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January 14, 2011

How Does a Social Security Disability Claimant Prepare for a Hearing?

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis provides a free consultation to Indiana residents seeking disability benefits. During these consultations, he often finds himself explaining the claims process to the disability claimant. Many individuals are concerned with how they can best be prepared for their upcoming Social Security disability hearing. Mr. Lewis always tries to take the time to explain to his clients how they, as the claimant, can be best prepared for their day in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants who have been denied at the initial level and reconsideration level of the application process must request for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  many sources indicate, although it is not required, statistically claimants with representation, such as a Social Security disability lawyer or a representative, have a better success rate with winning their disability claim.  Once the claimant obtains his/her disability attorney, it’s important that the claimant keep the attorney informed.  At the law office of Scott D. Lewis, Mr. Lewis and his team strive to review the claimant’s file to make sure his/her medical records within the file are current.  If the law office contacts you to complete paperwork pertaining to your medical records, it is the claimant’s responsibility to complete the appropriate paperwork immediately and return it to the law office.  If the claimant does not complete the paperwork in a timely manner, it may delay medical evidence being submitted to the claimant’s record.  Medical evidence is translated by your disability attorney to determine your work limitations, and at times medical professionals list these limitations in the medical records.  It is important that while in the waiting period that claimants should continue to see their medical physicians.  When visiting the doctor(s), report your symptoms … Continued

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January 10, 2011

The Hearing Brief and Your Indiana Social Security Disability Appeal

Indianapolis Social Security Lawyer Scott D. Lewis often finds it helpful to write a hearing brief in preparation for an upcoming Indiana Social Security disability hearing.  A hearing brief can serve as a theory of the case and provide a framework for how your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case may be argued.  Attorney Scott Lewis believes there are many advantages to submitting a brief before a hearing, and these may include: A concise explanation of how the claimant meets or equals the criteria for disability. Citations to medical records of importance and citations to Medical Provider Questionnaires and Physical/Mental Functional Residual Capacity Assessments if they are contained in the file. The brief can help the attorney or representative prepare for the hearing and make him/her aware of positive and/or negative aspects of the claim. Some Administrative Law Judges ask for a brief to be submitted. Set the attorney/representative apart from those individuals who do not submit a brief. Make it easier for the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to render a favorable decision  There are usually numerous medical documents in a claimant’s file; therefore,  Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis believes it makes sense to point the Judge in the correct direction and hope he/she agrees with your summary of the case. The above are just a few reasons a hearing brief may be beneficial in being awarded Social Security disability benefits.  It should be noted all Administrative Law Judges handle Social Security cases differently and the submission of a hearing brief may not have an impact on your Indiana Social Security disability claim.  It has been the experience of Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis that a well written brief can help him in the formulation of a well thought out consistent theory of your … Continued

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January 7, 2011

The Social Security Administration and An Unsuccessful Work Attempt

You want to work and you know even with Social Security disability benefits you are going to struggle to make ends meet.  Even with all of the extreme pain you are experiencing, you finally find a job and drag yourself to it just to find out there is no way you can work.  You realize you cannot make it through a full day of work, and even if you do, you find yourself out of work for two days because of the pain you are in from forcing yourself to work.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis has heard the above scenario on numerous occasions.  If this has happened to you or a loved one this might be considered by the Social Security Administration as an “unsuccessful work attempt” or UWA. What is an Unsuccessful Work Attempt (UWA)?  This is where a person attempts to do substantial work, but stops or reduces the work to below Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) levels after six months or less because of a disabling condition or because of removal of special conditions related to the disabling condition. Other issues concerning an Unsuccessful Work Attempt that may have an impact can include whether you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), trial work periods, and extended periods of eligibility.  More information concerning these topics and other useful topics can be found in the Social Security Administration’s publication “The Red Book”. The good news is you do not have to tackle unanswered questions alone. Indianapolis Social Security attorney Scott D. Lewis strives to answer many questions concerning eligibility for Indiana Social Security disability benefits.  Indiana disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis talks to potential clients about claims involving bipolar disorder, scoliosis, stroke, epilepsy, depression, and many other severe impairments.

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January 5, 2011

Is There A Way I Can Get My Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing Faster?

