The Disability Determination Process
After you file for Disability benefits, the Social Security office will send your completed application to be processed by the Disability Determination Division in your jurisdiction. The process of determining eligibility may include sending requests to your doctors for medical records and asking you to complete questionnaires about your daily activities and the jobs you have held in the past. If more medical information is needed, you may be scheduled for an examination with a local physician or psychologist at our expense.
Once all the necessary information has been compiled, a team including a trained disability examiner, physician and psychologist will review the evidence and come to a decision. Once a decision has been reached, the claim is returned to the Social Security office who will notify you by letter regarding the determination.
Appeal Rights if Your Claim is Denied
If your application for Disability benefits is initially denied, you can file a Request for Reconsideration and a special team will review your claim again. You can file an appeal by visiting a Social Security office, by calling 1-800-772-1213, or by going online to File an Internet Appeal.
This second team will be composed of a disability examiner, physician and psychologist who did not review your claim initially. If this second team also decides that you do not qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI Disability benefits, the Social Security office will send you another letter explaining how you can file a further appeal, which will take your claim before an Administrative Law Judge who handles Social Security claims.
Again, it is important to remember that in order to qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI Disability benefits, the law states that you have to be unable to perform substantial work activity for at least 12 consecutive months, or have a condition that will result in death.