Though the Social Security Administration (SSA) has made as much of its processes available online, it’s still wise to consult with an SSA official at the Atlanta social security office about your goals.
Whether you are deep into the process of your claim, or you have yet to fill out your initial application for benefits, a call to the social security field office can help you take the next step.
There is more than one Atlanta social security office, but you can find the proper phone number here on the SSA government website.
Starting your application
The Social Security Administration offers an online application option at its official website. If you feel more comfortable starting the application process over the phone, you should still consider using the SSA’s online resources, like the disability starter kit. These tools can help you know what to expect from the process. Affleck & Gordon also offers resources to help make your application attempt successful.
You won’t actually start your application when you call the SSA’s toll-free number for the first time. Your first call will serve to set up a phone appointment with an SSA representative who will fill out your application.
If you plan to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), time is of the essence. You will not receive benefits for any time period before the date of your application. If you submit your application within 60 days of your initial call, the SSA may use the date of your call as your application date.
It’s best to keep your appointment, but if you need to reschedule, call the field office to inform them of your change in plans. If you don’t, the SSA will send you a letter stating that if you submit your application within 60 days of the letter date, they will honor the letter date as your application date.
Receiving a decision from the SSA can take months. You’ll receive a letter in the mail informing you that your application was either approved or denied.
Even if you apply for disability benefits online, it’s wise to call the Atlanta social security office to confirm your application was successfully submitted.
Likewise, call to inform them if your address or any other important information changes.
Checking on your claim
Once you’ve submitted your application, stay apprised of its progress. The SSA is a huge entity comprising many smaller departments that handle your application throughout its various phases. As with any government bureaucracy, following up periodically with the SSA to check the status of your case helps prevent your information falling through the cracks.
To check the status of your application, call the SSA’s national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. You may also contact the Atlanta social security office where you submitted your application.
When you call, have the following information on hand:
- Mailing address
- Email address
- Social Security Number
But to get the most detailed, up-to-date status of your application, you’ll rely on the disability examiner handling your claim.
After you submit your application, the SSA will pass it along to your state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) agency. The DDS will then assign your claim to a dedicated disability examiner who will vet the information you supplied on your application by contacting your physicians and other references.
When an examiner takes your claim, you’ll receive their information in the mail and through a phone call. You may reach out to this examiner to ask about your status, and they will likely contact you for more information as they investigate your claim.
Usually, it takes at least a month for your disability examiner to make any real headway on your application. Accordingly, we advise waiting at least one month before contacting your examiner, and continue checking in on a monthly basis.
Your examiner has a big influence on the outcome of your claim. Be polite. We recommend you start by asking if there’s any missing information you can help gather, or how you can assist in any other way.
Filing your first appeal
Many applicants are denied benefits on their first attempt. If the SSA denies your application, you’ll appeal the SSA’s decision by filing Form SSA-561, Request for Reconsideration, also known as your first appeal. As with your initial application, you can complete this form over the phone within 60 days of receiving notice of your application’s denial.
If you were denied for non-medical reasons, simply submit Form SSA-561. If you were denied for medical reasons, you’ll also submit Form SSA-3441 (a Disability Report for appeals) and Form SSA-827, which authorizes your physicians to disclose your information to the SSA.
Your first appeal is basically a do-over. Your state DDS will assign your claim to a new investigator who will be your contact as the process repeats.
Filing your second appeal
If your Reconsideration is denied, you’ll file for a second appeal by calling the SSA’s national number or by calling an Atlanta social security office.
Your second appeal will put your case before an administrative law judge. The DDS has nothing to do with this appeal. Instead, your claim will go to the Office of Hearing Operations (OHO).
After filing your second appeal, call the SSA field office to make sure your appeal was received. You’ll then receive a confirmation package explaining the hearing process.
From here, the SSA field office won’t be much help. You’ll need to contact the OHO in your region, which you can find on the SSA website.
It can take more than a year to see a judge. You’ll receive your hearing date 75 days in advance.
Getting an advocate
At Affleck & Gordon, we know the right questions, and we know who to ask. Ushering your claims and appeals through the social security system on your own can cost you years of stress with no guarantee of success.
You’re going through enough as it is. We’ll keep you up to date on your claim with compassion and transparency. With over 40 years of experience, we know what it takes to get you approved for benefits as soon as possible.
No matter where you’re at in the process, we want to help. There are no up-front costs, and you’ll only pay if we win. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. We want to hear about your case and help you through it.