The process begins by filling out an application for disability which explains claimant’s impairment(s), treatment sources, and other information that relates to the alleged disability.
Most Social Security disability claims are initially processed through a network of local Social Security Administration. The field office is responsible for verifying non-medical eligibility requirements, which may include age, employment, marital status, or Social Security coverage information.
The field office then sends the case to a DDS (Disability Determination Services) for evaluation of disability. The DDS tries to obtain evidence from the claimant’s own medical sources first. If that evidence is unavailable or insufficient to make a determination, the DDS will arrange for a CE (consultative examination) to obtain the additional information needed. After reviewing the evidence, the DDS makes the initial disability determination.
The DDS returns the case to the field office for appropriate action. If the DDS found that the claimant is disabled, SSA completes any outstanding non-disability development, computes the benefit amount, and begins paying benefits. If the claimant was found not to be disabled, the file is kept in the field office in case the claimant decides to appeal the determination.
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