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