What is the process Social Security uses to decide disability at the initial level?

When you first apply for disability, the Social Security Administration (SSA)  gathers your medical records, your description of your symptoms and daily activities and your description of job history to make an initial decision on your application. A Disability Determination Service (DDS) is the agency in your state contracted by SSA to perform this function. DDS obtains medical and psychological records for up to twelve months prior to the onset date of your disability. When you prepare your application it is important to identify all medical providers and hospitals and your dates of treatment.SSA sends you forms to describe your daily activities and the symptoms. You should complete these forms carefully bearing in mind that you are describing  your limitations on a typical day not your best day. An applicant will also  be asked to describe their jobs for the last fifteen years. It is important to describe all the work functions that you performed on the job and not just give just a job title. After all the information is gathered, a disability examiner will review the information and make a decision.If there is not enough information to either approve or deny your claim you could be examined by doctor or psychologist picked by the DDS. This examination should take 30- 45 minutes and a written report will be sent to the DDS.  Then the DDS examiner writes a summary of the evidence and his or her conclusion as to your physical and mental limitations. The examiner forwards their recommendation to one of the agency doctors or psychologists to sign a prefilled form. After this the state agency will mail out a notice of their decision.

The DDS should consider all of your health problems, as well as your age, education and work experience in making its decisions. In general, Social Security is supposed to decide whether you are able to do your past work with what they have decided your limitations are. If Social Security decides that you are unable to do your past work, they are supposed to consider whether there is any other work which you can do considering your health problems and your age, education and work experience.

For more information about this and other questions you might have, order a copy of our book or contact Cuddigan Law at (402) 933-5400.

Timothy J. Cuddigan
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Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience