November 21, 2011

Mental Disorders and Your Treating Physicians

Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis talks to numerous clients about their mental condition(s) and finds that some of his clients may not be receiving the type of medical care they need in order to win their Social security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims.  Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not put as much weight in all of the physicians you may be seeing because your medical professional may not specialize in a particular area. Mr. Lewis attempts to let all of his clients suffering from a mental condition that is preventing them from working to attempt to get appropriate medical treatment and that may be from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist.  In Mr. Lewis’ experience a professional in the mental health field is usually more qualified to render a diagnosis that the Social Security Administration will recognize as legitimate when you are trying to get your benefits approved.  While your general practitioner may have a long history with you and may be very knowledgeable about your personal history, he/she may not possess the credentials needed to diagnose you with a mental disorder in the eyes of the Social Security Administration. It may be as simple as asking for a referral from your treating physician to get to a treating source the Social Security Administration will put stock in.  In Mr. Lewis’ experience many Administrative Law Judges like to see an ongoing therapist patient relationship documenting the progression of the mental illness.  There is usually no substitute for good medical records when stepping into the court room to address your Social Security disability appeal. Indiana disability attorney Scott Lewis represents his Indiana neighbors with a wide variety of disabling conditions including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder.  If you or someone you know … Continued

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November 9, 2011

Social Security Disability Attorneys In Indianapolis May Be Able To Give You A Good Idea Of Whether Or Not You Won Your Claim

When you leave your Social Security disability appeal hearing you may scratch your head and wonder what exactly just happened.  Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis, at times, can give his clients a pretty good idea of what just transpired in the hearing room.  Mr. Lewis represents hundreds of Indiana Social Security disability claimants each year and has found there can be some signs during a Social Security disability hearing that may indicate an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is leaning one way or another regarding the decision in your appeal.  There are a few factors that may help determine what the outcome will be. Who was your Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)?  Administrative Law Judge approval percentages on Social Security disability claims can be all over the board.  Some Judges may approve a very small number of claims, while other Judges may approve a large percentage of the claims they preside over.  Indiana Social Security lawyer Scott Lewis has represented his Indiana neighbors in front of all of the current Administrative Law Judges in the Indianapolis ODAR office and usually has a pretty good idea how often they find individuals disabled.  Also, there are statistics put out by the Social Security Administration (SSA) showing the approval rates for Administrative Law Judges. What did the Medical Expert (ME) testify to at your hearing?  Medical experts are sometimes used at Social Security disability hearings.  These experts are supposed to analyze the medical records in your Social Security disability file to determine what your medical condition is, whether or not you meet one of Social Security’s Listing of Impairments, and what your limitations may be related to your mental or physical condition.  Some Administrative Law Judges do not use medical experts, but if they do, at times they can rely heavily on their testimony.  It … Continued

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November 7, 2011

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits in Indiana

An individual suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) experiences extreme fatigue.  This fatigue cannot be explained by any underlying medical condition. Although the fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity, it does not always improve with rest. Individuals suffering with CFS do not know the cause of this disorder and there is no single test to diagnosis an individual with CFS.  Indiana disability claimants diagnosed with CFS may undergo several medical exams to rule out other health problems that have symptoms that are similar resulting in a diagnosis of CFS. Many disability claimants suffering with CFS may find it difficult to prove that they are unable to work due to this condition.  So, how does the Social Security Administration (SSA) approve a Social Security disability claim for individuals suffering with CFS?  According to the SSA’s website, when an individual with CFS applies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the SSA must decide whether the individual is disabled under the law. The SSA base their decision on information provided by the claimant and other medical evidence. Under Social Security law, an individual may qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits if he or she is: unable to do any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medical condition that has lasted or expected to last for at least 12 months, or that is expected to result in death; or if the individual is under the age or 18, the individual suffers from any medically determinable impairment (physical or mental) that results in marked and severe functional limitations. The disability claimant has a responsibility to provide the SSA proof that the condition exist, the level of severity, and duration of the impairment(s).   It is important to include a thorough medical history, and all clinical and laboratory findings from your treating physicians. In addition, provide the SSA with copies of laboratory results and results of any mental … Continued

