Social Security Disability Definitions
Social Security Disability and SSI Overview
The Requirements for Disability
Social Security Disability and SSI Applications
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial
Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Social Security Disability and SSI Appeals
Social Security Mental Disability Benefits
Disability Benefits offered through Social Security
Benefits through SSI disability
Disability Benefits for Children
Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify
Social Security Disability and Working
Winning your Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability Back Pay Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices
Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney
Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions
What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?
Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Ask a question, get an answer
What happens after I file my disability claim with Social Security?
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: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria