October 28, 2010

Indiana Social Security Disability Claimants and Quick Disability Determinations

If you are an Indiana resident trying to get Social Security disability benefits, the word “quick” may not sound too familiar to you. At the present, processing times to receive a hearing from an Indiana Social Security disability Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is very long and may be putting a huge financial burden on you and your family.  On the other hand, if you were lucky enough to be one of the few claimants to have received a “Quick Disability Determination” (QDD), then you probably wouldn’t be reading this article. What is a “Quick Disability Determination” (QDD)? A QDD is a Social Security disability case that is selected by a computer when it has a high probability of the Social Security claimant being disabled and that all evidence can be obtained in a quick and easy manner, and that the Disability Determination Services (DDS) can process the claim quickly. Indiana Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis can only tell his Indiana Social Security clients to cross their fingers and hope they are selected by the computer to be a QDD.  The Social Security Administration has set up this QDD process to help alleviate the overwhelming amount of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applications that they are receiving. Indiana disability claimants who are experiencing a disabling condition that is not very common or may be lacking extensive medical records, may find themselves not considered for a QDD.  The criteria to be considered for a QDD may be very easy to identify and perhaps would have been caught on an initial application anyway.  Indianapolis Social Security lawyer Scott D. Lewis welcomes anything that will speed up the process for Indiana Social Security disability claimants as the current wait process is putting a strain on some of the most deserving Indiana residents.

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October 27, 2010

Lupus and Your Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis has noticed a larger number of Lupus related disability cases in the recent past.  Disability Attorney Scott Lewis believes this may be due to more people actually suffering from Lupus or simply more physicians are testing disability claimants and finally figuring out this is the correct diagnosis.  Nonetheless, if you are suffering from Lupus and it is preventing you from doing your past work or any other work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. When evaluating Lupus under Social Security standards for disability, the medical listing is located under Section 14.02 Systemic Lupus Erythematosus as an immune system disorder.   There are certain criteria defined in the  SSA’s Listing of Impairments  an Indiana Social Security disability claimant must meet or equal to be considered disabled from Lupus.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider factors such as a marked level of limitation in one of the following: *  Activities of daily living; *  Maintaining social functioning; or *  Completing tasks in a timely manner due to problems with concentration, persistence, or pace Indianapolis Social Security disability claimants not meeting the precise criteria for Lupus may still receive a favorable decision from the Social Security Administration in other ways.  One other way to receive a favorable determination is if you experience a combination of other impairments along with your Lupus diagnosis.  The Social Security Administration can consider all of  your disabilities and decide that you are unable to perform work like activity.  The Social Security Administration may decide your physical or mental residual functional capacity is so low that there are no jobs in the national economy that you can perform.  In other words, you my be unable to sit, stand, walk, lift, or concentrate for long enough periods of time to maintain employment.

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October 26, 2010

Will It Help If My Doctor Supports My Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits Claim?

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis encourages his Social Security disability clients to try to have a good relationship with their treating physician(s).  Generally speaking, it is usually very helpful to have your physicians on your side.  When it comes down to “crunch time” and the Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking for certain medical documents to support your Indiana disability claim, a helpful physician, psychiatrist, or therapist may be just what you need. Indiana Social Security appeals claimants may wonder how their doctor can help their disability claim.  There are a number of ways they may help: 1.  Medical specialists who keep detailed records including progress reports, test results, and the prognosis of your disabling condition, may play an important role in receiving a favorable outcome on your Social Security disability claim. 2.  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis often asks the treating physicians to complete questionnaires concerning your disabling condition.  Many times, these questionnaires can help pinpoint your disability so that an Indiana Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) can more easily find that you suffer from a disabling condition that prevents you from working. 3.  Your treating physician can provide letters detailing your disability and provide information as to the intensity, duration, and disabling effects of your impairment.  These letters can also provide information regarding the physician’s opinion as to whether you are able to work or not. In Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience the  Social Security Administration  and Indiana Social Security Appeals Judges usually want to see medical records from physicians that specialize in the area that you are claiming disability.  For instance, a General Practitioner who has diagnosed you with Bipolar disorder usually does not carry as much weight as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist that specializes in that particular area. The past experiences of Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis have taught him while a General Practitioner’s medical records are good, a specialist’s … Continued

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October 19, 2010

How Do I Pay My Indianapolis Social Security Disability Lawyer?

When the Social Security Administration (SSA) has turned down your Indiana Social Security disability claim and now you are wondering how you can afford to hire an Indiana disability attorney.  Financially, it may not be as difficult as you think.  Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott D. Lewis receives many calls asking how he gets paid if he is hired to represent an individual on their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Currently, Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis’ fee agreement is contingent on him winning his Social Security disability clients claim.  This means if he does not win the claim, he does not ask his client for any money.  Another advantage is there are no up front costs to the client. Mr. Lewis finds that most of his Indiana Social Security disability clients are struggling to keep their heads above water with medical bills and providing food & shelter for themselves and their families.  The thought of paying a Social Security disability lawyer up front is not even an option for most disability claimants. Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis gets paid a percentage of the Social Security disability claimant’s past due award and it is capped at a certain amount determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  The Social Security Administration takes this fee directly out of any past due benefits the Social Security disability claimant is awarded. When Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis wins his clients claim, he will also ask to be reimbursed for medical records expenses he has incurred to support the Social Security disability claim.

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October 15, 2010

Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis represents individuals that are unable to work due a disabling condition or a combination of impairments. His disability clients have applied for Social Security disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) and have been denied disability benefits.  Scott Lewis assists disability claimants with appealing their denied claim at the reconsideration level and at the hearing level.  At the Law Office of Scott D. Lewis, Attorney Scott Lewis and his staff offer a free consultation to all disability claimants prior to representing them in their claim.  When Attorney Lewis is consulting with a disability claimant, he often finds himself explaining to the claimant the different disability programs offered by the SSA. In many cases, the disability claimants are unaware of the two different types of programs.  It’s important for Mr. Lewis to discuss with the claimant what the difference is between these two programs and which, if not both, program(s) is appropriate for the claimant to apply for.  The two disability programs offered by the SSA are Social Security Disability Insurance (also referred as SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (also referred as SSI). The SSDI and SSI disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide financial assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the SSA and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program. Whether you are a disability claimant suffering from cancer, heart disease, mental disorders, back pain, or any other disabling condition, your impairment has nothing to do with which disability program is right for you.  To determine which program you may qualify for it is based on work history and/or your income & resources. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is a payroll tax funded federal insurance program that is offered to disabled people … Continued

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October 13, 2010

Testifying At Your Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing

Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis often finds his Indiana Social Security Appeals clients are very nervous about giving testimony at Social Security disability hearings.  The fact is many of his disability clients find the hearing to be much more informal than they had originally thought.  The hearing rooms in the Indianapolis Social Security disability office are not a grand courtroom as many disability clients are expecting.  Instead, hearing rooms are typically small, carpeted, wallpapered rooms with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) usually sitting at an elevated desk.  So, now that you have an idea what the hearing room looks like where an Indiana disability client will give testimony, what type of questions will you be asked? Almost all Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) follow a different routine when questioning Social Security disability appeals claimants.  With that being said, Indiana Social Security disability clients should realize the underlying question is “how does your disability keep you from working?”  Indianapolis Social Security disability Attorney Scott Lewis usually finds that most Administrative Law Judges will ask a series of questions and then let the Attorney or representative follow up with their own line of questioning.  The questions usually fall into four main groups: General background questions.  These can include how old you are, your height and weight, your marital status, who you live with, whether you are right or left handed, and many other similar questions. Past jobs you have performed.  Here the Social Security Administration (SSA) is usually concerned with how much you lifted, how much standing and sitting you did, and what your duties where at your previous job(s).  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis tells his clients to be prepared to discuss jobs over the last fifteen (15) years that lasted more than three (3) months. Discussion of your medical problems either physical or mental that prevent you from working.  It is important … Continued

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October 12, 2010

Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security Disability Benefits Recipients

Indianapolis Social Security disability benefits recipients receiving either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are entitled to a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) each year.  COLA is an automatic adjustment to the recipient’s benefits that may occur each year.  Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis tries to explain to his clients how COLA may affect their disability payments.The purpose of COLA is so the purchasing power of SSDI or SSI benefits is not eroded by inflation.  The increase in payments is determined by the percentage increase from year to year of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Worker (CPI-W) during the third quarter of the year.  This percentage increase of COLA is strictly based on the CPI-W increase so when there is not an increase in the CPI-W then there is no increase in COLA.  CPI-W increases are determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor. In 2010, there was no increase in COLA.  As all SSDI and SSI recipients experienced, this is the first time in history, dated back to 1975, that there was not an increase in COLA. There was no SSDI and SSI COLA increase in 2010 because there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2009. Therefore, SSDI and SSI payments remained the same in 2010. Indiana SSDI and SSI benefits recipients may be wondering if there will be a COLA increase in 2011.  According to recent studies, experts are predicting that there may not be a COLA increase in 2011 and possibly in 2012 due to lack of inflation. Official projections will be determined later this month.  Most Social Security disability recipients rely on these benefits as their only source of income. In some cases, the effects of no increase in COLA may be financially painstaking. At the … Continued

