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Behind the Scenes at Social Security

Congratulations! You have filed your disability application! In step 5 we will explain what is happening with your claim behind the scenes so you know where you can influence the Social Security Administration, and where you cannot.

When you first apply, your case is processed by the local Social Security field office to make sure your application is complete.

Next, your case is sent to Disability Determination Services (DDS). They collect medical evidence to determine whether you are disabled under Social Security’s rules.

Tip! The list of medical providers you gave Social Security is helpful for this step. DDS will order all of the medical records you told them about.

Important! If you receive a letter from your doctor stating you are disabled and cannot work, or if you receive any new medical reports that support your disability, you must send copies to BOTH the local Social Security office AND Disability Determination Services to make sure they are included as evidence.

At this stage, DDS might send you to a Social Security Consultative Exam (CE). This is an examination by a doctor that is paid for by Social Security.

Warning! Social Security is looking for reasons to not approve you! Be sure to attend the exam and follow these tips to present yourself to the doctor in the best way possible. Remember… others may be watching you. Act accordingly. The perception you create will determine the outcome of your disability case. Everything you do counts.

Tips for Consultative Exams

Get a copy of your Consultative Exam report from the doctor who performs your exam. If it contains information that you feel is inadequate or inaccurate, take the report to your doctor and have him write a response. You need to make sure that Social Security gets the whole picture, and your doctor knows your disability better than the doctor you met one time for the CE exam.

Tip! Fill out this Sample Cover Letter and give it to your doctor to make it easier for him to reply to your CE exam. The faster your get the doctor’s reply to Social Security, the better.

Once DDS receives your medical records and CE exam, one or more doctors will review your medical records. They will give their opinions and recommendation to the Social Security office as to whether you are disabled, and what your limitations are.

If they decide you are disabled, your case will be sent back to the Social Security field office. The local SSA office will verify you meet the non-medical requirements and mail a decision to you.

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