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March 28, 2011

What is the Social Security Administration’s Medical Listing of Impairments?

Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis practices Social Security disability law throughout the state of Indiana. He represents disability claimants with their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Most individuals who apply for SSDI or SSI benefits have no idea what disability criteria the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to determine if they are disabled. The SSA determines if an individual is disabled according to the rules and regulations governing Social Security disability and use a “Listing of Impairments” also known as the “blue book” to determine if an individual will meet or exceed the SSA’s definition of disability. What is the Social Security Administration’s Medical “Listing of Impairments”?  This medical listing referred to as the blue book is a list of impairments that Congress has defined to be disabling. This disability handbook contains fourteen (14) major body system sections that address a list of Social Security disability impairments considered to be severe enough to prevent an individual from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). The major body systems addressed within the blue book are as follows: Musculoskeletal System, Special Senses and Speech, Respiratory System, Cardiovascular System, Digestive System, Genitourinary Impairments, Hematological Disorders, Skin Disorders, Endocrine System, Impairments that Affect Multiple Body Systems, Neurological, Mental Disorders, Malignant Neoplastic Diseases, and Immune System Disorders. Within each of the above listings, Social Security defines the criteria needed to meet the listing in which disability is defined.  Indiana disability claimants may wonder what impairments they will find in the Social Security List of Impairments.  The “Listing of Impairments” contains a list of disabling conditions for each major body system.  For example, if you are disabled due to a spinal disorder, you must meet the criteria set forth in the section of the listing dealing with Musculoskeletal System.  In Section 1.00 Musculoskeletal System, … Continued

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March 23, 2011

I Have Been Denied Social Security Disability Benefits and I Don’t Know What To Do Next!

Indiana residents that have been denied Social Security disability benefits often wonder what to do next in order to get the benefits they deserve. Statistically, it is stated that nearly 2% of Americans apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits each year. SSDI and SSI benefits are available to those individuals with a medical condition or a combination of medical conditions preventing them from working working for twelve consecutive months or longer or expected to be unable to work for 12 months. Unfortunately, approximately 80% of these claims are denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA) at the initial stage of the claims process. Once denied, many disability claimants wonder what to do next. Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis often encourages his disability clients to be patient and to not panic. Although the claimant was denied initially, there may be hope for winning your claim. Even though the Social Security disability appeals process is long and may be complicated, it can be manageable and ultimately your claim may be approved. Once the disability claimant receives their initial denial by the SSA, the claimant should file an appeal within 60 days from the date of the decision letter.  Most of the time, appeals can be filed online at the SSA’s website.  The first appeal the claimant must file is the “Request for Reconsideration.”  This appeal is simply asking the SSA to review your claim again for consideration of SSDI or SSI benefits.  Within a certain amount of time, the SSA will either approve or deny this appeal.  Again, don’t stop there!  As stated before, the majority of these claims are denied so it is important to continue the appeals process.  A second appeal must be filed in order to have your disability case heard in from of a judge.  This second … Continued

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March 19, 2011

Your Indiana Social Security Disability Appeal and Cerebral Palsy

Scott D. Lewis is an Indianapolis disability lawyer who sees a variety of disabling conditions and cerebral palsy is no exception.  It is not uncommon for potential clients to call his office and ask how severe their disabling condition must be in order to be eligible for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. When should you inquire about your Indiana Social Security disability benefits for cerebral palsy or any other disabling condition?  In most cases, it is when your condition prevents you from performing substantial gainful activity.  In other words, apply for disability benefits when you find yourself unable to take care of yourself and/or your family due to a disabling condition or combination of disabling conditions. Cerebral palsy is recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a disabling condition if it meets certain criteria.  To start with an Indiana disability claimant may want to turn to the Social Security Administration’s “Listing of Impairments”.  This publication outlines various disabling conditions the SSA will consider in making a favorable or unfavorable decision when deciding if your condition meets or equals certain standards.  The Social Security Administration evaluates cerebral palsy under section11.00 Neurological Impairments and more specifically 11.07 for cerebral palsy. Examining the criteria needed to qualify for this impairment while at the same time taking a close look at your treating physician’s medical records may help you determine if you do indeed meet or equal the criteria needed to be determined disabled. Indiana Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis often sends a list of questions to his Indiana disability claimant’s physician(s) in hopes they may complete these forms in such a way it verifies that his client meets the listing making it easier for the Social Security Administration to find you disabled. What … Continued

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March 10, 2011

Social Security’s Electronic Folder and Your Indiana Social Security Disability Claim

