Calling for the disability status

How, When, and Why you should call

by Tim Moore, Disability Representative in North Carolina

How do you check the status of your Social Security Disability or SSI claim?

Here are the ways to check your Social Security Disability Status:

(Read you live in North Carolina)

1. You can call the Social Security office where you applied. This is usually the worst option because if there hasn’t been a decision, that’s all they can tell you.

2. If your claim is being worked on, you can call the disability examiner working on the case. This person can tell you what might be missing on your case, for example specific medical records.

3. If you have a disability representative, have them check the status for you. This is the best option. It’s part of what you are paying them for. If you have representation, leave status calls to that individual.

Why do you need to check the status of your case?

You or your disability attorney or disability representative will want to check the status of the claim periodically, if for no other reason than to avoid missing an appeal deadline (because, for whatever reason, you did not get your mailed copy of the denial notice). Also, sometimes it is only during a status call that you will learn what is missing on your case! And sometimes calling can get a disability examiner to work faster on your case, simply because it reminds them that they may already have everything they need for your claim.

Despite the fact that status calls are a very good thing to do, if you call to get the Social Security Disability status, nine times out of ten you will be told that your claim is still pending. What does this mean? Simply that your case is still being worked on, wherever it happens to be–which could, depending on the level of your SSD or SSI claim, be the hearing office or with a disability examiner at disability determination services.

How often should you call for your status?

On this page, I’ll answer a few basic questions regarding the status of a Social Security Disability or SSI claim. First of all, when to check the status of the case

How often should you call to get the status of your claim? Frankly, you probably shouldn’t need to do this very often. That’s because claim processing can take quite a while. It’s not uncommon for a disability application to be in processing for six months or longer.

The same holds true for reconsideration appeals. And if your case is at the hearing level, either waiting for a hearing to be scheduled, or waiting for a decision to be made following a hearing, the wait could be much longer.

Having said that, though, it is not a bad idea to call every 90 days or so to check the status of your claim. By doing this, you can avoid the unenviable situation in which a decision has been made and you were not aware of that fact, thus losing the opportunity to file an appeal.

Of course, if you have representation in the form of a disability attorney or representative, that individual or firm should be able to quite easily obtain the current status of your claim at any given time should you request it.

More on where to call for your disability status

Where do you call to get the status of the claim? If the case is being worked on as a disability application or as a reconsideration appeal, the person you will need to speak with is the disability examiner who has been assigned to the case and who will be making the decision.

Often, it can be difficult to find the number for the Disability Determination Services agency in your state so that you can speak with the examiner, but this number can always be obtained from the Social Security office.

If your case is at the hearing level, meaning you have either requested a disability hearing, or you have had a hearing and are waiting on a decision, then you will want to contact the hearing office. Calling the Social Security office will not yield any useful information in most instances. That said, the hearing office will usually not be in a position to tell you much beyond “the hearing is still waiting to be scheduled” or “no decision has been made”.

If you are approved, will Social Security tell you over the phone?

If you call to obtain the status of your disability claim and you are told that a decision has been made, will you be told what that decision was? No, as a disability examiner, I was acutely aware of the fact that even if a decision had been made on a case, this information could not be passed on to an inquiring claimant over the phone.

From the social security administration’s standpoint, the only proper way to notify the claimant was through the written notice that is mailed out. Why is this the case? Because some claims are selected for a quality control review at something called DQB (the disability quality branch).

At DQB, a claim that has been pulled for review can potentially be changed. In other words, an approval can be changed to a denial, and a denial can be changed to an approval (though it is usually the other way around). When this happens, it is because DQB reviewed the decision made by the disability examiner and found that the examiner was in error, in the application of a medical-vocational rule, or in the interpretation of the claimant’s medical evidence.