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Disability claim where does it go after I submit it to the SSA?

To apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants can submit a disability claim online at, go to the nearest SSA office, or phone the SSA at 1-800-772-1213. Information about the application process can be found on the SSA website.


It’s not unusual, however, for claimants to file their disability claim paperwork and wait months to hear whether their SSDI disability claim has been approved or denied. New developments over the last few years allow users, who applied online, to track their claims with a disability claim number, but up until that time, users had to call the SSA to find out the status of their disability claim (not an easy process).

But what happens AFTER you submit your disability claim? Where does it go and why does it take so long to receive a disability determination decision from the SSA? Let’s take a closer look at who, where, and how the disability determination process works.

Disability Determination Process for the SSA Your disability claim and the SSA Local Field Office:

Regardless of how a claimant applies for SSDI benefits (online, in-person, phone) the local SSA field office representative will get the disability claim application, treatment source information, and all other information related to the claimant, and review it.

Part of the review process is verifying the non-medical eligibility requirements of the claimant (i.e., age, employment, marital status, or Social Security coverage information). If the claimant does not meet the non-medical requirements for coverage they will deny the claim and send the SSDI applicant a denial letter stating the reason for the denial.

Most nonmedical denials cannot be appealed. There could be exceptions, however. For example, if the SSA does not have all of your employment information they may consider you not insured for SSDI benefits. In this case, you could provide more information, and they could recalculate your work credits.

If the SSA regional field office determines you do meet the nonmedical requirements they will forward your disability claim to the Disability Determination Services office which services you city or state.

Disability Determination Office and verification of medical requirements

The goal of the DDS Offices (which are federally-funded, state agencies) is to review a claimant’s medical information and determine if they are disabled.

To accomplish this task, the DDS Offices first request information from the claimant’s treating medical sources. If the DDS does not receive enough information to make a decision they will ask the claimant to go to a consultative examination (CE).

At the examination a consultative examiner will perform a cursory medical examination and request all necessary testing. The information gathered from examination, as well as information provided by the claimant’s treating doctor, will be used by the CE to make a recommendation.

The DDS will review this recommendation and make a disability determination. After the decision is made, the DDS sends the claimant’s file back to the regional field office for appropriate action.

According to the SSA, “If the DDS found that the claimant is disabled, SSA completes any outstanding non-disability development, computes the benefit amount, and begins paying benefits.” If the claimant is determined not disabled the SSA will send them a denial letter and retain their file in case the SSDI claimant appeals their case. All appeals must be requested within 60 days from the date of the denial letter.

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