here
March 19, 2015

Objective Testing and Your Social Security Disability Claim

Proving you are disabled to the Social Security Administration (SSA) is not always easy.  Before the SSA will even consider how your symptoms affect your ability to work, you must show that you have a “medically determinable impairment.”  Telling Social Security that you have pain or fatigue or memory loss is not enough, by itself, to establish a medically determinable impairment.  You must also be able to provide objective evidence that explains why you have those symptoms. The most direct evidence you can provide is objective test results.  These tests might include: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and X-rays: these tests show the location and severity of physical damage to your musculoskeletal system that might cause symptoms such as pain. Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies: this type of test shows whether you have nerve damage that might cause symptoms such as pain, numbness, or weakness. Electroencephalography (EEG): this test helps to show abnormal activity in your brain that might cause symptoms from seizures or sleep disorders. CT Scans: these tests show damage to your organs that might cause symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue. Blood tests: these tests can show the presence or absence of different substances in your blood, which in turn can help prove that you have certain anti-immune disorders or other diseases. Stress tests: these tests measure the effects of exertion on your heart and can help quantify the severity of your cardiovascular symptoms. Echocardiograms: the results of these tests can show abnormalities in your heart that might cause symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, or fatigue. Not all medical conditions can be proven using objective testing, though. Mental health disorders, migraines, fibromyalgia, and pain disorders are notoriously difficult to prove because there are no reliable tests available to confirm them … Continued

Filed under: Appeals Process, Claims Process, Evaluation Process, Medical Treatment || Tagged under:
0 comments || Author:

February 18, 2015

Why Do they Ask All of those Questions at Social Security Disability Hearings?

The day of your Social Security disability hearing has arrived, and you are probably filled with anxiety and wondering what it is going to be like. Although I can’t cure my clients of all of their hearing-day jitters, I do make sure I spend about an hour talking to my clients prior to the hearing date so they will know what to expect. I describe what the hearing will be like from the time they enter the hearing room to the time they leave. We also go over all of the questions that the Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) tend to ask during the hearing. One reason I go through these “practice questions” with my client is to prevent the client from being surprised by what the questions are. Another reason is to prevent me from being surprised by how the client answers them. The first questions the ALJ asks you will typically be very easy, including your name, address, and Social Security number. He might ask about your height and weight and whether you are right- or left-handed. The judge may also ask you about your living arrangements – whether you live in a house, apartment, or mobile home; who lives there with you; and your source of income. The best way to answer these questions is honestly and simply. Remember to stay on topic. Most of my clients are itching to talk about their disabling conditions right away, and that is understandable, but the judge needs to get through these questions before moving on. Next the ALJ will most likely ask you about jobs you have performed in the past. Social Security’s disability rules say that if your condition allows you to return to any of the work you have done in the past fifteen years, you are not … Continued

Filed under: Hearings Process || Tagged under:
0 comments || Author:

February 6, 2015

Receiving Social Security Disability For Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is becoming a much more commonly diagnosed problem for the clients I represent in my Indiana Social Security disability law practice.  When I see an influx of certain types of cases, I am never sure whether the increase is due to the disease occurring more often, or to doctors making more accurate diagnoses.  Whatever the reason, my clients with Crohn’s disease are unable to perform full time jobs.  If you suffer from Crohn’s disease or any other gastrointestinal disorder that prevents you from working, I believe it is important for you to investigate the possibility of qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. While the symptoms associated with Crohn’s can vary among individuals, many of my clients complain of the following: Diarrhea Fatigue and weakness Fever Abdominal pain Weight loss The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes gastrointestinal disorders in Section 5.00 of its Listing of Impairments.  Crohn’s disease is often evaluated under Subsection 5.06: Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  Many of my clients, though, do not meet all of the specific requirements of this listing.  In those cases, we must show that the symptoms they experience reduce their Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) so much that they cannot perform all of the duties required in full-time work.  Typically, my clients are unable to stay on task because they require frequent bathroom breaks or have debilitating abdominal pain.  They have days in which they are unable to leave their home due to the severity of their symptoms.  I have attended many Social Security disability hearings at which the Vocational Expert (VE) has testified that employers, as a rule, will not tolerate excessive bathroom breaks or two or more absences per month.  If a claimant’s medical records support a finding that he or she would leave the … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments || Tagged under:
0 comments || Author:

January 16, 2015

I Can’t Work a Full Time Job; Can I Get Social Security Disability?

