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Susan Michele Schaefer

Susan Michele Schaefer

Cardea Law Group, LLC
  • Social Security Disability, Bankruptcy, Probate ...
  • Alabama, Indiana, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Accredited
Claimed Lawyer ProfileQ&ASocial MediaResponsive Law

Susan Michele Schaefer has over 30 years of professional experience. She began her career as a trial attorney before establishing a decades-long career at the Social Security Administration (SSA). She is also accredited by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Practice areas include Social Security disability, VA disability, bankruptcy, and wills and estates.

She has a wealth of knowledge about disability from extensive field experience at the Disability Determination Services, and at the Office of Hearings Operations as a Hearing Office Director, Supervisory Attorney, and Senior Attorney, and at Social Security National Headquarters as Deputy Director, Branch Chief. Ms. Schaefer know how the system works and will help you get the benefits you need.

Valparaiso University School of Law
J.D. (1988) | Law
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Indiana University - Indiana University-Bloomington
B.A. (1984) | English
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Professional Experience
Cardea Law Group, LLC
- Current
We will provide you with advice and guidance throughout your case. We will advocate on your behalf and make a comprehensive presentation of your case. We know how the system works and can cut through complicated bureaucratic procedures to help you win your case.
Deputy Director, Branch Chief
Social Security Administration
Provided disability policy advice to SSA executives. Also led research and drafting of regulations, rulings and policy guidance.
Hearing Office Director, Supervisory Attorney
Social Security Administration
Supervised attorneys and paralegals in Social Security hearing offices.
Trial Attorney
Emerick and Diggins, PC
Trial attorney in a general practice law firm.
Articles & Publications
Helping the homeless and others facing barriers with Social Security Disability applications and claims
National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR)
Speaking Engagements
Evaluation of Symptoms in Disability Claims, Social Security Ruling 16-3p, Chronic Fatgue Advisory Committee, Washington, D.C.
Health and Human Services
Drug Addiction and Alcoholism (DAA) and Disability, National Association of Disability Representatives Conference, Washington, D.C.
National Association of Disability Representatives
Accredited Attorney
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Commissioner’s Award for Outstanding Performance in Medical Policy
Social Security Administration
Professional Associations
Indiana State Bar  # 14112-64
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American Bar Association
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Alabama State Bar
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Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
Alabama State Bar Association
ID Number: 9216G15Y
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Indiana Supreme Court
ID Number: 14112-64
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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Accredited
ID Number:
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  • Free Consultation
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Contingent Fees
Practice Areas
Social Security Disability
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Debt Relief
Probate Administration
Estate Planning
Guardianship & Conservatorship Estate Administration, Health Care Directives, Trusts, Wills
Additional Practice Area
  • Veterans Administration Disability Law
  • English: Spoken, Written
Legal Answers
Q. Is it good if I checked my social security status claim online and it says ssa is reviewing to see if i still meet nonme
A: It is best to wait for the Administrative Law Judge decision to make sure you are approved for SSI disability. The online information is fine as a general guide, but it is not the official decision. The decision will specify if you meet the medical requirements for disability and, if so, set out the established onset date when your disability began. For SSI you must also meet the income and resource limits in addition to being medically disabled. Social Security will conduct an interview with you about your countable income and resources to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements. Resources are limited to $2,000 for an individual. Once you have both decisions - medically disabled and limited income and resources - then you will receive any back pay you are due in a couple of installments along with a monthly SSI check. The monthly maximum Federal amount for 2024 is $943 for an eligible individual. This amount may be reduced based on your living situation. See Here is some good general information about SSI at Also, when you get SSI, you will also get Medicaid and that is good news. ... Read More
Q. What do i do if my mom keeps opening my mail?
A: It is a good idea to set up a bank account for yourself and direct that your Social Security benefit payments be directly deposited into your account. It is more secure than having a paper check mailed to your address. You can do this by creating a My Social Security account and then set up direct deposit once you have your bank account established. For more information about how to do this see

While you are at the bank, you may also want to set up an ABLE account for yourself. This is a tax-free savings account used to cover qualified disability expenses. Social Security does not count the first $100,000. Only assets in the ABLE account above $100,000 count as a resource. See It can be very advantageous to you when saving for your future.

If you are receiving SSI, then you will need to know about how deeming works. Your SSI payment may be reduced by one-third if you live in your mom's household throughout a month and you do not pay for the food and shelter you get. See You can make arrangements with your mom about paying your fair share of the household expenses and avoid the deeming reduction. Report any changes in your living situation to Social Security right away. See
... Read More
Q. May I still get a lawyer even if my disability process is almost complete I filed back n 2020 a still waiting it is hard
A: Yes, you have a right to be represented and you can hire a lawyer to represent you at any point of the disability process. Here is general information from Social Security at

Locate a lawyer using Justia's "Find a Lawyer". Ask a lawyer for a free consultation so you can talk about your particular case and find out what the lawyer's approach would be. Once you have found an experienced disability lawyer you want to hire, appoint the lawyer with signed Appointment of Representative and Fee Agreement forms. Most lawyers charge a contingent fee of 25% of your back pay if you win your case. If you do not win, the lawyer would not charge a fee. ... Read More
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Websites & Blogs
Cardea Law Group, LLC website
Cardea Law Group Blog Articles
Contact & Map
Cardea Law Group, LLC
P.O. Box 681586
Prattville, AL 36068
Telephone: (334) 440-6261
Monday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM
Tuesday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM (Today)
Wednesday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM
Thursday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM
Friday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed