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October 1, 2012

Social Security Disability Benefits For Bipolar Disorder

I receive numerous calls every week from Indiana residents telling me they have been denied disability benefits.  People suffering from bipolar disorder or other mental impairments make up a portion of those phone calls.  I cannot represent every potential disability client who calls my office, and there are several factors I have to consider before deciding to represent someone.  Some callers tell me they are bipolar, but they have never been diagnosed by a doctor and are not receiving any treatment.  Unfortunately, your belief that you have bipolar disorder is probably not going to be enough for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to find you disabled. Even if you experience the symptoms of  bipolar disorder,  the SSA is going to want documentation from treating sources to help prove your disability claim is valid. I do understand the difficulty in finding appropriate treatment for mental illness.  If you do not have health care coverage, the cost to visit a therapist, see a psychiatrist, or pay for medication is unaffordable, even for people who are employed.    Fortunately, some hospitals and nonprofit organizations have programs to help people without funds obtain treatment for mental disorders.  I strongly encourage my clients to seek these programs out and do the best they can to get the care they need. Most of my clients receiving care for a mental disability see two different kinds of mental health professionals.  Usually the person who prescribes mental health medications is a psychiatrist.  The patient has periodic appointments with the psychiatrist, who assesses the patient’s need for medications, prescribes the appropriate drugs, and monitors the patient’s progress.  Another individual commonly seen by my clients is a therapist.  The patient often spends more time with a therapist than with a psychiatrist, usually in the form of group or individual counseling.  Most … Continued

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September 18, 2012

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Social Security Disability

In my practice I often represent individuals with bowel and urinary problems, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is no exception.  The symptoms my clients describe make me a real believer that they are unable to function in a work environment without accommodations that most employers are unwilling to make.  Some of my clients find it embarrassing to discuss their symptoms, so they do not provide the best testimony at their disability hearing.  I remind them that their hearings are confidential, and that no one outside of the hearing room will know what has been said.  Nonetheless, I understand their hesitancy to discuss these personal issues. One key to winning at your Social Security disability hearing is to make sure that the administrative law judge (ALJ) understands the nature of your Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) publishes a book called the “Listing of Impairments”  that attempts to clearly define the conditions the SSA recognizes as disabling. Although IBS is not specifically addressed in these listings, some of its symptoms are included under Listing 5.06 for Inflammatory Bowel Disease and under other listings in Section 5: Digestive System Impairments.  Even if your Irritable Bowel Syndrome does not meet or equal a listing under Section 5, your symptoms may be severe enough to interfere with your ability to do work-related activities.  These symptoms can include, but are not limited to: Diarrhea that can be frequent and chronic Constipation that can be frequent and chronic Abdominal pain Feeling of fullness or bloating Gas Many of my clients with this disabling condition complain of having to make countless trips to the bathroom each day and of having uncontrollable bowel movements or “accidents” on many occasions.  If you have frequent bowel accidents, it is important to inform your medical treating source about … Continued

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September 10, 2012

Does The Social Security Administration Consider How Much Pain I Experience?

Yes, the Social Security Administration is supposed to consider your pain when deciding if you are disabled.  The pain you experience from standing, walking, pushing, pulling, lifting, and sitting may make it difficult, if not impossible, to perform substantial gainful activity.  Many of my clients are not able to focus or concentrate long enough to work because the pain is so severe.  If you do experience pain, it is important to regularly report the frequency and intensity of your pain to your physician.  The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may be skeptical about your complaints of pain if your medical records do not show that you have talked to your doctors about them. Some of my clients suffering from physical disabilities tell me the pain they experience is simply too much to bear. They often enter an Indiana Social Security disability hearing prepared to let the ALJ know exactly what the pain is like on a day to day basis. As an attorney, I give my clients guidelines to help them explain their pain to the judge, and I urge them to be as truthful and straightforward as possible. Most of my clients listen to my advice, but sometimes, clients go into the courtroom and exaggerate their pain symptoms to an unbelievable degree. Being honest about everything at your disability appeal hearing is very important, from explaining what you are physically able to do to describing the pain you experience. In most hearings, the judge or I ask the claimant to rate his pain on a scale from zero to ten, where a rating of zero is no pain, and a rating of ten is pain so severe that you have to go to the hospital. To my surprise, some individuals testify that their pain is at level ten on a … Continued

