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July 31, 2017

Can I Receive Social Security Disability for Bipolar Disorder?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes Bipolar Disorder as a disabling condition that can result in disability payments.  My clients often tell me Bipolar Disorder prevents them from getting and keeping a job.  While the symptoms may vary from person to person, I see many of my clients simply not having the ability to concentrate or focus long enough to maintain employment. The SSA acknowledges Bipolar Disorder in its Listing of Impairments under listing 12.04 Depressive, Bipolar, and Other Related Disorders.  If you meet or equal this listing, you may be eligible for benefits.  However, there also may be technical criteria that must be met.  Since there is no objective testing that can show the presence of Bipolar Disorder; hospitalizations, ongoing therapy records, and medication compliance may be the key to receiving benefits. In my Social Security Disability practice, one of the challenges to these cases can be consistent and ongoing therapy records, as the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder is not going to be enough.  The SSA generally wants to see a client-patient relationship documenting the ongoing mental illness and compliance with medications prescribed.  If the symptoms still exist after pursuing consistent treatment, then your claim may be given greater weight. A medical source statement from a treating mental health specialist can help the Social Security Administration and/or an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determine your condition is severe enough to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Some health care professionals are unwilling to produce these types of documents, but it may be in your best interest to ask if they will take the time to do so.  In my experience, these statements should contain a clear diagnosis, how long the condition has lasted and is expected to last, the symptoms, and an opinion on … Continued

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February 24, 2016

Social Security Disability for Breast Cancer

While many people fully recover and are able to return to work after being diagnosed with breast cancer, some do not.  Unfortunately, for some people, the treatments and procedures do not work, or they not work well enough to allow the patient to return to her previous level of functioning.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes breast cancer and other types of cancers as disabling conditions. Even though a breast cancer diagnosis can be scary and life-altering, in my Indianapolis Social Security Disability practice I see many of these types of claims denied.  Here are a few common reasons Social Security gives for denying breast cancer claims: Your condition has not lasted, or is not expected to last, twelve months or longer.  Often, the Social Security reviewers will review your diagnosis and medical records, see that you are receiving treatment, and conclude that you will improve enough to return to work within twelve months from the date you were diagnosed.  If that turns out to be the case, then you will not be eligible for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits, no matter how severely you were disabled during the months you were receiving treatment.  However, for many people, treatment extends beyond twelve months or leaves them with residual symptoms that do not improve, even if the cancer goes into remission.  For example, some of my clients acquire neuropathy in their arms from the effects of chemotherapy, and others have painful scarring that prevents them from being able to use their arms the way they used to.  Therefore, even if Social Security denies your claim because you are expected to get better, it is a good idea to appeal that denial to keep your claim going in case your recovery does not go as well as expected. Your … Continued

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December 31, 2015

Can I Get Social Security Disability For COPD?

If your symptoms are severe enough, Social Security can find you disabled if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  However, a diagnosis on its own is not enough.  In my practice, I find that COPD is disabling to my clients in two ways – either because their COPD symptoms are so severe that they are unable to work, or because their COPD symptoms combine with symptoms from other impairments to keep them from working. I am surprised at how many of my clients have breathing difficulties.  Their diagnoses range from asthma to emphysema.  My experience with clients with breathing problems is that their symptoms generally do not improve with time.  If you find you are unable to work due to COPD or any other breathing problem, it may be in your best interest to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as soon as possible. The Social Security Administration (SSA) examines COPD in its Listing of Impairments under listing 3.02 for chronic pulmonary insufficiency.  The listings in section 3 cover many other types of respiratory impairments as well, including asthma, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, persistent pulmonary infections, and cor pulomale due to chronic pulmonary vascular hypertension.  If you have COPD or any other respiratory problem, Social Security will probably order a “pulmonary function test” to objectively determine the extent of the obstruction to your airways.  If you are already being treated by a pulmonologist, you may have already had one or more pulmonary function tests performed.  Social Security will request records from your doctor, which will include these test results as well as your doctor’s diagnoses and clinical impressions. Another way to meet the requirements of the listings in section 3 is to show that you have frequent respiratory exacerbations that require physician intervention.  If … Continued

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November 3, 2015

Social Security Disability Payments for Neurological Impairments

There are many medical conditions that can so severely affect an individual’s mental and physical functioning as to qualify that person for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. In my Indianapolis Social Security disability practice I represent many Indiana residents suffering from neurological impairments. Many of those clients suffer from a combination of mental and physical symptoms that prevent them from performing what the Social Security Administration (SSA) calls Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA); in other words, they cannot work a full-time job. In cases involving adults with neurological impairments, the SSA will first consult the listings in Section 11 of its Listing of Impairments. The Listing of Impairments is a guideline published by the Social Security Administration outlining certain criteria that, if met, are considered to be proof that the claimant is disabled. The conditions addressed in the Listings are as follows: • Epilepsy (convulsive or non-convulsive) • Central nervous system vascular accident • Benign brain tumors (malignant brain tumors are evaluated under listings for cancer) • Parkinsonian syndrome • Cerebral palsy • Spinal cord or nerve root lesions • Multiple sclerosis • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis • Anterior poliomyelitis • Myasthenia gravis • Muscular dystrophy • Subacute combined cord degeneration • Other degenerative diseases, such as Huntington’s chorea, Friedreich’s ataxia, or spino-cerebellar degeneration • Cerebral trauma • Syringomyelia Most of the criteria in the Listings for these impairments require evidence of the following: (a) A medical diagnosis and appropriate medical testing (b) Sensory, motor, and/or speech dysfunction (c) Compliance with prescribed treatment See the specific listings for the requirements for each particular impairment. In my experience, a person whose diagnosis and symptoms meet the criteria of the listings should be found disabled in the early stages of the disability process, as long as appropriate medical … Continued

