When it comes to Social Security in Ga., you must consider each step of the process of filing your disability claim.
It can feel overwhelming.
First, know that you aren’t alone. Most people are feeling overwhelmed and looking for guidance during this public health crisis.
There are steps you can take to ensure you have the needed tools to file a Social Security claim during this challenging time.
When you can’t visit your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office, there are still tasks you can complete from your own home.
7. Gather Your Important Social Security Documents
You’ll need certain documents to file a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim. Most if not all these documents can be found in your home. It’s a good idea to gather them now in anticipation of filing a claim.
According to the SSA, these include:
- a birth certificate or similar document for proof of birth
- documentation proving U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status
- if you served in the military prior to 1968, military discharge paperwork
- last year’s tax forms, such as W-2s or 1099s
- an adult disability report
- medical records related to your claim
- proof of temporary or permanent workers' compensation benefits, including award letters, pay stubs, settlement agreements, etc.
To see a full list and explanation of what the SSA will require for you to file, click here.
6. Locate Your Local Office for Social Security in Ga.
You may not be able to visit your local SSA office today. Still, it’s a good idea to know where that office is located and other information for future visits.
You can also find the hours that the office is typically open. That way, when you do need to go and it’s safe to do so, you can make the proper arrangements.
At your local Social Security office, you can:
- apply for retirement benefits
- apply for survivor benefits
- apply for disability benefits
- apply for dependents benefits
- apply for supplemental security income
- obtain a new Social Security card
5. Do Your Research on the Social Security Administration Website
The national SSA website offers important information to educate you about your Social Security benefits claim.
Some important information you can learn about includes:
- how to avoid fraud when communicating with the SSA
- important COVID-19 updates about Social Security
- details about benefits
- information about business and government services
- specific information for veterans, tax preparers, educators, and more
- about the SSA
- research, policy, planning, and publications
- online services and forms
- contact information and FAQs
- accessing your Social Security account and statements
The SSA website serves as a central hub for all Social Security information. It can better prepare you to file your claim, as well as help you have a more informed conversation with an attorney, should you hire one.
4. Talk to an Attorney about Social Security Disability Insurance in Ga.
Once you feel prepared, an important next step is to talk with an attorney about your SSDI claim for Social Security in Ga.
With an uncertain economy and fears about personal finances, it may be reassuring to know that an initial consultation with Affleck & Gordon’s disability attorneys is free.
A lawyer will be familiar with disability law and the process for filing a Social Security claim. They can also keep you apprised of benefits updates related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Attorneys will advocate for you during the filing process. They will help you prepare your case file and act as a liaison with the SSA and administrative law judges.
With Affleck & Gordon, in most instances you won’t pay a fee unless you win your case. For Social Security disability lawyers, the fee is limited to 25% of the past-due benefits you are awarded, up to a maximum of $6,000. Note that the 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.
3. Apply for Social Security Online
When applying for benefits in person isn’t feasible, the SSA offers a variety of online services, including the ability to file a claim.
To apply for SSDI, you must be 18 or older, not currently receiving Social Security benefits, unable to work due to a medical condition that will last 12 months or longer or result in death, and not been denied in the past 60 days.
If you’ve been denied, you can appeal the decision here.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) has its own set of requirements. This and additional information is listed on the online services website linked above.
Additionally, you may have to photocopy or mail certain documents. Always closely follow the instructions listed by the SSA.
You can also apply via phone by calling 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778 for the deaf or hard of hearing.
2. What Are the Next Steps for Your Social Security Plan?
After applying for disability benefits, be prepared to be contacted by the SSA via phone for an interview. The representative calling should in any way threaten you or ask for money, according to the SSA. If the caller exhibits this behavior, you’re being scammed and should hang up and report it to oig.ssa.gov.
If you have an attorney, discuss your strategy moving forward, what information and documents to compile for your file, and how to give yourself the best chance for winning your claim.
It’s likely that if your claim moves forward, you will eventually have a hearing scheduled as a Video Teleconference (VTC) in lieu of an in-person hearing, due to current requirements for social distancing.
VTCs are common in order to hold remote hearings, when otherwise wait times can be up to 20 months in some jurisdictions, due to backlogged cases.
VTCs have pros and cons you should consider. However, during the coronavirus outbreak, this will likely be the only option offered.
1. When in Doubt, Ask
When making decisions and taking the next steps regarding your claim, it’s best to first discuss your case with your attorney. Hiring an attorney early in the process gives you a better chance of claim success.
You also may want to speak directly with the SSA. It’s important to never be afraid to ask questions.
Keep contact information in a safe place, including:
- your attorney’s contact information
- your local SSA office’s location and phone number
- the national SSA office
- 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778)
- Contact the SSA via email
Keep in mind that you’re not expected to come into this process as a Social Security expert. However, the SSA initially denies upwards of 70 percent of those who file a disability claim. A lack of detailed knowledge about the process and people involved with your claim can lead to missteps and a failure to receive your benefits.
Hiring a disability attorney early in the process can better prepare you and maximize your chances to win your case.