How-To-Guide: Applying for Social Security Disability in Georgia

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Applying for Social Security Disability in Georgia can be a daunting process. Here’s what you need to know about the Social Security disability application process. 

Applying for Social Security Disability in Georgia

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI benefits) are programs designed to assist individuals unable to work due to disability.

Successfully applying for and receiving benefits from these programs can feel overwhelming. Understanding the basics of applying and knowing your rights can help make the process less stressful. Here’s how to apply for social security disability in Georgia

Applying for Social Security Disability in Georgia

SSDI pays benefits to you (and, in some cases, certain family members) for those who are “insured.” This can be a confusing term because it has nothing to do with paying a monthly premium for coverage.

Instead, insured means that you have enough work credits to receive disability coverage. Workers pay Social Security tax on their earnings.

These payments entitle you to SSDI benefits should you experience an illness or personal injury that prevents you from working.

SSI benefits, on the other hand, is a needs-based program. You don’t have to have worked or paid Social Security taxes to qualify for SSI benefits. We’ll also review how to apply for SSI in GA further on.

Both programs require a diagnosed medical condition that prevents you from working. The medical requirements are the same for both programs.

What Should You Know about the Social Security Disability Application in Georgia?

You can apply for SSDI benefits online, in person, or by phone. There are several steps involved in the application process, including:

  • Gathering the information and documents you need to apply and prove your disability
  • Completing and submitting your application and supporting documents
  • Waiting for a review of your application
  • Confirmation of eligibility
  • Evaluation of your current work activities
  • Processing of your application and the forwarding of your case to Georgia’s Disability Determination Services office
  • Waiting for the state office to make the disability determination decision

Documents and information needed to apply for benefits include:

  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Place of birth
  • Personal information about your spouse or former spouse(s)
  • Names and dates of birth of children under age 18
  • Bank account and routing transit number
  • Name, address, and phone number of someone to contact about your medical condition
  • Detailed information about your medical condition, including all doctor and hospital information, medication, and medical tests you’ve had
  • Current and previous years’ earnings
  • Name and address of your most recent employer
  • Beginning and end date of active military service before 1968
  • List of jobs you’ve had in the last 15 years before you developed your disability
  • Workers’ compensation information
  • Other benefits you’ve received related to workplace disabilities or illnesses, including workers’ comp, black lung benefits, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ compensation, civil service (disability) retirement, federal employees’ retirement, federal employees’ compensation, state and local government disability benefits, military disability benefits

Additionally, you’ll need to provide certain documents to the Social Security Administration with your application. These include:

  • Birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • Proof of US citizenship or lawful alien status
  • US military discharge papers (if you served before 1968)
  • W-2 forms or self-employment tax returns from the previous year
  • Medical evidence, including medical records, doctors’ reports, and recent test results
  • Award letters
  • Settlement agreements
  • Pay stubs
  • Any proof of temporary or permanent workers compensation benefits

You can submit your application to the Social Security Administration even if you do not have every document required. Also, note that original documents are required except for the following:

  • W-2 form
  • Self-employment tax return
  • Medical documents

Your original documents will be returned to you, but an SSD representative must see them.

A man in a wheelchair talking to a woman in an office.

The timeframe of this process varies based on the nature of your disability, medical evidence to support your case, and other factors specific to your case. Once a decision is made, you’ll receive a notification letter in the mail.

Most cases take about three to six months for an initial decision.

Applicants can check the status of their application online or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

What If I Want to Appeal the Decision?

If your application for Social Security disability is denied, you have the option to appeal.

Social Security Disability lawyers in Georgia can help you with this process. This article explains in great detail how they can help.

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Appeals must be submitted in writing within 60 days of notification of the administration’s decision. There are four appeal levels, including:

1. Reconsideration

This is a complete review of your original Social Security disability claim. It’s conducted by someone who did not make the initial decision. They look at the evidence used in the first determination and any new evidence available.

A reconsideration request is available for both medical and non-medical appeals.

2. Administrative Law Judge Hearing

You can request a hearing if your reconsideration request is appealed.

During the hearing, your Social Security disability claim is reviewed by an administrative law judge or ALJ. This person did not take part in the first or reconsideration determination.

3. Appeals Council Review

If the administrative law judge denies your request, you can request a review by Social Security’s Appeals Council online.

The Appeals Council might deny or dismiss your request if it finds the hearing decision aligned with Social Security law and regulations.

They can also issue a new decision in your favor or return your disability case to an administrative law judge who will conduct another review.

4. Federal Court Review

If you reach the end of the line with appealing decisions with Social Security, you can ask for a federal court review of your disability case.

Whether you are applying for the first time for Social Security benefits or your claim was denied and you’re about to begin the appeals process, having an experienced attorney in your corner who is an expert in disability benefits can make things much easier. They will help you figure out how to apply for social security disability in Georgia and appeal if necessary.

Medical Requirements for Social Security Disability in Georgia

To qualify for either SSDI or SSI benefits in Georgia, your medical condition must meet specific criteria set by the Social Security Administration (SSA:

  1. Severity: Your condition must be severe enough to significantly limit your ability to perform basic work activities for at least 12 months.
  2. Listing of Impairments: The SSA maintains a list of impairments considered severe enough to automatically qualify for benefits. If your condition matches or is equivalent to a listed impairment, you may be approved for benefits more quickly.
  3. Residual Functional Capacity (RFC): If your condition isn’t on the list, the SSA will assess your RFC, which is what you can still do despite your limitations. They’ll consider your medical records, doctor’s opinions, and your own reports of your abilities.
  4. Work History: For SSDI, your work history is considered. You must have earned enough work credits through your employment to be eligible.

Disability Determination Services (DDS) in Georgia

Once you submit your application for Social Security disability benefits in Georgia, your case is forwarded to the state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. DDS is responsible for making the medical decision on whether your condition meets the SSA’s disability criteria.

DDS will review your medical records, consult with your doctors, and may even request additional medical examinations or tests. Their decision is crucial in determining whether you are approved for benefits.

What Happens After You Are Approved for Social Security Disability Benefits?

If your application is approved, you will start receiving monthly benefit payments based on your work history (for SSDI) or your financial need (for SSI). You may also be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid coverage, depending on the program you are approved for.

It’s important to note that your benefits may be reviewed periodically to ensure you still meet the disability criteria. If your condition improves to the point where you can work again, your benefits may be terminated.

Additional Resources for Social Security Disability Applicants in Georgia

Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS)

DHS offers assistance with SSI applications and can provide information on other state-funded disability programs.

Georgia Legal Services Program

This non-profit organization provides free legal assistance to low-income individuals with disabilities, including help with Social Security disability applications and appeals.

Social Security Administration (SSA) Field Offices

You can visit your local SSA office to get help with your application or ask questions about the disability process.

The Importance of Seeking Legal Assistance for Your Claim

While you can apply for Social Security disability benefits on your own, it’s often advisable to seek the help of an experienced disability attorney. An attorney can guide you through the complex application process, gather and present your medical evidence effectively, and represent you during appeals if your claim is denied.

Hiring a disability lawyer can significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome in your Social Security disability case.

Working with an experienced disability lawyer who’s there to ensure your rights are protected puts your mind at ease while you focus on your health and well-being.

If you’d like to know more or are ready to begin the application or the appeals process, complete this form.

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