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September 2, 2010

Hearing Loss and Your Indiana Social Security Disability Claim

Many Indiana residents experience some degree of hearing loss. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has some programs that provide disability benefits to people with permanent impairments such as hearing loss. Indianapolis Social Security disability claimant’s with hearing loss may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if they meet the criteria required by the SSA in the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments”.  To determine whether you qualify for such benefits, the SSA’s criteria for hearing loss can be found in the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments,” Section 2.0, Special Senses and Speech. There are two different listings for hearing loss on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments.  In Section 2.10, criteria is defined for people who have hearing loss and do not have a cochlear implant.  In Section 2.11, criteria is defined for disability applicants who have had a cochlear implant. What evidence should a disability claimant provide the SSA to help win their disability claim? The SSA will need evidence showing that you have a medically determinable impairment that causes your hearing loss and audiometric measurements of the severity of your hearing loss.   Generally, the SSA requires both a complete otologic examination and audiometric testing to establish that the claimant has a medically determinable impairment that causes the hearing loss. Once the SSA has evidence that the claimant has a medically determinable impairment, the SSA can use the results of audiometric testing to assess the severity of the hearing loss without another complete otologic examination. Test scores together with any other relevant information about your hearing may help support your disability claim. It’s important to know the SSA’s requirements in order to successfully submit medical evidence in support of your claim.  The SSA requires that the complete otologic examination must be performed by a licensed physician (either medical or osteopathic doctor). This exam must include the following: medical history, description of how the … Continued

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September 2, 2010

Indiana Social Security Disability Hearings

Social Security disability claimants entering an Indiana hearings office for their disability appeal may wonder what to expect. For many Indiana residents, the idea of appearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may be intimidating. Attorney Scott D. Lewis tries to explain to his Social Security disability clients what to expect at the hearing and attempts to explain to the client what the strong and weak points of their disability claim are. As far as what to expect at your hearing for your appeal, here are a few items clients wonder about: What should I do when I arrive at the hearing office? The Social Security hearings office usually request the clients to arrive at theoffice 30 minutes before their scheduled disability hearing. The Social Security Administration request the claimant to bring a picture I.D. and many Social Security hearing offices will have security that may require you to go through a metal detector.  After passing through security, the disability claimant should check in with personnel at the Social Security hearings office to let them know you have arrived and then the disability claimant can take a seat. What does the hearing room look like? In the Indianapolis Social Security hearings office, disability clients are usually surprised to find a rather informal hearing room.  The rooms are small with desks and chairs for the disability client, the representative, experts, and a court reporter to sit at.  The ALJ is usually at another desk that is more elevated.  The hearing rooms are not “grand” court rooms you may have seen on television, but a more informal environment. How long will my Social Security hearing last? The length of the hearing varies for from judge to judge, but in Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis’ experience, most disability appeal hearings are scheduled for 45 minutes.  Some Administrative Law Judges conduct appeal hearings that … Continued

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August 31, 2010

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits

Many Indiana residents wonder if they can receive Social Security Disability benefits for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is listed on the Social Security Administration’s website under the Listing of Impairments. Section 13.05 outlines the necessary conditions that need to be met to possibly receive Social Security Disability benefits. Section 13.05 states that a person can have either aggressive (fast-moving) or indolent (slow-moving) Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that starts in a person’s lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system is the disease fighting part of your body; this may cause tumors to develop from your white blood cells. Symptoms may include: Swollen Lymph Nodes Abdominal/Chest Pains Fatigue Fever Night Sweats Weight Loss There is no clear cause of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma but there are some risk factors. These may include: old age, certain infections, chemicals, and medications that suppress the immune system. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is far more prevalent than Hodgkin’s disease. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is the sixth most common type of cancer in men and fifth most common in women in the United States. There are many different kinds of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. They can all be divided into two categories: fast-moving and slow-moving. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is formed by B-cells or T-cells. Indiana residents who suffer from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma may not be able to carry out simple tasks for a job. Chest and/or abdominal pain and fatigue may prevent a person from keeping a steady job. If you are an Indiana resident attempting to get Social Security Disability because you are unable to preform work-like activities, you may want to contact a Social Security Disability Lawyer or representative to discuss your options.