With all of the increasing technology we experience on an everyday basis, it should be no surprise for Indiana disability claimants to find out their Social Security disability claim file is loaded onto a compact disc (CD) for viewing purposes. In an attempt to go paperless the Social Security Administration (SSA) has turned to having all of your disability development scanned and turned into space saving technology.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis believes this transition is not only easier for viewing purposes, but has cut down on unnecessary file storage for the Social Security Administration and also Indiana Social Security disability representatives. Indiana Social Security disability appeals claimants may wonder what exactly is contained in their electronic Social Security disability claim folder.  The items in your Social Security disability claim folder are referred to as exhibits.  There are different sections of the folder and they may include: Payment documents/decisions Jurisdictional documents/notices Non disability development Disability development Medical records If you are currently waiting on an Indiana Social Security disability hearing and the Social Security Administration has mailed you a compact disc with your Social Security disability file on it you will want to take a good look at it to ensure your file is complete.  While some of the sections may be difficult to understand, the medical records section should be closely examined to ensure all of your physician(s) records are present and up to date.  Indiana disability lawyer Scott Lewis strives to ensure his clients electronic file is complete and all necessary documents have been submitted to the Indiana offices of the Social Security Administration. If you show up at your Indiana Social Security disability hearing and your file is not complete, some Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) will allow you additional time to submit missing documentation; however, there is no guarantee an … Continued

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March 9, 2011

Where Will My Indiana Social Security Disability Hearing Be Held?

Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis travels throughout the state of Indiana and various other states to represent Social Security disability claimants at their Social Security disability hearing.  Due to various reasons, he is able to practice Social Security disability law in many different geographic locations.  At times, when one of his Indiana Social Security disability claimant moves, Mr. Lewis will travel to another city or state to remain as his or her client’s disability case representative.  Many Indiana Social Security disability claimants may wonder where exactly will their disability hearing take place as they are approaching their hearing date.  Once the hearing date is established by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the disability claimant will be notified in writing by the SSA of the date, time, and location of their hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) is in charge of conducting hearings and giving out disability benefit decisions in determining if an individual is eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Currently, ODAR has 10 regional offices, 161 hearing offices (including 7 satellite offices), 5 national hearing centers, and 2 national case assistance centers.  There are approximately 1,300 Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) in the field organization. ALJs may travel to other sites such as local Social Security offices to conduct hearings if needed. In most cases, Social Security disability claimants will be assigned the hearings office or location closest to their listed residency.  In order to find the ODAR office closest to you, visit ODAR’s website.  The Indianapolis ODAR hearings office is located in downtown Indianapolis.  This hearings office services Social Security fields offices for Anderson, Bloomington, Columbus, Indianapolis Downtown, Indianapolis Northeast, Indianapolis West, Kokomo, Muncie, and Richmond. Disability Attorney Scott Lewis frequents the Indianapolis ODAR hearings office … Continued

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March 8, 2011

Child Social Security Disability Benefits and a Few Words From Indinapolis Disbility Lawyer Scott Lewis

The amount of inquiries Indianapolis Social Security attorney Scott Lewis receives on a weekly basis concerning child Social Security disability benefits is quite large.  The parent(s) or guardian(s) of these children have many questions concerning the eligibility criteria for qualifying for disability benefits.  The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program can provide disability payments to children from birth to eighteen years of age if they meet medical and resource requirements. Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis finds many families fail to receive payments for a disabled child due to Social Security’s income and resource rules.  The Social Security Administration will not only consider income and resources of family members living with the child, but also the income and resources of the child.  Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis finds most families are surprised to find the threshold for income and resources is usually a lower figure than they had anticipated.  So even if your child meets the medical disability requirements set by the Social Security Administration your claim can be barred due to income and resource restrictions. Now in the event your family and child’s income and resources are below the limit set by the Social Security Administration, you next must meet the Social Security Administration’s rules for disability.  The child must have marked and severe functional limitations with a mental or physical condition, or a combination of conditions that have lasted or is expected to last for a period of twelve months.  Also, for 2011 the child can not be working and earning over $1,000 a month. When it comes to examining the mental or physical disability the child experiences, the Social Security Administration will consider: Functioning in motor skills. Functioning in personal skills. Functioning in cognitive and communicative skills. Functioning in response to stimuli for infants. Functioning in concentration, persistence, or … Continued

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March 5, 2011

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Lawyers Like Scott Lewis Offer A Contingent Fee Agreement

If you are an Indiana disability claimant trying to make ends meet while struggling through the Social Security disability process, chances are you do not have the extra money to pay for up front attorney’s fees.  At times, individuals entering the Office of Disability, Adjudication and Review (ODAR) or commonly known as the hearing office make statements that they do not have an attorney with them because they cannot afford an attorney.  These individuals are unaware that Indiana disability lawyers like Scott D. Lewis represent Indiana disability appeal claimants on a contingency basis. What is a contingent fee agreement?  In the case of Indiana Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis, it means you will pay no up front costs and you will only pay a fee if Mr. Lewis wins your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.  The fee agreement is based on Mr. Lewis being paid on a percentage of your past due lump sum amount and cannot exceed a certain monetary figure set by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  On the other hand, if Indianapolis Social Security lawyer Scott Lewis is unsuccessful in winning your Social Security disability claim, there is no percentage paid, no maximum amount, and therefore no fee for his legal services. If disability attorney Scott Lewis wins your claim, the Social Security Administration generally takes his fee directly out of your past due lump sum that you are owed by the Social Security Administration.  Why would the Social Security Administration owe you a past due amount?  The Indiana Social Security disability appeals process can be very lengthy.  By the time you are awarded Social Security disability benefits, you may have accumulated money that you are due considering the date you first became disabled or in some cases your date … Continued

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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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