Many people think of a “disabling condition” as one that prevents a person from performing the physical requirements of a job, such as lifting a certain amount of weight or being able to stand at a work station.  However, many of my clients suffer from impairments that, rather than affecting their physical strength, prevent them from being able to work a full eight hour day or make it in to work every day of the work week.  For example, some of my clients deal with debilitating fatigue; they can perform all the aspects of a job for a few hours but then are too exhausted to continue.  Others suffer from episodic illnesses in which they might be fully functional for a few days or even a few weeks at a time, but they have frequent flares of their symptoms that completely debilitate them for days.  Some of these clients are able to hold down a part-time job but would never be able to work a forty-hour workweek. If you have a severe medical impairment that prevents you from working a full-time job, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  It is important to remember, though, that Social Security has rules about how much you can earn while working part time.  If your monthly earnings are higher than their rules allow, Social Security will automatically find that you are not disabled.  Social Security calls this cutoff “Substantial Gainful Activity” (SGA); in 2015, if you make more than $1,090.00 per month gross (before taxes are taken out) your earnings are above SGA.  If you are statutorily blind, the income threshold is quite a bit higher; you can make up to $1,820 before you exceed the SGA level.  If you are working part-time and … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments || Tagged under:
0 comments || Author:

November 26, 2014

What Is The Timeline For My Social Security Disability Claim?

Many claimants wonder what the timeline looks like for a Social Security disability claim from start to finish.  The waiting time for a claim can depend on many factors and can vary greatly from case to case. Step 1: Initial Application In my experience, the average waiting time for a decision on the initial application is about 4 months, but this is only an estimate. This wait time can depend on multiple things.  One factor is how quickly your medical providers respond to the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s requests for medical records.  The SSA will request any relevant medical records from the medical providers you listed on your initial application.  In my experience, the turnaround time for medical records can range from one week to a few months.  Another factor that impacts the waiting time at this stage is how long it takes the SSA to obtain additional information it needs about your disabling conditions.  This additional information can come in the form of consultative exams (one-time assessments by doctors who examine you on the SSA’s behalf) or questionnaires about your work history and your activities of daily living.  Finally, the wait time can be longer or shorter based on the SSA’s current workload. Step 2: Request for Reconsideration In my experience, claimants wait approximately 3 months for a decision on a request for reconsideration, but this is only an estimate. The waiting time at this step has the greatest variation among my clients.  Some clients receive a decision within a few weeks, especially if they have not received any additional medical treatment since they completed their initial application.  Others wait months as their adjudicators work to obtain additional information, especially if the claimants have experienced big changes in their disabling conditions since completing the initial application.  Usually this step simply entails a medical records update and … Continued

Filed under: Appeals Process, Claims Process, Evaluation Process, Hearings Process, Social Security Disability Benefits Claims Process, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
0 comments || Author:

October 30, 2014

Indiana SSDI Benefits and Your Date Last Insured

The Social Security Administration’s eligibility requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be confusing.  If you have applied for SSDI benefits, you may have been told about your Date Last Insured (DLI).  Your DLI is one of the first things Social Security checks when determining whether you are eligible for disability benefits. Most workers either have Social Security taxes deducted from their paychecks or pay them when they file their tax returns on self-employment income.  For each quarter (three-month period) that you earn enough money, Social Security awards you a credit for that quarter.  You must accumulate enough work credits to be eligible for Social Security’s different programs. For Social Security Disability Insurance, not only must you have enough work credits, but you must have enough of them in the last ten years in order to qualify.  Social Security’s formula for calculating the required number of credits is complicated; the number of credits you need varies depending on your age.  However, if you are over the age of thirty you generally need to have worked and earned credits for five of the last ten years.  (If you are younger than age thirty, you generally need to have work credits for about half the time since you turned twenty-one.) Therefore, as time passes after you stop working and earning credits, the fewer of your work credits count toward your eligibility for disability.  Eventually you will reach the point at which you no longer have enough work credits to qualify for disability.  This point is your Date Last Insured.  If it has been several years since you have worked, your DLI may be in the past.  If this is the case, you may still be eligible for SSDI, but you will have to show that you became disabled before your DLI.  If you stopped … Continued

Filed under: News || Tagged under:
0 comments || Author:

December 19, 2011

Asperger’s Syndrome And Filing An Indiana Social Security Disability Claim

Believe it or not even individuals suffering from severe Asperger’s Syndrome can find themselves denied their disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis has experience with this type of claim, and often finds himself talking to families shaking their heads wondering why they have been denied.  Many valid initial claims are denied by the SSA, but the reality is that many of theses same claims are found favorable further in the appeals process. Asperger’s Syndrome can range widely in its severity.  While one individual may suffer from very mild symptoms another individual may be very severe.  Asperger’s Syndrome may be hard to detect in very young children, but many times symptoms are noticed as children enter kindergarten and start interacting with their peers.  The symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome may vary from individual to individual but some common symptoms can include but are not limited to: Problems with social interaction.  This usually includes the inability to identify social cues. Unusual facial expressions and may attempt to avoid eye contact. Heightened sensitivity to textures, tastes, sounds, and light. Repeating words in a formal manner, and also may talk excessively about one subject. Some individuals may find a change or routine very disturbing. In Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience some individuals symptoms suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome may not be easily detected in a brief interaction.  It is usually very apparent after an individual spends some time with the person and then understands these symptoms are continuous.  When attempting to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for Asperger’s Syndrome good medical records are generally the key to a favorable outcome.  A long standing relationship with a psychiatrist or therapist with a clear diagnosis supported by treatment records may … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments || Tagged under:
0 comments || Author:

August 23, 2011

Neuropathy and Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana Social Security disability claimants suffering from neuropathy may find themselves denied disability benefits in the early stages of the disability claims process. Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis has represented numerous of his Indiana neighbors who are unable to work due to neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy stems from changes to the peripheral nervous system.  Damage to the peripheral nervous system can result in interruption of  important communications needed in the body. In Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis’ experience, the majority of his disability clients complain of numbness and/or tingling in their feet and/or hands.  Many individuals also report the inability to feel hot and cold sensations.  These are some more common symptoms and in severe cases the symptoms may become even more extreme. There are numerous causes of neuropathy.  Some identifiable causes of neuropathy can include diabetes, auto immune diseases, and alcoholism, to name a few.  If you are experiencing neuropathy type symptoms you should consult a qualified physician to ensure you receive proper medical treatment.  It is reported even physicians may have a difficult time pinpointing the origin of neuropathy symptoms. If you find yourself unable to work due to peripheral neuropathy because you are unable to sit, stand, or walk for lengths of time you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.  You can contact Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis and his staff for a free consultation.

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments || Tagged under:
0 comments || Author:

August 1, 2011

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Benefits Due to Amputation

Indiana disability claimants with an amputation filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may be surprised to learn that winning your disability claim based on amputation may not always be easy.  Amputation is defined as the complete severance of an individual’s extremety such as a hand, foot, arm or leg.  Amputation can be due to a medical removal, an injury, or some other form of trauma. Symptoms associated with having an amputated limb vary depending on which body part(s) has been amputated. Amputations of the feet or legs typically affect a person’s ability to walk, bend, climb stairs, and ability to move around. Amputations involving hands and arms typically affect a person’s ability to push, pull, or perform fine motor functions. Although activities for an amputee may be impossible or very difficult, many individuals experience pain around the area of the amputated limb.  Some common medical reasons for amputation may include: Diabetes Gangrene Severe Frostbite Hardened or Embolism of the arteries Raynaud’s disease Buerger’s disease How does an amputee qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits?  As stated above, just being an amputee does not automatically qualify an individual for disability benefits.  As all qualifying disabilities or conditions, in order to qualify for disability benefits for an amputated limb or extremity, an Indiana disability claimant must show that the amputation causes the person to be unable to perform functions that are important in the work place such as lifting, bending, walking, grasping, pushing, and pulling. The difficulty in showing this varies depending on which limbs have been amputated and the type of work (heavy, moderate, light, sedentary) that you have done before or could be expected to perform based on your age, education level and experience. Specifically, the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines the criteria for an individual to qualify for disability benefits because of an amputation in their “Listing of Impairments.”  … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments || Tagged under:
0 comments || Author:

April 28, 2011

Your Indiana Social Security Disability Appeal and Radiculopathy

Indianapolis disability attorney Scott D. Lewis represents disability claimants with many disabling conditions including those suffering from radiculopathy. Potential disability clients often call his office who suffer from radiculopathy, but are unsure whether this condition qualifies them for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. When your disabling condition begins to prevent you from performing substantial gainful activity (SGA), and you find yourself unable to provide for yourself and/or your family the way you used to, it may be time to inquire about Social Security disability benefits. Radiculopathy is a condition that is recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a disabling condition under the SSA’s Listing of Impairment’s Spinal Disorders.  If you are considering applying for Social Security disability benefits, the first step is to look through the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments” to see if you have a qualifying disability. The SSA publishes these listings as a resource for those looking to receive Social Security disability benefits.  These listing are used by the SSA to decide whether or not a claimant’s disability meets the Social Security Administration’s standards for disability and whether the disability claimant should be awarded or denied disability benefits. Radiculopathy is defined under listing 1.04 Disorders of the Spine, Section A. Carefully evaluate this listing and discuss with your physician about whether or not he/she feels as though you meet or equal the criteria to be found disabled. Indiana Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis often sends his client’s physicians a list of questions in hopes that they will complete these questionnaires in such a way as to show the client does indeed meet the listing, making it easier for Social Security to find the claimant disabled. If it is determined that the disability claimant does not meet or equal the listing (1.04 Disorders of the Spine, Section A) which defines radiculopathy and its … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments || Tagged under:
0 comments || Author: