning sensation decreased ability to grasp with one’s fingers Indianapolis Social Security disability claimant’s ask how does the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  Currently, CTS is not a listing in the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments.”  Although, the SSA does recognize the disabling effects of this impairment.  If hand manipulation were a key element in a claimant’s past relevant work, and the CTS is severe enough, it may be found that the individual is unable to return to their past work. The SSA will then determine if there is other work in the National Economy that the claimant may be able to perform.  In my experience as a Social Security Disability Attorney, it should be noted that many jobs in the economy require fine hand manipulation.   Medial tests and medical records documenting the severity of the claimant’s Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are often the key to a successful disability claim.  Share with your physician how severe your symptoms are and how your life is being affected by these symptoms. If you have any questions regarding your Social Security disability claim, call Attorney Scott D. Lewis for a free consultation at (317) 423-8888. 

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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July 27, 2009

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits

Indianapolis Social Security disability claimants may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if they suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD may be caused by a traumatic event that an individual experiences either once or on a continuous basis.  This disorder may be very severe and may cause long term psychological problems.  Often individuals with PTSD will experience the following: The individual may relive the traumatic event sometimes as nightmares or flashbacks; The person may become hyper aroused; May avoid any contact with stimuli that reminds the person of the traumatic event; or The person may feel numb emotionally. These are only a few examples of symptoms an individual with PTSD may experience and the individual may experience other symptoms that result in a disabling condition.  Recently, many veterans have returned from active duty with a diagnosis of PTSD.  While the Veterans Administration (VA) may find a veteran disabled due to PTSD, it does not mean the Social Security Administration (SSA) will automatically find that same person disabled due to PTSD. Although, medical findings by the VA should be taken into consideration by the SSA when determining disability. The SSA does recognize PTSD as a disabling condition and disability benefits may be obtained with thorough medical documentation by your health care provider.  The SSA generally looks at post traumatic stress disorder as an anxiety disorder.  If the PTSD claimant meets the SSA’s criteria for mental disorders, he/she may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis has experience in representing claimants with mental disorders.  Other disabiling conditions that Attorney Scott Lewis has experience are bipolar disorder, depression, and other anxiety related disorders.  If you would like a free consultation with Scott Lewis, please call (317) 423-8888.       

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments
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