You’ve worked all of your life and you just can’t do it anymore. What now?
If you’ve made it to this webpage, you’ve already done some research and are at least considering filing for social security disability (SSDI). Perhaps you’ve already filed and received a denial and want help with the appeal or maybe you received a notice of hearing and want help. At Joel Thrift Law we help people all over Georgia with every aspect of the social security disability process. Let us worry about the details so you don’t have to. We help with the following:
- SSDI Applications
- Reconsideration Appeals
- Hearing Appeals
- Appeals Council appeals
Why hire an attorney?
We know what you need to prove.
Proving you are disabled seems simple enough, but even the definition of the word “disabled” is complicated and is different depending on your age. It’s not enough to just show you can’t do your old job. At Joel Thrift Law we can help you understand what you need to prove and how to prove it.
The process is complicated
The further you get into the process the more complicated it gets. You might be able to file the initial application yourself, but will you be able to get your medical records to the judge in time? What do all the forms they’re sending you mean? At Joel Thrift Law we have years of experience with the process. We can upload your medical records to the judge with the click of a computer mouse while you’re trying to figure out a how fax records with a barcode on top and facing the correct direction.
It’s Relatively Cheap
You pay no money up front. We get paid a percentage of the backpay once you win and even then the fees are capped at $6000. $6000 might seem like a lot of money, but not compared to what you gain if you win your case. If you win, you will get backpay and you can get benefits for years into the future. We take no fee on your future benefits. You can also get Medicare or Medicaid that will provide medical benefits worth even more than the monthly benefits. There’s too much on the line to not ask for help from an attorney. At Joel Thrift Law we have years of experience and have won hundreds of Social Security Disability cases in Georgia.
Where are you in the SSDI Process?
No matter where you are in the process, we can help. I would encourage you to hire us as early as possible to make sure the case is going in the right direction from the beginning. However, if you’ve waited, we can still help. We know that some people struggle through the process until they finally realize they need help. It’s not too late to call.
I want help applying.
If you’re just getting started you want to ask the basic questions before applying. Do you qualify for SSDI or SSI and how much will you get if you win your case? Both questions depend on how much you paid into the system. If you need help answering whether you qualify for disability or how much you will get, give us a call and we’ll walk you through the requirements. Then we can decide if it’s best for you to go ahead and file the application.
Filing the application – we can help you file the application online. Before filing, you’ll need to gather information about past work and the names and addresses of your doctors. With that information, we can help you file the application online.
I’ve applied for Social Security Disability and now I want help.
Now that you’ve filed your application, your local Social Security office will organize your paperwork and forward it to the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Once the case is sent to DAS, that office will assign the case to an adjudicator. The adjudicator’s job is to collect your medical records and schedule you for a consultative examination with one of Social Security’s doctors if necessary. Once the adjudicator has all of the information, a doctor will review your records and either approve or deny your claim.
You will also get forms like the function report and a jobs history report. These forms can be overwhelming. At Joel Thrift Law can help you understand how to fill out the function report and the job history report. We can also help you get important records and doctor’s opinions to your adjudicator.
The most important thing to do after you have filed your application is to make sure you appeal your case if you are denied. Sometimes social security makes mistakes and sends the denial to the wrong place. At Joel Thrift Law we routinely check the status of cases with DAS to make sure the cases are still pending.
I got denied and need help with my Reconsideration Appeal
First, relax. We can help and you can still win. At Joel Thrift Law, we can help you file your appeal. You have 60 days to file your appeal for reconsideration so please do not wait to call us. It is fairly simple to file a reconsideration appeal online. Once we have filed your reconsideration appeal, you will go through the same process a second time that you went through with your initial disability review. You will get the function report again and the job history report again. The only difference is that you will have a different adjudicator. The adjudicator will update your medical record with any new records we tell them about on your appeal. Again, at Joel Thrift Law, we will continue to check the status of your case. Most people do not win at the reconsideration level, so the most important thing to do is look out for reconsideration denial and file the appeal.
I got denied again and need help requesting a Hearing
Filing the appeal is fairly simple. We can help you file it online. Once your appeal is filed, the case is transferred to a hearing office. In North Georgia, those hearing offices are located in downtown Atlanta, Covington, Alpharetta, Athens, Columbus, and Macon. If you live in Cartersville or Rome, your case might even wind up at the Chattanooga hearing office.
At the hearing level, we can finally review your entire file electronically. We can see all your medical records including any consultative examinations. We can also see the full explanation for why you were denied. Without an attorney, you will not have access to your file electronically. You can request a copy of your file and the hearing office is supposed to send you a cd with your all of your records, but it will not be in an easy to read format.
If you have put off hiring an attorney prior to the hearing level, I implore you to hire one now. You do not want to go through the hearing process alone. At the hearing level, social security does nothing to help prepare your case. They will not order medical records for you. You risk going to a hearing with all of your records missing.
My hearing was scheduled and I need help at the hearing
Once the hearing is scheduled, it’s time to really work to get all of your medical records. You do not want to go to a hearing without all of your medical records. You will need to submit your records at least 5 days before the hearing or provide a letter explaining why you haven’t been able to get the records. If you haven’t gotten your doctor to fill out a questionnaire about your pain, now is the time to do it. We can do all of this for you. We have gotten really good at getting medical records through experience. You would be surprised at how difficult it can be to just get your medical records. Rarely, we’ll need your help getting records. For example, the Veterans Administration (VA) makes it nearly impossible for us to get your records but will provide the same day to you.
It’s the week of the hearing, what now?
The week of the hearing, we always schedule time to prepare our clients for the hearing. We tell you what to expect. We go through your medical record with you and focus your testimony on things that will help you win your case. We have experience with all of the judges in North Georgia so we know what to expect from each one. We’ll explain the vocational expert so that nothing will surprise you at the hearing. If you’ve waited until now to consider hiring an attorney, you will probably want to ask the judge for a postponement until you can find an attorney because you do not want to go to a hearing by yourself. There are likely medical records missing from your file and your testimony might not help your case.
I had my hearing. What’s now?
Now you wait for the judge’s decision. You’re hoping for a fully favorable decision. If you get a fully favorable decision you will then get a Notice of Award that explains how much you will get. The local office might need more information before they can pay you. If so, make sure you return their call. If your decision says unfavorable, you will need to consider your options. You can either appeal the case to the appeals’ council or file a new application. You will need help making this decision.