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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 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 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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January 3, 2011

Indianapolis Disability Lawyer Scott Lewis Discusses Why Your Age Matters When it Comes To Social Security Disability Benefits

Indiana residents may not all agree getting older is a good thing.  Lets face it, as we age it seems to be a bit harder to bounce back from physical problems we encounter.  As we age, we may also find it more difficult to find employment.  Believe it or not, the Social Security Administration (SSA) believes it may be more difficult for older individuals to find suitable employment.  Now, don’t be misled that the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t look at various other factors when determining if your disability prevents you from working, but age is one very important factor they examine. Age is just one of the factors considered in what is known as “the grid”.  This is a table composed of various factors to help the SSA determine if your disability meets the requirements necessary to “grid out”, or be granted Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Other factors include education, the skill level of past employment, and whether you are able to do sedentary, light, medium, or heavy work.  The age criteria is broken down into four categories: 18 – 44 years old considered young individuals 45 – 49 years old considered younger individuals 50 -54  years old considered approaching advanced age 55 years of age and older considered advanced age While all of the above may seem difficult to understand, the simple truth is that those individuals over 50 years of age usually benefit from the grid scenario much more than those individuals younger than 50 years of age. Those individuals over 50 years of age with unskilled work experience that is not transferable combined with a limitation of sedentary work often find themselves on the favorable end of a Social Security disability decision.  With that being said, your disabling condition is still … 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 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 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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December 13, 2010

Does The Social Security Administration Offers A “Short Term” Disability Benefit

You may be surprised how often this question gets asked to Indiana Disability Attorney Scott Lewis.  At times, Indiana residents find themselves unable to work due to a disabling condition, but anticipate returning to the workforce.  These short term disabling conditions may be due to the result of an auto accident, a surgery, or any other condition where you find yourself unable to work because of a physical or mental impairment.  Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis even receives telephone calls asking if a normal pregnancy can be a disabling condition.  To answer the question of whether the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers a short term disability program, one must determine how short is short? The Social Security Administration has a condition that must be met that is called the “durational requirement.”  With this requirement, your disabling condition (either physical or mental) must have actually lasted for twelve (12) months or be expected to last for twelve (12) months.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis finds one way the Social Security Administration can turn down many claims is by stating your mental or physical disabling condition is not expected to last twelve (12) months.  Due to the fact that many medical conditions can be very difficult to determine how long they will last, it may be in your best interest to appeal an unfavorable decision if denied for this reason. Let’s say you are denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits because the Social Security Administration states you do not meet the durational requirement and you decide not to appeal that decision. Now you find your disabling condition does not improve and you are still unable to work.  In this scenario, you may be past the time limit to appeal your claim. Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis usually advises his … 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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