February 24, 2016

Social Security Disability for Breast Cancer

While many people fully recover and are able to return to work after being diagnosed with breast cancer, some do not.  Unfortunately, for some people, the treatments and procedures do not work, or they not work well enough to allow the patient to return to her previous level of functioning.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes breast cancer and other types of cancers as disabling conditions. Even though a breast cancer diagnosis can be scary and life-altering, in my Indianapolis Social Security Disability practice I see many of these types of claims denied.  Here are a few common reasons Social Security gives for denying breast cancer claims: Your condition has not lasted, or is not expected to last, twelve months or longer.  Often, the Social Security reviewers will review your diagnosis and medical records, see that you are receiving treatment, and conclude that you will improve enough to return to work within twelve months from the date you were diagnosed.  If that turns out to be the case, then you will not be eligible for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits, no matter how severely you were disabled during the months you were receiving treatment.  However, for many people, treatment extends beyond twelve months or leaves them with residual symptoms that do not improve, even if the cancer goes into remission.  For example, some of my clients acquire neuropathy in their arms from the effects of chemotherapy, and others have painful scarring that prevents them from being able to use their arms the way they used to.  Therefore, even if Social Security denies your claim because you are expected to get better, it is a good idea to appeal that denial to keep your claim going in case your recovery does not go as well as expected. Your … Continued

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August 21, 2014

What is a closed period of disability?

In order to qualify for disability benefits, you must have a disability that has lasted or is expected to last at least twelve months.  Although, sometimes I work with clients whose health problems lasted more than twelve months, but they have recovered and are now able to return to work.  Even though they are relieved to be able to return to full-time employment, these clients want to know if they can receive disability benefits for that time period in which their conditions kept them from being able to work. In cases like these, we ask the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a “closed period of disability.”  In other words, we acknowledge that the client does not presently meet Social Security’s definition of disabled, but we argue that the client did meet that definition in the past.  For example, Betty had to stop working in October of 2012 after she injured her back.  She spent nine months trying different types of treatments, from physical therapy to injections, but nothing helped.  Finally, her doctor scheduled her for back surgery in August of 2013.  It took another six months of recovery and rehabilitation, but Betty was finally able to return to work full-time in February of 2014. Assuming that Betty met Social Security’s requirements for disability from the time of her injury in October 2012 until she returned to work in February 2014, she could receive benefits for a closed period from October 2012 to February 2014. An applicant for a closed period of disability must meet two criteria: Her impairments must have prevented her from performing substantial gainful activity for at least twelve continuous months; and She must have applied for disability either before her disability ended or within fourteen months of her disability ending. Most of my cases involving closed periods of … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits || Tagged under:
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January 3, 2014

Social Security Disability Benefits for Children with Disabilities

Social Security’s process for evaluating children with disabilities is a little different than its process for evaluating adults. However, building a successful case for either an adult or a child requires the same elements: a solid history of consistent medical treatment, strong evidence of difficulties in daily functioning, and lots of patience. Raising a disabled child can be expensive. Between medical treatment, prescriptions, and specialized education, footing all the bills can be difficult. You may be having difficulty holding a job because caring for your child causes you to miss a lot of work. If you have a disabled child and are struggling to pay bills, you may want to look into applying for disability for your child. Disabled children typically qualify for benefits under SSI (Supplemental Security Income). SSI is a needs-based program; Social Security will ask you about your household income and resources to determine whether you meet their financial guidelines. Once Social Security determines that a child’s household meets its financial criteria, it considers whether the child’s impairments meet Social Security’s definition of disability. A child may be found disabled due to physical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, or heart defects), mental conditions (such as ADHD, autism, Tourette’s syndrome, or depression), or a combination of physical and mental impairments. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will first look to see if you child’s disability meets a listing in its Listing of Impairments – Children. If your child does not meet the specific criteria of a listing, Social Security will then evaluate whether he or she “functionally equals the Listings.” To do so, the SSA looks at your child’s ability to function in six different domains. “Domains” are broad areas of functioning used to evaluate whether your child can function at an age-appropriate level in all aspects of … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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November 18, 2013

Will there be a 2014 Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security Disabilty recipients?

