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April 18, 2011

Will I Have To Talk At My Indiana Social Security Disbility Hearing?

Indiana residents waiting on a Social Security disability hearing may find themselves anxious  and worried about what will happen when they enter the courtroom.  Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis is often asked by his clients whether or not they will have to speak at the hearing.  Mr. Lewis advises his clients that they probably will have to speak at the hearing, but at the same time they should expect to be prepared for what kind of questions they will be asked. As an Indiana Social Security lawyer, Mr. Lewis believes it is a very important part of his job to prepare his clients for the hearing.  Although no Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is exactly the same, there is usually a general framework of questions that are asked of each client.  Indianapolis attorney Scott D. Lewis lets his disability clients know they are usually asked personal questions, job related questions, and medical questions.  Mr. Lewis believes your answers are sometimes judged as to whether you are credible.  In other words, are you believable, are you telling the truth, and are you exaggerating how much pain you are in. Indiana Administrative Law Judges conduct numerous hearings every year and some can be pretty slick in the way they question you and may even try to trick you into making contradicting statements.  It is important to tell the truth and do not overstate the problems you are experiencing.  If you are honest and realistic about the problems you are experiencing then you will not have to worry about the credibility of the statements you make.  The pain you experience is usually not something a test can measure, so your own opinion of your pain is all an Administrative Law Judge can count on. Indianapolis Social Security attorney Scott Lewis believes a good attorney … Continued

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April 14, 2011

Why Was I Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?

It is not uncommon for an Indiana disability claimant to have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits since majority of disability claims  are denied at the initial application level.  Many SDDI and SSI claimants face the same question after they have been denied benefits by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Attorney Scott D. Lewis gets calls from disability claimants on a daily basis asking him why they have been denied disability benefits and what should they do next. Mr. Lewis always directs the claimant to the denial letter that they have received by the SSA.  This letter specifically states the reason for denial.  So, take the time to read the decision the SSA sent to you to figure out exactly why you were denied in the first place.  Once you know why you were denied, you can begin to collect the necessary documentation to appeal this decision.  Some reasons for denial may include: In 2010, you make more than $1,000 per month.  If you exceed this amount, you will immediately be denied disability benefits. Based on the information you provided the SSA when filing your claim, they have determined that your disability will not last or be expected to last a minimum of 12 months. You failed to comply with the SSA’s request for information or medical records.  Not complying with this request may ultimately cause you to be denied benefits. The SSA has attempted to locate you and was unable to reach you. At the law office of Scott D. Lewis, Attorney at Law, LLC, Mr. Lewis assists disability claimants with appealing their denied claim.  Either him or his staff will often ask his clients to retrieve the denial letter so he can discuss the reasons for denial prior to appealing the claim.  It is important … Continued

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April 11, 2011

How Long Will I Have To Wait For My Social Security Disability Hearing?

There is still a tremendous backlog of individuals waiting for an Indiana Social Security disability hearing. Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis spends much of his day explaining to current and future Social Security disability clients that they are in a long line waiting for their day in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Statistically your chances of winning your claim go up when you finally enter a courtroom to present evidence in front of an ALJ, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) is not going to pay your bills during this long wait. So exactly how long does it take to get your disability hearing in Indiana?  It depends on a variety of factors.  The Indianapolis Office or Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) is currently one of the more lengthy waits if your hearing is in Indiana.  There are other hearing offices throughout the state of Indiana that are quicker to get you your day in court.  Can you pick where you have your hearing?  No, it is assigned a location depending on where you reside. Is there any good news on the horizon?  Things MAY be looking up. Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis has noticed a decrease in the wait time in some cases.  In the recent past,  Mr. Lewis would tell his disability appeals clients the wait was generally running 18 – 24 months from the date they requested a hearing until they would actually see a judge.  Lately, Mr. Lewis has seen individuals receive a Social Security disability hearing in 12 months after requesting a hearing. Does this mean your hearing will be within 12 months of the day you requested it?  Probably not.  Many factors determine your hearing date including what Administrative Law Judge you are assigned, whether you have an in person … Continued

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February 26, 2011

The Third Party Function Report and Your Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits

