How Does the Social Security Disability Assessment Process Work?

June 22nd, 2020
social security disability assessment

There is a lot of uncertainty with regard to government services these days. If you keep your eye on the news, you may see that our faith in institutions is starting to break down. And if you are living with a disability that can be concerning because the social safety net is important for our collective well being.

Fortunately, the Social Security Administration has a process in place to make social security disability assessments, and to provide a process that can allow you to prove that you are eligible, and deserve social security disability benefits.  

In this article, we are going to discuss the way in which the Social Security Administration (SSA) handles the social security disability assessment process. Hopefully, this information will give you confidence that you are able to get a comprehensive social security disability assessment and have those at SSA approve your application.  

If, after reviewing this article you have additional questions about social security disability assessments, then we invite you to contact us at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. – OAS.  

We are one of the most experienced employability and life care planning firms in the United States. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.

First, What Are The Programs That SSA Provides?

Just to get some fundamentals out of the way, the Social Security Administration runs two programs that provide for benefits based on disability:

1. The Social Security Disability Insurance Program often referred to as “SSDI” and
2. The Supplemental Security Income, or “SSI.”

The similarity in the abbreviations for the two programs can make things a bit confusing. What is important to remember is that SSDI provides for the payment of disability benefits to disabled individuals who are insured based on their contributions to the Social Security trust fund, which comes from your payment of Social Security tax throughout your lifetime.  

SSI, by contrast, is not an insurance program. Rather, it is meant to provide payments to disabled individuals (including minor children) who have limited income and resources.  

The Definition of “Disability” Drives the Process

For either SSDI or SSI, the definition of “disability” is the same.  A “disability” is, essentially:

The inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted (or can be expected to last) for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

That sounds like a lot of legalese because it is. In plain English, the SSA defines “disability” as a medical condition that keeps you from working for at least a year or more.  

Notably, the definition of “disability” is a little different for minor children. For children, the disabling medical condition is not tied to work (or “substantial gainful activity”). Rather, a child is eligible for disability income if his or her condition “causes marked and severe functional limitations.”

The Social Security Disability Assessment Process

Virtually all disability claims initially go through a network of local Social Security field offices, and then State called “Disability Determination Services.”  

So, when you first make an application for disability benefits (regardless of whether you do it online, over the phone, by mail, or in-person), the application is first looked at by someone in an SSA field office.  

The person reviewing the claim at the field office will verify some basic, non-medical information in the claim, such as your age, marital status, citizenship, and Social Security coverage information. Your income will be reviewed in particular if you are seeking benefits under SSI because that benefit is tied to whether someone makes less than a certain amount.

After those initial verifications are done, the claim goes to a State Disability Determination Service, or DDS.

At the DDS, the medical evidence is reviewed, and a disability determination is made. The case is then returned to the field office. If the DDS found you to be disabled, then you will receive a benefit amount computed by SSA. If, however, you are found not to be eligible for SSDI or SSI, then you have the option to appeal that decision.

What is key in the DDS’ determination of a disability is the social security disability assessment information that you provide in the claim. Thus, you need a medical professional to evaluate, examine, and treat you to be able to provide you with solid medical evidence regarding the nature and severity of your impairment.

In that regard, you would be wise to look into getting help from a life care planning firm like OAS. We are able to help our clients, time and again, do what is necessary to properly support a disability claim before the SSA.  

Let OAS Help You With A Social Security Disability Assessment.  

The vocational experts at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS) have over forty years of experience providing vocational services for those who are underemployed, unemployed, and disabled.

OAS also specializes in working as an expert for plaintiff or defense attorneys in order to assist in objectively documenting the economics in a case, and in acting as a vocational expert at SSDI hearings. From the initial referral to the trial testimony, OAS works with the retaining attorney so that the vocational assessment of the case can be objectively and efficiently presented. 

We strongly believe in the importance of a clear and understandable presentation of the facts. OAS is the leading provider of Vocational Expert and Life Care Planning Services for Plaintiff and Defense attorneys. 

Further, the company assists attorneys in evaluating earning capacity in divorce cases and documenting the damages in cases where an individual has been severely injured by providing objective findings on how the injuries affect a persons’ ability to work and earn money, as well as the cost of care required in catastrophic injuries.

OAS is your Vocational Expert & Life Care Planner Nationwide, with offices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Nevada, and California.  

Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. is one of the most experienced employability and life care planning firms in the United States. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.