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June 12, 2012

Being Honest At Your Indiana Disability Hearing

Most of us have certain subjects that we are not comfortable talking about.  Sometimes at a Social Security disability hearing, you will be asked questions that make you uneasy.  Those questions can range from details of your personal life to symptoms of your medical condition, and everything else in between.  Indianapolis attorney Scott D. Lewis encourages each of his clients to be honest with the Judge during the hearing.  Your answers at your hearing may have a huge impact on the outcome of your case. Your credibility may impact the Judge’s decision about whether your conditions are disabling.  While you may have numerous medical tests diagnosing various severe conditions, tests in general cannot show the severity of the pain you experience.  To understand the severity of your pain, the Administrative Law Judge will often rely on your testimony about the type and degree of pain you feel.  Different people have varying levels of pain tolerance, and you are the only one who can explain to the Judge how your pain affects you. It is important for claimants to realize that their medical records contain more information than medical diagnoses and treatment histories. For instance, your doctor often records information about your daily activities, such as whether you have been on vacation, working in your garden, or riding a bicycle.  So imagine that you are in your hearing and the judge asks you a personal question, and you think that an honest answer will lead the judge to believe that you are not disabled.  You may think the best thing to do is to give a dishonest answer so as not to jeopardize your case.  You may not realize, however, that the Judge already knows the answer to the question he is asking you because he has read about it in … Continued

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December 24, 2011

Anemia and Indiana Social Security Disability Claims

If you or someone you know is suffering from anemia and is unable to work due to this disabling condition, you may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits. Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis has experience in representing individuals with disabilities throughout the state of Indiana. If you find that you have a physical or mental condition that is preventing you from working, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Individuals who suffer from anemia have a lower than normal red blood cell count. Anemia can be caused by a variety of things that include but are not limited to; poor diet, pregnancy, kidney failure and problems with bone marrow. While individuals may experience different symptoms from anemia, some common symptoms can include: fatigue, chest pain, dizziness, and problems concentrating. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize anemia as a disabling condition. Anemia is addressed in Social Security’s Listing of Impairments under listing 7.00 hematological disorders. In Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience, good supportive medical evidence of a diagnosis of anemia may be the key to proving an individual equals or meets the listing for anemia. If you find you are struggling with your Social Security disability claim and are frustrated by the Social Security disability claims process, you can contact Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis for a free case evaluation. Mr. Lewis has experience with varying disabilities including but not limited to; mental retardation, emphysema, diabetes, and schizophrenia. If you would like a free case evaluation, call (317) 423-8888 today!

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December 22, 2011

Arthritis and Indiana Social Security Disability Insurance

Every day in my practice, I talk to people whose disabilities affect them in many different ways.  My clients who suffer from arthritis usually have pain all over their bodies, and that pain keeps them from being able to function in their daily lives.  My clients’ complaints include pain in their hands and fingers, in their backs, in their joints, and in parts of their bodies they injured a long time ago.   If you have arthritis, you may have difficulty holding a cup, picking up coins, or buttoning your shirt.  You may also have pain that keeps you from being able to sit, stand, or walk for extended periods of time.  If you are unable to perform these basic activities, you likely are unable to do many of the tasks required in order to obtain and maintain full-time employment.  Therefore, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize arthritis as a disabling condition, and it may be in your best interest to apply for disability benefits if your arthritis keeps you from being able to work. “Arthritis” is a broad term for inflammation of the joints, usually because the cartilage in that joint has broken down.  However, there are many types of arthritis.  Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, but there are other types of arthritis caused by autoimmune disorders, broken bones, or infection.  Regardless of the cause, people with arthritis usually suffer from symptoms including, but not limited to:Joint pain Joint swelling Impaired movement of the joint Joint stiffness The SSA has a Listing of Impairments in which it describes specific diagnoses, findings, and symptoms for conditions it deems to be disabling.  Two sections of the Listings address arthritis: Listing 1.02: Major Dysfunction of a Joint; and the various listings under 14.00: Immune System Disorders, including 14.02: Systemic Lupus Erhthematosus, 14.04: Systemic Sclerosis, and 14.09: Inflammatory Arthritis.  In order to be found disabled under the Listings, your medical records must show that you … Continued

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December 22, 2011

At My Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing The Judge Said I Need A Representative Payee, What Does That Mean?

At times Indiana Social Security disability appeals claimants are instructed at their hearings that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is going to recommend a representative payee.  Individuals not accustomed to the terms commonly used at Social Security disability hearings may wonder what the ALJ is talking about and what effect it may have on them.  Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyers like Scott D. Lewis many times find themselves explaining to their clients what transpired in the court room and what the meanings of particular words are. If you were at your Social Security disability hearing and the ALJ recommended that you be assigned a representative payee there can be a few reasons why this has happened.  In disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience the main reason a representative payee is recommended is that the ALJ believes you are unable to manage your own funds.  Many times this may be due to a mental condition that makes it difficult for the Social Security disability recipient to take care of their own money. While the individual receiving benefits may be able to designate someone as their representative payee, if the Social Security Administration does not approve of that individual, the SSA may appoint someone entirely different.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) usually looks to family and friends to be assigned as an individual’s representative payee.  If family and friends are not available the SSA may look to various organizations to help in this capacity. If you have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits you can contact Indianapolis disability attorney Scott D. Lewis for a free case evaluation.  Mr. Lewis has experience with Social Security disability appeals and understands what Indiana residents are going through.  Call (317) 423-8888 and talk to Mr Lewis and his staff and … Continued

