Social Security Disability in Georgia
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that pays monthly benefits to you if you have become disabled before reaching the age of retirement and your disability prevents you from working in the same capacity.
If you believe you are eligible to receive SSDI in Georgia, then you will first need to fill out an application and be approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
What happens if SSA denies your application for SSDI? Are you confused because you meet all of the requirements? If so, you need to work with a Georgia attorney that has experience in dealing with the SSA in SSDI denials. An attorney can help you appeal the decision that denied you benefits to hopefully reverse the decision so you can receive the benefits you need.
Who Is Eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance?
Before trying to obtain SSDI benefits in Georgia, it is essential to understand the eligibility criteria. Absent these requirements, you may be denied SSDI benefits. Ensuring you qualify may help you decide whether to enlist help from the start.
The Georgia Disability Adjudication Services (DAS) makes Social Security disability determinations in Georgia under an agreement with the Social Security Administration. A team consisting of a disability adjudicator and a state agency medical consultant make the medical determination. In order to qualify, an adult must have an impairment that prevents any substantial work, has lasted for at least 12 months, or will result in death. If DAS rejects an application, the applicant has the right to appeal the decision. The next step would be a hearing through the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.
You have likely spent a great deal of time working in Georgia over the years, which bodes well for fulfilling the first requirement. You need to have worked a specific number of years in a job where you paid taxes towards social security (FICA taxes). More specifically, you need to earn a certain amount of work credits to be eligible for SSDI. You can receive up to four work credits per year, and the number of work credits you need for eligibility depends on the age you were when you became disabled.
Georgia’s 15.3% FICA tax consists of a 12.4% Social Security tax and a 2.9% Medicare tax. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the FICA tax is shared equally between the employee and the employer in Georgia. Specifically, the employee must pay 7.65% of the total FICA Tax on the wages earned, while the employer must match the contribution. Currently, any wages over $137,700 are not subject to the Social Security tax, but that number increases to $142,800 in 2021.
Qualifying Medical Condition
The second requirement is you must have a long-term, severe medical condition that the SSA classifies as a total disability. Severe means that the condition interferes with or prevents you from being able to perform primary job duties. Long-term means that your disability has lasted or is expected to last at least one year. Total disability means that you are unable to perform a substantial gainful activity for at least one year. The updated list of qualifying medical conditions in 2020 for social security disability includes the following:
- Neurological disorders
- Mental disorders
- Skin disorders
- Varying syndromes
- Kidney disease
- Hematological disorders
- Immune system disorders
- Digestive tract disorders
- Respiratory illnesses
- Musculoskeletal problems
- Senses and speech issues
- Cardiovascular problems
However, even if you have a qualifying medical condition there are other considerations. You still might not be eligible in Georgia if you are currently working and making above a certain amount of money. The SSA refers to this as the work credit requirement. For instance, if you are a disabled applicant making $1,260 per month or a blind applicant making $2,110 per month, the Social Security Administration will say you can perform a substantial gainful activity, thereby disqualifying you from receiving SSDI.
SSI vs. SSDI
If you are not eligible for SSDI due to the work credit requirement, you might still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
SSI is a federal program that is designed to help people with disabilities who have very little or no income but do not meet requirements for SSDI. Monthly payments are given to people to help them pay for basic needs such as clothing, food and shelter.
Georgia provides an Optional State Supplement to all SSI recipients residing in nursing home settings. No application is required since the state uses a computerized list from SSA to identify eligible recipients. The state supplement is $20 per individual or $40 for a married couple.
Additionally, Georgia’s Department of Human Services offers a variety of assistance, including the Home & Community Based Services program (HCBS). HCBS assists individuals aged 60 and older and their caregivers with nutrition and wellness, in-home, and caregiver services.
How To Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits in Georgia
Applying for SSDI benefits is a relatively straightforward process, but it is important to be exceptionally prepared beforehand; otherwise, it can become unnecessarily complicated. Here is what you need to know about your SSDI benefits application.
Step 1: Gather Appropriate Information
Before you fill out the SSDI benefits application, you will need to gather all pertinent information. Here is a list of some of the most common elements you should have on hand when you are sitting down to apply for SSDI benefits:
- A list of your diagnosed medical conditions
- Information about health care professionals you have seen, including their names, addresses and the dates you saw them
- List of medication or treatments you have been prescribed and the medical professional who prescribed them
- Information about work history, when you stopped working due to the disability and the type of work you were doing before your disability
- Information about your vocational training and education level
- Employment information for the current year, as well as the two previous years including your start and end dates and how much money you made
- If applicable, include information about military service and the dates you served
- Information about current and/or former spouses including their names, social security numbers and marriage/divorce dates
- Names and birthdates of children who are under the age of 18 or who became disabled before the age of 22
You should also include any additional information you think might be relevant to your application for SSDI.
Step 2: Apply Online
There are three ways to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits:
- Visit ssa.gov/applyfordisability and apply online
- Call the Social Security office at 800-772-1213 and schedule an appointment to apply
- Go to your local Social Security office to apply in person without an appointment
You should only apply for disability insurance in Georgia when you have sufficient medical records to show that you are eligible for it. If you have not seen a doctor in a while, make sure to see one a few times and get their recommendation for SSDI before applying.
Georgia has 34 Social Security Field Offices, located throughout the state in cities such as Savannah and Macon. The Social Security Administration provides an online office locator to help you find a nearby field office. Regardless of which field office services your area, all Georgia offices report to the Atlanta Regional Office.
Step 3. If Denied, Contact an Attorney
If you have been denied SSDI and you believe you are eligible, your next step is to contact a Georgia attorney and appeal the decision by submitting a request on this site. Your attorney will gather all of your information and make a strong case for why you need the benefits SSDI provides.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer in Georgia
Have you been denied Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Georgia? If you believe you are eligible, it is important to reach out to a lawyer. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Georgia state lines. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can appeal the decision and hopefully win your case so you can receive the benefits that you need.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!