Social Security Disability

Are you disabled and unable to work?

Have you filed for Social Security Disability and been turned down? The denial of a social security claim can have a devastating impact on an individual, especially when that might have been the main source of income for your family. Harrison & Fortier, P.C. understands that and offers experienced attorneys and staff that will help you navigate through the process.

Although the majority of the time the initial applications are denied, that doesn’t mean you are not entitled to benefits. It simply means that you, unfortunately, must go through the appeals process, one that is often overwhelming and intimidating. It is important that you hire an attorney that has years of legal experience is assisting clients through each step of the disability process. Almost 60% of all first-time applicants are denied disability benefits, and almost 90% turn to an attorney to help them at some point in the process. Hiring an attorney can increase your chances of winning your claim and reduce denials due to missing paperwork, technical issues or common errors.

Ms. Harrison’s staff has years of legal experience in assisting clients through each step of the disability process.  They will closely monitor your claim, complete necessary forms, order and review evidence from your physicians, arrange special medical or psychological evaluations as necessary to help win your case and answer any questions you may have during the course of your claim. Garnett Harrison is a trained professional that will assist you in preparing your case.

Applicants who use the expertise of a knowledgeable attorney have a greater likelihood of obtaining benefits. Harrison & Fortier, P.C. will stand by you through the arduous process and walk you through the steps needed to challenge a denial. With so much on the line, we are prepared to argue your case during the Georgia Social Security disability denial and reconsideration process. Our experienced attorney will ensure your medical documents are up-to-date and medically substantiate your condition.

Ms. Harrison is a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives which you can access at http://www.nosscr.org.

The National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives (NOSSCR) was established in 1979. It is an association of more than 3,900 attorneys and other advocates who represent Social Security and Supplemental Security Income claimants. Their members are committed to providing high-quality representation for claimants, to maintaining a system of full and fair adjudication for every claimant, and to advocating for beneficial change in the disability determination and adjudication process.

Depending on the strength of your medical evidence, its timely submission may sometimes result in an “on-the-record” decision by Social Security, thereby avoiding the necessity of going to a hearing before an administrative law judge.  This can mean your benefits may be available to you much sooner.

If you are in need of legal assistance with a Social Security Disability claim, call Harrison & Fortier, P.C. at 912.882.1131. An initial consultation is free of charge. If Ms. Harrison agrees to handle your claim, fees are typically contingent in nature, which means fees are due only if you recover benefits. There are no costs to file Social Security Disability claims. The only expenses that any client has are the cost of medical records from their doctors.

How to apply for social security benefits in GA

You can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov or call a toll free number 1-800-772-1213 and make an appointment at a local Social Security office to file the claim in person, which will take a few hours. You can also file by telephone. Plan for a disability claims interview to last about one hour. A Starter Kit is also available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.

You will need to be prepared for your first meeting. Make sure you have documents that contain your social security number, a birth certificate, the names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics, and any medical professionals you consulted. Include the dates of all of your visits for medical care and name the medication and dosage of all drugs you’re taking. All medical records must be included as well as lab and test results.

Please go to www.socialsecurity.gov, create an online account and you will be able to print out your social security earnings report.

You need to be able to talk about the type of work you did and bring a copy of your most recent Wage and Tax Statement (W-2 Form).

How can hiring a Georgia lawyer help me if I am denied?

Retaining an attorney can greatly increase your chances for approval. Your attorney can keep track of the status of your claim, speak with social security regarding any questions that may arise. Your attorney will prepare your claim. That means that your attorney will gather all the medical evidence that will be required and may choose to submit additional information regarding your previous occupation history and make sure that your claim meets the Social Security Administration’s requirements. And most importantly, if your application is denied, your attorney can file an appeal on your behalf and will be with you every step of the way.

Appealing a Denied Social Security Disability Claim

There are 4 levels of appeal through which your claim could proceed.

