Who decides if I am disabled?

A number of people.

Before it is all said and done, several Disability experts may have weighed in on your claim.

After you submit your initial application to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a claims representative will review it to make sure that you meet the basic, non-medical requirements for benefits. If you get the green light, they will forward your claim to a state agency ― called Disability Determination Services (DDS) ― to determine your medical eligibility.

This is where the real evaluation begins. A Disability examiner will gather and review your medical records, work history and educational background to determine whether your condition truly prevents you from working. The Disability examiner may even contact you or a family member to find out more information or schedule you for a consultative examination. At some point, the Disability examiner will also consult with a doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist on staff at DDS about the nature and severity of your impairments.

You won’t meet the Disability examiner in person. They will make their decision based on the evidence in your file. If they believe that you meet the requirements for Social Security Disability, your claim will be approved.

If your case is denied, SSA has an appeals process that will put your case in front of additional Disability experts, including another Disability examiner who will give it a fresh look.

If it is denied again, you may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The Judge will review all the evidence and hear from you, as well as from medical and vocational experts. The Judge will make an independent decision on your claim and is not bound by the previous decisions on your case.

If you are denied yet again, you can request that your case be reviewed by Social Security’s Appeals Council ― the highest decision-making body within SSA.

Hopefully, at some point in the process, you will be granted a favorable decision so you can start receiving the benefits you need.

Contact the Disability Team at McDonald Law Firm to get started today.