Where do I call to learn what is happening on my Disability Claim?

Over the years, I've often been surprised when I've come across claimants who had no clue as to the status of their Social Security Disability or SSI case. However, it's not at all unreasonable that claimants would find themselves in this position and here's why:

After you file for disability with social security, your claim is transferred to a state disability processing agency (usually referred to as DDS, or disability determination services) where it is assigned to an examiner. At this agency, your claim may stay for several months. And, in that time, you may be contacted by the examiner to go over your medical treatment treatment sources, or activities of daily living, or work history.

However, after such a contact is made (and not all claimants are contacted during the processing of a disability application), you may not hear anything at all until the day you receive a decision notice in the mail from social security. And you certainly won't hear anything from the social security office where your actually applied for disability.

At some point, should you call to find out what is happening on your disability claim? Yes, because there is always the possibility that A. the disability examiner needs information from you and, for some reason, has not been able to contact you, B. the disability examiner is unaware of various aspects of your medical condition and treatment, or C. (and this is one of the worst possibilities, but you would be surprised how often it happens) the claim may not have been transferred to a disability examiner at all.

In the case of C, calling to check the status of your disability case with social security can tip you off as to whether or not the claim is still sitting on someone's desk at the social security office where you applied.

Where should you call to get the status of your disability claim?

In general, here's where:

1. The Social Security Office - call here if you've recently applied for disability (within the last couple of weeks) and have a question, or need to report a change of address or phone number.

2. Disability Determination Services (this may be known by a different name depending on the state you live in) - call here if you are fairly sure your case is actively being worked on by a disability examiner. The number for the state disability agency can be difficult to locate through directory assistance; however, you can usually get the number by simply contacting your local social security office.

3. The Disability Hearing office (formerly OHA, the office of hearings and appeals and now known as ODAR, the office of disability adjudication and review) - call here if you or your disability attorney have filed a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge.

4. Your disability lawyer - call your lawyer's office to request the status of your claim if you are represented. At any given time, your representative should be able to tell you what the status of your case is. And if they don't know the current status, they should, following your call, immediately make a status call themselves and then call you back with the updated information.

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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