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September 9, 2011

Social Security Disability Attorney in Indianapolis and Disability Benefits for Affective Disorders

Indiana Social Security disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis is an experienced attorney who represents individuals with their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. In his disability claims experience, he has represented individuals with a variety of disabling conditions.  Whether you suffer from a mental disorder or a physical disability, if you are unable to work due to this disabling condition or a combination of disabling conditions, you may qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits. Attorney Scott D. Lewis often finds himself representing a disability claimant who suffers from an affective disorder.  An affective disorder is a disabling condition which is characterized by a disturbance of mood.  Mood is an emotion that generally involves depression or elation. In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits for an affective disorder, an individual is required to suffer from an affective disorder considered severe.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) outlines the qualifying criteria in the “Listing of Impairments,” Section 12.04 Affective Disorder. In this listing, it states that a disability claimant must meet the criteria by proving that one of the following conditions is persistent (either continuous or intermittent): Depressive syndrome characterized by at least four (4) of the following:   a. Anhedonia or pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities; or b. Appetite disturbance with change in weight; or c. Sleep disturbance; or d. Psychomotor agitation or retardation; or e. Decreased energy; or f. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness; or g. Difficulty concentrating or thinking; or h. Thoughts of suicide; or i. Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking; or 2. Manic syndrome characterized by at least three of the following: a. Hyperactivity; or b. Pressure of speech; or c. Flight of ideas; or d. Inflated self-esteem; or e. Decreased need for sleep; or f. Easy distractibility; or g. Involvement in activities that have a high probability … Continued

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August 16, 2011

Digestive Disorders and Social Security Disability Claims

Many individuals suffering from a digestive disorder find that this disorder can take them away from work indefinitely. Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis assists individuals with digestive disorders with their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.  The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) “Listing of Impairments” addresses the criteria for a variety of digestive system disorders in section 5.00 Digestive System.  Specifically, the following digestive orders can be found under this listing: 5.02 Gastroinntestinal hemorrhaging from any cause, requiring blood transfusion 5.05 Chronic Liver Disease 5.06 Imflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) 5.07 Short Bowel Sydrome (SBS) 5.08 Weight Loss due to any digestive disorder 5.09 Liver transplant Meeting the Listings for digestive disorders may be very difficult. However, individuals may also be awarded SSDI or SSI benefits if they suffer from a combination of health problems while they do not meet the listing, in combination prevent them from being able to perform substantial gainful employment. The “Listings of Impairments” are designed to award Social Security disability benefits to disability claimants who are clearly severely ill.  The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at a hearing can determine that a person, while not meeting a specific disability listing, has health problems severe enough to award the claimant disability benefits. Individuals suffering from a digestive disorder may experience the following symptoms or side effects: Development of allergies due to compromised immunity Abdominal pain Indigetion Heartburn Difficulty swallowing Diarhhea or constipation Chest pain Fatigue Bladder or bowel changes Unexplained weight loss Bloating and painful gas Nausea and vomiting Weakened immune system As stated above, being approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for a digestive disorder may be difficult. In order to successfully win your claim, it’s important to prove to the SSA what is wrong with you and how the digestive disorder negatively affects your daily life. In … Continued

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August 11, 2011

Affective Disorders and Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits

Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis assists disabled individuals with their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.  In his disability law experience, Attorney Lewis represents disability claimants with a variety of disabling conditions including physical disabilities, mental disabilities, or a combination of conditions.  Among the variety of disabling conditions, Mr. Lewis has experience in representing individuals with affective disorders such as depression. What is affective disorders?  Affective disorders are mental disorders that are characterized by extreme mood changes in a person.  Affective disorders may either be manic or depressive.  Manic affective disorders symptoms may include irritable or elevated moods with pressured speech, inflated self-esteem and hyperactivity.  Depressive affective disorders symptoms may include episodes of dejected mood with sleep disturbance, agitation, disinterest in life, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt.  Some individuals experience a combination of the two. Individuals with an affective disorder may or may not have psychotic symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, or other loss of contact with reality. How does an individual with an affective disorder qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits?  According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), individuals suffering from an affective disorder if he/she meets the requirements stated in the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments.”  In section 12.04 Affective Disorder, the SSA characterizes affective disorders by a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome. Mood refers to a prolonged emotion that colors the whole psychic life; it generally involves either depression or elation. Per Section 12.04, the required level of severity for affective disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied, or when the requirements in C are satisfied. These requirements are as follows:  A.  Medically documented persistence, either continuous or intermittent, of one of the following: 1.  Depressive syndrome characterized by at least four of the following: Anhedonia or … Continued

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