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Understanding who makes the disability decision for SSD benefits

Missourians who have become ill and are unable to work should apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Many people are not aware they have a good chance at being approved, if they apply for SSD benefits. Others do not know how the decision is made to approve or deny benefits, nor who makes it. Knowing the entities that will make the decision on an SSD claim can assuage fears and give applicants confidence that they can get SSD.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at the application and make certain that the applicant meets the basic requirements to get SSD. The amount of time the person spent working is an important factor as this determines whether the person qualifies. Once these requirements have been met, the application will continue to the Disability Determination Services (DDS). DDS is a state agency that will complete the first part of the process for the SSA.

At DDS, there are doctors and disability specialists who will discuss the case with the applicant's doctors. The medical evidence provided by medical professionals and facilities who treated the applicant will be used to make the decision. DDS will get the following information from the medical sources: the medical issue from which the person suffers; how it began; how it limits the person's activities; what the medical tests say; and what treatment has been given to the person.

There will also be questions about the applicant's ability to perform basic activities that are generally needed for work. That includes the ability to walk, sit, lift, carry and remember instructions. The doctors will not determine whether the person is disabled. If DDS cannot decide based on the information it has, it might be necessary for the applicant to go for what is known as a "special examination." Preferably, the applicant's own doctor will be asked, but the examination might need to be done by another doctor.

Once all this information is received, the SSA will embark on the five-step process to decide if the person is disabled. Understanding the basics of an application for SSD benefits is one of the most understated and important factors in a case. People often face a denied claim because of a failure to provide basic information, even if they have legitimate illnesses that should warrant benefits. To avoid this, having legal help from a lawyer experienced in helping clients get Social Security Disability benefits is essential from the start.

Source:, "Disability Benefits -- Who decides if I am disabled?, pages 5-6," accessed on March 20, 2018

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Alan E. DeWoskin, P.C.
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