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December 20, 2011

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis Comments on Possible New Hearing Policy

There have been some recent reports of a possible Office of Disability and Review (ODAR) policy regarding the non-disclosure of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) presiding over your pending hearing until the date of the hearing.  Indianapolis disability attorney Scott D. Lewis believes that this type of “blindfolding” attorneys and their clients can only make the disability process even more frustrating and slow. Why could this potentially be a problem?  Experienced Social Security disability attorneys like Scott Lewis represent individuals numerous times in front of the same Administrative Law Judge and become accustomed to exactly what that particular Judge is looking for at the hearing.  To help create and ensure judicial efficiency, Mr. Lewis attempts to prepare his cases in a manner for particular Judges that will cut right to the main issues that particular Judge may focus on.  While most of Mr. Lewis’ case files are prepared in a similar fashion, there are times that when Mr. Lewis knows a certain Judge has been assigned to a claim, Mr. Lewis focuses on certain documents he knows a Judge will closely analyze. Why is this happening?  The only reason put forth thus far is that attorneys are “shopping” Judges.  When a video hearing is scheduled, the representative or claimant has the ability to deny such a hearing and request to be in front of an Administrative Law Judge in person.  Without pointing fingers, one could argue while certain attorneys are shopping Judges, we must also consider why there is a particular item no one wants to buy.  It could be asserted that this is a two way street. In the end who gets hurt?  Mr. Lewis believes good prepared qualified attorneys and Judges and above all claimants will find this decision only muddies the waters on a long drawn out … Continued

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November 29, 2011

What Does Social Security Mean By My Physical Residual Functional Capacity?

If you left an Indianapolis Social Security Disability Appeals courtroom and heard the words “physical residual functional capacity” and didn’t understand what they were talking about, you may not be alone.  Indiana Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis can see why someone not familiar with the Social Security appeals process may not know why these terms are being used.  While the disability process may be confusing, at times it can also be predictable and some of the terms used at your hearing are usually used over and over at hearings to analyze disability claims. In cases where you are claiming a physical disability, the Social Security Administration (SSA) usually tries to determine your residual functional capacity (RFC).  Your RFC in general terms is how much you can physically do despite the disabling condition you are experiencing.  Once it is determined what you RFC is the SSA will try to determine if you can return to your previous employment with the limitations you experience or if you cannot whether there are other occupations that exist in the economy that you can perform. Some of the things the Social Security Administration will look at when examining your RFC may include: How long you can sit, stand, and walk. How much you can lift and carry. Do you have postural limitations such as bending, squatting, or stooping? Do you have limitations on fine or gross manipulation with your hands? Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis may attempt to get a RFC assessment completed by his client’s treating physician if necessary.  A favorable RFC by a treating physician may or may not be given weight by an Administrative Law Judge.  Mr. Lewis has found some treating physicians will not complete these forms and leave their patients on their own when trying to receive … Continued

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November 28, 2011

Why Should I Hire an Attorney to Represent me in my Social Security Disability Claim?

Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis is an experienced disability lawyer who represents individuals with their Social Security disability appeal. Some common questions an individual who is seeking disability benefits have are: “Do I really have to hire a lawyer to represent me in my Social Security disability claim?” “Should I hire an attorney to handle my Social Security disability claim?” “Will it benefit me to have representation at my Social Security disability hearing?” “If I hire an attorney, will I be able to get my disability hearing faster?” “How will I be able to afford to pay an attorney to represent me with my disability appeal?” If you have been recently denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you probably just read the above questions and thought to yourself that you have been thinking about these exact same concerns.  Here are the answers you have been looking for! Do you really have to hire a lawyer to represent you in your Social Security disability claim?  Quite simply, no.  SSDI or SSI claimants are not required to have a Social Security disability attorney or representative represent them in their disability appeal.  Having representation is a client’s right.  If you attend your SSDI or SSI hearing alone, most Administrative Law Judges will ask the claimant if they would like to continue their claim so they can seek representation.  Again, this is a right, not a requirement. Should you hire an attorney or representative to handle your Social Security disability claim?  This is a personal preference.  Some individuals decide that they would like to handle their claim on their own.  Although, statistically, more disability claims are won among individuals that are represented by an attorney or representative than those individuals that are not represented at their Administrative Law … Continued

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