A Lot of People Are Involved With a Social Security Disability Claim

 Posted Friday, February 28th by Gilbert B. Laden

Your disability claim goes through the hands of many people, all of whom have an influence on your case. You may talk to someone at Social Security’s toll-free number, who could be in a different part of the country from where you live. You may speak with a service representative or claims representative at your local Social Security office.

What a lot of people do not realize is that the Social Security office does not decide whether you are disabled or not. That is right. You file a claim for Social Security disability benefits, but a Social Security representative does not decide the claim. 

Instead, your claim is sent to a state agency called the Disability Determination Service. Sometimes it is called something else, depending on the state. Usually, we refer to it as DDS. These are the people who actually decide if you are disabled.

When I first started doing this kind of work, I wondered why the people I talked to at the local Social Security office often did not understand how its own rules looked at what it meant to be disabled. Then it dawned on me. They do not decide the disability part of a claim. They may be involved in what we call non-medical factors, such as whether you have paid enough taxes to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, or meet financial requirements for SSI, and a number of other important things which are not related to your medical problems.

If your claim is denied, then you may appeal. If you live in a state like Florida or Mississippi, where the reconsideration level still applies, your case can end up with DDS again. In Alabama, your appeal will go to another part of Social Security called the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). (In other states, if your claim is denied again at reconsideration, the next level of appeal is to ODAR.) This is the hearing office, where there are judges, paralegals, and many other types of legal assistants.

If you lose your case at the hearing office, you can appeal to the Appeals Council, which is located in Falls Church, Virginia. Finally, if your claim is turned down again, you can file a lawsuit in federal court.

If you win your claim, it can go back to your local Social Security office and to an out-of-town payment center.

This means there could be a large number of people who have been involved with your case. One of the key responsibilities I have as an attorney for the disabled individual is to deal with these people and establish relationships. Because of budgetary constraints, they are working with less and are under more pressure. I have to be prepared, know what I am talking about, and, importantly, treat them professionally and respectfully.

I am fortunate to have a trained staff that shoulders a lot of this responsibility for me, as it takes a team effort to see a case from start to finish as successfully and efficiently as possible.

By the way, there are even more people we have to deal with:  doctors’ offices and hospitals. That is another topic for another day.

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The information on this web site is made available by Gilbert B. Laden, P.C., for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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He has been certified as a specialist in Social Security Disability Law by the National Board of Social Security Disability Advocacy, as acknowledged by the Alabama State Bar.