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November 26, 2014

What Is The Timeline For My Social Security Disability Claim?

Many claimants wonder what the timeline looks like for a Social Security disability claim from start to finish.  The waiting time for a claim can depend on many factors and can vary greatly from case to case. Step 1: Initial Application In my experience, the average waiting time for a decision on the initial application is about 4 months, but this is only an estimate. This wait time can depend on multiple things.  One factor is how quickly your medical providers respond to the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s requests for medical records.  The SSA will request any relevant medical records from the medical providers you listed on your initial application.  In my experience, the turnaround time for medical records can range from one week to a few months.  Another factor that impacts the waiting time at this stage is how long it takes the SSA to obtain additional information it needs about your disabling conditions.  This additional information can come in the form of consultative exams (one-time assessments by doctors who examine you on the SSA’s behalf) or questionnaires about your work history and your activities of daily living.  Finally, the wait time can be longer or shorter based on the SSA’s current workload. Step 2: Request for Reconsideration In my experience, claimants wait approximately 3 months for a decision on a request for reconsideration, but this is only an estimate. The waiting time at this step has the greatest variation among my clients.  Some clients receive a decision within a few weeks, especially if they have not received any additional medical treatment since they completed their initial application.  Others wait months as their adjudicators work to obtain additional information, especially if the claimants have experienced big changes in their disabling conditions since completing the initial application.  Usually this step simply entails a medical records update and … Continued

Filed under: Appeals Process, Claims Process, Evaluation Process, Hearings Process, Social Security Disability Benefits Claims Process, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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January 7, 2014

Is the Social Security Administration Helping Me With My Disability Claim?

If you have applied for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) I think it is a good idea to ask yourself whether you are receiving enough help from the Social Security Administration as your claim progresses.  There can be many frustrating and confusing areas of Social Security disability law that the Social Security Administration (SSA) may or may not help you with.  Many claimants in Indiana and nationwide do not realize they can hire an attorney or representative to answer many of their questions, help them with paperwork, and provide legal representation at their hearings on a contingency basis.  What are some ways an attorney can help to make the Social Security disability appeals process easier for you? Filing paperwork on a timely basis – There are certain deadlines in Social Security disability cases, and while the SSA may notify you about these time constraints, they are probably not going to help you make sure that you meet them.  An attorney or representative can help identify your limited time to appeal your claim and help you make sure you provide all the information the SSA has requested by the filing deadlines. Providing timely responses to your questions – Unfortunately for disability claimants SSA staff members are very busy.  Social Security’s reduced hours and limited staff make it difficult for many claimants to receive a timely response to their questions or to even get a chance to speak to a field office worker.  Have you ever sat on hold with a Social Security office for a very long time just to ask a very simple question?  My staff and I strive to respond to our clients in a timely manner in order to answer questions they may have regarding their claim.  We also follow up regularly with the … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Attorney, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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November 21, 2013

Will I receive any back pay for my Indiana Social Security Disabilty claim?

Are you an Indiana resident who has been denied disability benefits?  Are you unable to work due to your disability?  If you are wondering whether it is worth your time to appeal the decision, the answer is most likely yes. If you are successful in appealing your claim, you will most likely be due back pay.   The Social Security Administration (SSA) may owe you hundreds of dollars in back pay for your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim.  All the time you waited for a decision was not in vain.   As a disability attorney in Indianapolis, I often get calls from my clients who are ecstatic because they just received a rather large check for disability compensation back pay.  They now realize that it was worth all the frustration and waiting.     I applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).  How much can I expect to get? For those applicants who are approved for SSDI, your back pay will most likely go back to the sixth full month after the date your disability began.  However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will determine exactly how far back your payments should go.  It will depend on your application date and onset date (the date the SSA decides you became disabled).  The amount of your monthly disability is based on your lifetime average earning covered by Social Security.  You can use tools such as a benefit calculator to help determine how much you will get.   What about back pay for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? For those who are approved for SSI, your back pay has the potential to go back to your application date.  Social Security may issue large past-due SSI benefits in up to three installments.   There may be instances when the SSA can pay in a larger installment.  A person who has certain debts related to food, clothing, shelter, medicine or medically necessary services may qualify.    The whole process … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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October 31, 2011

