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What is the Social Security disability determination process?


When living with a disability, mental or physical, becomes overwhelming, it is important that disabled individuals understand their rights and options. Those in Florida and other states across the nation have the right to file for Social Security disability benefits if they are unable to work because of a disability and they are suffering from a qualifying disability. But how does one determine if they have a qualifying disability? And how is an applicant deemed eligible based on these standards?

In order to qualify for SSD benefits, an applicant must meet the Social Security Administration's definition of disability when it comes to the specific disability an applicant is suffering from. This means that in addition to meeting these terms, an applicant must have suffered or will suffer from this disability for at least a year or it is expected that the disability will result in the death of the applicant. Medical information and evidence is then compiled and filed with an applicant's initial application.

What is the Social Security disability determination process? The process begins when the application of a disabled applicant is received. Most applications are processed through a network of local SSA field offices and State agencies. With regards to any subsequent appeals, which could occur if an application is denied, these are processed through and decided by Disability Determination Service or an administrative judge located in a SSA's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.

Representatives usually obtain applications via person, phone, mail or online. Because these forms ask for a description of the claimant's impairment, treatment sources and other information related to the alleged disability, representatives will first look for and at this information. If certain evidence is unavailable or insufficient to make a decision, a consultative examination will be arranged. This entails obtain additional information. Once this information is collected, the file will return to the field office for appropriate action. This is when the SSA will determine if an applicant is disabled or not.

Obtaining a favorable or unfavorable SSD decision can be life altering. When being awarded SSD benefits, one needs to understand how to maintain and utilize these benefits. On the other hand, those denied SSD benefits need to be aware of their rights to appeal the decision, helping them receiving a favorable decision.

Source: Ssa.gov, "Disability Determination Process," accessed Oct. 22, 2017

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