Social Security Disability Status or SSI Update in New York

Staying up-to-date on a Social Security Disability or SSI case that is pending in New York goes beyond simply satisfying one's curiosity. There are numerous instances in which a claim had not been transferred from a field office where it had been taken to a claim processing agency (known as DDS, or disability determination services). In instances like that, cases have sat for many weeks with no processing, i.e. no work being done on them.

In other cases, claimants have been sent notices of denial but have not received them; in other words, the claimant did not even learn that they had been denied until they had, at some point, inquired into the status of their case. Obviously, it is often to a claimant's distinct benefit to call for the status on their disability claim.

If your initial disability claim or your reconsideration appeal is pending in New York and you have not heard from SSA in over three months time, you may find it prudent ask for a status update. There are actually two agencies that could give you a status update on your Social Security Disability claim or SSI claim (if your claim is "concurrent", you may have both claims pending).

Where to call

The most obvious choice for a disability status check is the Social Security Administration, meaning that you can either call the local Social Security office, visit that office, or you can call the toll free Social Security number.

However, speaking as a former disability examiner and as someone who has been involved in the representation of disability claims, I can quite easily state that contacting the toll free line is usually a bad idea. There are very few disability representatives (attorneys and advocates) and even field office employees of the social security administration who are not aware of the fact that the toll free line routinely gives out incorrect information. Calling the toll free line, therefore, is not advised.

On the other hand, while contacting a local social security office for other matters is often the best route to take, when it comes to getting the status on a pending disability claim, it is usually not productive. This is because, while the social security office is where claims are filed, it is not where they are actively worked. Claims are processed at DDS (disability determination services). DDS, of course, is the agency that is responsible for making medical determinations on SSD and SSI claims and it is where such cases are assigned to disability examiners.

It is usually best to call the disability examiner

Calling the examiner who is assigned to your pending disability application or reconsideration appeal is usually the most effective means of getting an accurate status of your claim. The examiner can tell you if the claim is still active with no decision made yet, if a decision has been made yet (if so, however, they cannot tell you over the phone what the decision is: you must wait for official notification by mail).

Additionally, the examiner can advise you as to what information is still needed to process the claim, such as medical records from a certain medical provider. While on the phone, the examiner can gather additional information regarding your daily activities, your work history, or your medical history.

How do you get in touch with a disability examiner? The number for DDS (in some states, the agency is not known as disability determination services, but, intead, as the bureau of disability determination, or the divison of disability determination; however, regardless of the actual name that is used, the agency is the same) can be gotten from the local social security office. After calling the DDS number, the caller will be asked for their social security number which will be used to locate their case in the computer system and then put them in touch with the disability examiner who has been assigned to their case.

Lastly, if your disability claim is at the hearings office (meaning that you have already gone through the disability application phase and the reconsideration phase and you have already submitted a formal request for a disability hearing before an administrative law judge), you can do one of the following:

A) You can contact the social security office to get the status of your hearing request. Once again, this will not be productive since the local social security office will not know what is happening at the hearing office. The most that they will be able to tell you is that the hearing has not been scheduled yet (something you already knew, of course).

B) You can contact the hearing office. The number for the hearing office can be obtained from the social security office. What will the hearing office be able to tell you? If the hearing is not scheduled yet, the most they will be able to tell you is whether or not the case has been assigned to a particular ALJ (administrative law judge) and perhaps whether or not the file has gone through work-up for the hearing and is now available on disc for reviewing.

C) You can have your representative, if you have one (a disability attorney or a non-attorney claimant's representative) call the hearing office for you. And, in fact, this is something a representative would ordinarily do periodically to simply check on the case.

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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