If you receive a Social Security Disability Denial quickly does that mean the case is weak?

No, the speed at which a Social Security Disability or SSI claim is decided really has nothing to do with the strength of the case. When it comes to disability applications and reconsideration appeals (a reconsideration is the first appeal a claimant can file), these decisions are made by disability examiners who work at DDS, a.k.a. disability determination services.

DDS disability examiners do not process cases according to deadlines or even according to how long they have had a particular case in their caseload (though, to some extent, examiners are rated according to how "aged" their caseload is).

Instead, they really try to close all cases as quickly as possible. And how fast an SSD or SSI disability claim can be closed depends almost entirely on how long it takes for the disability examiner to obtain a claimant's medical records.

If the records come in quickly, the disability examiner may make a faster decision. If the records take longer, so will the disability decision. Of course, the wait for records is something that is largely beyond the disability examiner's control.

One of the very first things that a disability examiner will do in processing a disability claim will be to send out medical record request letters to all the various medical treatment sources that were listed at the time of application (or appeal). Many doctors and hospitals will comply with these requests fairly quickly.

However, very often it will quite a number of weeks for one treatment provider or another to send in the requested records. And, generally, unless the records that have already been received are extremely strong and persuasive, the disability examiner will be forced to wait for the remaining medical records to arrive.

There are other factors that may delay a decision on a Social Security Disability case, but the basic point is that the processing time for a case usually has little to do with the outcome of a case, and will not indicate whether the decision will be an approval or denial.

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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