What disability claimants get angry about - Part I
Applicants for Social Security Disability and SSI benefits get angry about quite a few things as they apply for benefits or appeal a denial of a claim. And here's just one: finding out several months after they've filed an application that their case was never sent from the social security office to a disability examiner.
For those who aren't aware, let me briefly define the process a bit. When a person files for disability benefits, they typically apply at a social security field office and the application is taken by a CR, or claims representative. After the application is taken, it is forwarded to the agency in that state that is responsible for making medical determinations on disability claims.
At this agency, a claimant's case is assigned to a disability examiner who will gather a claimant's records, evaluate them in consultation with medical and/or psychological consultants, and then render a decision.
In most states, this agency is called one of the following names: disability determination division, disability determination services, the bureau of disability determination, or the disability determination bureau. But, regardless of the name that's used in a particular state, these agencies all perform the same purpose and they tend to do the job fairly decently (except for the part about denying most claims, of course). However, they can't do the job at all when they never receive a claimant's disability application from the social security office where it was filed.
How often does this happen? Probably not that often. But over the past several years, I've witnessed far too many situations where this has occurred even in my own local area.
This is what usually happens.
1. A claimant or their representative (a lawyer or non attorney) will decide to check the status of a pending claim.
2. If the application was filed some time ago (at least a few weeks ago), a call will be made to disability determination services to find out who the disability examiner is.
3. If the case was never sent from the social security office to the state agency, the claimant or their representative will be informed that "nothing is pending", meaning no examiner was assigned to the case because the case was never sent and is likely still on someone's desk at the social security office.
How should a claimant react to such news? If the filing of a disability application was only filed a couple of weeks prior to making this status call, the claimant should understand that this is fairly reasonable. After all, the social security administration is a huge bureaucracy and most things take a little time.
If the status call is made several months after the disability application was filed and the case has still not been transferred to a disability examiner, the claimant has every right to be angry and outraged simply because no work will have been performed on their case in all that time. In such instances, voicing a complaint to a field office or district office manager is not a bad idea and may be the quickest way to get their case moving forward.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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