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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

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments || 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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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

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits Claims Process || Tagged under:
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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 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 7, 2011

GAF Scores and Your Social Security Disability Claim

If you are applying for Social Security disability benefits or are appealing a denied Social Security disability benefits claim in Indiana and you are confused by what’s going on, you may not be alone.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis talks to potential disability clients on a frequent basis about the complex issues that arise during a disability claim.  There may be words that are difficult to understand or abbreviations that are hard to figure out in the disability process.  If you are suffering from a mental disorder and your psychiatrist or therapist talks about a “GAF” score you may wonder exactly what they are referring to. A Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score is a number used to rate individuals social, occupational, and psychological functioning.  The numbers range from 0 to 100 and are generally classified in the following way: 91 -100 Superior range of functioning in a wide range of activities. 81 – 90  Absent of minimal symptoms. 71 – 80  If symptoms are present they are transient and expectable reactions to psychosocial stressors. 61 -70  Some mild symptoms. 51-60  Moderate symptoms. 41-50  Serious symptoms. 31- 40  Some impairments in reality testing or communication. 21 – 30  Behavior is considerably influenced by delusions or hallucinations. 11 -20  Some danger of hurting self or others. 1 – 10  Persistent danger of hurting self or others. It is important to note that the above is only a general framework defining GAF scores, and more information can be obtained describing each category in more detail.  Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis urges his clients to seek the care of a qualified mental health professional to assess your mental impairments.  GAF scores can be used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in determining the severity of your mental condition. Mr. Lewis attends numerous Social … Continued

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September 24, 2011

Leukemia and Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits

Are you an individual suffering from chronic or acute leukemia and cannot work because of this disease?  Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects more than 40,000 people per year.  Currently, there is no cure for leukemia. Leukemia occurs when blood cells in the bone marrow grow out of control. Leukemia usually starts with some common symptoms such as: prolonged bleeding, bruising, weakness, weight loss, infections, or pain & swelling in your joints. The earlier leukemia is detected, the more likely it can be treated effectively.  This cancer is highly dangerous, but also highly treatable. Some treatments may include: chemotherapy; radiation therapy; other kinds of drug therapy; and stem cell transplants. Being diagnosed with leukemia can possibly mean a major lifestyle change. Although treatments of these cancers are highly effective and can allow those individuals diagnosed with this cancer to still enjoy a good quality of life, they do not cure the cancer and often leave many side effects that may significantly reduce the quality of life for those who suffer from the disease. If you have been diagnosed with leukemia and are unable to work because of it, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration’s “Listing of Impairments” outlines the criteria that qualifies an individual with leukemia for disability benefits. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you should provide the Social Security Administration (SSA) medical proof of your condition supported by doctor’s exams, imaging technology, blood tests, etc. In addition, if this information also includes statements from your physician(s) asserting that you are unable to work because of your leukemia, it may be beneficial in winning your claim. Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis realizes that dealing with a diagnosis of cancer may be difficult enough, but dealing with financial problems because you can’t work due to this diagnosis … Continued

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September 21, 2011

Why Does It Take So Long To Receive A Decision After Your Social Security Disability Hearing?

Indiana disability claimants who have endured a lengthy wait for their disability hearing should not be surprised to find themselves staring at their mailbox waiting for a decision to arrive.  Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis receives many calls from his clients asking why it takes so long to find out whether or not they have won or lost their Social Security disability appeal.  Mr. Lewis understands it can be a frustrating wait when the bills are due and families are having a difficult time putting food on their tables. There is always a possibility there is still work to do on your Social Security disability claim after you leave the courtroom.  Perhaps the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is not through reviewing your case.  All Judges conduct hearings differently and some take testimony first and then look deeper into the medical documentation to make a decision.  If there were no experts at your hearing, the Judge may want to ask questions regarding employment to a vocational expert after the hearing has concluded. On the other hand, some Administrative Law Judges have made a decision during the hearing or as soon as you walked out the door. There can be other reasons for a lengthy wait. It may be a problem of too much workload put on Administrative Law Judges and their staff.  Considering the large number of claims that are backlogging the hearing offices, it would not be too far fetched to think they are having a difficult time keeping up.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis deals with numerous hearing offices and has noticed some offices are simply slower than others.  With that being said, there are certain judges that seem to work at break neck speed to get decisions out.  It is important to remember though that the … Continued

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September 20, 2011

Social Security Disability Benefits for Claimants Diagnosed with Hepatitis

Some individuals diagnosed with chronic hepatitis are unable to work and find the need to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers Hepatitis under Section 5.00, Digestive System in the “Listing of Impairments.”  The specific listing for Hepatitis is found under Section 5.05 Chronic Liver Disease and to meet this listing for purposes of qualifying for disability benefits, your medical records must indicate one of the following: Esophageal, gastric, or ectopic varices with a documented history of massive hemorrhaging as a result; or Having had a shunt operation due to esophageal varices; or Pathologic fluid collection in the abdomen for three (3) months or more that has required removal of such fluid or hypoalbuminemia; or Hepatic Encephalopathy; or High levels (2.5 mg per 100 ml. or more) of bilirubin in the blood on repeat exams for at least three (3) months; or Confirmed diagnosis of chronic liver disease with ascites as mentioned in #3 above, or with serum bilirubin levels as mentioned in #5 above, or with inflammation of the liver or cellular death of tissue within the liver for at least three (3) months. This is demonstrated by a blood test showing abnormal prothrombin time (a measure of how long it takes blood to clot) as well as blood tests indicating abnormal levels of other liver enzymes. Disability claimants must also have a medical diagnosis of Hepatitis which is supported by a liver biopsy in addition to documenting the above requirements. Indiana individuals who are unable to meet this listing based on the above information, may still file for disability benefits in the form of a medical vocational allowance. You may be considered for this medical vocational allowance if your symptoms are severe enough that you are unable to function at work and your condition is … Continued

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September 16, 2011

Indianapolis Disability Lawyers Can Help In Appealing Your Social Security Disability Claim

At times, the Social Security disability claims process can be frustrating and confusing.  Indiana disability attorney Scott Lewis talks to many clients about their concerns regarding the disability process.  Going through the difficult time of dealing with a disabling condition combined with the paperwork involved in a Social Security disability claim, may possibly create a very stressful situation.  Mr. Lewis strives to alleviate some of his clients worries by assisting them in the claims process. The Social Security disability claims process has very distinct stages in obtaining an outcome for your claim.  These can include:   Filing the initial claim application   Filing a “Request for Reconsideration”   Requesting a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge   Appealing the Judge’s decision to The Appeals Council Obviously the first step in any claim is getting started.  Filing an initial claim can be done by visiting the Social Security Administration’s website at www.ssa.gov or by calling their toll free number at (800) 772-1213, or by visiting a local SSA office.  Mr. Lewis often spends time with prospective clients during this initial stage addressing their concerns. If your initial application is denied, the next stage in appealing your claim is to ask for a “Request for Reconsideration”.  This is basically telling the Social Security Administration they have made a mistake in denying your claim and they need to take another look at it.  Unfortunately, the majority of these requests are denied again, but it is important not to give up at this point if you feel you have a valid claim.  Proceeding on in the next steps in appeals process may be in your best interest. The next step, in what can turn out to be a lengthy process, is to request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  Statistically, studies … Continued

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