Why does Social Security deny so many disability cases?

There is a culture of denial at DDS agencies that exists because unit supervisors (in my old agency, there were more than 25 units of examiners and DDS doctors and there are probably more now) do not like to look bad. How can they look bad? When their agency receives "returns" from something known as DQB or disability quality branch.

It works like this: An examiner decides a case and then the case is intercepted by DQB for a quality review. If DQB decides that the case that was marked for approval should have been a denial, then the case is returned to the DDS from which it came and the supervisor of that unit has a "return".

They don't like returns. They think it makes them look bad. And, to upper management, it does. So, since most cases being returned from DQB are cases that were marked for approval, what effect does this have on the system? The effect is that processing unit supervisors begin to exert influence over the examiners in their units to use a decision policy that favors...making more denials than approvals.


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And, in this warped sub-system, DDS agencies have become separate systems unto themselves. And that's why I also say as well that though RFC forms can handily assist with winning a case at a disability hearing, they may fall on deaf ears at the level of a disability application or disability reconsideration.

The answer to this ridiculous nonsense? Put all DDS agencies under direct federal control. Yes, federalize them and make DDS a part of the social security administration for real.

This won't happen, I suspect, because then the federal government would have to raise the salaries of disability examiners to bring them in line with what the social security field office workers makes (they make quite a bit more). And that won't ever happen, IMO. Not before, and certainly not in today's budget climate.

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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