What happens after I file my disability claim with Social Security?

After you file your Social Security Disability claim at a local social security field office, you will begin the disability 'waiting' game.

What does this mean? Simply that time on an average SSD or SSI case, from beginning to end, has increased; therefore, individuals who are only "considering" filing for disability should probably get a claim initiated as soon as possible).

For instance, your initial disability claim will be sent to the state agency responsible for Social Security Disability decisions. There, at DDS or disability determination services, it will remain for approximately 30-120 days, the amount of time considered be the average range for initial claim processing.

Keep in mind, of course, that some claims are processed very quickly, while others, due to complications that are specific to a case (such as the need for multiple testing or examination appointments) or simply due to backlogs, may take well over the average expected time. It is not at all unheard of for a claim to take even up to a year to process at the disability application level.

Once the case is at DDS

Once the case is at DDS, it will be assigned to a disability examiner and that individual will immediately start ordering your medical history records and will evaluate them as they begin to arrive (speaking as a former disability examiner, I can effectively state that is practically the very first task performed by a disability examiner: sending out letters to the claimant's doctors and hospitals to request medical evidence).

The ability of the examiner to move the case along, of course, will be largely dependent on how long it takes to get the medical records in. And this is dependent on the medical treatment sources, some of whom respond quickly to requests for records and some of whom are notoriously slow.

Note: this is why it is not a bad idea at all for a claimant to obtain all their medical records and submit them when they file for disability.

In addition to analyzing medical evidence, the examiner will also evaluate your work history to learn more about the types of jobs that you performed within what SSA (the social security administration) considers to be the "relevant work period", meaning the last fifteen years prior to your becoming disabled.

Being familiar with the work history is practically as important as being familiar with what the medical records have to say. This is because the focus of most disability decisions is determining whether or not a claimant can engage in work activity. And the only way of doing this is A) determining how they are currently limited, either physically or mentally, and B) determing what their job skills are and what their past jobs required of them.

While your claim is being processed, you may be asked to go to a consultative exam, known as a CE and commonly referred to as a social security medical exam. Or you may have to fill out and return additional paperwork such as a daily activities questionaire or a work activity report.

The ADL and work activity questionaires are a common occurrence and the majority of claimants will receive a written communication or a direct phone call from the disability examiner so that this information can be obtained. Regarding a Social Security Disability medical exam, or CE, this will usually be scheduled if the examiner is unable to locate recent medical information in the records that have been gathered.

What is recent according to SSA? Records that are not older than 90 days. For SSA to make a decision on a claim, the examiner or the judge if the case is at a disability hearing, must have access to recent records. The reason for this is fairly obvious: to approve disability benefits, the claimant must be currently disabled and this can only be verified through current records.

If you receive a denial of your disability claim, of course, you will have to begin the appeals process to continue pursuing your disability claim. You have the choice of starting fresh with a new claim as opposed to an appeal.

But new claims are seldom successful. By following the appeal route, you can eventually get your case heard by a federal judge where, statistics indicate, a claimant with representation will have better than a sixty percent chance of being given a Social Security Disability or SSI award.

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.

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability in North Carolina

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI

Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

Related pages:

Apply for disability in Raleigh, NC
How to apply for disability and where to apply
Filing an Application for Disability Benefits under SSD or SSI - Step by Step
Tips on how to file for disability
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
What happens after I file my disability claim with Social Security?
What happens after a Social Security Disability or SSI Claim has been taken and is Pending
If you get denied on a disability application do you have to file a new application?
How the Decision on a Disability Application or Appeal Under SSDI or SSI is Made
Social Security Disability and Workman's compensation
Can I get disability for arthritis in my shoulders, arms, and feet?
What does it mean when a Social Security Disability claim is expedited?
If you apply for disability in Virginia

Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Virginia?

Getting a Disability Lawyer in Virginia