June 18, 2011

The Reconsideration Stage of the Social Security Disability Claims Process

At the Indiana law office of social security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis, Mr. Lewis and his staff often find themselves explaining the different stages of the disability claims process to those individuals seeking disability benefits. Individuals that have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits often find themselves receiving a denial letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA). When the SSA notifies the disability claimant that their initial application was denied, it is up to the applicant to continue the disability claims process by appealing the denial. Within sixty (60) days, plus five (5) days for mailing time, the disability applicant must file the appeal with the SSA.  This stage of the claims process is called the “Request for Reconsideration” stage.  This request is simply asking the SSA to reconsider your disability claim. Once this “Request for Reconsideration” is submitted by the Indiana disability applicant, the request for reconsideration goes back to the same state agency who denied the claim the first time, but a different examiner at the Disability Determination Section (DDS) of the SSA reviews both the initial application and the “Request for Reconsideration”.  Once the disability examiner at the Disability Determination Section (DDS) makes the reconsideration determination, the applicant will be informed by mail.  Unfortunately, statistically about 80% of the time the reconsideration decision is the same as the initial decision resulting in another denial. However, statistically about 20% of the time a claimant wins at the reconsideration level.  In most states, in Indiana, if you want to appeal a denial of Social Security disability benefits, you must go through the reconsideration appeals process. There is no way to avoid it. In a few states, the Social Security Administration has abolished reconsideration and you can file an immediate request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The denial notice from Social Security … Continued

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June 10, 2011

What Factors Can Impact Me Winning My Social Security Disability Claim?

While there are many factors that may have an influence on your chances of receiving a favorable outcome in your Indiana Social Security disability claim, Indianapolis disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis finds a few factors always seem to stand out.  By no means are these the only areas you should be concerned with, but in Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience they usually play an important role in your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. The Social Security disability claimant’s medical records.  Indiana disability attorney Scott Lewis strives to emphasize to his clients that the majority of successful Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims have a well documented medical record history.  If you believe the Social Security Administration (SSA) is going to just take your word on your disabling condition, you may be in for a big surprise when you receive your decision in the mail. How credible the disability claimant is.  In other words, are you telling the truth?  You can probably guess that the Social Security Administration has seen its share of individuals stretching the truth when it comes to how disabling their condition really is.  Indiana disability benefits attorney Scott Lewis attempts to tell all of his clients it is important to be truthful.  In Mr. Lewis’ experience, in general, if the SSA or an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) believes you are not being truthful about one thing, chances are they may not believe you on other aspects of your disability claim. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that is assigned to the disability claim.  This is a big one!  The amount of claims each individual judge approves varies and each ALJ’s approval rating is all over the board.  Some statistics state the average approval rating at the hearing level is … Continued

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June 6, 2011

Medications and your Social Security Disability Claim

Indiana Attorney Scott D. Lewis represents Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants with their disability claim.  Often times, he will get asked by his disability clients if it is important for them to continue to take their medications prescribed by their treating physicians.  When Mr. Lewis discusses the claimant’s case, during the free consultation offered at his law office, he often shares with them the importance to continue to visit their treating physicians and the importance of the claimant to comply with the treating physician’s orders, including medications. As disability lawyer Scott Lewis explains the disability evaluation process to his potential clients, he also explains the importance of medical records and medication history.  When submitting records in support of the claimant’s disability claim, Mr. Lewis and his staff will  attempt to submit all medications prescribed by the client’s treating physician.  Many times, claimants will experience side effects with their medications.  These side effects may contribute to the claimant’s inability to work.  Side effects of some pain medications or other medications may include, but are not limited to: fatigue drowsiness nausea breathing impairment mental fogginess gastrointestinal effects decrease in reaction time These side effects may impact the claimant’s ability to engage in normal daily activities or one’s ability to persist in a work environment. Scott Lewis believes that if a disability claimant does not comply with their treating physician’s medication orders, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may deny their disability claim.   In Mr. Lewis’ experience, it may be in the claimant’s best interest to take the medications that have been prescribed by their treating physician and take prescribed medication as instructed. The SSA will determine the severity of the disability and their ability to function while the claimant is medicated.  If the disability claimant fails to comply with their medication orders, the SSA may not be able to … Continued

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May 31, 2011

Can I Represent Myself at My Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing?

