Many of those standing in line at their local Social Security office in Atlanta, Georgia are caregivers.
Under the best conditions, caring for a loved one takes effort, patience, empathy, and resilience. Sometimes that role means performing additional tasks for the wellbeing of the person under your care, such as helping them with their Social Security disability benefits.
That can mean filing a claim, managing the case as it moves forward, or maintaining current benefits.
Whether you’re a long-term caregiver or relatively new to this responsibility, taking on a complex legal case with so much at stake can be daunting.
There are several steps you can take to prepare yourself for this process.
Here are ways caregivers can help their loved ones with their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Medical Records and Visits to the Doctor
Caregivers may need to help their loved ones get to doctor visits and obtain the medical records and doctors’ opinions necessary to be approved for their Social Security benefits.
It’s important to keep regularly scheduled appointments and those required by the SSA.
You’ll also need to acquire the kinds of medical records and opinions the SSA are likely to approve, including:
- doctor examination/treatment records
- mental health examination/treatment records
- bloodwork and imaging
- long-term records that cover the full history of the disability
- recent records, especially for a condition that worsens or changes over time
Medical opinions from multiple doctors and specialists should be accurate and consistent and reflect testing results.
Hiring an attorney early in the filing process can help you compile medical records in the most effective way possible.
When Should You Visit a Social Security Office in Atlanta, Georgia?
While a vast majority of tasks can be done online or over the phone, you also have the option of visiting a Social Security field office in Atlanta to assist your loved one when they apply for benefits.
In addition, there are some tasks that specifically require an in-office visit.
- replacing your loved one’s Social Security card in some states, or changing their name
- applying for Survivors Benefits
- making an appeal in your cessation case
- applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under some conditions
- if you need a translator to help you through the application process
Here’s where to find a Social Security office in Atlanta, Georgia.
Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance as a Caregiver
The SSA allows caregivers to apply on behalf of loved ones when necessary. The process allows you to file SSDI or SSI paperwork for them online, at your local Social Security office, or by calling 1-800-772-1213.
Although you may be able to sign application paperwork in some cases, follow SSA guidelines when they require your loved one to sign certain documents on their own behalf. Exceptions may be if you hold power of attorney or guardianship.
There are certain documents you’ll need to assist your loved one prepare in order to apply for SSI or SSDI benefits.
You may need to gather information about your loved one’s income, job history, medical history, family history, education, as well as personal info such as birth certificate, Social Security Number, proof of citizenship, tax documents, and banking info.
A full checklist of what you’ll need can be found here.
In addition, you’ll need to be prepared for the claim process.
After your loved one files, you may be present for the interview process and any application meetings they are able to attend.
They may have a hearing before an administrative law judge, or this may take place as a Video Teleconferencing (VTC) hearing.
There’s also an appeals process in the event your loved one’s claim is denied. This includes requesting a review with the Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia and, failing this, a federal appeal.
Once your loved ones receive their benefits, make sure your loved one goes to medical appointments and maintains records; notify the SSA of changes such as marriage, job, custody of a child receiving benefits, legal troubles, or name changes; and keep abreast of any case status reviews or changes to benefits.
Disability attorneys at Affleck & Gordon can help you navigate this process.
Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer
Hiring a disability attorney early in the process may greatly increase your chance of your loved winning their claim.
An attorney lightens your load. Seeking Social Security disability benefits won’t be a caregiver’s only job. It can be a full-time effort to support a loved one. An attorney can offer guidance, so you know you’re taking the right steps at the right times. This allows you to focus more on other necessary daily tasks related to caregiving.
You have a lot on your mind. Let an attorney be the expert working for you. When you have this much on your plate, you don’t have the resources to become an expert on disability law. An attorney who specializes in the Social Security Administration’s regulations and expectations can help develop a case for your loved one’s claim with the best chance for success.
Local attorneys in Atlanta, Georgia offer a distinct advantage. Hiring local disability attorneys can lend you and your loved one an added advantage. Their familiarity with the preferences of administrative law judges and others in the Atlanta legal system will help your case.
Worried about paying up front? Cost may depend on whether you win. Cost may be a concern for both those seeking a claim and their caregivers. An initial consultation with Affleck & Gordon to discuss your loved one’s claim is free. In addition, for many cases, an attorney will be paid only out of your past-due benefits, or “back pay.” If no back benefits are awarded, the attorney will not receive a fee.
Consulting an attorney is easy. Your disability attorney should be able to guide you through each step of the process in forming a plan for your loved one’s Social Security disability claim case. It may seem like an extra step to keep regular contact with an attorney, but doing so will greatly improve outcomes and make the other steps you’re taking much easier. Attorneys will also act as a liaison between your loved one and the SSA so you don’t have to.
If your Supplemental Security Income claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 45 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 990-3945.