How Long Will I Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

Indiana Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients often wonder how long they will receive these disability benefits.  Many SSDI or SSI claimants are under the assumption that their disability benefits will last until retirement age. Although many disability recipients will receive benefits until they reach the retirement age, this is not the case for everyone. For those individuals who do receive Social Security disability benefits until retirement age, Social Security disability benefits will not just stop altogether, but they will simply change from Social Security disability benefits to Social Security retirement benefits. On the other hand, there are some instances in which a disability recipient will have their disability benefits end prior to reaching the retirement age. The most common reasons for a stop in disability benefits are: improvement of one’s disabling condition, incarceration, or return to work. As stated above, improvement of someone’s condition is just one reason why the Social Security Administration (SSA) may revoke benefits.  The SSA reviews the SSDI or SSI claimant’s disability benefits on a regular basis. These reviews are called “Continuing Disability Reviews” and these reviews are given to everyone who receives disability benefits. The time between these reviews may depend on whether or not your condition is expected to improve. Benefits may be reviewed by the SSA anywhere from every 18 months to several years depending on your condition and your chances of improvement. Another reason the SSA may revoke disability benefits is incarceration.  If an individual who receives disability benefits ends up in prison or is put in jail for more than 30 days, it is likely the disability benefits will stop. However, incarceration does not permanently end an individual’s disability benefits. When the individual gets out of jail, it is possible to this individual to get their SSDI or SSI benefits reinstated. One misconception people have is that going back to work automatically disqualify a person from receiving Social Security disability … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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May 18, 2011

Will my age be a factor in my Social Security Disability Claim?

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis represents a variety of Indiana claimants applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  His clients vary in age ranging from youths to adults in their early 60s.  Many times he discusses with clients the effects their age may have on their SSDI or SSI claim.  Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not specifically deny disabled individuals for reasons of age, it is Scott Lewis’ opinion that age can be a relevant factor in determining disability. How does my age affect my ability to obtain SSDI or SSI disability benefits?  A Social Security disability claimant’s age is certainly considered when applying for disability benefits.  One way the claimant’s age may be a deciding factor is that in order to receive SSDI benefits, a person must have earned enough work credits to qualify for this disability program.  Therefore, if a disabled claimant is 21 years old and has not worked long enough to earn enough work credits to qualify for the SSDI program, he/she will not be awarded SSDI benefits.  In summary, a younger adult is unable to fulfill the work credit requirements due to a lack of years in the workforce. Although these individuals are unable to qualify for the SSDI program, these individuals may qualify for the SSI program which does not require the earned work credits. In Attorney Scott Lewis’ opinion, as disability claimants reach their 50s, they are more likely to have their disability claim approved by the SSA.  The SSA believes that as people age, their ability to transition into new employment areas diminishes. Older claimants become less adaptable and less able to switch to a different job in order to cope with health problems. For example, a person disabled due to a foot injury may cause a younger … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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December 14, 2010

2011 Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) for Social Security Disability Benefits Recipients

As with all Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit recipients, Indiana disability benefits recipients are not going to see an increase in their monthly disability payment in 2011. On October 15th, 2010, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that there would be no Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) for 2011. This is the second year in a row that there was not an increase to SSDI, SSI or Social Security retirement benefit payments.  Over 50 million Americans receive some form of Social Security benefit. What are Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA)? COLA is an automatic adjustment to the SSDI or SSI recipient’s monthly benefits that may occur each year. The COLA increase is based on the percentage increase from year to year of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Worker (CPI-W) during the third quarter of the year.  This percentage increase of COLA is strictly based on the CPI-W increase so, when there is not an increase in the CPI-W then there is no increase in COLA.  CPI-W increases are determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor.  The purpose of the COLA increase is so the purchasing power of SSDI or SSI benefits keep in pace with consumer prices and that benefits are not eroded by inflation. Why isn’t there a COLA increase in 2011?  As in 2010, because there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of the previous year to the third quarter of the current year. Therefore, SSDI and SSI payments will remain the same in 2011.  In the last two years, overall inflation has been low, largely because of the economic downturn.  It has been predicted by the Congressional Budget Office that inflation will remain low for the next several years.  As a result, this may mean that Social Security recipients may not see a COLA increase for … Continued

