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January 11, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefit Payments Going Paperless?

Indiana residence who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments may not be aware of the most recent announcement by the Treasury Department that disability checks may become completely paperless.  In December of 2010, the Treasury Department announced that government issued checks to SSDI or SSI recipients will begin going paperless as of May 1, 2011.  Many Indianapolis disability benefits recipients may wonder why the Treasury Department made this decision and how this will effect the disability recipient. Why did the Treasury Department decide to go paperless with disability payments? Currently, approximately twenty percent (20%) of disability claimants still receive their disability payments by check.  Many factors go into making this decision.  First and foremost, the greatest benefit of going paperless to the SSDI or SSI recipient is that it will eliminate the risks of lost and stolen checks, and provides the disability recipient immediate access to their money on payment day.  From a government standpoint, there will be great savings to the government by going paperless.  The paperless effort is projected to save the Social Security Administration (SSA) roughly $1 billion dollars over the next ten years. This will be beneficial to taxpayers because the SSA spends approximately $120 million each year to mail paper checks to the SSDI and SSI benefits recipients. How will the SSDI or SSI benefits recipients, who are currently receiving their payments by checks, be affected?  Because the paperless effort is going into effect on May 1, 2011, the Treasury Department is going to require SSDI and SSI recipients to arrange for an electronic direct deposit account by March 1, 2013.  Disability benefits recipients will be offered an educational program by the Treasury Department to guide them through this process.  This national program will be directly related to the switch to electronic payments. How will these paperless payments be … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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January 8, 2010

Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing Decision

Are you an Indiana resident that has appeared in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for your Social Security disability benefits hearing? Like most claimants, learning the terminology used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) can very confusing and difficult to understand. Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis always attempts to assists his clients with any confusion that they may have during the appeals process. Once you have had your hearing, the SSA will send you a notice with their decision. Claimants will receive a letter stating one of the following results: fully favorable; unfavorable; partially favorable; or dismissed. The claimant’s ultimate goal is to receive a fully favorable decision.  This means that you have won your claim and should receive the past due and monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits that you deserve.  The next best hearing result would be a partially favorable decision.  This decision means that the ALJ believes that you are disabled and unable to work but did not find you to be disabled on the date that you alleged that your disability began.  The reason for a different onset date can sometimes be attributed to the medical evidence not substantiating the date that you believe that you became disabled.  Lawyer Scott Lewis advises his clients to read this notice carefully because you may lose some of your past due benefits.  If the ALJ found the evidence of your disability to be strong enough to give you a favorable decision but decided that your disability onset date was different than what you alleged, the ALJ will determine the date of your disability and give past due payments based on that date.  If the ALJ decides that your onset date (the date you became disabled) is after your date of … Continued

Filed under: Hearings Process, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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December 16, 2009

Social Security Disability Benefit Payments

Are you an Indiana Social Security disability claimant that has recently been approved for disability benefits?  Like most claimants, you are wondering when you will receive that first payment from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are designed to replace a claimant’s income once they are no longer able to work due to their disability.  As with all claimants, these payments are usually desperately needed.  Since all benefits are not equal and every situation is unique, Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis states that it is very difficult to determine when you will receive your first disability payment.  Factors may include:   how soon the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) made his decision, how soon the decision is written, and how soon the payment center is notified of a favorable ruling.  Also, it should be noted that many delays may be contributed to human error.  The above factors are not the only variables in receiving your first disability payment.  Other issues may arise creating substantial time delays in the process.  Today, millions of Americans are waiting even longer for their disability payments, unemployment checks, and food stamps.  Some sources state that the number of people waiting for their first disability checks has increased 38% in 2009 from 2008 due to the recession.  Many states have had to furlough payment processors causing substantial backlog in the processing centers.  When you receive your notice of award, there may be specific information regarding your disbursement of benefits. Regardless of how long you have to wait for the first payment, any past due payments that you are entitled to are usually being processed at the same time.  Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis finds achieving a favorable outcome at the hearing level should be your first priority and hopefully with the approval of … Continued

Filed under: Claims Process, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
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July 2, 2009

Can My Social Security Disability Benefits Run Out?