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August 31, 2010

Questions you may be asked at your Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing

You are finally getting prepared for your Social Security disability hearing in front of an Indiana Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). After a long wait to get a hearing, you may be wondering what is going to happen at your disability hearing. Disability attorney Scott Lewis attempts to let his Social Security disability clients know what to expect in the hearing room. Although, in his experience most of the Judges have their own agenda and conduct the hearing a little differently, their is generally a common framework they all seem to follow. Whether you are trying to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits the questions usually revolve around three main areas.  These areas include the following: Personal information The Judge often asks very general personal questions. These questions may include information about your age, your education, where you live, who you live with, do you have children, are you right or left handed, how tall you are and how much you weigh, among several other questions. What past work have you performed? In this area the Judge may ask questions such as: did your previous jobs have a title, how long did you work at the job, how did you perform your previous jobs, how much did you lift, carry, stand, walk, and/or sit during those jobs. What is your medical condition(s) that prevents you from working? The Judge will generally ask you to explain your disabling condition(s). What medical providers you are seeing, what limitations you experience from your disabling condition(s), and what medications you are taking. The general theme here is usually about how your disabling condition keep you from working. Attorney Scott Lewis likes to meet with his Social Security disability clients before the Social Security hearing to let them know what they can expect. It is important to … Continued

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August 30, 2010

Multiple Sclerosis and Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana Social Security disability claimants diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition that affects around 300,000 people in the United States. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths on the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged. MS most commonly occurs in young adults and is typically more common in females than males. Multiple sclerosis has many forms and can have new symptoms with every attack. Symptoms may include: Weak or numb limbs Loss of vision (usually one eye at a time) Pain during eye movement Shock sensations with head movement Loss of coordination Problems with speech Fatigue Symptoms caused by MS usually happen in attacks or relapses where neurological function is significantly less in an acute period of time. Although studies continue to be performed to identify the causes of Multiple Sclerosis, It is thought there are three main causes that are most likely why an individual has Multiple Sclerosis. The first cause is genetics. It appears there is a greater chance that someone will have multiple sclerosis if it is in the family. The recurrence rate is about 20% in parents to children. The second cause is environmental factors. MS is more common in people who live farther from the equator along with a decreased sunlight exposure. The third cause is infections. Many microbes have been suggested as triggers to MS but none have been proven. Multiple Sclerosis is in Section 11.09 under the Neurological conditions on the Social Security’s “Listing of Impairments.” There are three conditions a claimant must meet to qualify for Social Security disability benefits under this listing. Refer to section 11.09 on the Listing of Impairments on the Social Security Administration’s website … Continued

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August 30, 2010

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) and Indiana Social Security Benefits

Indiana disability claimants suffering from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)often experience severe pain that prevents them from holding down a full time job. Often caused by trauma, the pain individuals experience can be chronic and severe in nature and may go to other areas of the body. This condition may also be referred to as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. If you or someone you know is struggling with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome they might be eligible to receive Social Security disability. While currently the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not have a listing in the Listing of Impairments for RSD or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, this does not mean you cannot win your Social Security disability claim. Many Indiana residents may find due to this disability they cannot sit, stand, walk, or lift objects necessary to maintain employment. Some Indiana residents may find they cannot be at work the required number of days to stay employed because of their disability. Other Social Security disability claimants may find the chronic pain they experience makes them unable to stay on task in their job. Many times, disabled people simply cannot do the required work an employer expects them to do. In these cases, the SSA may agree that you cannot do your old job or any other jobs in the economy. Because of the nature of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome it is usually very important for Indiana residents to seek appropriate medical treatment and maintain a good medical record to prove this disabling condition. If your treating physician can describe your functional limitations in his/her progress notes it may enhance your chances of winning your Social Security disability claim.

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August 27, 2010

Indiana Disability Lawyer Scott Lewis

Coming from a hard working Indiana middle class family, Attorney Scott D. Lewis knows how difficult it may be to make ends meet on a limited income. If you find yourself disabled and unable to work, this may create an even heavier burden on you and your family. Indiana disability claimants struggling with paying bills and putting food on the table sometimes need encouragement in moving forward in the disability process. Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis often tells his clients to stay optimistic during the lengthy appeals process. While Indiana is currently ranked near the bottom among states in processing time for Social Security claims, many times a winning case can result in a substantial past due benefit amount and a continuing monthly social security disability payment. Indiana attorney Scott Lewis often asks his clients if they have a good family support system during this trying time. The financial and emotional support of family and friends can help his disability clients make it through the waiting process. If you find yourself without a good support system while waiting for your Social Security disability hearing, and If you do not currently have health care, lawyer Scott Lewis tells his disability clients to look for help in the local community. It is important to try to find low cost medical care when waiting on your Social Security disability appeal. Good medical records can be the “smoking gun” needed to win your Social Security disability claim. Scott Lewis often tells his disability clients that he can argue until he is “blue in the face” to win their case, but without medical documentation to support the claim, it can be very difficult to win a disability claim. Many of Scott Lewis’ clients do not know that Mr. Lewis is a 100% … Continued

