March 4, 2010
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
January 11, 2010
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
January 8, 2010
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
August 20, 2009
Can a child with a disability qualify for Social Security benefits? A child under age 18 can qualify if he or she meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability for children, and if his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility limits. The requirements for children can differ from adults. Since children do not have a work history, the funds for children with disabilities are paid through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. There are a few things to keep in mind when attempting to receive SSI benefits for your disabled child: 1. The child must financially qualify. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will take a look at the amount of income and resources that the child and the family members living in the household have access to. If the child’s income and resources, or the income and resources of family members living in the child’s household, are more than the amount allowed by the SSA, the child’s application for SSI payments will be denied. Also, if the child lives in a medical facility where health insurance pays for his or her care, the SSA will limit the monthly SSI payment to $30 per month. 2. The child must have a condition or combination of conditions that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or expected to result in death. These physical or mental conditions must result in “marked and severe functional limitations.” Marked and severe limitations means that the child’s activities are very seriously limited, it can cause the child to be in a grade level inappropriate for his or her age, it can cause your child to be constantly hospitalized, etc. While some attorneys are hesitant to take children’s Social Security claims cases, Indiana Attorney Scott Lewis believes many of these cases can be won at the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) level. It is important to secure good physician’s treatment … Continued
July 1, 2009
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.
June 11, 2009
In May 2009, the Social Security Administration (SSA) released the 2008 statistics on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients by state and county. Indianapolis area residents may be interested in knowing how their county rates compared to surrounding counties when it comes to the distribution of SSI funds. The complete list can be found on the SSA’s website. Below is a sample of the 2008 statistics of the state of Indiana and Indianapolis and its surrounding counties: State or County Total Category Age SSIrecipientsalsoreceivingOASDI Aged Blind anddisabled Under 18 18-64 65 orolder Indiana 108,148 5,617 102,531 23,621 71,977 12,550 34,221 Boone County 363 34 329 74 235 54 121 Hamilton County 1,161 141 1,020 241 713 207 322 Hancock County 457 30 427 98 300 59 142 Hendricks County 693 53 640 171 435 87 211 Johnson County 1,061 69 992 258 674 129 331 Marion County 20,453 1,160 19,293 5,321 12,659 2,473 5,937 Morgan County 806 35 771 148 574 84 273 Shelby County 601 37 564 133 400 68 196 If you have questions regarding Indiana Supplemental Security Income benefits, contact Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis for a free consultation at (317) 423-8888
June 4, 2009
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
April 15, 2009
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.
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.