January 25, 2020

Early stages of the Social Security Disability claims process

Many claimants often do not have a clear understanding about who, in the initial stages of a claim, is actually making the determination as to whether they are disabled. Interestingly, it is not the Social Security Administration, but an agency of your actual state that has been given the task of determining whether you qualify for disability in this early period of your claim (right after you file for disability).

Each state has an independent agency – commonly known as the disability determination service – that will make the first decision as to whether you qualify for benefits. In the state of Georgia (where I practice), for example, the disability determination service, commonly referred to as DDS, is the Georgia Department of Labor, Disability Adjudication Section – located in Stone Mountain, Georgia.  These folks are the ones issuing decisions as to whether you are considered disabled.

Regardless of your location and the exact name of the DDS, the federal rules governing each state are the same, meaning that these state agencies do follow certain criteria established by the SSA in determining whether you are disabled. And once the determination has been made by the state agency, it will be the SSA who will mail you your decision letter.

People often want to know who is actually rendering the decision within the actual state agency. A disability examiner (DE), whom works closely with a medical consultant (MC), will make a decision on whether one is eligible for disability. Do not fret if you are denied; roughly 75% of all claims are denied at first. To read about how to appeal a denial, please click on the link.