When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you submit your claim to the Social Security Administration. The SSA will review all of your records to determine if you meet the agency's narrow definition of disabled and are eligible to receive disability income. It is important to understand how this decision is made, which means learning more about who actually gets to decide whether you should receive the disability income you may be depending upon if you cannot work.
Who Decides If You Get Disability Benefits?
When you initially submit your Social Security Disability benefits claim, a review is done by the local Social Security Administration office to make sure you have a sufficient number of work credits (for Social Security Disability Insurance) or to make sure your income and resources are sufficiently limited (for Supplemental Security Income).
If you meet the basic eligibility criteria, it becomes necessary to determine if you are sufficiently afflicted by a long-term disabling medical condition that entitles you to receive disability income. Your application goes to disability determination services (DDS) where it is reviewed by a disability claims examiner. This examiner is going to look at your medical records and other information you have submitted to assess whether you meet the criteria to be considered disabled. The goal is to assess whether you have a qualifying condition listed in the Blue Book, along with the requisite symptoms, or whether you have a qualifying condition equal in severity to those listed that prevents you from having a job you are qualified for.
The disability claims examiner is going to make the decision on whether you should get benefits. However, if the claim is denied, you can make a request for reconsideration and a new disability claims examiner is going to review your case again with fresh eyes. If a denial occurs again, then an administrative law judge will get your case and decide if mistakes were made or not. Finally, in the last stage of appeal, your case could go before a federal appellate court judge.
This means that the decision on whether you should get benefits or not is going to be made by a different person depending upon whether your initial application is approved or whether you must appeal. A Los Angeles disability benefits lawyer will help you to try to put together a solid application to maximize the chance a disability examiner initially approves your claim on the first try.