Scott D. Lewis often hears from his Indiana Social Security disability clients and their families that they are confused by the paperwork they receive from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  The forms are usually requesting information in applying for and appealing their Indiana Social Security disability claim.  One of these forms is called the “Function Report – Adult – Third Party”.  It is also known as form SSA – 3380 – BK.  Now with that mouthful out, are you afraid to pick up your pen and start the application and appeals process?  Well, Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis advises his clients and their families to not be intimidated in completing forms required by the Social Security Administration.  Most of these forms Mr. Lewis’ office can assist in completing or guide you, family, or friends through in completing the forms if you wish to complete them for yourself. The Third Party Function Report has various parts and these include: General Information that includes names, relationship to the disabled person, contact information, and other data. Information about daily activities including how a typical day is, whether the disabled person can care for themselves on a personal level, preparation of meals, house & yard work, mobility, shopping, money management, hobbies, and social activities. Information about their physical and mental abilities of the disabled person. Finally, a remarks section. Indiana disability attorney Scott D. Lewis tells these third parties that complete this form to be as thorough as possible.  It is important to be truthful and remember their is a reason this form is being asked to be completed.  It is to determine if the Indiana disability claimant has a disabling condition that is severe enough to prevent them from securing and maintaining substantial gainful activity.  In other words, if the Social Security Administration believes you are able to … Continued

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February 7, 2011

Social Security Disability Benefits for Claimants with Depression

Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis is an experienced attorney representing Social Security disability claimants.  Many of his Indiana Social Security disability clients suffer mental disorders such as depression.  Often, disability claimants with depression do not have sufficient medical documentation to back up their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Some disability claimants lack health insurance causing insufficient medical documentation.  Mr. Lewis advises his clients to investigate in the low income health programs or programs offered to uninsured individuals located in the Indianapolis area such as Wishard’s Health Advantage program.  Some other reasons disability claimants with depression may lack medical documentation supporting their claim is because a claimant may not be seeing doctors because they are ashamed of their disabling condition so they don’t seek the medical attention that they need from a mental health professional.  Having a lack of medical history to support your disability claim may ultimately cause you to lose your case. The Social Security Administration (SSA) approves SSDI or SSI claims based on medical evidence, so if you are suffering from depression, it is important to seek out the opinion of a qualified mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist who will provide documentation to back up your claim.  It may be helpful that these professionals need to identify that: you are indeed suffering from clinical depression; and your depression significantly interferes with your ability to work. If your mental health physician has prescribed you medication to help you with your depressive state, the SSA may frown upon your lack of compliance if you do continue to take your medications.  Medications such as anti-depressants may not enough to prove your case.  A psychiatrist can be most effective in helping you to demonstrate the following to the SSA: The individual is depressed and suffering from a history of mental health issues related to his/her … Continued

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February 3, 2011

Searching for an Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney

Indiana Social Security disability attorneys can help disability claimants who are unable to work due to an impairment or a combination of impairments lasting or expecting to last a minimum of twelve (12) months. The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, processes claims, and administers the benefits program. A Social Security disability lawyer or representative may help guide clients through what can be a rather confusing disability claims process and disability appeals process.   Indianapolis disability attorneys may also assist the claimant with resolving any problems that arise with the SSDI or SSI claims and benefits. You’re disabled and unable to work because of this disability and you have applied for Social Security disability benefits, but find out that you have been denied.  You want to appeal this decision made by the SSA, but think that it would be helpful to hire a disability lawyer to represent you in this claim.  Many Indiana Social Security disability applicants are unaware that they have a right to representation in their Social Security disability claim.  Although it is not required to hire a disability attorney, you may find it to be beneficial to have representation for your disability appeal. How do I find an Indiana Social Security disability lawyer?  Indianapolis disability claimants may find themselves struggling with where and how they will ever find a disability attorney that may be able to properly represent them in their disability case.  Disability claimants will find that there are multiple ways to find themselves the representation that they desire.  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis advertises his services in a variety of ways to serve Indiana residents, such as: Television Commercials Internet Telephone Book Billboard Referrals Mr. Lewis’s goal is to be accessible to disability claimants when they need it.  Some disability … Continued

