The longest part of the disability benefits claims process – which can take nearly a year in parts of Texas – is the time it spends at Disability Determination Services, or DDS.
After you file the claim with your regional Social Security office, it is sent to DDS and assigned to a Disability Examiner.The examiner will ultimately approve or deny your initial application for SSI or SSDI disability benefits. The document they write will inform Texas disability court in case you decide to appeal a claim denial.
What does my Texas Disability Examiner do?
For most applications, the examiner’s job has three basic stages.
- They receive your file and review it.
- They obtain all medical, employment and educational records necessary for a complete evaluation, contacting you or your representative for assistance if information is incomplete or out of date.
- They consult with a DDS consulting physician to write a detailed overview of your case that culminates in a decision about your eligibility for disability benefits—also known as a Disability Determination.
What kind of assistance might the disability examiner need?
It’s extremely important that the disability examiner is kept up to date on any changes to your contact information, because you may need to communicate with them during the evaluation process. A few of the possible issues that may arise:
- The examiner may want to schedule a consultative examination for you to complete any information that is missing or out of date.
- The examiner may need assistance in obtaining records from a source that isn’t responding to requests.
Requesting and receiving records is notoriously the longest part of the claims process. Sometimes getting a single record can take multiple tries over a number of weeks.
The Disability Determination
This document, usually several pages long, is the ultimate goal of the examiner’s evaluation process. It is written in collaboration with an on-staff physician at DDS. In the determination, you will find:
- Details about your medical condition explained in language easily followed by someone who is not a doctor.
- An opinion on whether or not this medical condition constitutes enough of a disability to prohibit you from reasonably maintaining employment.
- An opinion on whether or not this medical condition, combined with your ability to perform basic workplace tasks, is enough to prohibit you from reasonably maintaining employment.
If the examiner approves your application, he or she will notify Social Security so your monthly benefit can be calculated and payment can begin. If your application is denied, your file will be returned to the regional field office where you applied, pending your decision to appeal.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the Social Security disability benefits claims application or appeal process, talk with a skilled Dallas disability attorney. Learn more by calling 877-898-1581today.
Also, be sure to check out our free book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.