  1. Reconsideration– after your initial application has been denied, your attorney has 60 days to file a request for reconsideration. During the reconsideration process, someone other than the person who denied the claim, a new claims examiner will reconsider your evidence. You may submit new evidence at this time and it will be considered.
  2. Hearing– If your request for reconsideration was denied, this is now the best possibility of success. You have 60 days after receiving the SSA’s decision to request an appeal. An experienced lawyer will then do several things to ensure the best possibility for success. Your attorney will prepare you for the hearing, perhaps subpoena witnesses that might be vital to improving your claim, question the witnesses and experts from Social Security and argue your case before the Judge.
  3. Appeals Council– If you do not believe that the Judge made the right decision, you are allowed by law to ask for a review to the Appeals Council.
  4. Federal Court– You may choose to file a lawsuit if your claim is not chosen for a review in front of an ALJ in Federal District court.

The criteria for being approved for disability is outlined a 5 step process. That process includes:

Are you working?
SSA will not consider a person for disability if they earn over a certain amount each month. If the individual is making less, the Social Security Administration will consider the case based on the medical conditions.

How extreme is your medical condition?
In other words, in order to rule you disabled, the Social Security Administration must decide that your condition will prevent you from performing the basic functions of your job and that it will last at least a year.

Is your condition on the Social Security’s “List of Disabling Condition?”
Some of the conditions that may lead to social security disability are:

  • Mental and emotional disorder such as depression, panic attacks, bipolar disease, schizophrenia, autism, PTSD, sleep disorders;
  • Immune disorders such as MS, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and Rheumatoid Arthritis;
  • Musculoskeletal problems such as fibromyalgia, back and spine conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome, scoliosis, arthritis, fractures;
  • Cardiovascular conditions such as coronary artery disease and heart failure.
  • Speech and senses issues such as vision, hearing, and speech loss;
  • Digestive tract issues such as liver disease, hepatitis, IBS, and Crohn’s Disease.
  • Malignant neoplastic diseases such as lymphoma, most kinds of cancer and leukemia.
  • Metabolic disorders that affect multiple body systems such as lyme disease.

Can you perform the work you did before?
Based on your injury or illness, the agency will review your claim and decide whether you are capable of performing the work you did before the injury or illness. If they can’t, they will move to step 5.

Work eligibility test
In addition to the above requirements, you must meet 2 tests, the duration of work test and the recent work test to qualify for benefits. You can see this at http://socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.pdf

The number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

The rules are as follows:

Before age 24–You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.

Age 24 to 31–You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For example, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for 3 years of work (12 credits) out of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27).

Age 31 or older–In general, you need to have the number of work credits shown in the chart below.

Unless you are blind, you must have earned at least 20 of the credits in the 10 years immediately before you became disabled.

DISABLED AT AGE CREDITS NEEDED YEARS OF WORK
31 through 42 20 5
44 22 5 ½
46 24 6
48 26 6 ½
50 28 7
52 30 7 ½
54 32 8
56 34 8 ½
58 36 9
60 38 9 ½
62 or older 40 10

Many people worry about making smart decisions after they’ve been injured in an accident. If you have been permanently disabled in an accident, if your injuries keep you out of the workplace, talking with Harrison & Fortier, P.C. is one of the smartest decisions you can make … and it’s FREE.The best way to learn about getting Social Security Disability benefits after a car accident, workplace accident or any other accident is to talk with us at Harrison & Fortier, P.C.When an accident keeps you from being able to work, filing a successful Social Security Disability claim may be the answer. To find out more, talk with our advocates by calling 912-882-1131.At Harrison & Fortier, P.C., we represent people who have been injured in work-related and non-work related accidents of all types, including the ones listed below:

