The approval of a Social Security Disability claim can take anywhere from a few months to a few years depending on the severity of the accident and the complexity of the claim. So, what is going on, behind the scenes, during that waiting period? The experts at Disability Associates provide a deeper look at the Disability Determination Process.

A disability claim can take a long time to be approved because there are a number of steps required to determine eligibility. The initial information that a claimant (the individual applying for disability benefits) submits includes a variety of personal information as well as medical evidence of their impairment, the cause of their injury and any treatment methods have undergone or planned. Once the disability claim is submitted, it must go through two main levels of review before it can be approved.

First, the local Social Security field office must confirm all of the non-medical details about the claimant, such as employment status, age, and social security coverage information. Once they have processed and confirmed the information, the claim is then sent to the state’s Disability Determination Services office (DDS), where medical evidence is compiled and reviewed to decide if the claimant meets the criteria of being disabled under current requirements.

The length of this second step can vary based on the quality of the information submitted by the claimant. Initially, the DDS will review all medical evidence provided by the claimant. If that information is unsatisfactory or incomplete, the DDS will seek additional information.

This is typically done by requesting a Consultative Examination (CE) with the claimant’s treating source. After the DDS receives the final reports from the examination, a trained member of the DDS staff will make a determination with the information they have gathered.

The claim is then returned to the original field office to be processed based on the DDS decision. If the claimant is found not to be disabled by the DDS, the file is archived in case the claimant chooses to appeal the decision.

Alternatively, if the Disability Determination Process claim is approved, and the claimant is found to be disabled under the law, the Social Security Administration calculates the benefit amount and begins payment. For more information on how the payment is structured or calculated, please visit the SSA’s disability planner website.

While it might seem like a drawn-out, and at times daunting process, this structure was created to ensure that every person receives the same fair and equitable treatment in determining disability. For help with your Social Security Disability Benefits claim, please contact the experienced attorneys at Disability Associates.