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Understanding the SSDI benefits decision process

People in Georgia who suffer from an illness or injury that prevents them from working are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Unfortunately, many people who may be eligible for benefits view the claims process as a dark and mysterious element of the special needs planning process. Just the anxiety about filing a claim can prevent many people from seeking these benefits. Much of this anxiety is the product of ignorance about the decision-making process used by the Social Security Administration. Once the ignorance is dispelled, the fear also dissipates.

An SSDI benefits claim must be filed with an SSA field or a state agencies usually referred to as Disability Determination Service. Benefit applications can be filed in many forms, including by telephone or mail or on-line. The applicant must provide evidence from at least one medical provider verifying the illness or injury that is the basis for the disability. The applicant must also provide employment records to verify the nature of the disability and its permanence. A medical provider must also verify that the condition is either permanent or likely to result in the death of the victim. After the evidence is compiled, trained staff at the SSA field office or the sate DDS will make an initial disability determination.

After the initial decision on the application is made, the SSA field office will notify the claimant of the decision. If the decision is in the applicant's favor, the field office will compute the benefit amount and begin paying cash to the applicant. If the application is denied, the file will be kept in the field office in case the claimant decides to appeal the decision.

An applicant whose disability benefits application has been denied has several options to appeal the decision. Those options will be reviewed in another post.

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