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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

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October 25, 2011

Time Limits When Appealing Your Indiana Social Security Disability Claim

When Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis finds out someone has been denied their Social Security disability benefits, one of the first things he asks them is what is the date on their denial letter.  The date on denial letters received from the Social Security Administration (SSA) can play an important part in the processing of a Social Security disability appeal.  This may be the difference between a valid ongoing disability claim and a claim that needs to be refiled in order to pursue your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. If you find that you have been denied it is important to note the date of the denial letter.  You have sixty (60) days to file a “Request for Reconsideration” or “Request for a Hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge”.  The Social Security Administration does allow additional days for mailing.  If you are unable to make this important deadline, the Social Security Administration may allow a late submission or untimely filing if you have a valid reason for turning the required paperwork in late.  Attorney Scott Lewis advises his client not to count on an untimely filing to be accepted, and as long as the Indiana Social Security disability process can take there is usually no benefits to drag your feet when appealing a denial. Indianapolis disability appeals attorney Scott D. Lewis attempts to keep his Indiana Social Security disability clients aware of how important it is to stay on top of important dates and time constraints. Mr. Lewis encourages his clients to call his office to make sure the appropriate paperwork has been received through the mail.  Mr. Lewis knows how important your disability claim is to you and your family when resources are scarce and bills are piling up.  If you or someone you know is … Continued

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October 24, 2011

Are There Trial Rules at Social Security Disability Hearings?

When getting ready for your Indiana Social Security disability hearing, you may be wondering  just what the atmosphere will be like and how the questioning will go.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis attempts to prepare all of his clients for what they may expect during the course of their Social Security disability appeal hearing.  Although all Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) may be different, the general framework of the questions usually remains the same. You may be familiar with courtroom television shows and perhaps are expecting a very rigid line of questioning following strict court rules, you may be surprised to find a more informal setting at your disability hearing.  At times these hearings often resemble more of a conversation than a strict guideline of rules and procedures that make it difficult for you to follow.  Many times, the judge will simply ask you questions and then when he/she is finished, they will let your attorney or representative cover any issues they feel are important or have been overlooked. Because most judges do not follow strict trial rules, many times an attorney can ask questions that may appear leading in order to expedite the hearing process.  Most hearings are scheduled for one hour or less.  If an attorney was required to lay a foundation for every question being asked, a hearing could last for a very long time and with the huge backlog of Indiana Social Security disability claims this could have a large impact on wait times for others seeking their day in court.  Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis believes this type of judicial inefficiency is not advantageous to the Social Security disability process and can only muddy the water when attempting to get important testimony out in a timely fashion. Indiana Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis believes Administrative Law Judges … Continued

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October 20, 2011

Consultative Examinations and Your Social Security Disability Benefits

Scott Lewis is an Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer who is experienced in helping individuals in obtaining the Social Security disability benefits they deserve.  Mr. Lewis has also read the results and talked to his Indiana disability clients about consultative examinations.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses consultative examinations when they determine there is either not enough supportive information from your treating physician(s) or you simply do not have a physician to provide information to support your disability claim. A consultative examination (CE) is an examination covering psychiatric, psychological, or physical impairments.  The consultative examination is conducted by medical professionals contracted by the government to provide information regarding the severity of the disabling condition the claimant has asserted as a mental or physical impairment. Indiana disability attorney Scott Lewis fields many questions from his clients about these consultative examinations.  Many individuals ask Mr. Lewis if it is mandatory that they attend the examinations.  Mr. Lewis often tells his clients that not attending a consultative examination could result in denial of the disability claim.  Active participation in the disability process when you are asked to help move the process along may help you receive a favorable outcome.  If you cannot attend your consultative examination, let the Social Security Administration know so it can be rescheduled at a time more convenient for you. There can be drawbacks to relying on a consultative examination for an approval of your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.  These examinations are usually very brief.  In Mr. Lewis’ experience, they are not a good substitute for a long standing relationship with a treating physician.  You also must remember a consultative examination is usually a single appointment by a physician who has never seen you before.  Obviously this is probably not a good … Continued

