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March 6, 2015

Common Questions Concerning Children’s SSI Claims

In my Social Security disability practice, I meet many parents of children with special needs.  They have heard that Social Security has a program for children with disabilities, but they do not know how to find out more about it.  Here are some answers to some of the most common questions I hear from parents of disabled children. How do I know if my child meets the requirements for SSI? Qualifying for SSI is a two-step process.  SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a needs-based program; therefore, your household must fall below a certain amount of income and resources to qualify at the first step.  Unfortunately, there is no hard-and-fast number that I can say, “If you make XX amount of money, you are over the limit” because Social Security’s formula is more complex than that – it depends on the size of your household, your expenses, and the like.  Similarly, there is a limit (currently $2,000 for a single person; $3,000 for a couple) on household resources (the value of the things you own), but there are exemptions for some things like your home and sometimes your vehicle.  Really, the only way you can definitely determine whether you meet the income and resources limits is to talk directly to Social Security. Once you qualify financially, Social Security determines whether your child meets the medical requirements.  This determination is much less black-and-white than the resources test.  They look at your child’s medical records and determine how her impairments limit her ability to function in six different “domains”: Acquiring and Using Information, Attending and Completing Tasks, Interacting and Relating with Others, Moving About and Manipulating Objects, Caring for Yourself, and Health and Physical Well-Being. Is it best to work with a lawyer in the process? In theory, Social Security’s process is … Continued

Filed under: Appeals Process, Claims Process, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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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

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments || Tagged under:
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August 8, 2014

Social Security Disability Benefits for Learning Disabilities

Many of the children I represent in claims for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have been diagnosed with some type of learning disability.  While Social Security Administration (SSA)‘s Listing of Impairments does not specifically address learning disabilities, its evaluation process does consider the effects of learning disabilities on a child’s ability to function. Some of the children I represent have learning disabilities related to mental impairments such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (Listing 112.11), mood disorders (Listing 112.04), anxiety disorders (Listing 112.06), or intellectual disabilities (Listing 112.05).  Other children have learning disabilities that are less easy to categorize, so Social Security evaluates them differently.  Once Social Security determines that a child’s impairments do not medically meet or equal one of its Listings, it then evaluates the child’s combination of impairments to see if he or she “functionally equals the listings.”  If the child has marked impairments in acquiring and using information,  attending and completing tasks, interacting and relating to others, moving about and manipulating objects, caring for himself, or health and physical well-being, Social Security may find the child meets its definition of disability. In order to show Social Security that your child is disabled, you first must show that he or she has a medically determinable impairment.  Helpful evidence includes: Medical diagnoses and treatment notes Therapy/counseling notes Clinical test results Other medical findings Next, you must show how your child’s medically determinable impairments keep him or her from functioning at an age-appropriate level.  Evidence of these limitations includes: Individual Education Plans (IEPs) School grades Results of standardized testing Evaluations and treatment notes from occupational and physical therapy or other types of rehabilitation School or day care discipline reports Written comments from teachers regarding the child’s ability to work at grade level, complete assignments, work without supervision, and behave appropriately in a classroom environment … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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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

Filed under: Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney || Tagged under:
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October 30, 2012

SSI Benefits for Children With Learning Disabilities

Indiana children with learning disabilities may be entitled to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  A significant portion of my law practice is devoted to helping children and their families receive Social Security disability benefits.  My staff and I take great pride in being able to explain the application and appeals process to parents of disabled children, and we make sure that they are fully prepared when it is time to appear at a hearing before a Social Security Administrative Law Judge.  I have found that some other disability attorneys simply do not handle children’s cases, or they are unfamiliar with what it takes to win these claims.  Some parts of children’s cases are the same as adult cases; for example, the appeals process has the same steps for adults and for children.  However, other elements of children’s claims are quite different from adult claims, especially when it comes to showing how the claimant’s impairments are severe enough to be disabling under Social Security’s rules.  Knowing what the Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking for in children’s cases can be the key to a successful outcome. In my experience as a disability attorney representing children and their families, I find it especially beneficial to submit certain types documentation of a child’s disabilities to the SSA.  These records can include, but are not limited to: Medical records from treating physicians, especially specialists, who treat the child for any physical or mental impairments. Written statements from treating physicians concerning the severity of the child’s disabling condition Report cards IQ tests Individualized Education Program (IEP)  or 504 Plans developed at the child’s school Written statements from teachers concerning the child’s academic progress and behavior Behavior reports, written progress reports, and other written correspondence from the child’s teacher For each of my clients, I request … Continued