Good news for Indiana residents receiving Social Security Disability benefits.  There will be a 1.5 percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits recipients.  The increase will begin with the December 2013 benefits, payable January 2014.  This is the fourth year in the row that we have seen an increase to Social Security benefits.  More than 57 million people received some type of Social Security benefit.    How is COLA determined?  COLAs are based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).  It is determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor.  The purpose of COLA is to offset the effects of inflation on fixed incomes.  In 1960 President Eisenhower signed an amendment that allowed disabled workers of any age to receive payments.  At that time there were over 500,000 people receiving disability benefits, with an average benefit amount being $80.  It is hard to imagine what would happen without COLA.  In 1975, an eligible individual received $157.70 per month – imagine if beneficiaries were still receiving the same amount today! What do I have to do to receive my COLA? Absolutely nothing; the Cost-of-Living Adjustment is automatic.  Because there was an increase in the consumer price index from the third quarter of 2012 to the third quarter of 2013, you will get the COLA of 1.5 percent in 2014.  You will see the increase in your award benefit payment.  Will my award amount ever decrease?  Hopefully you will never see a decrease in payments.  However, you must report changes to your living arrangements to the Social Security Administration (SSA) within 10 days after the change occurs.  While these changes are very unlikely to affect your benefit amount if you receive Social Security Disability Insurance, they might affect your monthly benefit if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Some changes that can affect your SSI payment amount include: Moving to a … Continued

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July 21, 2010

How do Indiana Residents Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits Online

Many Indiana residents wonder if it is possible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits online. It is actually a fairly easy process with only four main steps that can be followed on the Social Security Administration website. The first thing to do is log on to the Social Security Administration website at Next, click on the Disability Benefits link in the middle of the page. This brings you to a page that is titled “Apply Online for Disability Benefits”. At the bottom of this page the four main steps are outlined for you. The first step is to review the disability checklist. This checklist consists of all the information that you need to complete the Disability Application and the Disability Report. If you click the link at this step, it will take you to the Adult Disability Checklist. On this page there is a printable version of the list. The second step is to fill out the application itself. If you click on the link in the second step it takes you to a page with three important sections. The first one is “using this application”. This link will take you to the instructions for the Social Security Disability benefits application. The second section is the bullet list of links to help with other questions. The third section is the last section on the page that is the start of the application process for Social Security Disability benefits. The third step in applying for Social Security Disability benefits online is to complete the Disability Report. This step is very similar to the second step because of the three main components on the Adult Disability Report page. The first part is instructions on how to fill out the form, the second part is links for other questions or problems, … Continued

Filed under: Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney, Social Security Disability Benefits
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April 21, 2010

Unemployment Benefits & Social Security Disability Benefits

Is it a problem if I am receiving unemployment benefits and I am trying to get Social Security disability benefits? Indiana disability applicants often ask Attorney Scott D. Lewis if receiving unemployment insurance benefits will be frowned upon by the Social Security Administration (SSA) when attempting to receive Social Security disability benefits. In his opinion, this “may” create a problem. He believes that when a disability claimant is collecting unemployment, but is applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the disability claimant is making two inconsistent statements. First, by collecting unemployment insurance benefits the person is saying that they are able to work. On the other hand, by applying for disability benefits the claimant is saying they are unable to work. The SSA states that receiving unemployment insurance benefits do not preclude a person from receiving Social Security disability benefits. Although, the SSA goes on to add receiving unemployment benefits can be one of many factors considered in determining if an individual is disabled. In Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis’ experience, Administrative Law Judges (ALJ’s) often question his clients as to why they are making these too very different statements. Typically, the judge has the record of the disability claimant’s earnings including unemployment at his or her fingertips during the hearing and may raise an eyebrow when confronted with this issue. One way to combat this potential disability dilemma is to attempt to amend the disability onset date to sometime after the unemployment payments have stopped. This may help the ALJ give you a favorable ruling in your appeal. In these tough economic times, a disability claimant can only hope an Indiana Administrative Law Judge may be sympathetic in that many individuals feel they may starve without these much needed unemployment funds. … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits
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April 20, 2010

Part-Time Job & Social Security Disability Benefits

Can I get Social Security Disabilty Benefits If I have a Part-Time Job? As an Indiana lawyer serving the Indianapolis & the surrounding area, Attorney Scott D. Lewis would never advise a Social Security disability claimant to not work if they are able to do so. In fact, many times he tells his disability appeals clients that they will not get rich by receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments and it is usually in the claimant’s best interest to work if they are able. Often times, claimants may find it much more lucrative to work rather than not work and receive disability payments. On the other hand, some Social Security disability appeals claimants find that they are able to work on a part-time basis. It is true, it may be alright to work as long as your earnings do not exceed the limit set by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This limit is called the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount. The monthly SGA amount may change each year. It may be concerning to some claimants as to how this part-time work may be looked at by the adjudicators at the SSA. Many claimants wonder if the SSA will look at the part-time work and wonder if they are able to work more than part- time. Attorney Scott D. Lewis believes that this may a possibility. The SSA may believe the disability claimant can work more hours than he or she is currently working and the claimant is attempting to just stay under the SGA amount. The Social Security adjudicators may also believe the claimant is not seeking full-time work opportunities while remaining in a job setting that only offers part-time positions. Attorney Scott D. Lewis has been present for Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearings where his disability claimant has been questioned extensively about a part-time … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits
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March 31, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits at Retirement Age

