Georgia residents seeking Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits must apply through the Social Security Administration. After taking your claim, the SSA sends your case to the Georgia Disability Adjudication Services, which reviews your information and determines whether you qualify as disabled for the state's purposes.
You may be eligible for disability if:
- You are working and earn less than $1,095 per month as of this publication, or you are not working at all.
- You have a medical condition that meets the SSA's definition of disabled.
- Your medical condition interferes with your ability to perform your previous job.
- You cannot adjust to any other type of work, outside of what you used to do.
Eligible individuals living in Medicaid nursing homes may qualify for a state SSI supplement -- $20 as of this publication -- provided by the Georgia Department of Human Resources.
SSDI is for eligible workers who have accumulated enough work credits. SSI is for low-income individuals who have no work history or are ineligible for SSDI because they lack sufficient work credits. The qualification process is the same for both programs.
Before applying for disability, you'll need to gather:
- Personal information, such as proof of citizenship or legal alien status; Social Security Number, birth place and birth date for you and your spouse; names and birth dates for your children under 18; and your bank routing and account number if you choose to have your benefits direct deposited.
- Medical condition information, including diagnosis, symptoms, name and address of your physician and treatment facility, medications you are taking, and name and dates of medical testings you have undergone.
- Work history information, and specifically an account of all work you did over the last 15 years, including job titles and descriptions. Your case examiner will use this data to gauge the physical and mental demands of the job, and determine whether you are fit to go back to your last job or take on a different role.
Submitting Your Application
You have three options for turning in your application:
- In person: Call the Social Security Administration's toll-free number or visit your field office and make an appointment for an interview. On the day of your interview, a claims representative will ensure that all the necessary forms are completed and signed.
- Online: Visit the SSA website, complete the Disability Benefit Application and respond to the questions on the Adult Disability Report. Then mail or carry the requested documents to your SSA field office.
- Phone: Call the SSA's toll-free number to set up a phone interview and send the required documents by mail.
You do not need to fill out a separate application to obtain the state supplement, as the Georgia DHR's computer system monitors individuals who qualify for disability.
During the application process, you must sign the SSA's medical release form authorizing the agency to access your medical records.
The Decision Period
After taking your claim, the SSA sends your case to the Georgia DAS for review. The Georgia DAS evaluates the reason you gave regarding your inability to work and conducts an evaluation of the medical evidence. Upon determining whether you are disabled, the agency returns your file to the SSA for final processing. The SSA then notifies you of your approval or denial by mail. You must be deemed disabled to receive benefits.
According to the Social Security Disability Resource Center website, it can take the Georgia DAS up to three or four months from your filing date to make a determination --or longer if you had recent surgeries or the SSA paid for your medical examinations. The Social Security Administration website states that it can take between three to five months to receive a decision from the SSA.
Approval of Benefits
If you are approved for disability benefits, the SSA will send you a letter stating your future monthly benefit amount.
- SSDI: To determine your monthly payments, the SSA uses a system that considers your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings and Primary Insurance Amount. As of publication, the average SSDI monthly amount is $1,165.
- SSI: The amount depends on whether you are earning any money, as well as your marital status. The SSA pays a standard base amount of $733. You may qualify for more, particularly if you are married. In addition, you get an additional $20 if you qualify for the state supplement amount.
Denial of Benefits
If your claim is denied, you have two options:
- File a Request for Reconsideration with your local SSA office within 60 days of your denial date. The filing process is the same as for initial applications, though your case may be reviewed by a different person.
- Apply for a hearing through the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, which is part of the SSA. At the hearing, you will meet with an administrative law judge, who will decide whether you qualify for benefits.
Your denial letter contains information on appealing the decision.
In Georgia, re-considerations have an even higher denial rate than initial applications. According to the website of Garnett Law Office, Georgia has a denial rate of around 80 percent for re-considerations. Unless you have new and relevant information to show, your appeal likely will be denied.