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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.
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
American Bar Association
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Indiana State Bar  # 14112-64
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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. How do I obtain my sons social security number?
A: Look on your previous tax return. If you had included your child as a dependent. his Social Security number will be on the tax return. Otherwise, you may need to obtain a replacement Social Security card by filing form SS-5 with Social Security - see You will have to have documentation to prove your identity and the identity of your son; your son's U.S. citizenship; custody/relationship of you and your son. Here is some basic information about the documentation you need to give to Social Security - see,
Q. Somebody use my social to commit a crime don't I have a right to this info
A: Since you suspect someone is using your Social Security number and may be committing identity fraud, you should immediately report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) at their website Social Security also recommends that you review earnings posted to your record on your Social Security Statement by accessing your My Social Security account to make sure that someone is not using your Social Security number for work purposes. Here is some more information about this from Social Security at, Continue to monitor your credit by getting a free credit report from one of the three major consumer credit bureaus. Report to the credit bureaus any evidence of misuse. You can also file a police report about identity fraud/misuse of your Social Security number with your local jurisdiction. While your city or county may not be able to investigate this crime, having a police report can be an essential document to help you to recover from identity theft.
Q. I'm owed back pay in child support for my now autistic adult son. Will this interfere with him collecting ssi?
A: Social Security counter child support as unearned income for purposes of calculating the child's SSI benefits. However, Social Security does not always count the entire child support payment as unearned income. If a child support recipient is younger than 18 (or 22, if she is still in school), and if the recipient receives the payment from an absent parent (defined as a parent who does not live in the same household as the child), then the Social Security considers only two-thirds of the payment as unearned income. You are right to be concerned that the back pay from child support can adversely affect your son's SSI benefits. To address the issue, you may want to consider either an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account or a Special Needs Trust, or both. An ABLE account is: a tax-advantaged savings account used by eligible individuals to pay for qualified disability expenses. The eligible individual must be blind or disabled by a condition that began before the individuals 26th birthday. Funds in an ABLE account can be directly accessed and used by the disabled person for certain qualified expenses, such as education, housing, transportation, health and wellness, employment training and support .If an ABLE account balance exceeds $100,000 and causes the recipient to exceed the SSI resource limit -- whether alone or with other resources, Social Security will suspend the SSI payment until the countable resources are below the allowable limit. See A Special Needs Trust (SNT) is managed by a trustee, not be the disabled person and is irrevocable. Assets in a SNT will not affect the beneficiary’s eligibility for SSI or Medicaid. The SNT provides the disabled person with special needs that could not be paid for by public assistance funds, such as costs for sitters, companions, and dental or medical expenses not covered by Medicare or Medicaid. If money from the trust is used for food or shelter costs on a regular basis or distributed directly to the disabled person, however, such payments will count as income and will affect SSI. There is no limit on the amount of resources that can be held in a Special Needs Trust. Usually distributions from special needs trusts are made in the form of direct payments to vendors who provide goods or services to the beneficiary. This kind of trust also must provide that the state will be paid back upon the death of the beneficiary for everything Medicaid covered for the beneficiary during the beneficiary’s life, but only to the extent of any funds remaining in the trust when the beneficiary dies. See
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Contact & Map
Cardea Law Group, LLC
P.O. Box 681586
Prattville, AL 36068
Telephone: (334) 440-6261
Monday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM (Today)
Tuesday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM
Wednesday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM
Thursday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM
Friday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed