Former Social Security Disability Examiner Gives Insight on How Disability Cases are Evaluated
I worked for ten years adjudicating disability claims for a Florida Social Security Disability Determinations Services (DDS) office before becoming a Freedom Disability Advocate. I know how the disability approval system works.
DDS examiners follow medical and vocational guidelines established by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to rationalize their decisions. These are universally followed at every state DDS office. When your disability case is reviewed at DDS, the examiner will:
- Compare your medical condition against impairments listed in SSA’s publication, “Disability Evaluation under Social Security,” commonly known as SSA’s “Blue Book”
- Analyze supportive evidence from medical professionals about your condition
- Evaluate your work and medical history, age, skills and your functional capacity
- Conclude if all these factors put together will support why you can’t work to earn income
The critical scenario is that you need your doctors to put your case in a favorable position for getting approved, and their opinions must be in writing. If DDS needs more medical proof, they may require that you go for a Consultative Exam (CE) with one of SSA’s contracted medical professionals.
Even after a CE, if there isn’t enough medical evidence to support your case, you can expect DDS to order additional testing, further delaying the process until the SSA guidelines are met.
The thing is, and perhaps unfortunately, time is a factor in getting approved. If you started off with inadequate medical documentation, more medical evidence will inevitably be added over time. Months later, when your case moves through the appeal process, you could stand a better chance of getting approved.
As a former DDS examiner I can tell you that the process for getting disability benefits for many cases is challenging. If your case is denied at the initial level, or at the reconsideration level, it is understandable to feel upset or angry, but you should have realistic expectations. Without quality medical evidence to prove disability, you face long delays before getting approved. This is how it works at DDS.
You may face major hurdles in getting through the DDS adjudication process. As Freedom Disability Advocates we facilitate the process between you and SSA informing you on what to expect from DDS. We know the guidelines and how to build strong disability cases. To be effective for our customers, we have to know what we’re doing.