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October 14, 2011

Indiana Social Security Disability Hearings Office

Social Security disability applicants that have been denied disability benefits have the right to appeal that decision made by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  As an individual goes through the stages of appeals, he/she may eventually find him/herself in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  Indiana hearings are heard at one of the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) locations. Most states have more than one ODAR location.  According to the SSA, there are currently 10 regional offices, 169 hearing offices (including 7 satellite offices), 5 national hearing centers, and 1 national case assistance center. There are approximately 1,300 administrative law judges and 7,000 support staff in the field organization. Additionally, administrative law judges may travel to other sites such as local Social Security offices to conduct hearings if needed or appear by video at your location. In addition to the stated above, the SSA may use other facilities throughout the state to conduct the hearing. Don’t be surprised if you are scheduled for a hearing at the Social Security Administration office, a conference room at another facility or in a hotel or bank. Regardless of the location, the ALJ that presides over the case will still review the evidence, listen to the comments made by your disability attorney, and hear testimony from medical or vocational experts. The ODAR Chicago Region services residents in the six state area comprised of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  Indiana residents will find their hearing scheduled at the location closest to their home.  Indiana Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis finds himself traveling throughout the state of Indiana to represent disabled individuals with their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.  If you have been denied disability benefits or if you cannot work due to a disabling condition, contact Indiana … Continued

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October 13, 2011

Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Do you really need a disability lawyer when applying for Social Security disability benefits?  Indiana disability claimants may become overwhelmed by the Social Security disability application process. According to Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis, this isn’t very surprising when considering how frustrating the process may be.  Although everyone’s disability case is unique, some common frustrations may develop from claimants having a legitimate claim denied, individuals waiting years for their benefits to be approved, or possibly feeling as though they are treated unfairly during the appeal process.  Many individuals wonder whether or not they should hire a disability lawyer to help with the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application process.  There are some factors that you may want to consider when deciding whether or not you need to retain an attorney for your disability claim. Majority of disability applicants are denied at the initial application stage. Those individuals who have been denied may become completely overwhelmed by the Social Security disability application process.  As a result, they find it necessary to hire a disability lawyer or representative so they do not have to face the appeals process alone. Once an individual has been denied SSDI or SSI benefits, the need for representation might be considered. It may be beneficial to hire a Social Security attorney to represent you through the appeals process.  Some statistics show that disability claimants who have legal representation at the appeals stage are often more successful in being approved for benefits than those who decide to go on without representation.  Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis believes that you are entitled to a fair hearing and strives to ask all of the questions you should be asked during this process. Mr. Lewis attempts to be aware of the Social Security disability regulations that may be beneficial in your claim being approved. If you are an individual that decides to hire a Social Security disability lawyer, you may worry about the … Continued

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October 5, 2011

Social Security Disability Lawyers in Indianapolis Can Represent You For Many Different Disabling Conditions

Did you know that the Social Security Administration (SSA) can look at all of your disabling conditions combined when making a disability determination?  Indiana disability attorney Scott Lewis tries to get his clients to disclose to him all of their conditions that have an impact on their ability to work.  After questioning his clients, many times Mr. Lewis finds that there are several conditions that when combined create a total picture showing his client is in fact disabled. For instance, you may have had back surgery and are experiencing pain and/or discomfort that may be preventing you from working so; you have filed a Social Security disability claim.  Upon further review of your medical records, Mr. Lewis notices you are also suffering from depression, diabetes, and asthma.  If these other conditions are severe enough, it may be wise to include these conditions in an argument as to why you are unable to work.  While your back may keep you from being able to sit, stand, or walk for any length of time, your depression may make it difficult to concentrate on work related tasks, your diabetes may involve neuropathy causing numbness and tingling in your extremities, and your asthma may cause shortness of breath in certain circumstances.  So, by considering a combination of all of these impairments, it may be clear you are unable to maintain substantial gainful activity. Just stating that you have additional problems is probably not going to be good enough to win your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.  Medical records from qualified treating medical professionals specializing in the area where your disability exists is usually the best supporting documentation to help prove your disability claim.  At times, general medical practitioners may work to help support your disability claim, but many times an Administrative Law … Continued

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