Looking for a disability lawyer in Spalding County, Georgia? If so, you’re not alone. Over 300,000 Georgia residents received disability benefits in 2019, according to a recent Social Security Administration (SSA) report.
Yet, when seeking legal representation for your claim, it’s crucial to find an attorney you can trust.
When you first apply for your benefits, you may feel capable of doing the initial evaluation without a lawyer. It’s true that Social Security disability claimants are given many tools by the SSA when applying for their benefits. However, there are many reasons to consider seeking a lawyer as early as possible.
A few of these reasons include:
- Statistically, you’re more likely to get approved with the help of an attorney.
- A majority of claimants are initially denied and must go through one or more appeals.
- Seeking benefits can be long and complicated; a legal expert can guide you through the process.
- Attorneys can advocate for you during appeal hearings.
- Unlike with other types of legal cases, Social Security disability claims often don’t require up-front legal fees. Instead, your attorney collects a percentage of your initial earnings only if you win-- 25% of your back pay, or $6000, whichever is lower.
For these reasons and more, the right disability attorney can help give you the best chance possible of winning the benefits you deserve.
Table of Contents:
- SSDI or SSI—What’s the Difference?
- Your Claim’s Been Denied. How Can Attorneys Help?
- Hiring a Georgia Disability Lawyers: Benefit vs. Cost
SSDI or SSI—What’s the Difference?
When you file an initial claim, it’s important to know which benefits program is right for you.
For both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the medical evidence you’ll provide to prove your disability is basically the same. However, these programs are completely distinct from one another.
Which program you apply for will depend on a number of factors, including your income, how many work credits you’ve earned from being employed over the years (more on this below), and more.
Here are a few of the basic differences between the programs.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI is an earned benefit. You can acquire up to four work credits, or quarters, per year by paying into Social Security when you work. To qualify, generally you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years, ending with the year you become disabled.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is a means-tested program for people 65 or older, or blind or disabled at any age, and who have limited income and resources. Typically, you must not exceed a monthly income considered Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).
A qualified attorney will be able to advise you in detail on the requirements of each program. They’ll be able to help you gather medical, employment, and other records and file the right paperwork to give you the best chance to get your benefits approved. If there’s any way to expedite your case, your attorneys will have the expertise to best advise you.
Your Claim’s Been Denied. How Can Attorneys Help?
Because there’s no upfront cost in legal fees to seek a Social Security disability attorney in Georgia, it’s beneficial to hire a lawyer as early in the process as possible.
When you first apply for benefits, attorneys can help you put your best foot forward by submitting the right documentation and records and meeting all your important deadlines. They can also help you understand the process and what will give you the best chance of proving your disability.
Yet there is a much more important reason to consult an attorney when you file for benefits.
Your claim may be denied.
More than half of claimants are denied benefits and must appeal the decision. An attorney who is already familiar with your circumstances will have a head start planning your appeals and guiding you through a realistic timeline of your case, step by step.
Appeals can mean more time waiting as your claim is reconsidered, filing additional evidence, and even attending hearings before Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) where you give testimony and must refute medical and vocational experts.
If this all sounds like a lot—it can be. But don’t worry. Your lawyer can argue on your behalf, advise you on how to prepare for each stage of appeal, and advocate for you each step of the way. Local attorneys have often worked with judges and court officials before and have insights into their expectations. They can help you devise strategies to win your claim and receive your benefits.
Hiring Georgia Disability Lawyers: Benefit vs. Cost
Of course, there will be a cost only if you win your case. As discussed above, your attorneys may collect up to 25% or $6,000—whichever is lower—of your initial awarded back pay. This amount is strictly federally regulated for your protection, and applies to the vast majority of cases. Your lawyer may be paid directly from your back pay without you having to do anything. If you lose your case, you pay nothing.
The amount of backpay you receive will depend on how long your case will likely take to resolve and whether you’re seeking SSDI or SSI. This is something you should discuss with your attorney.
However, the cost of spending months or years of your life seeking benefits and being denied can be detrimental. Since an attorney can significantly boost your chances of winning your case and lend invaluable insight into Social Security law and the local courts, the benefits far outweigh the cost.
At Affleck and Gordon, we’ve been serving injured and disabled Georgians for over 40 years. We specialize in disability, workers’ compensation, and Veterans Administration disability claims. Since we’re local, experienced, and are specialists when it comes to Social Security disability, we’re the right law firm to help you navigate the process of receiving the benefits that you deserve. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 40 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 795-7501.