After your Social Security disability benefits application leaves the district office where you initially submitted it, it is assigned to a disability examiner at Disability Determination Services (DDS) in Nebraska, or the Disability Determination Services Bureau (DDSB) in Iowa. There is at least one Disability Determination office in each state, typically employing hundreds of disability examiners.

What does the disability examiner do?

The Social Security disability examiner approves or denies your initial application for disability benefits. In preparing to make the determination, the examiner must handle a number of administrative duties necessary to decide your case. This includes:

  • Contacting you if necessary to obtain information during  the determination process.
  • Gathering all medical records, test results, diagnosis, and treatment information pertaining to your disabilities.
  • Requesting any omitted information from you, your representative, or your physician.
  • Sending out questionnaires and forms about your daily activities, symptoms and work history
  • Scheduling a consultative examination for you if information is insufficient.
  • Adding results from any consultative examinations to your file.
  • Collecting information about your relevant prior work history, usually going back 15 years.
  • Obtaining school records and other basic information about your education only if necessary.

Collecting all the necessary information can take weeks—even months. Out-of-date contact information can lead to significantly longer waits—or, worse yet, automatic denials, so make sure that the examiner knows of any changes to your phone number or mailing address.

Once the examiner has collected all the relevant information, he or she will collaborate with an on-staff medical consultant to build a disability determination. This document will explain:

  • The nature of your health condition,
  • Whether or not your health condition constitutes a disability in itself, and
  • If you have strong enough residual functional capacity—the capacity to perform the basic tasks necessary for employment—to hold down a job.

If your application is approved, Social Security determines how much of a benefit you will receive and starts making payments. If it is denied, your entire file, including the determination document, is returned to the district office where you applied in case you decide to appeal.

If you’ve been struggling to understand how you can obtain the much-needed support of Social Security disability benefits, we may be able to help. The Bellevue disability benefits lawyers at Cuddigan Law can be reached by calling 402-933-5405 or emailing [email protected].

You’ll also want to request our free booklet, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case.

Timothy J. Cuddigan (Founder - Retired)
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Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience