Indianapolis, Lafayette & Franklin Social Security Disability Blog

How guardianships work

The courts in Indiana can establish guardianships that permit one party to make decisions on behalf of another party. Guardianships are typically established when individuals become incapacitated or disabled and unable to make decisions regarding their own welfare.

Without guardianships in place, the assets of someone who is comatose or in some other way debilitated could depreciate in value if they are not properly managed. Guardians would also be responsible for ensuring that bills, such as insurance or utilities, are paid so that excessive liabilities do not accumulate.

Many disability claimants face an uphill battle

For those who suffer a disabling medical condition, holding a job can be difficult. Many people with disabilities struggle with the daily challenges for months or even years before it finally becomes too much and they apply for Social Security disability benefits. However, the approval numbers for first-time applicants in Indiana and other states are well below 50 percent. This makes it imperative to be precise in filing a complete SSDI application with all the required supporting documentation.

An SSDI threshold requirement is eligibility as determined by earning work credits. For most individuals, this means working five of the last 10 years. Additionally, if a claimant is still working, they cannot be working too many hours or earn too much money. A denial based on any of these reasons is considered a technical denial. However, disability experts, report that the majority of denials are based on a medical record that is insufficient to meet the Social Security Administration's definition of disability.

Finances can be a factor in a disability benefits case

A threshold requirement for Social Security Disability Insurance eligibility is that the applicant must have a sufficient number of work credits. The amount needed to earn one work credit changes from year to year, but as a general rule, a person will be eligible if he or she has worked five of the last 10 years before acquitting the condition or conditions leading to the claim of disability. However, many Indiana residents stop working some time before filing a claim. This places some in the position of not being able to afford to have a treating doctor.

While the regulations do not demand an applicant to provide medical records in the initial filing, the disability examiner will need medical history treatment notes among other elements before a decision can be rendered. Where no records are submitted, the Social Security Administration will order a consultative examination to provide information regarding the claimant's condition. While this provides the SSA with what the regulations require, it seldom benefits the claimant who is seeking a thorough, objective evaluation.

Appealing the termination of disability benefits

Some Indiana Social Security recipients may face periodic continuing reviews and other types of scrutiny directed toward their disability benefits. In most cases, reviews occur automatically every three to seven years to determine if a recipient is once again medically able to work. While people whose disabilities are considered permanent by Social Security tend to have seven-year review dates, these can come more frequently for others. In other cases, reports that a person was engaging in some type of work may spark a more sudden review of a disability case.

In such instances, the recipient may receive a notice that their disability benefits will be halted because the agency has decided that they are able to return to work. Recipients who receive this type of notice have a right to appeal the decision; they have 60 days after receiving the notice to file an appeal, just like applicants whose benefits claims are initially denied. In some cases, people who appeal the termination of their disability benefits can be successful in receiving Social Security disability once again through a hearing at a state disability agency or before an administrative law judge.

Working toward disability claim success for adult autism

If your autistic child is about to become 18 years of age, are you concerned about his or her eligibility for continuing disability benefits? To see if your child can qualify, you have to show the appropriate documentation to the Disability Determination Services.

What to know about adult guardianship

When a loved one becomes ill or indisposed due to age, this can present family members with difficult choices. Also known as a conservatorship, adult guardianship is a legal tool that a person can use to take care of a loved one with dementia or cognitive impairment.

Conservators are legally empowered to make life-changing decisions for impaired family members. These decisions affect how elders live, access their finances and receive medical care. After undergoing adequate screening from legal authorities, conservators receive wide latitude in organizing the affairs of their charges.

Applying for SSD benefits with a mental or psychiatric disability

Social Security Disability benefits can be a critical lifeline for people in Indiana who are no longer able to work due to their disabilities. At the same time, many people are concerned about how they can prove their claim for benefits if their disability involves a mental or psychological condition. People who initially apply for SSD benefits are often denied at first, and the barriers for approval can seem particularly difficult for people with less physically apparent disabilities. However, SSD cases are approved on the basis of medical records, including mental health professionals, psychiatrists, psychologists and even family physicians.

These medical records should include information about how a Social Security Disability applicant deals with everyday activities as this can also reflect upon the ability to work. Mental impairments in an SSD benefits claim could include cognitive issues like memory loss or developmental disability, anxiety disorders or affective problems like depression or bipolar disorder. The disability examiner will be looking for evidence of an inability to follow instructions, learn, concentrate or handle social situations. In particular, the disability examiner will be looking for evidence of decompensation, which is when a person no longer functions adequately due to psychiatric illness, stress, fatigue or other issues.

Those who decide on disability applications

When an Indiana resident files for Social Security disability benefits, they may wonder who is responsible for making the decision about their application. The person responsible for determining whether a claim will be approved varies depending on the level of the process involved. People who first apply for benefits enter at the initial disability claim level. If the initial claim is denied, the applicant can then move on to a reconsideration appeal and a hearing before an administrative law judge. After that level, one can still appeal to the Appeal Council and then to a federal district court.

At the level of an initial claim and the reconsideration appeal, a decision about Social Security benefits would be made by a team. The case is assigned to a disability examiner who gathers medical evidence and makes a determination. While some cases are decided by the examiner alone, others involve consultations with staff medical doctors and psychologists. Unit managers may also get involved in urging staff to approve fewer applications.

Listing multiple conditions helps when seeking benefits

When filing a disability application, it is essential to establish an inability to do any kind of work. This includes an applicant's current job as well as any former job that he or she held. In most cases, Indiana residents will win a disability case by showing that they have multiple conditions. While it is possible to win benefits by proving a singular condition exists, the goal is to stack the odds in an applicant's favor by any legal means available.

Therefore, it is a good idea to list any condition that a person thinks he or she is experiencing. It makes no difference whether it is physical or mental in nature. In some cases, a person is approved for benefits because of a secondary condition or one that he or she didn't necessarily think would meet the criteria for approval.

Reconsideration is the first step in an SSDI appeal

An initial claim for social security disability benefits is usually denied in Indiana. Accompanying the denial will be a letter specifying the reason(s) for the denial. For those who disagree with the decision, there is an appeal procedure. Social Security must receive a written request within 60 days of the claimant's receipt of the letter or the denial will stand.

This first level of appeal, called reconsideration is almost identical to the initial review. At reconsideration, a different disability examiner will process the claim, but most often the same medical records will be reexamined. The applicant can, however, submit supplemental information if new treatment or diagnosis has occurred since the initial application was submitted. Statistically, denials are higher at reconsideration than at the initial application phase.

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