About a quarter of all Georgians has some sort of recognized disability. In some cases, the disability may be so severe as to prevent the sufferer from being able to work and earn a living.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will assess disability benefit claims and may grant a benefit to those whose disability characteristics meet the SSA’s exacting criteria. When a claim is denied, you may be able to appeal using the help of a disability lawyer.
Social Security Benefits in Georgia: Key Facts
The Social Security Administration is a federal body that is responsible for providing disability benefits for those who fit the criteria wherever they live in the U.S., including the state of Georgia.
There are 32 social security offices located across Georgia where you can attend and apply for a social security benefit. The cities where a SSA field office is located are:
Whether you make a claim for a social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefit or a supplementary security income (SSI) benefit depends on the number of years of work you have completed and associated work credits.
When a person makes a claim for a disability benefit, the claim is passed to the state office of the Disability Determination Services (DDS) which assess the merits of the claim.
The DDS has medical personnel who are able to compare the severity of the disability with a listing in the SSA’s Blue Book. Most, but not all types of disabilities are listed in the Blue Book. The DDS may ask the claimant to attend for further testing or to carry out a residual functional capacity assessment.
Georgia state disability statistics record a disability rate of 27.2% of the state population, just a little higher than the national average of 25.6%. This doesn’t mean that this number of people receive a benefit, though. A disability must be severe enough to prevent continuation of work for a SSDI or SSI benefit to be obtained.
The state’s average hearing processing time is just over a year (382/383 days). This is one of the longer state hearing processing times compared to other states in the country.
The SSA database records that in the last reporting period (September 2020 to October 2020), there were 27 individual ALJ judges who attended varied numbers of hearings in Atlanta North or Atlanta Downtown.
The ALJ statistics are given as raw data with no accompanying explanation of variation between individual judges, but does show that the majority of ALJ hearings result in a favorable result although some individual judges appear to be stricter than others. Of those decisions that are favorable, the vast majority are classified as “fully favorable” with only a small minority classified as “partly favorable.”
Appealing a Denied Social Security Benefit Claim in Georgia
Many benefit claims are denied at the outset, often because there is insufficient medical and case history information for SSA claims officers to make a realistic decision.
There is an established procedure which you should follow if you decide to appeal a denied disability claim in Oregon. The first step is to request a reconsideration of your claim. If this is rejected, then you should request a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Before you attend the hearing you should make sure that you have more detailed information about your disability. This includes:
- how it corresponds to the SSA’s Blue Book criteria;
- your medical history;
- your work history;
- when your disability started and became serious enough to prevent you from working.
You could ask your doctor to give you a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment which establishes what you can and cannot do both physically and mentally.
The ALJ will review all information supplied to the SSA to date and any new information supplied. Medical experts may also be in attendance to ask questions and make their own assessment. Many claims are accepted after such a hearing, but if unsuccessful, there are further steps in the appeal process that you can take.
Help Filing for Disability Benefits in Georgia
A disability lawyer can guide you through the complex process of an appeal in the event that your initial social security disability benefit claim is denied.
This is typically because the information you have provided is not good enough to convince the SSA that your disability is severe. The lawyer can advise you about tests you should take, medical records you could provide and whether a RFC assessment would give you a better chance of reversing a claim that has been denied.