When and How to Check the Status of Your Social Security Disability
(SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Claim Status for Benefits
Questions You Can Ask Your Disability Examiner When You Periodically Check
the Status of Your Disability Claim
Step 3 -- a sample chapter from the Book Entitled Getting Social Security Disability: Your 9 Step Guide
Periodically checking the status of your disability claim is vital to getting a
faster decision on your claim. This section discusses when you should check the status, why you need to check the
status and how to check the status. A version of this section is posted in full on my disability esp
website because it is so essential to getting a
faster decision, so it is reprinted here.
Why Check The Status of Your Disability
Checking the status of your disability claim at the right time
can be crucial in helping you speed up processing of your application.
This is because when you call in to get a status check, it
forces the disability examiner to take a look at your folder or electronic record, and s/he can then tell you what
else is needed for processing, or at least where the claim is in the sequence of steps that are involved in its
When Should You Check the Status of Your
Having worked as a disability examiner, here are my
suggestions for when you should check the status of your claim based on the various case development stages of
adult initial claims.
1. You should call your disability examiner (DE) in the state
Disability Determination Services (DDS) office or the Disability Adjudication Services (DAS) office 30 days after
you have completed your application. If
everything has gone as it should, by then the DE has written to all the doctors/hospitals listed on your
application to request your “medical evidence of record” or MER (as it is called internally). The examiner has
given these medical providers two to three weeks to get the records turned in. Because the worker makes these
requests within days of receiving a new claim for processing, all of your MER should have been received in the
first 30 days if your doctors/hospitals staff and their medical records departments have been cooperative in
sending the records in to the DDS office.
Medical records are the
backbone of your claim. If there is no medical evidence to support your claim, you really have
no claim, and your claim will be denied. The DE can set up a consultative examination (CE),
which allows you to see one of Social Security’s participating doctors so that he or she can do
a medical exam to provide the missing information. But the bottom line is that the more medical
records the examiner has to review, the easier it is to prove your claim for disability based
on objective medical findings.
Unfortunately, most DDS offices have a list (either in writing
or in fact) of medical facilities that are notorious for either not providing medical records in a timely matter
(if at all) or providing records that have been known to be totally useless in giving the information necessary to
decide a claim.
In my experience, medical records
from the Veterans Administration, while usually voluminous, generally have little substance unless there are
x-rays or other objective test results located in the file.
Some states send out
second notices automatically to medical providers who fail to respond to a first request for
records, and this system helps the examiner tremendously because the first notice may have been
misplaced, lost in the mail, etc. North Carolina is one state that did not do this as a matter
of course while I served there, so the chances are that your medical records may be incomplete
if you do not follow-up. Of course, the examiners are expected to make this follow up request
manually, but this may or may not happen depending on how many cases the claims examiner may be
managing at any one time.
So to recap, the reasons you are checking the status of your
claim at day-30 is to ask the DE:
“What is the status of my
claim?” If the worker says something like “It is still pending.” or
“No decision has been made,” then your next question will be:
“Have you gotten my medical records from all
of my doctors/hospitals/providers?” If they tell you that one or more doctors has not sent in
records, then you should
Ask for the names of the doctors or
hospitals that have not provided records to date. Then,
You should, if you are able to or have someone who can, offer to assist the DE in
getting those missing medical records. How?
Next page: How You Can Assist in Getting Your
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