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August 25, 2010

Learning Disabilities and Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana residents often find themselves with their disability claim denied when they suffer from a learning disability. If you have a learning disability or a combination of disabilities that prevent you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. If you have been turned down for Social Security disability benefits and believe you are entitled to these benefits, do not give up. Many disability claims are turned down in the early stages of a disability claim. Claims involving learning disabilities may be won with appropriate medical and intellectual functioning documentation. Some documentation that may help win a Social Security claim can include school records indicating failing grades, teacher’s notes and progress reports that show inferior work, poor standardized testing scores from academic institutions, and low IQ scores. Other factors that may be taken into account could include the inability to read, write, and understand & follow simple instructions. While many learning disability claims involve children attempting to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, adults may also be disabled from a learning disability or combination of disabilities. Indiana claimants may find some of these claims difficult to win without appropriate medical or academic documentation. Indiana claimant’s testimony at an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)hearing may help sway the chance of winning in their favor if they can convince the judge their learning disability is severe enough to prevent them from obtaining full time employment. Many individuals with learning disabilities may need a job coach to function in the work place and many times with this finding they may win their Social Security disability claim.

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August 19, 2010

Indiana Social Security Disability Appeals Process Waiting Period

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis represents Indiana Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits claimants with their pending claims. Initial disability claims may be filed at a local Social Security Administration (SSA) office, by calling the SSA’s toll free phone number, or visiting the SSA’s website.  Although it may be discouraging to claimants to hear that some sources report 70% of all claims are denied at the initial application, Scott Lewis encourages his clients to continue to fight for their disability benefits by appealing the SSA’s decision to deny their claim. Statistically, continuing the appeals process may be beneficial to 70-80% of all claims that were initially denied. What’s the downfall to appealing your claim?  Disability Lawyer Scott Lewis would say that it is the time period the Indiana SSDI and SSI claimants have to wait in order to get a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  Attorney Lewis advises all of his claimants to “not give up” and continue with the disability appeals process.  Because of the “backlog” of disability cases in the state of Indiana, Indianapolis Social Security disability claimants may find themselves waiting two years before they are in front of an ALJ for their disability hearing. What does a client do when they are waiting for a hearing in front of an ALJ?  Continue to be patient, keep your Social Security Lawyer informed, continue to visit with your doctors, and do not become discouraged.  As frustrating as it may be, when Attorney Scott Lewis wins his clients claims, often his clients will get a lump sum payment from the SSA for the time that they have waited to get a disability hearing.  Even though the wait may be long, many Indiana Social Security disability claimants find that they have no choice … Continued

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August 11, 2010

Indiana Residents Seeking Social Security Disability Benefits for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition that is not fully understood by doctors today. Because of this, some Administrative Law Judges do not think fibromyalgia holds much weight as a debilitating condition. There is a far better chance that you may receive Social Security Disability benefits if your fibromyalgia is paired with another condition such as arthritis or another muscle or skeletal condition. Some symptoms of fibromyalgia include widespread pain, muscle spasms, fatigue, and/or sleep disturbances. The cause for fibromyalgia is not known for sure, but there are some hypotheses including genetics, stress, and a dopamine dysfunction. Because of the lack of knowledge as to what causes fibromyalgia, the Social Security Administration may overlook a case dealing strictly with fibromyalgia. One of the ways to receive Social Security Disability benefits for fibromyalgia, may be that the claimant must show that his/her condition is severe enough to limit their ability to perform simple work operations at most jobs. Some examples of restrictions may be walking, standing, carrying, speaking, and/or completing simple instructions from memory. Scott D. Lewis, Attorney at Law, has worked with claimants suffering from fibromyalgia. In his experience with Social Security Disability law, it may be necessary to show that an Indiana claimant suffers from severe widespread pain for at least three months in 11 of the 18 tender points as established by the College of Rheumatology and the Centers for Disease Control along with other factors. Some Administrative Law Judges may also find an Indiana disability claimant disabled if they can show that fibromyalgia restricts their activities of daily living in such a way that it is obvious that their impairment is severe.

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