As an Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney, many of my clients ask if their Social Security Disability benefits will run out or only last for a short period of time. The answer to this particular question is “no”, but there are specific reasons that it may stop. For example, if your disabling condition gets better and/or you have reached recovery, then your payments will stop. Additionally, if you return to work and earn over a certain amount of money per month, again, your payments will stop. The Social Security Administration (SSA) refers to this as “Substantial Gainful Activity” (SGA). In 2009, the SGA is $980/month for non-blind recipients. The SSA periodically reviews Social Security recipient’s files to determine whether or not their disability continues to be severe enough to prevent them from working. Once you reach retirement age, your Social Security disability benefits will automatically turn into Social Security retirement benefits. The year that you were born will determine at what age Social Security will recognize as your eligible retirement age. If you have any further questions regarding the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, please call my law firm and ask for Attorney Scott D. Lewis for a free consultation.

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
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July 1, 2009

Will My Social Security Disability Payments Change If My Disability Gets Worse?

Frequently, Indiana Social Security Disability benefits recipients wonder if their disability worsens, will their disability payments incease? If you are currently receiving Social Security Disability benefits, your payments will not change if your condition worsens or if you have an additional severe impairment. Upon the original disability determination made by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the SSA takes into account various factors when deciding the amount of your disability payment. Once these factors have been determined, your payment amount is established and your payments will not change due to a worsening condition or an additional impairment. Unlike other disability programs that base your disability on percentages, such as the Veterans Administration, Social Security disability payments are pretty much an all or nothing proposition. With this in mind, it is important to let the Social Security Administration know about all of your impairments, and also the severity of each impairment when filing your initial claim and throughout the entire claims process. On the other hand, it is possible that your payment may increase. If you notice an increase in your payments, it’s likely an automatic annual cost of living adjustment. Since 1975, the SSA established “Cost of Living Adjustments” (COLA) in order to keep pace with inflation. These increases will automatically be given to you in December of each year. For more information concerning Social Security Disability benefits, contact Indianapolis Attorney Scott Lewis for a free consultation at (317) 423-8888.

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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June 22, 2009

Onset Date for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefts

When it comes to your disability claim, your onset date can be very important. The onset date can affect how much of your past due benefits you will be paid and/or if you are eligible for benefits at all. As defined in the Social Security Act and/or regulations, the onset date of disability is the first day a person is disabled. When determining your onset date, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at work history, medical findings, and the claimant’s allegations. The aforementioned are usually looked at as a whole to determine the onset date. It should be noted, the date the claimant stopped working or the claimant’s allegations are important in deciding onset only if it falls in line with how severe the medical condition is as evidence by the medical records. In Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims, the earlier the onset date can be established, the longer the period of disability and it usually helps to maximize the amount of past due benefits that can be received. It is important to remember that a person attempting to receive SSDI must also meet the requirement of insured status. Insured status must be met at the time when a disability preventing an individual from performing substantial gainful activity is determined. While this is just a brief framework of how the Social Security Administration may look at your disability and your onset date, it should not be relied on for legal advice. For more information concerning onset dates and Social Security Disability benefits, contact the SSA or Indianapolis Attorney Scott Lewis for a free consultation at (317) 423-8888.

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
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June 5, 2009

Social Security Disability Benefits and Social Security Retirement Benefits

 Many Indiana Social Security Disability Benefit recipients wonder when their disability benefits will change to Social Security retirement benefits.  Retirement benefits and disability benefits are both Social Security benefits. Social Security benefits are paid out of two trust funds: the Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund and the Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund. If you are a person who is receiving disability benefits, when you reach your full retirement age, the Social Security Administration (SSA) stops paying them from the DI trust fund and changes payment to come from the OASI trust fund. Your monthly earnings will not change.  Although, because you’ll then be getting full retirement benefits based on age rather than disability benefits based on your medical condition, your disability will no longer be the basis for your entitlement. This means no more periodic re-evaluations by the SSA to see if you still meet the definition of disability and no restrictions on earnings should you return to work. According to the SSA, depending on the year you were born, full retirement age is the following: 1937 or Earlier – Retirement age is 65 1938 – Retirement age is 65 and 2 months  1939 – Retirement age is 65 and 4 months 1940 – Retirement age is 65 and 6 months 1941 – Retirement age is 65 and 8 months 1942 – Retirement age is 65 and 10 months 1943-1954 – Retirement age is 66  1955 – Retirement age is 66 and 2 months 1956 – Retirement age is 66 and 4 months  1957 – Retirement age is 66 and 6 months  1958 – Retirement age is 66 and 8 months  1959 – Retirement age is 66 and 10 months  1960 and later – Retirement age is 67 In summary, when you reach full retirement age, nothing will change, except for Social Security purposes, your benefits will be … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
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June 4, 2009

