SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Social Security Disability and SSI Questions and Answers
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
More questions about SSD and SSI
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
What happens after I file my disability claim with Social Security?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
After you file your Social Security disability claim at a local social security field office, you will begin the disability “waiting” game.
What does this mean? Simply that Social Security disability and SSI claims, more often than not, can take considerable time (and, in recent years, the amount of time expended on an average SSD or SSI case, from beginning to end, has increased; therefore, individuals who are only "considering" filing for disability should probably get a claim initiated as soon as possible).
For instance, your initial disability claim will be sent to the state agency responsible for Social Security disability decisions. There, at DDS or disability determination services, it will remain for approximately 30-120 days, the amount of time considered be the average range for initial claim processing.
Keep in mind, of course, that some claims are processed very quickly, while others, due to complications that are specific to a case (such as the need for multiple testing or examination appointments) or simply due to backlogs, may take well over the average expected time. It is not at all unheard of for a claim to take even up to a year to process at the disability application level.
Once the case is at DDS
Once the case is at DDS, it will be assigned to a disability examiner and that individual will immediately start ordering your medical history records and will evaluate them as they begin to arrive (speaking as a former disability examiner, I can effectively state that is practically the very first task performed by a disability examiner: sending out letters to the claimant's doctors and hospitals to request medical evidence).
The ability of the examiner to move the case along, of course, will be largely dependent on how long it takes to get the medical records in. And this is dependent on the medical treatment sources, some of whom respond quickly to requests for records and some of whom are notoriously slow.
Note: this is why it is not a bad idea at all for a claimant to obtain all their medical records and submit them when they file for disability.
In addition to analyzing medical evidence, the examiner will also evaluate your work history to learn more about the types of jobs that you performed within what SSA (the social security administration) considers to be the "relevant work period", meaning the last fifteen years prior to your becoming disabled.
Being familiar with the work history is practically as important as being familiar with what the medical records have to say. This is because the focus of most disability decisions is determining whether or not a claimant can engage in work activity. And the only way of doing this is A) determining how they are currently limited, either physicall or mentally, and B) determing what their job skills are and what their past jobs required of them.
While your claim is being processed, you may be asked to go to a consultative exam, known as a CE and commonly referred to as a social security medical exam. Or you may have to fill out and return additional paperwork such as a daily activities questionaire or a work activity report.
The ADL and work activity questionaires are a common occurrence and the majority of claimants will receive a written communication or a direct phone call from the disability examiner so that this information can be obtained. Regarding a social security disability medical exam, or CE, this will usually be scheduled if the examiner is unable to locate recent medical information in the records that have been gathered.
What is recent according to SSA? Records that are not older than 90 days. For SSA to make a decision on a claim, the examiner or the judge if the case is at a disability hearing, must have access to recent records. The reason for this is fairly obvious: to approve disability benefits, the claimant must be currently disabled and this can only be verified through current records.
If you receive a denial of your disability claim, of course, you will have to begin the appeals process to continue pursuing your disability claim. You have the choice of starting fresh with a new claim as opposed to an appeal.
But new claims are seldom successful. By following the appeal route, you can eventually get your case heard by a federal judge where, statistics indicate, a claimant with representation will have better than a sixty percent chance of being given a social security disability or SSI award.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Social Security Disability Questions page