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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

Filed under: Claims Process, Hearings Process || Tagged under:
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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.

Filed under: Hearings Process || Tagged under:
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November 30, 2010

Indianapolis Social Security Lawyer Scott Lewis and his Thoughts Concerning Video Hearings

The Indianapolis Office of Disability Adjudication and Review has a tremendous backlog of Social Security disability appeals waiting to be heard by Administrative Law Judges (ALJ).  This is no big secret to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and in an attempt to help alleviate the huge caseload they have turned to video hearings.  Does this mean an Indiana Social Security disability claimant will have a video hearing?  No, there is still a possibility you will appear at an “in person” hearing with the ALJ sitting right in front of you.  Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis has noticed recently that Indiana disability claimants need to expect the unexpected when dealing with Administrative Law Judges from other locations. It is not uncommon for Indiana Social Security disability attorneys to see the same Administrative Law Judges over and over at “in person” hearings at the Indianapolis Social Security hearings office.  Familiarity with the Judges can often help an Indiana Social Security disability lawyer know what to expect at the court proceeding and be well prepared for the type of questions that will be asked by the Judge.  Also, this type of familiarity will usually help the Social Security disability attorney know what particular things a certain judge is looking for to achieve a favorable outcome. Now, lets mix in an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) sitting in a courtroom peering through a small television monitor hundreds of miles away who may have never stepped foot in the state of Indiana.  You may enter the courtroom in a wheelchair, the ALJ may not see, and you may grimace in pain that he may not see, and then he speaks to you in a voice that seems to echo from the audio equipment. You look at your Indianapolis Social Security Attorney for guidance and he displays calm character … Continued

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November 29, 2010

Indiana Disabililty Lawyer Scott Lewis Thoughts on Social Security Administration’s New Website

Many Indiana residents applying for Social Security disability benefits online may find the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) new website a bit easier to navigate compared to the older website.  While it may be more pleasing to the eye, the revamped website appears to be very similar to the old website.  Actually, it is not too difficult to apply for disability benefits online by just following the simple prompts provided by the website. By typing in www.ssa.gov you can enter the new Social Security website.  At the top of the SSA website home page you will see a tab for “disability”.  By clicking on this tab you will see directions for following four steps to get the process started.  This page not only gets you started on applying for disability benefits, but you may also check your disability application status and also appeal a denied medical decision about your claim.  There are a number of other things you can do online with the Social Security Administration’s website, you may want to take a moment to see if any other areas of the website are of interest. While you can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits online, it is still Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis’ understanding you cannot apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits on the www.ssa.gov website.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis advises his clients to call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis advises his clients to apply for both programs in the event you are not eligible for one program then the other program may be appropriate for your circumstances.

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November 22, 2010

Indianapolis Social Security Lawyer Scott Lewis Comments on What Amount Your Disability Benefits Might Be

Indiana Social Security disability payments can vary from one person to another.  Indianapolis Social Security attorney Scott Lewis is often asked what a person can expect from the first monthly disability payment his client may receive in the mail.  Depending on what program you qualify for, the amounts can vary and the reason you get that particular amount can also vary.  The criteria to establish the dollar amount for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits versus Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are very different. There are a few things you may want to consider when examining why you receive a particular dollar amount from these two different programs. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):  With this program Social Security disability payments are based on an average of the earnings over the years that you worked.  This program is funded through tax revenue you are paying as you work.  Because individuals incomes can vary greatly, the calculated amount of a disability benefit check can vary greatly also.  This calculation can be complex and to get an accurate amount it is recommended you contact your local Indiana Social Security office. Supplemental Security Income (SSI):  This program does not require a person to pay through payroll taxes in order to qualify for benefits.  It is more of a “need” based program.  Your SSI payments are usually lower the more income you receive.   The Social Security Administration (SSA) may consider income as earned income, unearned income, in-kind income, and deemed income.  Again, this program may seem complicated and relies on different formulas and it may be in your best interest to contact your local Social Security Administration office to receive accurate information. Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis recommends his clients to apply for both the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the … Continued

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