Simple steps you can take to advance your Georgia Social Security disability appeal

If your claim for Georgia Social Security disability benefits has been denied, there are several simple steps you can take to help move your claim through the appeals process.

1. Get organized
Before you will be awarded Georgia Social Security disability benefits, you will have to provide the Social Security Administration with proof that you are, in fact, disabled. In large part, this proof will consist of medical records, medication records, and employment records. As you gather these and other documents, get organized from the start. Create a filing system that works for you and find a safe place to store these documents.

2. Maintain up-to-date records
Keep your records current. If you visit a new doctor, update your records to reflect the date of the visit and the doctor’s contact information. Add the doctor’s business card to your files. Don’t throw away empty prescription bottles; the labels provide a clear and accurate record of your medication history.

3. Keep a symptom diary
In making its disability determination, the Social Security Administration will consider whether and how your symptoms (e.g., pain, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, etc.) affect your daily activities. This element of your case will be particularly important at your disability hearing. The more details, examples and personal anecdotes you provide, the more persuasive your testimony will be. Even if you have an excellent memory, your testimony will be stronger if you keep a symptom diary. A “symptom diary” can take many forms, including a handwritten journal, a calendar, a spreadsheet, or any other writing that will remind you of how your symptoms affected your daily routine over time.

4. Cooperate with your doctors
The Social Security Administration expects you to make an effort to get better and get back to work. This means you should see your doctor regularly and follow your doctor’s orders regarding your treatment. In most cases, noncompliance will be detrimental to your claim for benefits.

5. Cooperate with the Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration may ask you to submit to a consultative examination (an examination by a doctor chosen by Social Security) or to provide additional documents or information. Make every effort to comply promptly with these requests. If you move, make sure you inform Social Security of your change of address.

6. Prepare for your disability hearing
If your initial application for Georgia Social Security disability benefits and your Request for Reconsideration are denied (as most are), then you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge. In most cases, this hearing is a claimant’s best opportunity to convince the Social Security decision-maker to award disability benefits. Start preparing for this important event early in your case. Begin by educating yourself about the hearing process. As your hearing date approaches, make a list of potential witnesses – family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers – who might be willing and able to testify on your behalf. Make a “before and after” list; what things are you no longer able to do, what can you do only with assistance, what do you do differently now because of your disability?

7. Consult with an experienced Georgia disability lawyer
You do not have to retain a Georgia disability lawyer in order to apply for and receive Social Security disability benefits; however, even the Social Security Administration agrees that your chances of success improve greatly if you have an experienced advocate by your side. A knowledgeable Georgia disability lawyer can help you gather evidence and focus your case on the issues that matter most to the Social Security Administration.

I have been helping disabled individuals navigate the Georgia Social Security disability benefits system for more than two decades. If you would like me to review your case, please use the Free Claim Evaluation form on this page to tell me about your situation, or contact me directly.

Dorine E. Preis
Marietta disability lawyer
Serving claimants throughout Metro Atlanta and North Georgia

1495 Powers Ferry Rd.
Suite 101
Marietta, Georgia 30067

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