Maybe you are getting tired of waiting for your Indiana Social Security disability appeal hearing and now you are wondering if there is some way to get in front of a Judge quicker.  You may now find this long wait to have your disability claim heard has put you and your family in financial turmoil and cannot believe it is taking this long to enter an Indiana Social Security disability courtroom.  Indianapolis Social Security lawyer Scott Lewis fields many calls asking this very question, and he lets these Indiana residents know there are ways to get there faster, but the criteria to do so may not sound very appealing. There are circumstances where the Social Security Administration (SSA) will at times move you up in the waiting process and these situations are  considered “dire circumstances”.  These critical cases include: Military service casualty cases Compassionate allowance cases The claimant is homicidal or suicidal The claimant has a terminal illness Shelter, food, or medicine is unavailable and the claimant is unable to obtain it The aforementioned criteria to establish an Indiana Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim as “dire need” is only a framework to go by, the facts in each individual case vary and can effect a case differently.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis can discuss your particular case in more detail.  If a claim is determined to be dire need, a hearing office should take immediate action to expedite the Social Security disability claim. Unfortunately, with the current hearing backlog many Indiana Social Security disability claimants find themselves not fitting into a dire need circumstance, but struggling to make it to their hearing date.  If you have questions concerning Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits contact Scott D. Lewis for a … Continued

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December 30, 2010

Social Security Disability Claims Continue To Grow

Recent reports indicate a rise in the amount of individuals filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. This could be due to many factors including the rise in unemployment and even the ease of applying for disability benefits online may be a culprit. Whatever the reason, Indiana Social Security disability claimants are not immune to the ramifications of a rising number of disability applications. Indianapolis Social Security Lawyer Scott Lewis fears this rise may result in even longer processing times of applications and create an even more burdensome backlog of individuals waiting on an Indiana Social Security disability hearing. Sources show that Social Security disability applications have increased by 21 percent recently and in Indianapolis Disability Attorney Scott Lewis’ experience Indiana has been no exception. Mr. Lewis has noticed an increase in the amount of interest shown in individuals asking if they may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  While the requirements of being entitled to Indiana Social Security benefits may appear straightforward, there are many variables that can enter into the equation.  For instance, many of these Indiana residents applying for Social Security disability benefits are receiving unemployment benefits.  While this should not be an absolute bar to receiving Social Security disability benefits, some Administrative Law Judges look on the payments of unemployment as a factor in turning down an otherwise valid Social Security disability claim. What does all of this mean to a disabled Indiana resident?  It may mean a longer waiting period for your claim to be processed.  It should not discourage you or a family member from applying for Social Security disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Just because there are more people applying for disability benefits does not mean they are more difficult to obtain.  As always, … Continued

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December 21, 2010

How Do Resources Affect My Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Claim?

Indianapolis Social Security lawyer Scott D. Lewis usually advises his clients to apply for both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits when filing their initial application.  Mr. Lewis believes it is important to apply for both programs because if you are not eligible for one program the other program may be right for you.  Indiana disability claimants should be aware; however, the criteria is different for the two programs.  The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program will look at an individual’s resources to determine if they qualify financially and how much their monthly benefit might be. Why does the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program care about your resources?  Resources are just one of the factors to figure out whether you are eligible for the benefits.  Indiana disability claimants need to know there is a limit for countable resources.  At the current time it is $2,000 for an individual and is $3,000 for a couple.  Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis lets his clients know they will be asked various questions about their resources by the Indiana Social Security Administration (SSA). What does the Social Security Administration (SSA) consider resources?  This is not limited to, but can include things like: life insurance land personal property cash items that can be changed to cash for food and shelter vehicles There is also something called “deemed” resources. This can be some of the resources of a spouse, parent’s spouse, and parent, just to name a few. If you find you have not worked long enough to be awarded Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, then the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program may be the right fit for you.  If you have questions concerning your Indiana Social Security benefits call Indianapolis disability attorney Scott D. Lewis for a free case evaluation.  You can protect … Continued

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December 16, 2010

Your Social Security Disability Claim and Acceptable Medical Testing

Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis finds on occasion his clients have a diagnosis without appropriate medical testing to back it up. At times, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will look through your medical record and remark that while it has volumes of records it is lacking appropriate medical testing. To put it in its simplest terms, you may complain of a broken leg, but without an X-ray you may have a difficult time convincing anyone there is actually a fracture.  Some common tests Indiana Social Security attorney Scott D. Lewis finds absent in a disability claimant’s medical file can include but are not limited to those claiming: Fibromyalgia With this diagnosis, Mr. Lewis has found Administrative Law Judge’s often have a hard time getting their hands around this condition without appropriate testing.  Because currently there is no X-ray or lab testing for the diagnosis of Fibromiyalgia, many times tender points throughout the body are used to determine a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.  A diagnosis of Fibromyalgia may be made when a patient is positive in 11 of 18 of these tender points.  Does this mean you will qualify for Indiana Social Security disability benefits?  Not always, as some Administrative Law Judges are still skeptical as to this diagnosis. Various Breathing Disorders  Pulmonary functioning tests may be beneficial to a claim for a breathing disorder.  A few of these tests can include spirometry and methocholine challenge.  If you suffer from COPD, emphysema, asthma, or any other pulmonary condition you should consult your physician for appropriate testing. Impairments of the Spine  Those Indiana Social Security disability claimants finding they are experiencing a disabling condition due to neck and/or back problems should seek appropriate medical testing such as an MRI.  In Indiana Social Security attorney Scott Lewis’ experience, a MRI can be crucial in … Continued

