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Residual Functional Capacity and the Disability Determination Process

The process by which disability claims are processed is known as the Disability Determination Process. Anyone who has been through this process can tell you that it is time-consuming, and it can take several months for it to come to completion. Although waiting for a final decision can be frustrating, there is a good reason for the lengthy process, as there are many steps to it. If you take look at the entire disability determination process, which is outlined below, you will understand why it takes a long time to come to fruition.

The Application Process
The first step in the disability application process is simply filling out the application. The application can be filled out online, over the phone with a representative from the Social Security Administration (SSA), or in person at your local SSA office.

Verification of Non-Medical Information
Once an application is submitted, it goes to a field office for verification. A representative at the field office reviews applications for completeness and accuracy. They also verify all non-medical information such as name, address, and work history, marital status, and Social Security information of the applicant, or “claimant.”

Developing Medical Evidence
Disability Determination Services (DDS) offices, which are funded by the federal government, but are agencies of each state are responsible for developing the medical evidence in the applications. Whenever possible, they develop the evidence based on the records and other sources that are provided by claimants. If the necessary information is not provided or unavailable, the DDS representative will request a consultative exam to obtain the information. A consultative exam is simply a medical exam that is conducted by an SSA-approved medical professional. At this point, the DDS will also request a Residual Functional Capacity test to determine the extent of your disability.

The Final Decision
Once the non-medical and medical evidence has all been compiled, the application then gets returned to the Field Office for the final decision. If the DDS determines that the claimant is disabled, then the SSA must complete any non-disability development, calculate the disability payment amount, and begin making payments. If the DDS determines that the claimant is not disabled, the file remains at the field office in case the claimant wishes to appeal the decision.

The Appeals Process
If the claimant wants to appeal the decision, she or he has 60 days to do so. To begin the appeals process, you need to fill out a “Request for Reconsideration” form. The judge will then review your case and make another decision. It is advisable to work with a disability attorney when you appeal a declined application.

If you have questions about the Disability Determination Process, contact Liner Legal today.