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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. Am I still able to apply for the previous year's stimulus check?
A: Most eligible people have already received all three of their Economic Impact Payments. However, you may still be able to file your 2020, 2021 taxes and claim a Recovery Rebate Credit. For more information, see According to the IRS, you do not need a Social Security number to file your tax return - you can use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead. See If you need help filing your taxes, call 211 and they will give you information about resources available to help you with your taxes. See
Q. I was born in Philadelphia ps in 2001 at home. I have 12 siblings that have an ssn but I do not.
A: The best place to find out about the evidence requirements to obtain a Social Security number and card is at 20 CFR 422.107. See To obtain an original Social Security number card, you must submit convincing evidence of: 1. your age, 2. U.S. citizenship or alien status, and 3. identity. Since you don't have a birth certificate, you prove evidence of your age by providing hospital birth record before age 5, or a religious record which shows your date of birth and was recorded before age 5.Other convincing evidence that shows your date of birth or age at a certain time such as: an original family bible or family record; school records; census records; a statement signed by the physician or midwife who was present at your birth; insurance policies; a marriage record; a passport; an employment record; a delayed birth certificate, your child's birth certificate; or an immigration or naturalization record. Proof of U.S. citizenship can be made by providing a document that shows the U.S. as your place of birth, such as would be on a U.S. Passport. Social Security will accept verification from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of State, or Federal or State court records confirming citizenship. Proof of your identity is made submitting a document that shows your age and date of birth or parents' names, or your photograph or physical description. Examples of documents that would prove your identity include a driver's license, state-issued non-driver identification card, school record, medical record, marriage record, passport, or Department of Homeland Security document. The documents you present to Social Security must be original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them. Social Security does not accept photocopies or notarized copies. Expired documents are also generally not acceptable. Social Security may use one document for two purposes. For example, they may use your U.S. passport as proof of both citizenship and identity. But, you must provide at least two separate documents to meet the requirements. It is a good idea to bring more documents that are absolutely required. Call your Social Security field office and request an appointment to come in so that you will be able to keep your original or certiifed documents with you.
Q. SSDI application declined
A: To be eligible for SSDI disability benefits, you must meet BOTH a recent work test and a duration work test. The number of credits necessary to meet the recent work test depends on your age. In general, the rules are as follows: Before age 24 - You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts. Age 24 to 31 – You may qualify if you have covered credits for working half the time between age 21 and the time your disability began. As a general example, if you have a disability at age 27, you would need 3 years of work (12 credits) out of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27). Age 31 or older - You must have at least 20 credits in the 10-year period immediately before your disability began. In 2022, you receive one credit for each $1,510 of covered earnings, up to the maximum of four credits per year. The amount earned to receive one credit changes depending on the year. See Special rules apply if you were self-employed and had net annual earnings of less than $400. For more information, see Here is what you can do: Go to your My Social Security account and review and verify your earnings for accuracy. If you find that the recorded earnings do not match your W-2s or other records, inform Social Security of the discrepancy so that they can correct your earnings record. If you think that you do meet the coverage requirements, appeal the Social Security decision within 60 days. You may want to consult with a disability attorney about your particular situation. Many offer a free initial consultation.
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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
Tuesday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM
Wednesday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM
Thursday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM
Friday: 9 AM - 4:30 PM (Today)
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed