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May 21, 2015

Why Are Medical Records So Important to My Social Security Disability Claim?

Whenever I talk about the keys to a Social Security disability claim, I emphasize the importance of medical records.  Medical records are important because the Social Security Administration (SSA) cannot find you disabled under its rules without finding that you have a “medically determinable impairment.”  In other words, you must be able to provide acceptable medical evidence, such as objective test results or treatment notes showing diagnoses from acceptable medical sources, that proves that you have a medical condition that prevents you from being able to work. Why are Medical Records Important? While the SSA will most likely send you for an independent consultative examination to determine your diagnoses and symptoms, it is important to have medical records showing that you have been diagnosed and treated on your own.  I have often seen decisions in which an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) has concluded that a claimant’s impairment must not be as severe as he or she is alleging because the claimant did not receive significant medical treatment for it. Medical records are helpful in proving that you are disabled because they contain the diagnoses and clinical findings of medical providers who have treated you on a regular basis.  If those diagnoses and findings come from a doctor who specializes in treating your condition, Social Security will likely give them significant weight in determining whether your condition prevents you from working. What Kinds of Medical Records are Important? The most valuable records I can submit on behalf of my clients are objective test results.  X-rays, MRIs, nerve conduction studies, pulmonary function tests, and other tests give hard data showing the severity of certain conditions.  In fact, with appropriate test results it may be possible to show that you are disabled without even having to talk about whether you can perform work-like … Continued

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April 28, 2015

Symptoms of Depression That May Make you Eligible for Social Security Disability Payments

Many of the clients I serve in my Indianapolis disability practice suffer from some type of depressive disorder.  Sometimes their symptoms of depression are caused by or exacerbated by physical impairments, but often depression is a disabling condition all by itself. Depression raises some unique obstacles in pursuing a Social Security disability claim.  Deadlines must be met, appointments must be kept, and paperwork must be completed in a timely and thorough manner.  If you have depression, though, you may lack the energy to keep track of your paperwork or even open your mail.  You might be so socially and emotionally isolated that you do not attend appointments or return telephone calls.  You may have difficulty maintaining attention long enough to complete questionnaires about your symptoms and work history.  If you aren’t able to fulfill these obligations, it is likely your claim will be dismissed.  It can be really helpful if you allow a family member or friend to help you make sure everything gets finished completely and on time. The Social Security Administration (SSA) addresses the disability nature of depression and other affective disorders in its Listing of Impairments at Listing 12.04.  To meet the requirements of this listing, you first much be able to show that you have medically documented symptoms such as: “Anhedonia,” or a persistent, all-encompassing loss of interest in your daily activities, even things you used to like to do Disturbance in your appetite causing weight gain or loss Sleep disturbance Psychomotor agitation (unintentional, purposeless movement) or retardation (listlessness, inability to physically carry out everyday activities) Lack of energy Guilt or feelings of worthlessness Problems concentrating or thinking Suicidal thoughts Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia It is not enough for you to explain to Social Security what your symptoms are and how they affect you.  You must … Continued

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March 30, 2015

Diabetes and Your Social Security Disability Claim

If you suffer from diabetes and your symptoms keep you from being able to work, you may be eligible for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. The prevalence of diabetes among my clients seems to be ever increasing.  Some of my clients suffer from Type I diabetes, which typically starts in childhood.  However, most of my clients with diabetes have Type II diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes.  Unfortunately, many of my clients have medical impairments that greatly increase their risk of developing diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.  Others develop risk factors such as obesity, poor diet, and physical inactivity due to the physical limitations caused by their other medical impairments.  If you suffer from diabetes, even if you do not consider it to be the most disabling condition you have, its effects on your ability to work may be substantial.  When talking to Social Security about your disabling conditions, it is always important to discuss all of your impairments, even if you don’t think a particular condition like diabetes would be disabling to you all by itself.  Social Security determines your limitations based on the combination of all of your functional limitations that result from any and all medically determinable impairments you have. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) addresses diabetes in Section 9.00 of its Listing of Impairments, diabetes is no longer a listed impairment.  (Social Security removed the listing for diabetes in 2011.)  Instead, Social Security notes that the effects of diabetes on different body systems might allow you to meet or equal other sections of the Listings.  In Social Security Ruling 14-2p, the SSA identifies some examples of the effects of diabetes, including: Diabetic neuropathy (evaluated under Listing 11.14 for peripheral neuropathies) Diabetic retinopathy (evaluated under … Continued

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September 12, 2014

Social Security Disability Benefits for HIV/AIDS

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease that affects the body’s immune system.  AIDS is the last stage of the infection caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).  By attacking the immune system, HIV hinders the body’s ability to fight off infections.  HIV can be transmitted through sexual contact, exposure to infected bodily fluids, childbirth, or breastfeeding. Some symptoms of HIV infection may include a flu-like illness appearing two to four weeks after exposure to the virus.  After this illness, there is usually a latency period, typically lasting from 3 years to over 20 years, in which the patient will have very few, if any, symptoms.  Near the end of the latency period, fever, weight loss, gastrointestinal problems, and muscle pains may occur. Once HIV infection progresses to AIDS, more symptoms may occur.  These could include pneumocystis pneumonia, cachexia (HIV wasting syndrome), esophageal candidiasis, or respiratory tract infections.  People with AIDS also have a greater chance of contracting infections, viruses, and cancers. In order to meet the Social Security Administration (SSA)‘s listing for HIV infection, you must  have documentation of laboratory testing showing you are infected.  You also must be able to show that you suffer from one of the following: Bacterial infections: mycobacterial infections, nocardiosis, or salmonella (recurrent non-typhoid); or multiple recurrent bacterial infections requiring hospitalization or intravenous antibiotic treatment three or more times in a twelve (12) month period Fungal infections: aspergillosis, candidiasis (at a site other than the skin, urinary tract, intestinal tract, or oral or vulvovaginal mucous membranes), cocidiodomycosis (at a site other than the lymph nodes),  cryptococcosis (at a site other than the lungs), histoplasmosis (at a site other than the lungs or lymph nodes), mucormycosis, or pneumonia (or extrapulmonary infection) Protozoan or helminthic infections: cryptospridiosis, isosporiasis, or microsporidiosis, with diarrhea lasting for one (1) month or longer; extra-intestinal strongyloidiasis, or toxoplasmosis of an organ other than the liver, spleen, or lymph nodes Viral … Continued

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March 18, 2013

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorney Scott Lewis Is Back!

After a bit of a break I am back to blogging.  I enjoy sharing my experiences concerning the Social Security Administration (SSA) with prospective and current clients through my blog, but I must admit, going to hearings and preparing cases for hearings can be time consuming.  So what has been happening since my last blog entry?  The best news for disabled Indiana residents is that the waiting time for a hearing has been getting shorter.  I have seen a noticeable difference in waiting times recently and wonder how long this current trend will last. What does this mean for you?  Depending on your financial situation, getting to a hearing even a few months sooner may be the difference between keeping your home or facing foreclosure, between having continuous access to health care or spending months without health insurance, or between obtaining monthly disability payments or completely depleting your life savings.  On the other hand, you may be in such a desperate situation that having to wait any time at all for a Social Security disability decision is enough to bring you to financial ruin.  So what can you do?  I tell my clients to look for low or no-cost healthcare through local hospitals and clinics, seek help from their local government trustees, and ask their physicians to help them find programs that provide medications at cheaper rates, just to name a few. These days, when I have clients who complain about their waiting time for a hearing, I find myself thinking how fortunate they are to only have to wait about a year to get a hearing.  You heard me right – they are fortunate, compared to my clients from not long ago who typically had to wait nearly two years to get a hearing!  Not only do the shorter wait times help our disabled clients get their benefits sooner, they also save those clients some money.  The sooner a claimant receives benefits, the fewer months of … Continued

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December 19, 2011

Asperger’s Syndrome And Filing An Indiana Social Security Disability Claim

Believe it or not even individuals suffering from severe Asperger’s Syndrome can find themselves denied their disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis has experience with this type of claim, and often finds himself talking to families shaking their heads wondering why they have been denied.  Many valid initial claims are denied by the SSA, but the reality is that many of theses same claims are found favorable further in the appeals process. Asperger’s Syndrome can range widely in its severity.  While one individual may suffer from very mild symptoms another individual may be very severe.  Asperger’s Syndrome may be hard to detect in very young children, but many times symptoms are noticed as children enter kindergarten and start interacting with their peers.  The symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome may vary from individual to individual but some common symptoms can include but are not limited to: Problems with social interaction.  This usually includes the inability to identify social cues. Unusual facial expressions and may attempt to avoid eye contact. Heightened sensitivity to textures, tastes, sounds, and light. Repeating words in a formal manner, and also may talk excessively about one subject. Some individuals may find a change or routine very disturbing. In Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience some individuals symptoms suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome may not be easily detected in a brief interaction.  It is usually very apparent after an individual spends some time with the person and then understands these symptoms are continuous.  When attempting to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for Asperger’s Syndrome good medical records are generally the key to a favorable outcome.  A long standing relationship with a psychiatrist or therapist with a clear diagnosis supported by treatment records may … Continued

