How are Social Security disability applications processed?

Most people want to be productive members of society. They want to be self-sufficient. However, for some people, despite putting their best efforts towards a job that they love, an illness or injury is preventing them from working. When a person becomes totally disabled and completely unable to earn a living, he or she may apply for Social Security disability benefits. However, they may not have a clear understanding what happens once their application is submitted.

In general, an application for SSD benefits will first be processed by an area Social Security Administration field office and then by a state agency, known as Disability Determination Services. A representative will receive the application, whether it was submitted online, through the U.S. postal service, over the phone or in person. The field office is tasked with the duty of verifying non-medical eligibility requirements such as a person’s age and marital status.

After that, the application is sent to Disability Determination Services. Disability Determination Services are tasked with the duty of obtaining medical evidence and through that determining whether or not the applicant has a disability. In general, the medical evidence accompanying the applicant’s application will be used. If that information is not enough to determine whether or not a person is disabled, then Disability Determination Services will arrange for a consultative exam to take place, in order to get more information.

Finally, after making its decision, Disability Determination Services will send the application back to the field office. If Disability Determination Services determined the applicant was disabled, the Social Security Administration will determine how much to award in benefits. If the applicant was not deemed to be disabled, his or her application will be retained by the field office, so that it is available should the applicant appeal the decision.

As you can see, it takes a number of steps for the Social Security Administration to determine whether a person qualifies for disability benefits. Those who need assistance in applying for benefits should seek the help they need not only to craft a strong application, but also to answer any questions they have about the process.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Disability Determination Process,” Accessed Dec. 3, 2016