Indiana Disability Attorney Gene Arnholt answers your questions
More videos: How the Judge Determines Disability, What Not to Do at Your Hearing, How to Be Persuasive, How to Describe Daily Activities, When You Have Physical Impairments and
Mental Limitations, and Can You Work Part-Time?
Since I began practicing law in 1976, I have gradually focused my practice more and more on being an Indiana Disability Attorney. I now accept only Social Security disability cases. In representing claimants from Columbus, Bloomington, and all over south-central Indiana, I have found that most have unanswered questions about the complex system through which the Social Security Administration decides these cases. If you have such questions, this website will help you answer them. I invite you to take some time to explore the educational materials I have provided here. I hope you find the information to be helpful.
Am I entitled to Indiana disability benefits?
You must meet the Social Security Administration’s unique definition of “disabled” to qualify for benefits. According to Social Security regulations, you are disabled if your physical or mental impairment is so severe that you are unable to do your previous work and you cannot, considering your age, education and work experience, do any other kind of substantial gainful work that exists in the national economy. The Social Security Administration decides whether you satisfy the definition in the following five steps:
- Are you working at “substantial gainful activity?” You are not disabled if you are working at “substantial gainful activity,” regardless of your physical or mental condition. “Substantial gainful activity” is the kind of work that is usually done for pay or profit, even if you do not actually make a profit. As a general rule, if you are working at a job that requires more than minimal duties and pays more than a minimal amount, you are not disabled. .
- Is your impairment “severe” and “medically determinable?” You must have a “medically determinable impairment” that is so severe that it prevents you from working. A medically determinable impairment is a physical or mental abnormality that is documented with medically accepted techniques. An impairment that affects your ability to work only slightly is not “severe”. In addition, a “severe” impairment is one that is expected to result in death or to last for a continuous period of 12 months.
- Do you qualify for Indiana disability benefits under the Listing of Impairments? The Listing of Impairments is a set of medical criteria for many disabling conditions that is found in the Social Security regulations. Listed impairments are so severe that the Social Security Administration will decide that you are disabled if your condition “meets or equals” a Listing and you will be approved for benefits.
- Can you still perform your “past relevant work?” If your condition does not meet or equal a listing (i.e., the answer to question 3 is “no”), the Social Security Administration will consider your ability to perform “past relevant work.” “Past relevant work” is any work you did in the past 15 years for long enough to learn how to do it. If the Social Security Administration determines that you are able to do any “past relevant work,” it will find you are not disabled. In making its evaluation, the Social Security Administration will compare your current ability to work, or “residual functional capacity,” to the mental and physical demands of your easiest job.
- Can you perform any other type of work? If you cannot perform any “past relevant work,” the Social Security Administration will ask whether you can perform any other job that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. At this step, the Social Security decision maker will consider your age, education, work experience and residual functional capacity (i.e., your ability to work, despite your mental or physical impairment). If you cannot perform other work, you are disabled and will be approved for Indiana disability benefits.
Should I apply for Social Security disability benefits?
You should apply for Indiana Social Security disability benefits if your physical or mental impairment (1) prevents you from working, (2) has lasted or is expected to last for at least a year, and (3) is documented by medically accepted evidence. To learn more, take a look at:
- My video, Are You Likely to Qualify, at the top of this page.
- My article, 9 Tips for Applying.
- Frequently Asked Questions in my library below.
If you haven’t yet applied for Indiana disability benefits, one of the best pieces of advice I can share is always give the Social Security Administration all the information that it asks for in an honest, straightforward way. Tell the truth. Do not exaggerate or minimize your disability. This advice also goes for all stages of the Social Security disability process.
The best time to file for Indiana disability benefits is roughly 6-9 months after you stop working unless you have an obvious long-term disability, in which case, you can apply sooner.
There are three ways to apply for Indiana Social Security disability benefits: (1) by telephone, (2) in person at your local Indiana Social Security office or (3) using the Internet. You can learn more about applying by reviewing Answers to 8 common questions in my library below.
Should I appeal if my initial application for disability benefits is denied?
Your claim for Indiana Social Security disability benefits could pass through as many as five levels: (1) initial application, (2) request for reconsideration, (3) hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, (4) appeal to the Appeals Council, and (5) appeal to federal court. Most initial applications and requests for reconsideration are denied. While it is certainly frustrating to deal with denials, your claim is not hopeless, even if it is denied at the first two levels. So do not give up.
The majority of applicants for Indiana disability benefits who pursue their claims through a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge are awarded disability benefits. Thus, if you cannot work because of a disabling health condition, you should appeal the denial of your claim for Social Security disability benefits at least through the hearing stage. To learn more about the appeals process, you can review these resources:
- My video, How the Judge Determines Disability.
- My free e-booklet, Appealing a Denial of Benefits.
- My article Your Indiana Disability Hearing.
An experienced Indiana disability attorney can help
As a Indiana Disability Attorney, I have been representing Social Security disability applicants for almost 35 years in Columbus and Bloomington, Indiana and across Central and Southern Indiana. If your disability application has been denied and you live near my Columbus or Bloomington Indiana office, I can handle your appeal for you. I will apply the knowledge that I have gained from representing many, many Indiana Social Security disability claimants to alleviate much of the stress and frustration of the often challenging and complicated disability evaluation process.
If you feel you cannot work, I recommend you move forward as soon as possible with your appeal.
This website is filled with 100 pages of helpful information that will help you better understand the Social Security disability appeal and determination process. I am also happy to personally answer any questions you may have. Please provide a brief description of your claim using the short claim evaluation form to your right, and I will respond promptly.
Contact a Leading Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer
Gene Arnholt, Attorney at Law
Serving Social Security disability claimants in Columbus, Bloomington and throughout Central and Southern Indiana
In Columbus call 812-376-6011
In Bloomington call 812-323-3332
Elsewhere call 1-888-ARNHOLT (888-276-4658)