For many people in Ohio who may be contemplating a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI benefits, the process used by the Social Security Administration or SSA often seems like a black hole – light goes in but none come out. In this post, we hope to provide some helpful illumination about how the SSA evaluates disability claims.
A claim for disability benefits, including both medical and employment information, must be filed at the nearest SSA field office or state office authorized to accept claims. Filing can be done by mail, in person, by telephone or online. The local office reviews the claim and verifies non-medical eligibility requirements, such as age, employment history, marital status and accumulated work credits. The application is then forwarded to a Disability Determination Service or DDS office, where the determination of disability is made.
The DDS office reviews the applicant’s medical information and compares it with disability requirements. If necessary, the DDS may request the applicant to undergo a consultative examination to provide additional medical information. The DDS then makes the initial determination of disability. If the application is approved, the DDS sends the file to the SSA field office; the field office computes the benefit amount and begins making payments. If the applicant is determined to not be disabled, the file is held by the field office until the applicant makes a decision whether to appeal.
For applicants whose claims are initially denied, a Social Security disability appeal is essential to maximize the chances of receiving benefits. The appeal process can ultimately lead to a hearing before an administrative law judge and – most importantly – a reversal of the initial decision denying benefits.
At almost any step on the claims process, the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in disability claims can be extremely helpful. A knowledgeable attorney can oversee the appeal process, file the necessary papers and conduct the hearing before the administrative law judge.
Source: Social Security Administration, “Medical/Professional Relations: Disability Evaluation Under Social Security,” accessed on July 10, 2016