Jonathan Ginsberg

Jonathan Ginsberg practices Social Security disability law in Atlanta, Georgia. He will teach a course about setting up and thriving in your Social Security disability practice at Solo Practice University®. View Syllabus

A graduate of Tulane University College of Law in New Orleans, Jonathan has been a small firm lawyer for the entirety of his 26 year legal career, and has developed two separate law practices during that time. Jonathan’s Social Security Disability Practice involves representing claimants in applications for disability benefits before Social Security Administration adjudicators and administrative law judges throughout the state of Georgia.

Jonathan is a sustaining member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives, and he regularly teaches continuing legal education courses about disability law and practice. In 2005, Jonathan published a “how to” book for consumers about the Social Security disability process called the Disability Answer Guide, and in 2006, he released the Child SSI Disability Answer Guide. He also publishes a widely read blog about Social Security disability called and he hosts a disability podcast called You can also subscribe to his Social Security Disability YouTube channel here.

Jonathan also assists lawyers throughout the country with marketing efforts using web sites, blogs, social media and other Internet based technology. He believes strongly in education based marketing and he encourages his disability attorney colleagues to use their knowledge and experience to educate the public about applicable Social Security disability benefit programs.


Class 1: Big Picture: Identifying Social Security’s Disability Programs and Related State Programs

  • SSDI
  • SSI
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • State Disability Programs
  • Widow’s benefits

Class 2: Defining “disability” for Social Security purposes

  • Statutory definition
  • How to explain this definition to a lay person
  • Why must your clients prove that they are disabled
  • Overview about how to prove disability to Social Security
  • The Sequential Evaluation Process used by SSA

Class 3:  SSDI v. SSI – who is eligible

  • Difference between SSDI and SSI
  • Work credits and the Social Security statement
  • Practice tip – how to get reliable information about insured status
  • SSI payment amounts (warning: offset issues)

Class 4: Choosing a Winning “Theory of Disability” for your Case

  • Meeting a Listing
  • Proving “less than sedentary” residual functional capacity
  • Meeting a “grid” rule

Class 5: Understanding how SSA Process a Case

  • Initial application
    • Telephone
    • On-line
    • In person
  • Reconsideration Appeal
    • Time deadlines
    • Finding the forms
    • Completing the form
  • Appealing the recon denial and requesting a hearing
    • Time deadlines
    • Finding the forms
    • Completing the forms
  • Attorney Involvement
  • When are you likely to get called by potential clients

Class 6:  Evaluating a Potential Client that Calls or Meets You in Your Office

  • The importance of call screening
    • Create a call screening checklist
    • What you want
    • What you do not want
    • Caller issues that you should avoid when you are starting out
  • Continuing disability reviews
  • Complaints by represented claimants about delays
  • Medicare and Medicaid issues
  • Retirement Social Security problems
  • Payment issues for approved claimants
  • Termination of disability benefits cases
  • Claimants who have been or are about to be incarcerated
  • Claimants who are in drug rehab or who have been in drug rehab
  • Speeding up the process
    • Dire need situations
    • Enlisting the help of elected representatives

Class 7: Accepting Your First Case

  • The importance of a good intake questionnaire
    • Forms that your client must sign
    • Retainer agreement
    • How do you get paid? Fee agreement vs. Fee petition
    • Form 1696 – Appt. of Representative
    • Direct pay form
    • Medical authorizations
    • Appeal forms
  • Creating realistic expectations for your client
    • Sample time line for average case
    • Establishing ground rules for communication
    • Use some form of electronic case management
    • Time frames in Social Security cases are long – you do not want a case to fall thru the cracks

Class 8:  How to Best Interface with Social Security

  • Do not assume that Social Security will accurately process anything
    you send in.
    Use registered mail when you mail.
    Social Security’s new electronic case processing
    Mail vs. bar code faxing vs. electronic submission
    SSA’s system is moving towards a paperless processing system -
    the process is halfway completed

Class 9:   Your Tasks When Representing a Claimant

  • Developing the medical record
  • When do you need to get involved in this process?
  • Advising clients regarding cooperative medical providers
  • Persuading doctors to give you forms
    • Checklist forms are your best friends in SSA disability practice
  • Explaining Consultative Evaluations

Class 10: The Disability Hearing – where you earn your money

  • Estimating when the hearing might be scheduled
  • The timing of final updates for medical records
  • What actually happens at a Social Security disability hearing
  • The hearing room
  • The participants
  • Relaxed rules of evidence
  • Typical sequence of a hearing

Class 11: The Disability Hearing – Part Two

  • Requesting an On-the-Record decision
  • Testimony
  • Your opening statement
  • Direct examination of the claimant
  • Direct examination of supporting witnesses

Class 12: The Disability Hearing – Part Three

  • Cross examination of the vocational expert
  • Cross examination of the medical expert
  • Preserving your record for appeal
  • Hearing preparation
  • Potential issues to watch for
    • Earnings after AOD
    • Date last insured issues

Class 13: The Disability Hearing – Part Four

  • Getting a handle on the evidence
  • Special issues with video hearings
  • Preparing your client for a hearing
  • Questions to expect
  • Claimant mistakes to avoid

Class 14:  Post Hearing Work

  • Time line for favorable decision
  • Contacting the MODS to get payments processed
  • Income and resource interviews in SSI cases
  • Time line for unfavorable decision
  • Appeal procedures

Class 15:  Winning Strategy #1 – Bathroom Breaks

  • Functional capacity argument
  • Judges often very receptive
  • Significant vocational implications

Class 16:  Winning Strategy #2 – Closed Period Claims

  • works well for younger claimants
  • ALJs tend to like
  • works well when client cannot afford medical care

Class 17:  Winning Strategy #3 – Reopening an Old Application

  • recover thousands more in past due benefits
  • solve date last insured problems
  • will not happen automatically – you must request