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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.

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
  • Free Consultation
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Contingent Fees
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
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  • English: Spoken, Written
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.
Valparaiso University School of Law
J.D. (1988) | Law
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Indiana University - Indiana University-Bloomington
B.A. (1984) | English
Indiana University - Indiana University-Bloomington Logo
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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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
Websites & Blogs
Cardea Law Group, LLC website
Cardea Law Group Blog Articles
Legal Answers
109 Questions Answered
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
Q. I have a joint account with my grandma. She's get ssi. Her son is mad I have it. Is her money my money? Technically?
A: All the funds your grandma receives from SSI is all hers for basic subsistence and she must not have more than $2,000 in countable resources including savings to continue to be eligible. Technically, having power of attorney, or a joint bank account with the person who is receiving benefits is not the same as being appointed as a representative payee. These arrangements do not give you legal authority to negotiate and manage grandma's SSI benefits. If your grandma cannot manage her own SSI benefits, then Social Security will appoint a representative payee. You or someone else can apply to be her representative payee and be approved for this role. For an overview, see

There is also another important issue and that is the fact that your grandma is in a nursing home. Generally, if a person is in a nursing home or hospital (or other medical facility) where Medicaid pays for more than half of the cost of care, SSI benefit is limited to $30 a month. In some situations, your grandma may not be eligible for any SSI benefit. The only exception is if your grandma will only be in the nursing home for 90 days or less - this is what is called a "temporary institutionalization" benefit. Social Security needs to be informed of this situation immediately to avoid grandma incurring an overpayment. To learn more about SSI rules, go to
... Read More
Q. Should my husband apply for disability?
A: I encourage your husband to consult with an experienced Social Security disability attorney to discuss his particular situation because disability evaluation is more complicated than just considering a person's medical conditions. Many disability attorneys offer a free initial consultation.

As a general overview, Social Security law defines disability as the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

In evaluating disability, consideration is given to your age, education, past relevant work experience, your impairments, symptoms and side-effects from medications, and functional limitations from your impairments. Social Security uses a five-step process to evaluate disability. See Approvals for disability can only be made at steps 3 (Listing of Impairments) and 5 (No other work).

The good news is that a person in the closely approaching retirement age catagory (age 60 or older) is given special consideration under the framework of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines. See
... Read More
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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
Saturday: Closed (Today)
Sunday: Closed