After your local field office takes or receives your initial application they will initially determine if you are eligible for your claim to be medically reviewed. SSI applications will be processed to determine if you meet the financial requirements and SSD applications will be processed to determine if you have enough credits to proceed.
If you meet the initial requirements your claim will be sent to DDS for medical review. At DDS you may have to complete questionnaires about daily activities and other questionnaires more particular to your conditions. You may also be asked to undergo a consultative examination by a physician. This along with you medical records help them make an initial determination on your claim and can take up to 120 days.
If your claim is approved it will be send back to your local field office to process your award letter and for disability claims will be sent to a payment center to process payment. If denied you will receive a decision letter giving a reason of why your claim was denied. You will have 60 days to file a request for reconsideration.
The request for reconsideration process is much like the initial portion. DDS will receive your claim and may have you complete questionnaires or may require you to undergo a consultative examination with a physician. Again DDS will make a decision and you claim will be sent back to your local field office for either an award or denial letter.
If denied you will again have 60 days to file an appeal but this time your claim will move to ODAR (Office of Disability Adjudication and Review) which is the hearings office and you will be requesting a hearing before the administrative law judge.
Unfortunately this is a lengthy process and can take 12 months or longer depending on your location. You will then be given a hearing date, and the Administrative Law Judge will make a decision on you claim. The claim will then we sent back to the local field office to process payment if awarded benefits.
If denied you will again have 60 days to appeal, this time, requesting for appeals council review. This is again a lengthy process and can take 18 months depending on your location to make a decision. They can agree with the Judges decision, send you back for another hearing before the ALJ (remand)or they can reverse judge’s decision.
If denied you will be filing a federal appeal. You must file the summons and complaint no longer then 60 days from the Appeals Council denial, and the Commissioner will then answer the complaint.