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December 8, 2011

Breast Cancer and Your Indiana Social Security Disbility Claim

Scott D. Lewis is an experienced Indiana Social Security disability lawyer who represents individuals with a wide variety of disabling conditions and cancer is no exception.  If you or someone you know is struggling or cannot work with a disabling condition such as cancer it may be in their best interest to file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Individuals with advanced breast cancer or individuals undergoing treatment for breast cancer may find it difficult to maintain employment.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes cancer in its Listing of Impairments under Listing 13.00 Malignant Neoplastic Diseases. Specifically Listing 13.10 outlines breast cancer and details what is needed for an individual to meet this listing.   It is important for individuals attempting to receive Social Security disability to not only get proper medical testing to support their claim, but also see qualified medical professionals to document the progression and prognosis of the cancer. When applying for Social Security disability it is important to remember there are not only medical qualifications that must be met, there are also financial and work related qualifications that may be crucial in a valid claim.  If you are frustrated by the disability process or simply have questions regarding the process you can contact Mr. Lewis for a free case evaluation.  Most questions can be answered over the phone and if you hire disability attorney Scott Lewis you pay nothing unless your claim is approved.  For your free consultation  contact Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis and his staff at (317) 423-8888,

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November 28, 2011

Why Should I Hire an Attorney to Represent me in my Social Security Disability Claim?

Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott D. Lewis is an experienced disability lawyer who represents individuals with their Social Security disability appeal. Some common questions an individual who is seeking disability benefits have are: “Do I really have to hire a lawyer to represent me in my Social Security disability claim?” “Should I hire an attorney to handle my Social Security disability claim?” “Will it benefit me to have representation at my Social Security disability hearing?” “If I hire an attorney, will I be able to get my disability hearing faster?” “How will I be able to afford to pay an attorney to represent me with my disability appeal?” If you have been recently denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you probably just read the above questions and thought to yourself that you have been thinking about these exact same concerns.  Here are the answers you have been looking for! Do you really have to hire a lawyer to represent you in your Social Security disability claim?  Quite simply, no.  SSDI or SSI claimants are not required to have a Social Security disability attorney or representative represent them in their disability appeal.  Having representation is a client’s right.  If you attend your SSDI or SSI hearing alone, most Administrative Law Judges will ask the claimant if they would like to continue their claim so they can seek representation.  Again, this is a right, not a requirement. Should you hire an attorney or representative to handle your Social Security disability claim?  This is a personal preference.  Some individuals decide that they would like to handle their claim on their own.  Although, statistically, more disability claims are won among individuals that are represented by an attorney or representative than those individuals that are not represented at their Administrative Law … Continued

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November 23, 2011

Migraine Headaches and Your Indiana Social Security Disability Appeal

Many individuals suffering from chronic migraine headaches find it difficult, if not impossible, to work and perform gainful activity.  Indiana Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis finds that many of his clients suffering from chronic migraine headaches have similar complaints.  These complaints can include, but are not limited to: The inability to focus or concentrate Sensitivity to light and sound Extreme pain Nausea Problems with vision Chills Fatigue Loss of appetite The Social Security Administration (SSA) can look at the symptoms you are experiencing due to severe migraine headaches in order to decide what limitations you may experience in the work setting.  If it is determined these limitations are severe enough to prevent you from performing a full day of work on a continuous basis you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Medical records can be the key to winning your Indiana Social Security disability claim.  In disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience records from a treating neurologist may greatly enhance your chances of winning your disability claim.  Appropriate testing and imaging combined with a good medical history documenting the severity of your migraine headaches may help your support the fact your are unable to work. If you have questions concerning your Social Security disability claim, you can contact Mr. Lewis by calling (317) 423-8888.  Mr. Lewis handles a wide variety of disabling conditions including migraine headaches, diabetes, depression, heart problems, and learning disabilities just to name a few.  Call now and receive your free case evaluation.

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November 21, 2011

Mental Disorders and Your Treating Physicians

Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis talks to numerous clients about their mental condition(s) and finds that some of his clients may not be receiving the type of medical care they need in order to win their Social security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims.  Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not put as much weight in all of the physicians you may be seeing because your medical professional may not specialize in a particular area. Mr. Lewis attempts to let all of his clients suffering from a mental condition that is preventing them from working to attempt to get appropriate medical treatment and that may be from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist.  In Mr. Lewis’ experience a professional in the mental health field is usually more qualified to render a diagnosis that the Social Security Administration will recognize as legitimate when you are trying to get your benefits approved.  While your general practitioner may have a long history with you and may be very knowledgeable about your personal history, he/she may not possess the credentials needed to diagnose you with a mental disorder in the eyes of the Social Security Administration. It may be as simple as asking for a referral from your treating physician to get to a treating source the Social Security Administration will put stock in.  In Mr. Lewis’ experience many Administrative Law Judges like to see an ongoing therapist patient relationship documenting the progression of the mental illness.  There is usually no substitute for good medical records when stepping into the court room to address your Social Security disability appeal. Indiana disability attorney Scott Lewis represents his Indiana neighbors with a wide variety of disabling conditions including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder.  If you or someone you know … Continued

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