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December 12, 2010

Indiana Social Security Lawyer Scott Lewis Answers Questions About Returning To Work During The Claims Process

Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis fields occasional telephone calls from his Indiana disability clients asking what the ramifications will be if they try to reenter the workforce.  As fundamental as it may sound, the facts of a particular case always matter.  Many Indiana residents are finding they are having a difficult time putting food on the table for themselves and their families during a very lengthy application and appeals process.  A few topics Indianapolis disability attorney Scott D. Lewis may encounter may include: Are you considering a full time or part time job?  If your disabling condition(s) do not permit you to work full time, but you think you may be able to work part time, you may be interested in a term call “Substantial Gainful Activity” or “SGA”.  This is an amount the Social Security Administration determines as earnings you can make on a monthly basis and still be entitled to disability benefits.  SGA for 2010 is $1,640.00/month for statutorily blind individuals and $1,000.00/month for non-blind individuals.  There are different criteria for those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) concerning blind individuals. It appears these amounts will also be valid for 2011, but more information concerning SGA can be found on the Social Security Administration’s website. Should you withdraw your claim for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits as soon as you start back to work?  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis usually advises his clients to wait and see if they are actually able to perform a full-time job or a job that creates more than the SGA for a number of months before withdrawing their claim. Many times, individuals believe they can work but find their condition prevents them from performing substantial gainful activity. If you have been waiting for an Indiana Social Security … Continued

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December 6, 2010

Hiring an Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney or Representative Is Your Right!

Indiana Social Security disability claimants need to know they have a right to hire an Indiana Social Security lawyer or representative when appealing their denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.  In Social Security attorney Scott Lewis’ experience claimants are surprised to find out they do not have to pay any upfront fees when hiring Mr. Lewis.  Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis works on a contingency basis, so you do not have to pay him a fee if he is not successful in winning your claim. At some Indiana Social Security disability hearings, there are experts that will testify as to what your medical condition is and whether or not there are jobs you can perform.  You may find an attorney can help question these experts and help you prevail in your Indiana Social Security disability claim.  An Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney may also be familiar with the court proceedings and may help guide you through difficult questioning.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis tries to prepare his disability clients as to what they may expect when entering the courtroom and how their day in court may go. You have a right to hire an attorney or representative.  Whether an Indiana Social Security disability claimant exercises this right is up to them.  Considering Mr. Lewis’ fee is contingent on winning the claim, disability lawyer Scott Lewis feels his clients are more comfortable in this type of fee agreement.  Most of Mr. Lewis’ clients are in no position to pay upfront expenses or pay an attorney if their claim is not approved.  The last thing an Indiana disabled resident needs is another bill with no income to pay it.

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December 3, 2010

Can I Win My Indiana Social Security Disability Appeal If I Am Not Seeing Doctors?

Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis talks to many Indiana residents every week asking if they can win their Social Security disability claim when they are not seeing doctors.  He usually tells them it is going to be very difficult to get a favorable outcome without good medical records to prove they are disabled.  Without medical records the Social Security Administration (SSA) has nothing to base a decision on that will result in you being granted disability benefits. Indiana Social Security claimants often ask if the consultative examination the Social Security Administration (SSA) administered will suffice since they don’t have their own personal physician(s).  In Indianapolis Disability Lawyer Scott Lewis’ experience, the disability claimant usually cannot rely on a consultative examination for a favorable result.  Anyone who has been to one of these consultative examinations probably has had a similar experience.  Most Indiana Social Security appeals claimants complain the examinations are very short and many times do not even cover the disabling condition(s) the disabled individual wants to be addressed.  In general, it is very difficult to find a substitute for a physician that has seen you for an extended period of time and is familiar with you and your disabling condition. What should you do if you do not have healthcare and you believe you are disabled and unable to work?  While you may receive different advice from different sources, Indiana Disability Attorney Scott Lewis often tells his clients to apply for any government sponsored healthcare program that is appropriate for you, go to your local hospital and find out if they offer a low cost health care program, and search for free clinics that can render health care assistance.  These are just a few options to try and by no means will they always turn up a positive result. … Continued

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