President and Founder of Dominion Disability Advocates
Photographed by Brett Mountain
Meet Dr. Carletta Griffin, president and founder of Dominion Disability Advocates. A native Detroiter, Griffin now enjoys life in Novi with her husband, Juakemo, and their 9-year-old son, Joshua. She is a graduate of Lane College in Jackson, Tenn., and received an MBA and doctorate of management from the University of Phoenix.
Griffin describes herself as an advocate for Social Security claimants and a non-attorney representative in their pursuit of acquiring disability benefits.
“I help guide my clients through initial and appeal-level claims processing,” she explains. “This includes completing forms, submitting claims to the agency for adjudication and handling other pertinent paperwork. I serve as the primary liaison between the Social Security Administration and clients for benefits processing. I also communicate with doctors and claims professionals at every phase to ensure that my clients’ claims are processed properly.”
The hallmark of Dr. Griffin’s business is delivering compassionate service to those that need it most.
“This is incredibly rewarding work,” she says. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Industry changes: In the past, attorneys have dominated the representation of people applying for Social Security benefits. But in the early 2000s, the National Association of Disability Representatives fought for the right to represent these people. This has led to more personal relationships. They’re built on trust because our clients can see that we go the extra mile for them.
Professionally speaking: I’ve worked with so many people who do not know how to navigate the bureaucracy of Social Security. These people are among the most marginalized members of society, including the homeless and others facing similar challenges. In my job, I strive to educate people so they can get the benefits they deserve because many of them don’t know where else to turn. I consider myself an agent of hope for those that have either lost it or never had it.
Proud career accomplishment: Things have been moving very quickly since I started my own business because my clients advertise for me via word of mouth. That sort of recognition is important because it means that I’m living up to the values I’ve set for my business. And that’s really what it’s all about.
Career thoughts: I’m always looking for ways to offer my clients more quality and better service. I constantly find myself educating them about the process and in doing so I’m educating myself as well. I have mentors and interact with other Social Security representatives in order to improve and keep up with new laws, policies and improving.
Passion for: I’m a strong supporter of the city of Detroit and its transformation. I want to do my part to be a beacon of light for the city. I’m also the president of the Race Relations Community Task Force, which grew out of a community leadership forum convened in 1987 by 17 community agencies, including the Birmingham Community House, Birmingham Public Schools and Bloomfield Hills Schools. Our goals are to improve race relations within our own communities and throughout the Metropolitan Detroit area, and to develop a climate that promotes inclusivity and values diversity.
Working in Oakland County: It’s a very innovative and diverse county and that means there are more opportunities to challenge you and learn more about others. It’s a chance for one to get outside his or her comfort zone, which is always good.
Favorite place to hang out: I like the spas, and there are certainly a lot of them in this area. I like to pamper myself; it’s how I de-stress. I like going to the gym and also trying out different restaurants. Beans & Cornbread is one of my favorites.
My perfect day: I love to go bike riding with my son and family, and if I get a chance to fit in a visit to the spa, that’s great, too.
What most people don’t know about me: I’m an open book. I like to be transparent in every aspect of my life.
— Interviewed by Matthew Totsky