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October 7, 2010

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits based on Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability. Indiana disability claimants suffering from arthritis may qualify for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if the claimant meets the criteria set by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis is experienced in representing claimants with various types of arthritis.  Many Indiana residents suffer from arthritis and are unable to work due to their condition. How does a person suffering from arthritis qualify for Social Security disability benefits? As all disabling conditions, the SSA uses a 5 step sequential evaluation process to determine if a disability claimant will receive SSDI or SSI benefits based on arthritis. In Step 1 of the evaluation process, the SSA wants to know if the claimant is working.  In this step, the SSA simply determines if an individual is “working.”  If so, the claimant must prove that they are earning less than the monthly Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) set by the SSA.  Earning more than the monthly SGA amount is enough for the SSA to deny the disability claimant’s SSDI or SSI application. In the next step of the evaluation process, Step 2, the SSA will ask if the claimant’s arthritis is severe.  The impairment must be severe enough to significantly limit the claimant’s ability to perform basic work activity. In addition, the arthritis must last, or be expected to last, for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.  It’s the claimant’s responsibility to prove that the disabling condition such as arthritis is severe enough that his or her ability to perform basic work activities are limited and will last a minimum of 12 months. If a disability claimant suffering from arthritis can pass Steps 1 & 2 of the evaluation process, the SSA will continue to Step 3 of the evaluation process.  In Step 3, the SSA … Continued

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September 29, 2010

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Your Indiana Social Security Disability Claim

Indianapolis Social Security disability Attorney Scott Lewis often talks to potential clients about disabling conditions that are very difficult to live with. Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS can affect a Social Security disability claimant’s life in such a way as to make it impossible to maintain a full time job. For that reason, individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Irritable Bowel Syndrome may cause abdominal pain and cramping among other painful symptoms.  It can also be characterized by periods of loose stools and periods of constipation.  This painful condition can intrude on almost all aspects of a person’s life.  While there may be physical disabilities associated with IBS, there may also be mental disabilities including anxiety, stress, and even depression. How does the Social Security Administration (SSA) look at Irritable Bowel Syndrome?  The Social Security Administration recognizes Irritable Bowel Syndrome in its Listing of Impairments under Listing 5.06 Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).  What happens if your case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome does not precisely meet the listing?  You may still be able to win your Indiana Social Security disability claim or Indiana Social Security disability appeal.  If you can show Irritable Bowel Syndrome effects you in such a way that you cannot perform substantial gainful activity.  Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome may prevent you from working because you have to take unscheduled breaks.  Most employers are unable to tolerate a worker that cannot stay on task for certain periods of time. Indiana residents that suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS and are unable to perform work like activity because of this disabling condition may want to consult with a Social Security disability attorney to evaluate their claim.  Many disabilities such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be difficult to discuss, but it is important for Indiana and Indianapolis Social Security disability claimants to … Continued

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September 23, 2010

If I Try to Work, Will My Social Security Disability Benefits Stop?

Many hard working Indiana residents struggle to accept the fact they are no longer able to work to support their families due to a disabling condition. Depending on your disability working part time or eventually returning to the work force full time may not be out of the question. There are a few things to consider, such as how much money you can make and what programs the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers to get you back in the workforce. The first thing a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient may want to consider is how much money they can make working without jeopardizing their Social Security disability benefits.  This is called the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Amount.  This is a monthly amount an individual cannot exceed after subtracting impairment related work expenses.  SGA is a higher limit for statutorily blind individuals.  In 2010, the monthly dollar amount is $1,640 for statutorily blind individuals and $1,000 for other disabled individuals. A program of interest for Social Security disability recipients wanting to re-enter the workforce is the Trial Work Period.  In this scenario, a person may try to re-enter the workforce and still have earnings and continue to collect Social Security disability benefits. There are rules covering the Trial Work Period in the link provided above.  Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis receives calls on a weekly basis asking what the provisions are for earning money while collecting Social Security disability benefits and routinely steers these questions for more specific information to the Social Security Administration’s website.

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