Most Indiana Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants initiate the disability claims process by filing their initial application for benefits on their own or with assistance from a family member or friend. Unfortunately, some statistics report that nearly 80% of disability claims are denied at the initial application level. Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer, Scott D. Lewis, has experience in the disability appeals process.  Mr. Lewis offers a free consultation to those individuals that are unable to work due to a disabling condition or a combination of disabling conditions. Once the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies your disability claim, you may want to contact a qualified Social Security disability lawyer or representative to discuss your Indiana disability benefits claim.  Although optional, Mr. Lewis recommends having legal representation at your disability hearing.  An experienced disability attorney or representative can be trained in presenting and arguing disability cases in front an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and may be trained in questioning the vocational expert or medical expert that may potentially be at your hearing.  Indiana disability claimants may argue their own case in front of an ALJ, but some statistics show that disability claims that are argued by a disability attorney or representative are more likely to win. Once Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis and his staff receive a copy of the claimant’s Social Security file, he and his staff carefully review it. Reviewing the file will inform him what the disability examiners at the initial and reconsideration levels looked at when the claim was denied at those levels. This also gives Mr. Lewis an idea of how strongly or not your own treating doctors support your case. Additionally, reviewing your file allows Mr. Lewis and his staff to identify whether or not certain evidence from some of your medical sources was simply not gathered. Many times, Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis finds an … Continued

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May 27, 2011

Indianapolis Disability Lawyers Can Assist in Disability Claims Involving Chari Malformation

Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis has on more than one occasion talked with individuals who are suffering from Arnold-Chari Malformation.  While the definition of what is commonly called a “Chari Malformation” can be long and perhaps confusing due to complex medical terms in simple terms it is a defect in the cerebellum that it is located below a particular location.  Chari Malformation may occur during the fetal period and be present at birth or it may occur as an adult. Symptoms from Chari Malformation may vary from individual to individual in severity.  Some of the common symptoms may include but are not limited to: Speech problems Vision problems Gait difficulties Numbness and/or tingling Dizziness Neck pain When attempting to receive Social Security disability benefits for Chari Malformation or any other disabling condition it is usually very important to have detailed medial records.  In Indianapolis Social Security attorney Scott Lewis’ experience, appropriate testing for the diagnosis of a disorder may be the key in persuading the Social Security Administration (SSA) or an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to decide in your favor. Many individuals may not suffer from any symptoms from Chari Malformation, but if your symptoms prevent you from working you may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis has represented individuals with Chari-Malformation and helped them receive the Social Security disability benefits they deserve.

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May 24, 2011

Missed The Deadline For Filing Your Social Security Disability Appeal?

You have received a denial from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for your Indiana Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and you had sixty (60) days to appeal this decision. In Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience, this is an all too familiar scenario.  As some Indiana disability claimants experience, sixty (60) days may not seem like a whole lot of time and passes by before you know it causing you to miss the deadline set forth by the SSA to file an appeal. All SSDI or SSI claimants’ that have been denied disability benefits have the right to appeal that denial decision. As stated above, disability claimants have sixty (60) days from the date of the denial letter to file an appeal. Although, the SSA takes into account that the appeal period begins with the date of the denial notice, so they allow five additional days for the mailing time of the denial notice. Basically, this means that any disability applicant who receives a disability denial has five (5) extra days, for a total of sixty-five (65) days, to get their appeal to Social Security. In order for an appeal to be timely it must be in the Social Security office of jurisdiction on the sixty-fifth day from the date of the notice of denial. Disability claimants that want to file an appeal have a few ways to file the appeal. Appeals can be filed the following ways: Online at the Social Security Administration’s website at, Mail in paper appeal forms, or You can go to your local SSA office and file your appeal in person. It really does not matter which method you choose, just make sure to complete all necessary forms and return any requested forms by the deadline date. Disability claimants that are represented by a disability attorney … Continued

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May 18, 2011

Will my age be a factor in my Social Security Disability Claim?

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis represents a variety of Indiana claimants applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  His clients vary in age ranging from youths to adults in their early 60s.  Many times he discusses with clients the effects their age may have on their SSDI or SSI claim.  Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not specifically deny disabled individuals for reasons of age, it is Scott Lewis’ opinion that age can be a relevant factor in determining disability. How does my age affect my ability to obtain SSDI or SSI disability benefits?  A Social Security disability claimant’s age is certainly considered when applying for disability benefits.  One way the claimant’s age may be a deciding factor is that in order to receive SSDI benefits, a person must have earned enough work credits to qualify for this disability program.  Therefore, if a disabled claimant is 21 years old and has not worked long enough to earn enough work credits to qualify for the SSDI program, he/she will not be awarded SSDI benefits.  In summary, a younger adult is unable to fulfill the work credit requirements due to a lack of years in the workforce. Although these individuals are unable to qualify for the SSDI program, these individuals may qualify for the SSI program which does not require the earned work credits. In Attorney Scott Lewis’ opinion, as disability claimants reach their 50s, they are more likely to have their disability claim approved by the SSA.  The SSA believes that as people age, their ability to transition into new employment areas diminishes. Older claimants become less adaptable and less able to switch to a different job in order to cope with health problems. For example, a person disabled due to a foot injury may cause a younger … Continued

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May 17, 2011

Meniere’s Disease and Some Views from Indiana Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis

Meniere’s disease is an ear disorder that may result in your inability to hold down a job and have a huge impact on your activities of daily living.  Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis has represented Indiana disability claimants with Meniere’s and understands how difficult this disease can make everyday life.  If you suffer from Meniere’s disease and you are unable to work because of symptoms that affect you in a severe manner, it may be time to file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. While the symptoms of Meniere’s disease may vary, they may include: Episodes of dizziness and vertigo.  These episodes may result in nausea and may elevate the risk of falls.  The intensity and duration of these “attacks” may vary from individual to individual. Tinnitus or ringing in the ears can also be a symptom of Meniere’s disease.  While ringing in the ears is a common complaint, individuals with Meniere’s may also complain of other distracting sounds.  The ability to concentrate on work like activity while experiencing these distracting sounds can be greatly affected. A general loss of hearing. Some individuals with Meniere’s disease report hearing loss to varying degrees. One can only imagine with the above symptoms how difficult it can be to function in a work like activity or simply to carry out daily activities.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize Meniere’s disease in its “Listing of Impairments” under Listing 2.07 Disturbance of Labyrinthine-vestibular Function.  It is important for Indiana residents suffering from Meniere’s disease to examine this listing to determine if they meet or equal the criteria needed for disability.  Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis often crafts questionnaires and submits them to physicians with the hope that they will complete them to help support a claim of disability … Continued

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May 13, 2011

Parkinson’s Disease and Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana individuals applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may be surprised to find they have been denied benefits when they have a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.  Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis does see individuals with this disorder turned down throughout the disability process and it could be for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons can include, but are not limited to: The Social Security Administration (SSA) simply made an error in denying the claim.  Perhaps they were unable to obtain critical evidence documenting your disabling condition. In Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis’ experience, this scenario can be very common.  When Mr. Lewis prepares for a case, he strives to ensure all of these crucial medical findings are submitted to the Indiana Social Security Administration.  Also, Mr. Lewis attempts to get your physicians to fill out forms verifying how your disabling condition fits the Social Security Administration’s requirements. It could be that the SSA has determined your condition is not severe enough.  To meet the severity level for Parkinson’s disease (or known as Parkinsonian Syndrome) by the SSA you must meet or be equal to Listing 11.06 in its Listing of impairments. If your condition does not meet the above referenced listing, does your physical or mental residual functional capacity prevent you from working?  In other words, because of the Parkinson’s disease are you are limited in the areas of standing, walking, sitting, lifting, and concentrating among other areas preventing you from performing substantial gainful activity (SGA).  Other factors such as your age, education, and prior work experience may also be important factors in a finding of disability. Also, it should go without saying but it is important if you are able to work or exactly how much you are able to work.  The above … Continued

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May 11, 2011

Your Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and the Luck of the Draw

Feeling lucky?  Sometimes an Indiana disability appeal claimant will ask Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis if he/she can select a judge to hear their Social Security disability appeal.  His answer is “No, you pretty much get who you are assigned.”  What does that mean to you?  Indianapolis attorney Scott Lewis tries his best to prepare his clients to be ready for the judge that will hear their case.  If your Social Security disability attorney or representative has been in front of a certain judge before they will probably know better how to prepare you for your hearing. The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Administrative Law Judges are people just like you and me.  While they are all trained to conduct the Social Security disability hearings in a particular fashion, many judges craft their own style of hearing.  In the Indianapolis Office or Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), there are a variety of personalities of judges and with an entire floor now devoted to video hearings with judges from various states it can make for a very wide viewpoint of how the disability hearing process should be conducted.  But, make no mistake, as an adult attempting to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments the question is whether or not you can work. So your Indiana Social Security disability hearing is scheduled and you finally know who your Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will be, so what is next?  Indiana disability attorney Scott Lewis attempts to let his clients know what type of questions their particular judge is most interested in, how detailed your answers should be, and in general the framework this judge will use in conducting the hearing. It is also important to understand the judge’s claim approval rating in which can vary greatly.  For example, some Administrative Law Judges … Continued

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