People who suffer from disabilities can apply for benefits that can help support them financially. While the application process can seem challenging, understanding the steps involved can make it easier. If you’re a Georgia resident, this article will provide you with a definitive guide on how to apply for disability benefits in the state of Georgia.
What is Disability?
Disability is a term used to describe a broad range of medical conditions that substantially affect someone’s ability to perform daily activities. Disabilities can be physical, mental, or emotional, and can result from a variety of causes, including accidents, illnesses, and genetic conditions.
Who is Eligible for Disability Benefits in Georgia?
Not everyone who suffers from a disability is eligible to receive benefits. To qualify for disability benefits in Georgia, you must meet certain requirements:
Medical Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for disability benefits, you must have a medical condition that is included in the Social Security Administration’s list of impairments. These impairments are broken down into two categories:
- Physical Impairments: This includes conditions like back injuries, heart conditions, and neurological disorders.
- Mental Impairments: This includes conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
You must prove that your condition meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. This means that your condition must prevent you from doing any substantial gainful activity (SGA) that you were capable of doing before your disability began. In 2021, SGA is defined as earning $1,310 per month or more.
Non-Medical Eligibility Requirements
In addition to meeting the medical eligibility requirements, you must also meet the following non-medical eligibility requirements:
- Work Eligibility: To be eligible for disability benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to earn sufficient work credits. The number of work credits you need depends on your age when you became disabled.
- Citizenship or Residency: You must either be a United States citizen or a qualified alien. If you are a qualified alien, you must meet certain requirements related to your immigration status.
- Other Eligibility Requirements: You cannot be currently incarcerated or have an outstanding warrant for your arrest. Additionally, you cannot be currently receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration on your own or someone else’s work record.
How to Apply for Disability Benefits in Georgia
Step 1: Submit an Application
The first step in the application process is to submit an application. You can apply online at the Social Security Administration’s website or by calling 1-800-772-1213. You can also apply in-person at your local Social Security Administration office.
When submitting your application, be sure to have the following information on hand:
- Your Social Security number
- Your birth certificate or another proof of birth
- Your medical records (dates of treatment, names of doctors, and medications prescribed)
- Your employment history (W-2 forms or self-employment tax returns)
- Your bank account details (routing and account numbers) for direct deposit of your benefits
Your application will be reviewed to ensure that you meet the medical and non-medical eligibility requirements. If you do not meet the requirements, your application will be denied, and you will be notified by mail.
Step 2: Complete a Disability Interview
If your application is approved, you will be contacted by a disability examiner who will conduct a phone interview. During this interview, the examiner will discuss your medical condition and how it affects your ability to perform daily activities, as well as your work history and education.
Be prepared to answer questions about your condition, such as:
- When your disability began
- The symptoms you experience
- The treatments you have received
- Your ability to do different types of work
It’s important to be honest and thorough when answering these questions, as the information you provide will be used to determine whether you are eligible for benefits.
Step 3: Wait for a Decision
After your disability interview, your application will be reviewed by a team of disability examiners. This review process can take several months to complete, and you may be asked to provide additional information or undergo medical testing.
If your application is approved, you will receive a notice of award that outlines your disability benefits. If your application is denied, you will be notified by mail and can request a hearing to appeal the decision.
Applying for disability benefits in Georgia can be a complex process, but understanding the steps involved can make it easier. If you believe you may be eligible for disability benefits, reach out to a qualified attorney or advocate who can guide you through the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does it take to get approved for disability benefits in Georgia?
A: The average wait time for a decision on a disability benefits application in Georgia is approximately 3-5 months. However, the process can take longer if additional information or medical testing is required.
Q: Can I work and still receive disability benefits in Georgia?
A: It’s possible to work and receive disability benefits in Georgia, but there are strict limits on how much you can earn. In 2021, the maximum amount you can earn and still be eligible for disability benefits is $1,310 per month.
Q: If my application for disability benefits is denied, can I appeal the decision?
A: Yes, if your application for disability benefits is denied, you can appeal the decision. The appeal process involves a hearing before a judge, who will review your case and make a decision. It’s recommended that you hire an attorney or advocate to represent you during this process.
Q: How long do disability benefits last in Georgia?
A: Disability benefits in Georgia will continue as long as you remain disabled and unable to work. However, your benefits may be reviewed periodically to ensure that you still meet the eligibility requirements.
Q: What happens if my disability improves and I’m able to work again?
A: If your disability improves and you’re able to work again, you must report this to the Social Security Administration. Your benefits will be reevaluated, and you may no longer be eligible to receive disability benefits.
- “Social Security Disability Benefits Guide.” DisabilitySecrets, www.disabilitysecrets.com/resources/social-security-disability-benefits-guide.htm.
- “Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits.” SSA, www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/apply.html.
- “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security.” SSA, www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/general-info.htm.