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 25, 2011

Appointment Of Representative Forms For Your Disability Claim

Some individuals applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may decide they need representation to help navigate what can be a confusing disability process.  In order for Indiana disability attorney Scott Lewis to represent you in your disability claim and be recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA), he must have an Appointment of Representative Form (Form SSA 1696) completed and submitted to the SSA. The Appointment of Representative form is a fairly easy form to complete, but at the same time is a vital piece of paperwork to ensure representation in your Indiana Social Security disability claim.  The main parts of SSA form 1696 include: Claimant information including name and Social Security number. The authorization to appoint the representative which includes the type of claim, release of information, and whether you have more than one representative.  A signature, address, telephone number, and date are also needed by the claimant. The acceptance of appointment is then completed which contains information about the lawyer or representative involved with the claim. The two final sections concern waiver of the fee and waiver of direct payment. When Indiana Social Security Lawyer Scott Lewis is hired to represent a disabled claimant, he tries to get this form into the Social Security Administration early so he has access to the disability claimant’s information.  Without the submission of the Appointment of Representative form, the Social Security Administration will not release any information or speak with Mr. Lewis about the Indiana disability claimant’s appeal. Many Indiana disability claimants do not know they have a right to be represented in their Social Security disability claim.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis offers a free consultation and his fee agreement is contingent on a favorable outcome in your case.  In other words, plain … Continued

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February 20, 2011

A Few Thoughts About Doctors Not Supporting Your Indiana Social Security Disability Appeal

Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis has seen doctors that will go to great lengths (usually short of going to your hearing of course) and doctors who refuse to help at all, and everything in between.  So what can you do when your treating physician will not support you in your Indiana Social Security disability appeal? It probably depends on why they will not support you.  There can be a variety of reasons why your doctor won’t support your disability claim.  Perhaps you simply do not get along with your doctor, or your doctor does not believe your disability prevents you from working, or finally maybe your doctor says he/she will help you, but will not assist you with your disability claim when push comes to shove.  In Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis’ experience, a cooperative treating physician can have a huge impact on you receiving a favorable outcome in your Social Security disability claim. So what can you do when your physician is not willing to help you?  It may depend on your health care coverage.  You may be limited on who you can see pursuant to your medical coverage.  It may help you to discuss your concerns with your treating physician.  Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis encourages his clients to try and have a good relationship with their doctor(s).  It is important to remember that physicians are people too and have likes and dislikes like all of us, and it makes sense if they like you they may be willing to go that extra mile for you in helping to establish your disability and your inability to hold down a full time job. Some Indiana disability claimants have the option of switching physicians when they are unhappy with their treating physician.  One of the problems Indianapolis disability attorney Scott … Continued

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February 14, 2011

Indianapolis Disability Attorney Scott Lewis Discusses Absenteeism in the Workplace and Social Security Disability

Indiana Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis has many disability clients who claim that their disability causes them to miss too many days of work to hold down a job.  In Mr. Lewis’ experience, Indianapolis disability claimant’s who have a mental condition or a physical condition that causes them to be absent from work on a regular basis may be a factor in determining whether they receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. When a Social Security disability claimant gets denied SSDI or SSI benefits, the claimant has the right to appeal that decision made by the Social Security Administration (SSA) by requesting a hearing.  Once the disability claimant is in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), the claimant often sees other individuals in the hearing room.  One of these individuals may be a Vocational Expert.  A Vocational Expert is at the hearing to testify to which jobs the claimant may or may not be able to perform due to their disabling condition(s).  As Attorney Scott Lewis questions his clients regarding their disabling condition(s), he often finds that his Indiana disability clients have difficulty with regular attendance in a work setting.  Many times, disabling conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, chronic pain, and other disabling conditions can result in an individual’s inability to get out of bed every morning and make it to their workplace.  At the hearing, a Vocational Expert (or job expert) may testify that two or more absences per month may result in termination of employment. At times, in Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis’ experience, in the above line of questioning when the job expert states that no employers will permit this type of absenteeism, it may result in a favorable decision. At an Indianapolis Administrative Law Judge appeal hearing, claimants often find the line of questioning … 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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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 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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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 14, 2010

2011 Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) for Social Security Disability Benefits Recipients

As with all Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit recipients, Indiana disability benefits recipients are not going to see an increase in their monthly disability payment in 2011. On October 15th, 2010, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that there would be no Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) for 2011. This is the second year in a row that there was not an increase to SSDI, SSI or Social Security retirement benefit payments.  Over 50 million Americans receive some form of Social Security benefit. What are Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA)? COLA is an automatic adjustment to the SSDI or SSI recipient’s monthly benefits that may occur each year. The COLA increase is based on 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.  The purpose of the COLA increase is so the purchasing power of SSDI or SSI benefits keep in pace with consumer prices and that benefits are not eroded by inflation. Why isn’t there a COLA increase in 2011?  As in 2010, because there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of the previous year to the third quarter of the current year. Therefore, SSDI and SSI payments will remain the same in 2011.  In the last two years, overall inflation has been low, largely because of the economic downturn.  It has been predicted by the Congressional Budget Office that inflation will remain low for the next several years.  As a result, this may mean that Social Security recipients may not see a COLA increase for … Continued

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