Disability status – when to check

by Tim Moore, Disability Representative in North Carolina

After you have filed a disability claim

Once you have filed your disability claim, your disability claim is sent to a state disability processing agency for a medical disability decision. When your disability claim reaches the state agency (DDS, disability determination services), it will be assigned to a disability examiner for development.

(Read if you live in North Carolina)

The examiner’s first priority will be to request your medical records from the treatment sources you listed when you filed your application for disability. (related: Where to file an application for disability)

It takes time to request and receive medical records from the medical sources you provided at your disability application interview. The wait for records typically constitutes the biggest part of the wait time for a decision on a disability case.

When to call for a disability status

If you have not heard anything about your disability claim for some time, it is not unreasonable to check the status of your claim. Generally, thirty days or so would be a good length of time to wait before calling for a status on your disability claim.

Note: after your case has been transferred from the social security office where you applied to the disability determination services agency, there is no longer any point in contacting the social security office for your disability status. They will ordinarily only be able to tell you that no decision has been made yet.

Calling the disability determination services agency, however, will allow you to speak with the examiner working on your case and, in so doing, you may find out what information they are still waiting on, or possibly update the examiner as to your medical condition. It is not unusual for cases to move faster after a claimant has spoken to their disability examiner.

Having said this, if you have not heard anything for several weeks there should be no reason to worry. The fact that you have not heard from Social Security or the state disability agency for some length of time does not mean they are not working on your disability claim. It may just be that they are still waiting for medical records from your medical treatment sources, which is usually the case.

If you call DDS (you can get the number for DDS from the social security office where you applied), they will be able to tell you if they are still working on your claim or if a decision has been made on your disability claim. If they are still working on your claim, you can get the name and number of the disability examiner who is working on your disability claim.

As previously stated, the disability examiner may need additional information from you or need your help getting necessary medical records from one of your medical sources. Calling for a Social Security Disability status may actually expedite your disability decision.

Why it’s important to check the status of your claim—and what can potentially happen if you don’t

It is always wise to check the status of your Social Security Disability claim periodically to make sure a decision has not been made. Sometimes disability claim decisional notices get lost in the mail. If you wait six months to check the status of your disability claim you may lose the chance to appeal your disability denial if your decisional notice was lost in the mail.

This brings to mind another important reminder. Make sure that you notify Social Security of any address changes promptly. If Social Security does not have a correct mailing address, you may not only not receive your decisional notice; you may even cause your disability claim to be denied. Your disability claim can be denied for failure to cooperate if Social Security cannot contact you to get information or to schedule necessary consultative examinations.

If you have a disability attorney or non-attorney disability representative, you should not have to worry about the status of your disability claim. Your representative will be notified of your disability claim decision. If it is a denial they should file your appeals for you.

Again, it is still important that you notify your representative, as well as Social Security, if you have an address change. If the disability examiner working on your disability claim cannot reach you, they will contact your representative for your contact information.