  • Workplace accidents/workers’ compensation: Many people think that workplace accidents leave injured workers only one option: workers’ compensation. This is simply not true. If you have been hurt on the job and you can no longer work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits as well as workers’ compensation. The best way to find out is to call Harrison & Fortier, P.C. about your job site injury.
  • Car accidents: Our advocates help the victims of motor vehicle accidents move forward with their lives when they can no longer work. More than just car accidents, if you have been injured in a truck accident, motorcycle accident, bicycle accident or pedestrian accident and cannot work, talk with us about your options.
  • Accidents at home: We also represent people who have been injured in accidents at home or on another’s property. These include slip-and-fall accidents, falls down stairs, injuries from falling objects and animal attacks.
  • Other accidents: No matter what type of accident you have been involved in, from swimming pool accidents, to construction site accidents, accidents caused by dangerous and defective products or by dangerous road conditions, you may be able to file a Social Security Disability claim if you can no longer work.

Our clients have suffered a broad range of injuries after accidents of all kinds. They have experienced back injuries, head injuries, lost limbs and repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel, as well as injuries to joints.

The two types of Social Security Disability Benefits:

  • Disability Insurance Benefits (SSD or SSDI) Disability insurance benefits cover millions of people now that have worked recently but cannot work now due to an injury or illness. This is the most used benefit provided by the SSA. In addition, dependents, including your children and spouse may also be eligible to receive benefits if the parent qualifies for SSDI.
  • DAC- Disabled Adult Child Benefits: Disabled children may be eligible for benefits if their parents receive SSD, or Social Security disability or is deceased. The disabled children must be between the ages of 18 and 22.

Calculating Your Social Security Disability Payment

The amount of money you will receive from Social Security on a monthly basis is unique for every individual. This is due to the fact that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a complex weighted formula in order to calculate benefits for each person.

Social Security bases your retirement and disability benefits on the amount of income on which you’ve paid Social Security taxes—called “covered earnings.” Your average covered earnings over a period of years is known as your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). A formula is applied to your AIME to calculate your primary insurance amount (PIA)—the base figure the SSA uses in setting your benefit amount. The formula consists of fixed percentages of different amounts of income (called “bend points,” which are adjusted each year). For example, in 2011, 90% of the first $749 of your AIME was added to your PIA, plus 32% of your AIME from $749 to $4,517, plus 15% of your AIME over $4,517. The amounts are added up to come up with your PIA.

Most SSDI recipients receive between $300 and $2,200. The average SSDI payment in 2014 is $1,148. The maximum disability benefit in 2014 is $2,642.

To see your entire covered earnings history, you can check your annual Social Security Statement. While the Social Security Administration has stopped mailing out annual Social Security Statements to many people, you can check your statement online at www.ssa.gov/mystatement/. (If you want to enter salary information yourself rather than rely on your earnings record and Social Security’s estimate of your future earnings, you can use the SSA’s online benefits calculator at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/benefitcalculators.htm.)

While many people will be approved for disability benefits based on medical conditions included in the SSA impairment listing manual, many more will be approved based on consideration for their current limitations, age, educational level and past work experience. Talk to us about your situation. Call us at 912.882.1131.

SSI is short for Supplemental Security Income. It pays monthly cash benefits to people who are age 65 or older, those who are blind or those who have a disability and who do not own much or have a lot of income. SSI is for those workers who have not earned enough quarters in their work history (less than 40 quarters). It is income based. You must have income of less than $2,000 a month to qualify. SSI is not just for adults. Monthly benefits may go to disabled and blind children too.

To learn about the benefits for which you may be eligible, call Harrison & Fortier, P.C. at 912.882.1131. We’ll be glad to talk with you about all of your Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income concerns, and give you clear answers to your questions.

Have more questions?

The best way to get answers is to talk with us at Harrison & Fortier, P.C. Call us at 912.882.1131. You can start by filling out our Social Security Intake Form here.

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Harrison & Fortier, P.C.
239 East King Avenue
Kingsland, GA 31548
Phone: 912.882.1131

ADDRESS:
239 East King Avenue
Kingsland, GA 31548