Who is the DDS Doctor, i.e. the Social Security Doctor?

The Social Security doctor, the "DDS doctor", is the medical consultant who works in the same case processing unit at DDS (disability determination services, where disability claims are handled for the social security administration) as the disability examiner who has been assigned to work on a RFC, or residual functional capacity form.

A physical RFC form will be completed if the claimant's conditions are physical in nature and a mental RFC form, or MRFC, will be done if the claimant's conditions are mental in nature. Very often, of course, a case will require both types of forms.

RFC forms basically describe the specific limitations that a claimant has as a result of their medical condition. And when a disability examiner completes these forms, they are setting the stage for a decision to be made on the case. Based on how the claimant's condition is rated on the RFC form(s), and based also on what the requirements of the claimant's past jobs were, the case may be approved, or the disability case may be denied.

Because so much hinges on the accuracy of a completed RFC form, the social security administration generally requires disability examiners to have their RFC forms reviewed by a medical consultant and/or a psychological consultant.

Basically, this is what happens: the disability examiner will go in to the office of one of his unit's consultants after the consultant has had the opportunity to review the claimant's medical records as well as the work done thus far by the examiner. If the consultant agrees with the assessment of the examiner, they will "sign off on it". If not, the examiner may be asked to give further consideration to the facts of the case.

The purpose of using consultants is to help ensure that disability examiners adhere to sound decision-making and also to make sure that each case is ultimately reviewed by someone who is not just a case-processor but who has medical or mental training.

DDS doctors are not to be confused with the doctors who perform independent consultative examinations (called CE for short) for the social security administration.

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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