Once you apply for disability benefits, certain criteria will be evaluated to determine if you qualify as disabled. According to the Social Security Administration, a disability is defined as a physical or mental medical condition that causes you not to be able to work for at least one year, or which will result in your death.
If you or your loved one is dealing with a disability, it can be difficult to sort through the misinformation and rumors surrounding Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Our disability benefits lawyers in Phoenix can help you sort through the complexities and will guide you through the process. If you have been denied the benefits you need, contact us for a free consultation and review of your claim.
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Disability Determination Services (DDS) is responsible for reviewing and evaluating your disability application, and they will want to know the following about your disability.
Symptoms and severity of the disability
DDS will look at your medical record early on in the evaluation process. The records you submit with your application should include any and all documentation relevant to your condition from all medical providers you have been treated by during your disability period. With this information, they will decide whether or not your disability and the symptoms you experience meet a corresponding disability in the guide they work off of, called the Disability Evaluation Under Social Security or the Blue Book.
Your disability may not be listed in the guide. This does not mean your application will be denied; rather, a disability claims examiner will evaluate your disability to determine if its severity meets a similar Blue Book listing. If you can prove that your disability limits your functioning and is impacting your ability to work, you may be eligible to receive benefits.
How your disability symptoms affect everyday life
One of the documents you must submit with your application is a function report, where you will describe your day-to-day activities. DDS will compare medical records along with your function report to determine if your medical history supports your reported daily functioning.
Work before your disability
The agency will also review your work history which will detail your past 15 years of employment. It is important to be extremely detailed when you fill out your work history report; include dates, titles, duties, the level of exertion your job required, if you were sitting, standing or walking during your work day, and how much weight and how often you were required to lift on the job. With this information, the agency will be able to determine if your disability really impairs your ability to do these jobs, or if there are transferable skills from your prior work experience which could be used to find a new position which is more appropriate for your limitations.
Treatments you have undergone
When evaluating your disability application, DDS looks at what treatments you have undergone for your disability. Be sure to supply information showing you have been seeing medical professionals on a regular basis, as well as a list of medications which have been prescribed for treatment of your condition.
Also, if you are using assistive devices, submit documentation. You should supply documentation to prove that you have undergone appropriate diagnostic testing to determine the severity of your disability if you have not undergone such testing, you may be sent to a consultative examiner for limited testing.
The agency looks to see that you are following the recommendations of medical professionals. While failing to comply with treatment recommendations doesn't mean your application will be denied, it is important to show you are compliant unless you have an acceptable reason. These acceptable reasons can include the inability to pay for medical care, treatment side effects which are worse than the symptoms of your disability, or that your religion prevents you from undergoing treatment.
The opinion of your doctor
It will help your application to include a written statement from any physicians who have been treating your disability. These medical source statements can strengthen your disability claim and DDS will highly weigh statements from your treatment doctor, and the more detail, the better.
In their statement, your physician should detail the disability listing that you meet, the symptoms you experience, what treatments you have undergone and their results or side effect, and how your daily functioning is limited by your condition.