Contrary to the beliefs of many who have been denied their Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, it is important to understand that the Social Security disability program set up to administer the review of disability claims is a non-adversarial process. The rules are set up in such a way as to provide a neutral review of one’s disability claim.
The initial application process requires that an individual claimant first submit information to the Social Security Administration (SSA) which will allow the agency to not only obtain all of the necessary medical documentation from one’s treatment providers but also review information as to how the claimant’s daily activities and ability to work is hindered. The application forms likewise allows the Agency to determine one’s educational and work background as these areas of information are critical to the ultimate determination as to whether one may meet a medical listing of impairment and two, if not, if the individual remains incapable of returning to any of one’s past relevant work (work performed during the 15 year period prior to becoming disabled) or any other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy.
The initial material that is gathered on the application form, along with a signed medical authorization from the claimant, is then transferred to the state agency responsible for making the actual disability determination for the Federal Government in each state. In Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, this is referred to as the Disability Determination Services (DDS). In Maine, the office is located in the capital of Augusta, in New Hampshire, the office is located in Concord and in Massachusetts, there are offices in Boston and Worcester. Once the case is transferred from one’s local Social Security Administration office (referred to as the District Office) to DDS, a disability claims examiner (or adjudicator) is then assigned to work on the case. They are given the task of ensuring that all of the relevant treatment records are obtained that are both listed in your application or that are subsequently pointed out to DDS by the claimant or their representative. The DDS adjudicator is not, however, provided with the responsibility of obtaining helpful documentation from one’s treatment providers that might support a finding that one either meets a medical listing of impairment or remains disabled from performing one’s past relevant work or other work. Continue reading