If I am receiving Social Security disability benefits and I reach the age of retirement for Social Security retirement benefits, what will happen? Many individuals receiving Social Security disability benefits wonder what will happen to their disability benefits when they reach full retirement age. Indiana residents often call the law office of Scott D. Lewis to inquire as to if they will get two payments or what exactly they should be prepared for at that time. If you are currently receiving Social Security disability benefits, you should be aware your disability benefits are 100% of your primary insurance amount. Will you receive two disability payments? No, when you reach retirement age, your Social Security disability benefits payment amount will automatically convert to regular Social Security retirement benefits. Will your Social Security disability benefits remain the same forever?  Probably not, because there are periodic cost of living adjustments (COLA) determined and it can have an impact on your Social Security payment amount. There may be one important change when you reach retirement age and your disability payments are converted. Social Security states you are able to receive your benefits with no limits on your earnings starting on the month of your retirement age. For an idea as to what Social Security considers full retirement age, you can refer to the SSA website. If you have been denied Social Security disability benefits or know someone who believes they should be receiving disability benefits, contact the Law Office of Scott D. Lewis. Many times the disability appeal process can be confusing and the aid of an experienced lawyer may help you get the disability benefits you deserve. Contact Indianapolis attorney Scott Lewis today for a free confutation at (317) 423-8888.

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits
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January 1, 2010

I am receiving Social Security Disability Benefits, are my children paid benefits also?

If I am trying to get or I already receive Social Security Disability Benefits, will my children receive benefits also? Many disability claimants residing in Indiana may ask this question. There are different factors that figure into this equation. It is important to not “put the cart before the horse” because the main issue when trying to receive disability benefits is to win your claim and convince the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you meet the criteria for disability. Once you have achieved that favorable result then tackle the issue of whether your children will receive benefits. So, if it is determined you meet the qualifications for Social Security disability benefits, also known as Title II benefits, your children may be entitled to dependent’s benefits. Dependent benefts can also known as auxiliary benefits. Generally, children under the age of eighteen, or if they are between eighteen and nineteen and are still a full time student in elementary or secondary education, are eligible for these dependent benefits. Other factors for eligibility of these children may include: if you are indeed the child of the insured, whether you are actually a dependent of the insured if the child is unmarried, and that you have actually applied for these benefits. There are also provisions for disabled children relating to the continuation of benefits. If all of the above applies to your situation and you are not receiving auxiliary benefits for your children, it is important that you contact the SSA to see if you qualify. Remember, when you are attempting to receive disability benefits for yourself or your children it may be helpful for you to be proactive instead of inactive. If you or your child are attempting to receive disability benefits and are interested in speaking with an Indiana Social Security Lawyer … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits
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October 23, 2009

Compassionate Allowances for Social Security Disability Benefits

Many Indiana Social Security disability claimants endure a long drawn out process while trying to obtain beneftis.  The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) backlog of claims may cause hardship to many families.  In 2007,  Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue announced the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance initiative.  Compassionate allowances are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the SSA’s Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate allowances permit the SSA to quickly identify the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical information that the SSA can obtain quickly.  The SSA has an obligation to provide benefits quickly to applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet disability standards.   This initiative speeds up the application process for Social Security disability applicants with any of 25 rare diseases and 25 cancers whose medical conditions are very severe. These 50 conditions were selected for the initiative’s rollout. This list may expand over time. Commissioner Astrue has held four Compassionate Allowance public outreach hearings since 2007. The purpose of these hearings were to obtain the public’s views about how to implement Compassionate Allowances for children and adults with rare diseases.  These previous public outreach hearings were on: rare diseases cancers traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke,  early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias The Commissioner is scheduled to hold the fifth public outreach hearing on schizophrenia in November 2009. Additional information about how compassionate allowances are processed may be found on the Social Security Administrations website.  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis believes that the SSA’s compassionate allowances initiative may greatly benefit people with certain rare diseases. If you are a claimant with a rare disease and believe that you may qualify for the compassionate allowance or believe that you qualify for another impairment, contact Attorney Scott Lewis … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits
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