Filed under: News, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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October 15, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis represents individuals that are unable to work due a disabling condition or a combination of impairments. His disability clients have applied for Social Security disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) and have been denied disability benefits.  Scott Lewis assists disability claimants with appealing their denied claim at the reconsideration level and at the hearing level.  At the Law Office of Scott D. Lewis, Attorney Scott Lewis and his staff offer a free consultation to all disability claimants prior to representing them in their claim.  When Attorney Lewis is consulting with a disability claimant, he often finds himself explaining to the claimant the different disability programs offered by the SSA. In many cases, the disability claimants are unaware of the two different types of programs.  It’s important for Mr. Lewis to discuss with the claimant what the difference is between these two programs and which, if not both, program(s) is appropriate for the claimant to apply for.  The two disability programs offered by the SSA are Social Security Disability Insurance (also referred as SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (also referred as SSI). The SSDI and SSI disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide financial assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the SSA and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program. Whether you are a disability claimant suffering from cancer, heart disease, mental disorders, back pain, or any other disabling condition, your impairment has nothing to do with which disability program is right for you.  To determine which program you may qualify for it is based on work history and/or your income & resources. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is a payroll tax funded federal insurance program that is offered to disabled people … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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October 12, 2010

Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security Disability Benefits Recipients

Indianapolis Social Security disability benefits recipients receiving either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are entitled to a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) each year.  COLA is an automatic adjustment to the recipient’s benefits that may occur each year.  Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis tries to explain to his clients how COLA may affect their disability payments.The purpose of COLA is so the purchasing power of SSDI or SSI benefits is not eroded by inflation.  The increase in payments is determined by the percentage increase from year to year of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Worker (CPI-W) during the third quarter of the year.  This percentage increase of COLA is strictly based on the CPI-W increase so when there is not an increase in the CPI-W then there is no increase in COLA.  CPI-W increases are determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor. In 2010, there was no increase in COLA.  As all SSDI and SSI recipients experienced, this is the first time in history, dated back to 1975, that there was not an increase in COLA. There was no SSDI and SSI COLA increase in 2010 because there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2009. Therefore, SSDI and SSI payments remained the same in 2010. Indiana SSDI and SSI benefits recipients may be wondering if there will be a COLA increase in 2011.  According to recent studies, experts are predicting that there may not be a COLA increase in 2011 and possibly in 2012 due to lack of inflation. Official projections will be determined later this month.  Most Social Security disability recipients rely on these benefits as their only source of income. In some cases, the effects of no increase in COLA may be financially painstaking. At the … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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May 26, 2010

What is a Medical Vocational Allowance?

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis has many clients that win their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim by means of a Medical Vocational Allowance. You may wonder what this means when it comes to Social Security disability claims. As Attorney Scott Lewis explains to his clients, it is a way of winning a disability claimant’s claim not based on one of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) qualifying “Listing of Impairments.” So, how can a disability claimant possibly win a disability claim if they don’t meet or exceed one of the medical listing of impairments defined by the SSA?  A Medical Vocational Allowance (also known as Med-Voc) is a term used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to define when someone is awarded Social Security disability benefits when the disability claim does not match one of the disabilities listed in the “Listing of Impairments.”  How does this work?  When the SSA is reviewing a disability claimant’s application, the examiner will request all medical records from sources the claimant has listed on their application.  Once the medical records are received, the SSA will evaluate the claimant’s condition and compare the impairment with the listings of the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments” (Blue Book).  The “Listing of Impairments” is a list of all qualifying conditions and impairments with their symptoms that a claimant must meet in order to be eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits.  If a claimant does not meet or exceed a particular listing, the claimant is often denied disability benefits.  However, this is how the Med-Voc comes into play.  When a disability claimant does not meet a listing, but the SSA examiner decides based on the claimant’s medical evidence that the claimant’s disability is severe enough, that the claimant is unable to work, and the … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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March 4, 2010

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefit Programs

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis often finds his clients are confused by the difference between the two disability programs offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). These two programs are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI and SSI programs are administered by the SSA, both programs will pay a monthly benefit to qualifying disabled persons, and both programs follow the same procedures when determining if someone is disabled. Although SSDI and SSI have some similarities, they are quite different programs. It is important to understand the difference in these two programs when applying for disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or also commonly known as Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is the disability program that is funded by the Social Security taxes that are paid by employers, workers and people who are self-employed. This program requires the claimant to have earned the appropriate credits which is based on the taxable work of the disability claimant. This means that the claimant must have paid into this program through payroll taxes from previous work. This program was designed to assist those individual workers that paid into the program that become disabled and are unable to work until retirement age so they basically receive those benefits early. Financial eligibility for SSDI is based solely on the F.I.C.A. Social Security (F.I.C.A.) payroll taxes the claimant paid through employment. This program is not based on your current wealth situation. To be eligible for SSDI, you must have paid F.I.C.A. taxes in 20 out of the last 40 calendar quarters (essentially five out of the last ten years). If you are under age 31, that number is reduced. If you are over age 42, the minimum number of quarters increases approximately one quarter for each year over age 42. So, as … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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