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Disability Determination Services

Disability Determination Services, or DDS, is the state-level agency responsible for determining whether or not a claimant is eligible for Social Security disability benefits or for benefits from the state’s Medicaid program. DDS makes the initial determination for each Social Security disability benefit application. They also rule on cases that are resubmitted for reconsideration. Each state has at least one DDS office and some states have more than one.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applicants must have worked a required length of time and must have paid into the Social Security system to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. In addition to the worker, his or her dependent adult child may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if the child became permanently disabled before age 22. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applications are based on financial need only and claimants are not required to have paid into the Social Security system to receive benefits. The medical criteria for eligibility are the same as for benefits under SSDI. Claimants under SSI and SSDI may also be eligible for Medicare benefits. DDS examiners make sure each claimant meets all the requirements of the program under which the claimant applies for benefits.

In addition to work and family requirements, the DDS examiner will request medical records which he or she will use to evaluate a claimant’s medical condition and to determine if the requisite medical criteria are met according to the appropriate Social Security Disability listing. To make this determination, the DDS examiner may consult with the claimant’s physicians and treatment facilities and with in house DDS medical consultants.

DDS examiners are also charged with determining the vocational ability of each claimant. If the DDS examiner finds that a claimant’s medical condition significantly restricts his or her ability to work, the examiner will consider the claimant’s age, education, and experience in order to determine the claimant’s ability to work at a less demanding job. If the outlook is not favorable, the claimant may be awarded Social Security disability benefits based on his or her inability to adapt to a new, less demanding job.

Once Social Security disability benefits are approved, the DDS also performs continuing disability reviews to ensure that only those beneficiaries who are eligible continue to receive benefits.

Most Social Security disability claims are denied by DDS at the initial and at the reconsideration level, requiring claimants to request a hearing before an administrative law judge before they can be approved for Social Security disability benefits.

If you need information about the status of your disability claim or want to make sure all the records that have been requested have been received, it is good to call DDS rather than the District Office Claims Rep assigned to your case.