Filed under: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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September 27, 2012

Autism and Child Social Security Disability Benefits

One of the most rewarding parts of my job as a disability lawyer is helping disabled children and their families get the benefits they deserve.  After hearing about the daily struggles  families face when they have disabled children, it is hard not to take a personal interest in their cases.  I believe a larger percentage of my practice is made up of Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) claims involving children than in the practices of many of my fellow Social Security disability attorneys.  In fact, sometimes other attorneys refer children’s cases to me because they simply do not handle children’s disability claims.  I have noticed that more and more of my child clients have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and I have found that many of these cases have unique issues that must be addressed in order to enhance the chances of a favorable outcome. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses six “domains” of functioning to determine how a child’s daily living is affected by the child’s disability.  These domains are: Acquiring and using information Attending and completing tasks Interacting and relating with others Moving about and manipulating objects Caring for yourself Health and physical well-being. A child is considered disabled if the child either has “marked” limitations in two of these domains, or “extreme” limitations in one of them. I have found that many autistic children have extreme limitations in interacting and relating with others.  Individuals with autism may have difficulty holding simple conversations with others, suffer from language difficulties, or repeat words or phrases (echolalia).  I have noticed many of these children do not have the ability to recognize the simple social cues most of us take for granted.  In my experience, most of these kids are smart, and I mean really smart, but their inability to interact … Continued

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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September 5, 2012

What Happens To The Money In Children’s SSI Cases?

I represent many families with children who have disabilities at the hearings level in Indiana.  I believe I handle more children’s cases than many of my counterparts.  In fact, some attorneys tell me they simply will not take children’s disability claims at all.  Children’s disabilities can vary greatly, and the mental and physical problems caused by these health condition(s) can be devastating.  I often sit at the hearing and wonder, “When my client is awarded benefits, who is going to manage the money, and how will the money be used?” In children’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cases it is important to first understand Social Security’s income and resource restrictions.  If a family makes too much money, or if the family’s assets such as its vehicles, house, or bank accounts are worth too much, that family probably will not qualify for SSI benefits.  A family that does qualify for SSI is most likely struggling quite a bit to pay for for medical expenses, rent, food, and clothing.  Once a child is awarded SSI benefits, the family is eager to find out what types of expenses can be paid with SSI benefits, and who will be responsible for spending the money.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) has guidelines as to how those monies should be spent and who will do the spending. First, most minor children are required to have a representative payee who will manage their SSI payments.  The representative payee is required to: Use the payments to meet the needs of the beneficiary (i.e., the child) Save any money left over Report any changes Keep good records Help the beneficiary get medical treatment Notify SSA of changes in payee’s circumstances Complete accounting reports regarding the use of funds Return any monies beneficiary is not entitled to Now the big question … Continued

Filed under: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) || Tagged under:
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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

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments || Tagged under:
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December 14, 2011

Social Security Disability Benefits For Children And The Indiana Appeals Process

Children suffering from a disabling condition may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits.  Many times, if income/resource restrictions are met the child can be entitled to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if the disabling condition is severe enough.  Indianapolis disability attorney Scott D. Lewis has found some Social Security disability attorneys in Indianapolis do not take on child disability claims.  This may be from a variety of reasons, but Mr. Lewis believes many of these cases can be won. While the underlying question of how severe the disability is can be similar to an adult disability case, the question of whether or not the individual can work is generally not an issue in a child Social Security disability claim.  Instead, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at six (6) different domains when determining a disabling condition for a child: Acquiring and using information. Attending and completing tasks. Interacting and relating with others. Moving about and manipulating objects. Caring for yourself. Health and physical well being. As you can see by these domains they address not only physical limitations, but mental limitations as well.  In Indianapolis disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience it is very important to be able to provide medical records supporting the child’s disabling condition.  For instance, if your child suffers from a mental condition, a treating psychiatrist or therapist’s medical records may go a long way in proving a disability exists.  Also, if your child has problems at school an IEP or notes form a teacher detailing what special needs the child may require can also help document the presence of the disability. If you find your child is not performing at an age appropriate level and/or has a physical or mental disability that you believe should qualify him/her for disability payments contact Mr. Lewis for a … Continued

Filed under: Social Security Disability Benefits Claims Process || Tagged under:
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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,

Filed under: Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments || Tagged under:
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