Although the Social Security Administration is a federal agency, they currently have a contract with each individual state to do the actual evaluation of disability. In Virginia, this is done by the Virginia Department of Vocational Rehabilitation - Disability Determination Service (DDS). Thus, when your application is finalized at SSA, the file will then be electronically transmitted to DDS to begin evaluating your disability.
Once the application is turned over to DDS, there is some chance that additional forms may have to be done to offer more information. For example, if you have worked after the day you feel you became unable to work, SSA or DDS usually requires additional details about that work through the completion of a "Work Activity Report". In addition, they will probably require you to describe all of the jobs you have held in the last 15 years by means of a form called a "Work History Report". You can find this and other forms at our Useful Links
section. All of these documents will be electronically scanned of your file and associated with your electronic file for their review.
At the point your file reaches DDS, they will begin to look at your disability. I need to warn you that the DDS review of your case is very limited. Generally the review is mostly focused on findings in your medical records (this is why it is helpful to have your records already gathered up and submitted in advance - to save them the time of doing it themselves). DDS will be paying the most attention to objective test results. This is because DDS mostly performs a screening function; i.e., they are not trying to identify each and every person who is unable to work. Instead, they are only trying to identify the most obvious cases of disability. This is done in part by screening criteria (http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm
). For the most part, it is geared to finding people with very obvious and extremely severe disabilities. Any condition which does not clearly meet the objective severity outlined in these sections will generally not be granted early in the process. DDS also uses other criteria that takes age into account as well (http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/404/404-app-p02.htm
). This criteria focuses mostly on people with physical impairments over the age of 50. However these rules can be tricky and may not always apply in your case. Contact us today for a free consultation so we can help determine whether you meet this criteria or not.
If you are denied at the inital levels, there are appeals to appear before a judge known as a "Request for Hearing". Sometimes a case might not fit perfectly into DDS's criteria. This doesn't mean that the case is without merit or a person shouldn't have filed. In cases like these, they are appealed so a judge can meet a person face to face and assess their disabilities.
Surprisingly, this is the first and only time a person will actually meet with you on behalf of SSA to decide your case. That's why we believe it is so important to prepare you for your testimony and what to expect once you get into the courtroom. We also help the judges prepare by briefing the issues and making sure the evidence is in at the earliest possible time. We can also help to reduce some of the anxieties that come along with appearing before a judge. The best way to do that is make sure you have a firm understanding of the issues and what to expect. Contact us today for a free consultation to see what we can offer you at this stage.Servicing Fredericksburg, Richmond, Winchester, and Surrounding Areas.