Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

What is the state disability agency (DDS, Disability Determination Services)?

DDS is where claims that are filed for disability are processed. This includes claims that have been filed under the title II program known as SSDI (social security disability insurance) and claims that have been filed under the title 16 program known as SSI (supplemental security income). It also includes, of course, concurrent claims which are claims that involve both programs simultaneously.

DDS, or disability determination services, is what the state disability agency is known as in most states. In some states, however, it is known by similar but slightly different names such as the Bureau of Disability Determination and the Division of Disability Determination.

Regardless of the name used in a particular state, each state has been authorized to provide a disability determination services agency by the federal social security act. Therefore, each state has a DDS. Some states have only one centralized DDS (such as North Carolina), while other states have a decentralized DDS system that involves multiple DDS locations (such as the state of South Carolina).

How does a claim make it to DDS? After a disability application has been taken in a social security field office, it is transferred to the state agency. At the state agency it is assigned to case processing specialist. In some states, this individual may be referred to as a disability specialist but usually the designation is disability examiner.

The disability examiner is responsible for evaluating all the various evidence that may pertain to a disability claim. This will include medical evidence, vocational evidence, and subjective assessments.

The very first objective that is typically carried out by a disability examiner is to request the claimant's medical records. Usually on the first day after the examiner has been assigned the case, he or she will send out medical record request letters to every medical treatment source listed on the disability application (or appeal).

After this has been done, the case will ordinarily be put to the side, until at least some of the records have come in. Obviously, the wait for medical records is a large factor in determining how long it may take to receive a decision from disability determination services. Without the records and the information they contain, there is nothing to evaluate the claim with.

After the records have been received, however, the examiner will review them, looking for signs of functional limitations that result from the claimant's various physical and/or mental conditions. The more limitations that can be noted, the higher the likelihood that the examiner will conclude that A) the claimant cannot return to their past work and B) the claimant cannot be expected to do some type of other work.

For child disability claims, of course, the medical records (and school records) will have no bearing on the ability to work. For children who are filing for disability benefits, the examiner will also look for signs of functional limitations, but these will regard the ability of the child to engage in age-appropriate activities (such as performing on the same academically with school peers).

Continued at: The Decision on the Social Security Disability Claim or SSI Claim

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

What is DDS, or Disability Determination Services?
What is the state disability agency (DDS, Disability Determination Services)?
Who is the DDS Doctor, i.e. the Social Security Doctor?
Disability determination services in North Carolina
How long will it take to receive my Social Security Award letter and back pay?
Should I Pay a Disability Attorney a 25% Fee?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria