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Early Stages of SSDI Claims Process

Author: Jonathan Ginsberg

Published: 2010-05-25 : (Rev. 2013-06-08)

Synopsis and Key Points:

The SSDI application process stages and eligibility determinations.

Main Digest

The SSDI application process and eligibility determinations.

Most social security disability claimants have neither the knowledge nor the understanding of how the SSDI claims process works, hence the need for the assistance of an experienced disability attorney in order to help you with the early stages of the SSDI claims process. There are numerous questions that claimants need answered when they are at this stage of the process, one of which is who actually determines whether your medical condition has disabled you to the extent that you can no longer work and perform everyday tasks.

Ironically, whether or not you are eligible and qualify for SSDI benefits is not determined by the SSA or one of their adjudicators. This responsibility normally falls into the hands of a 3rd party or outside agency in your state, and they will determine if you do qualify for benefits at this stage in the application and claims process. This portion of the process follows your claim for a disability classification.

How does the eligibility determination process work

One of the most common questions we are asked is "who determines whether or not I am eligible for SSDI benefits" The agency in your state that normally makes this determination is known as the Disability Determination Service. They are responsible for making the initial decision where your disability benefits are concerned once you have been diagnosed with a disabling medical or mental condition. Interestingly enough, the Federal Government's laws and regulations which govern eligibility are the same as those of your home state.

Once the decision has been made by the state authority reviewing your claim it is then forwarded to the Social Security Administration who will eventually contact you regarding the decision on your claim. It is up to the state authority to initially determine and confirm whether or not you have been rendered disabled and unable to work based on the medical and/or mental condition you are suffering with.

The next question we are normally asked is "who is responsible for rendering the final decision on my claim"

A DE or Disability Examiner is the person that this responsibility falls on the shoulders of. The DE normally works hand in hand with a Medical Consultant when reviewing your case. Initially, these are the people involved in the determination of eligibility process where you SSDI claim is concerned. Just remember that up to 75% of the initial applications get denied, so don't let this discourage you.

Jonathan Ginsberg has been practicing Social Security Disability law in the Atlanta, Georgia area for over 20 years. His website can be found at

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