Obtaining Social Security Disabiltiy Benefits with Good Medical Records

Most people are not familiar with the Social Security disability claims process.  When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the success of your claim often depends on providing good supporting medical records.  It is important to know what medical documentation that the Social Security Administration (SSA) needs.  Without an attorney, it is the SSA’s responsibility to secure your medical records.  An attorney has experience in knowing how to request this information from doctors and other medical professionals.  Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis sees a variety of medical records every day and knows how important good supporting medical documentation can be in getting your Social Security benefits approved.  Here are a few key things to keep in mind when seeing your doctor and accumulating medical records: An abundance of pertinent records relating to your disability will usually help the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in finding a favorable result in your case. Try to make it easy on the Social Security Administration (SSA) by seeing your doctor(s) on a regular basis and providing the SSA with good medical records. Adequate progress notes can help in obtaining a favorable decision.  If your physician can document your disabilities on a consistent basis showing the disabilities you are having, it can greatly enhance your case. Tests verifying your disabilities can have an impact on a favorable outcome.  MRI’s, EKG’s, and various other objective tests showing the severity of your disability are things the SSA and your attorney can use to substantiate your case. A clear diagnosis or assessment of your disability is critical in getting your benefits.  The Listing of Impairments defines disabilities that the Social Security Administration recognizes.  If you have a distinct diagnosis by your physician that meets or equals one of these listings your ability to obtain Social … Continued

Filed under: Claims Process, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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April 15, 2009

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits in Indiana

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays benefits to qualifying disabled people or to their family members of those that have a qualifying work history and have paid Social Security taxes.  The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children that have limited resources and income.  SSI benefits are also available to adults over the age of 65 without disabilities who meet the financial limits established by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Indiana residents that become disabled should file an application for Social Security Disability Benefits with the SSA immediately.  An application for SSDI and SSI can be filed online at SSA’s website, you can call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to set up an appointment, or visit your local Social Security Office to apply in person.  It may take several weeks before a decision is made regarding your applications.   If approved, congratulations!  On the other hand, if you receive a “Notice of Disapproved Claim” from the SSA, don’t become discouraged.  Statistics show that the majority of all claims are denied at the initial application.  Within 60 days from your denial, you must submit a request for reconsideration to the Social Security Administration.  If your request for reconsideration is denied, you have 60 days from that denial to request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge.  It is important for you to stay within these deadlines or the SSA may force you to start the initial application process over again.   If you have questions regarding this process, contact Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis for more details.  Scott focuses on representing Indiana area clients with their Social Security Disability claims after they have been denied.  He will continue the appeals process with you and represent you at your scheduled hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge.  Scott will fight for what you and your family deserve. 

Filed under: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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April 2, 2009

$250.00 Stimulus Payment to go to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients

Over 55 million Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will receive a one-time payment of $250.00, due to legislation signed into law on February 17, 2009.  Indiana social security recipients should expect to receive the payment no later than 120 days after February 17, 2009.  Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) beneficiaries need to take no action, as the payment will be made the same as monthly payments are currently being made to these recipients.  Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott D. Lewis believes that these checks are needed as those receiving social security benefits are some of the hardest hit by a troubled economy.  Other provisions of this legislation include $500 million to help with the backlog in processing Social Security Claims and to help address the workload.  Also, another $500 million is for the National Computer Center.   As many residents and Indiana Social Security Lawyers are aware, the money is greatly needed to alleviate and help decrease the amount of time when awaiting a social security hearing.   

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