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February 1, 2011

Anxiety Disorder and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits

Are you an Indiana resident unable to work because you are suffering from anxiety disorder?  Anxiety disorders are the most common of emotional disorders.  Anxiety disorder affects more than 20 million Americans each year.  This is approximately one out of nine people suffering from anxiety disorder.   Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis has numerous disability clients suffering from mental health disorders such as anxiety disorder.  Disability claimants may experience one or several symptoms associated with anxiety such as: uncontrollable obsessive thoughts, overwhelming feelings of panic & fear, recurring nightmares, and painful, intrusive memories. Physical symptoms of this emotional disorder include, but are not limited to: sweating, increased heart rate, nausea, shaking, muscle tension, and other uncomfortable physical reactions. Anxiety disorder differs from normal feelings of nervousness, as the symptoms often occur for no apparent reason and do not go away. These alarming reactions can make everyday experiences sources of potential terror. Anxiety disorder can be characterized as one of the following five types:  Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Phobia, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Generalized Anxiety Disorder is defined by at least six months of a constant state of worry or tension and is not related to a specific event.  A person with Panic Disorder experiences repeated, unprovoked attacks of anxiety or terror lasting up to 10 minutes. Disability claimants with Social Phobias are irrational, involuntary, and overwhelming fears that lead a person to avoid common objects, social events, or situations. Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent, persistent, and intrusive impulses or thoughts that the person feels can be controlled by performing repetitive behaviors. Indiana disability claimants with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) typically experience PTSD because they were a part of or witnessed a traumatic event or a series of events which resulted in severe stress symptoms lasting more than one month. How does … Continued

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January 21, 2011

Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing Bench Decisions

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants often find themselves being denied their Social Security disability benefits. As these disability claimants fight for what they believe they deserve, they appeal the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) denial by requesting the SSA to reconsider their claim. This is called a “request for reconsideration.” Often, this request is again denied by the SSA which leads to a second appeal in which a disability claimant will request that their claim be heard in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This appeal is called “a request for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge.” Indiana Social Security Disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis represents disability claimants who have been denied SSDI or SSI benefits.  At the law office of Scott D. Lewis, Attorney at Law, LLC, Mr. Lewis and his staff understand their client’s frustration when it comes to the appeals process and the length of time it takes to get in front of an ALJ.  As Mr. Lewis prepares for his client’s disability hearing, he continues to gather medical evidence to support his client’s disability claim, prepares a brief for the judge and also discusses with his clients what they can expect at the hearing.  Most of his clients are eager to know how soon after the hearing they will find out if they won their disability claim. Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis explains to his clients to be prepared to go home from the hearing without knowing if they won their disability claim or not.  In most cases, the judge will give a written decision which may take months.  Written decisions vary in time based on the judge and other factors involved in decision writing.  In some instances, it is very clear that the claim should be granted and in these cases, the ALJ might issue … Continued

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January 17, 2011

I Have Been Denied My Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits, Should I Reapply?

Indiana disability lawyers like Scott D. Lewis often get asked this question.  While the Social Security Administration (SSA) does require an individual to reapply for disability benefits in certain circumstances, it may not always be in the best interest of an Indiana disability claimant to reapply for their disability claim.  The below information may help you in determining what steps you should take next. Have you been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and don’t know what to do next?  Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis strives to help individuals answer that question.  During one of Mr. Lewis’s free consultations, he will typically ask the disability claimant if they have already applied for disability benefits and if they have been denied.  It’s important for him to know where the claimant is in the application process.  If the claimant has been denied at the initial application level, Attorney Lewis’ advice will depend on how long ago the claimant received their denial.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers the claimant an opportunity to appeal the denial within 60 days of receiving their denial letter and also allows for mailing time.  If the claimant’s 60 day period has expired, Mr. Lewis will attempt to explain to the claimant that he/she has missed their opportunity to appeal that decision and must start over by filing another initial application.  This may be the only time Mr. Lewis advises the claimant to reapply.  Be aware that there are also provisions for untimely filings if the SSA accepts your reason for being late.  Generally, if the claimant has been denied at the initial application level and is within that 60 day period, disability attorney Scott Lewis will inform the claimant to appeal the disability denial rather than starting a new disability claim.  … 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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