For people in Illinois facing disabilities and other disabling conditions, social security disability benefits can provide vital assistance. While the first step in the process for any claimant is to apply for these benefits, it is useful for social security disability applicants to understand the nature of the approval process and the path their social security disability claim will take in being approved.

Once a claimant submits his or her application, the social security disability claim is processed through a network of local Social Security Administration field offices and state agencies (also known as Disability Determination Services or DDSs). The claim is transferred to these offices, which are located in the claimant’s home state, for verification of non-medical eligibility requirements and for a determination of disability.

Verifying non-medical eligibility requirements
The application for social security disability benefits contains a significant amount of information, including a description of the claimant’s impairment, the claimant’s treatment sources, and other information relating to the claimant’s disability. However, the local field office must first review the claimant’s application to ensure basic requirements for the disability claim are met. To move forward with the claim, the local field office is responsible for verifying non-medical eligibility requirements, such as the claimant’s age, marital status, or Social Security coverage information.

 Evaluation of disability

Once the local field office verifies the claimant’s non-medical eligibility requirements, it then transfers the case to the related state agency for the claimant’s determination of disability. The state agency is then responsible for developing and collecting medical evidence and making the initial determination of whether the claimant is considered disabled or blind under the law.

In order to make a decision about whether or not the claimant meets the state agency’s definition of disability, the state agency begins by collecting medical and other information from the claimant’s own medical sources. For example, the state agency collects information from the claimant’s doctors, though the claimant’s doctors are not asked to personally decide if the claimant is disabled.

The state agency also asks for information about the claimant’s condition, examines evidence from hospitals and clinics where the claimant has been treated, and inquires about the claimant’s ability to do work-related activities, such as walking, lifting, carrying, sitting, and remembering instructions. For more information on how the Social Security Administration decides if a claimant is disabled, use its Disability Planner to review its step-by-step process.

If the evidence collected from the claimant’s doctors is not enough for the state agency to make a disability determination, the state agency will arrange for a consultative or special examination of the claimant in order to obtain additional information about his or her condition. The claimant’s own physician is the preferred source for the examination, but the state agency may obtain the examination from another independent doctor if necessary. Once the evidence is fully developed, the state agency makes the initial disability determination.

Final approval or appeal

After the initial disability determination is made, the state agency returns the case to the local field office for appropriate action. If the state agency found that the claimant is disabled, the local field office computes the benefit amount and starts paying benefits to the claimant. If it is determined the claimant is not disabled, then the claimant’s file is kept in the local field office in case the claimant chooses to appeal the state agency’s disability determination.

If you want to know more about the SSD approval process and have a disability/impairment that has rendered you unable to work, contact Neil H. Good online or call toll-free #(847) 577-4476 to schedule your free case evaluation to discuss your specific health condition and your SSDI eligibility.