Steps disabled workers in Georgia can take to maximize their odds of an approved claim
Social Security disability (SSD) benefits are intended to improve the livelihoods of injured workers who can’t work due to an unforeseen permanent medical condition or disability.
Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows roughly 27.2 percent of adults in Georgia suffer from some form of disability. Furthermore, only 3.9 percent of the 6 million residents living in Georgia receive adequate Social Security disability benefits, with thousands applying for coverage this year.
Unfortunately, only the lucky few manage to secure compensation while the remaining workers have their Social Security disability claims nullified or denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
What’s more, many applicants who are denied have to file yet another application in the form of a request for reconsideration in the hope of having their claims accepted. While this can be a frustrating and tiring effort, at WPMH Legal, our team of Social Security disability lawyers can help you through the process of filing a successful disability claim.
If you or your loved one has a permanent disability, this article will take you through the guidelines on how to apply for disability in Georgia and how an attorney can aid your case.
Do you qualify for disability benefits in Georgia?
Qualifying for SSD benefits will provide compensation starting at $1,054 monthly. This can help alleviate the financial burden of coping with medical bills, house payments and living expenses while suffering from a permanent disability.
However, to receive compensation through the SSA, you need to qualify for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, which will require having the following:
- A disability that hinders your ability to work or seek employment.
- A disability that has been incurred recently and is expected to last 1 year or is medically diagnosed as permanent.
- Sufficient credits in the Social Security Administration system.
- Past employment in a job that was paying Social Security taxes during your time there.
- Earnings less than $1,170 monthly for SSDI and $735 for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).*
*Figures may fluctuate.
Nonetheless, the most important factor in determining your eligibility to qualify for SSD benefits is your overall number of credits, as there is a minimum required. These credits are based on the number of years you worked. For example, having an employment history record of 10 years will earn you 20 credits.
For some individuals, the minimum credits are 40 while younger adults qualify with less. If you’ve consistently paid your Social Security taxes, you can earn up to 4 credits yearly in Georgia. Therefore, having sufficient credits increases the success of your disability benefits claim drastically.
What to know about getting approved for disability benefits
Possessing the relevant qualification is one thing, but getting approved is a different story. The SSA utilizes specific guidelines through which your inherent application may be approved or denied.
For starters, any mild injuries will be denied. Therefore, your injury has to be severe enough for the SSA to qualify it within the disability category. For this to happen, your current medical condition will be analyzed with the SSA impairment listing.
Furthermore, the condition must prove to negatively affect your work capability, such as moving, holding objects, sitting or standing. Your disability should prevent you from performing these mundane activities for at least 1 whole year.
In legal terms, this will prove a limitation in performing a Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) or work, which allows a person to earn more than their fixed monthly salary. The SGA amount will influence the compensation received towards your disability as the specific amount varies annually.
For example, in 2020, the number of earnings a blind person can receive indicated by SGA is $2,100 per month, while those with other disabilities can earn $1,260 monthly. Last year, the amount was $2,040 and $1,220, respectively.
Furthermore, this doesn’t include any other additional income you may receive besides employment like earnings through interest or investments. If your current or former job is paying you more than the designated SGA amount each month, you will not be considered disabled by the SSA committee.
What’s the process for filing for Social Security benefits in Georgia?
After determining your eligibility for an SSD benefit, you need to know how to file for disability. Even though Social Security is a federal administrative program, your verdict will be determined by the relevant state agency. In Georgia, this will be determined through the Disability Adjudication Services (DAS).
- You can fill out your application online at SSA.gov or call their number 1-800-772-1213 and have a representative assist you.
- After completing your disability application, your claim will be forwarded to the Georgia DAS board. The main challenge comes with accepting your claim as the Georgia DAS only approves 23 percent of the overall applications received.
- Getting approval can be an obstacle to your efforts. To strengthen your claim, we recommend contacting our attorneys to help improve your chances of success. We can help smooth the process and increase your likelihood of success during your disability application.
- If your claim has been denied, you can’t reapply until 60 days after your previous application. After this, you can request an appeal through the Office of Hearing Operations (OHO), which is part of the federal SSA.
- It takes anywhere from 400 to 540 days (13-17 months) for a disability applicant to be granted a court hearing in Georgia. From here, your claim will be reviewed by an administrative law judge (ALJ), and a decision will be made 45 to 90 days after the hearing.
- The chances of being awarded disability benefits from a hearing are much more favorable than the DAS board as ALJs grant 54 percent of overall disability applications presented in court.
When to hire a Georgia disability lawyer
At WPMH Legal, our team of professional lawyers can help guide you through applying for disability benefits while adhering to optimal DAS protocols with uttermost efficiency. Even in the face of adversity, we will stand by you with expert legal representation to sway the odds to your favor.