Disability Determination Services
After you file your initial application for Social Security Disability Benefits your claim is transferred to a state agency known as Disability Determination Services (“DDS”). The role of DDS is to collect your medical records and to render a decision regarding your medical eligibility for benefits. DDS also sends questionnaires to detail your daily activities. If your basic medical information does not reveal a conclusive physical or mental status, DDS can send your records to a doctor for their opinion about your residual functional capacity (“RFC”), or DDS may send you directly to another doctor for a consultive examination. Based on those RFC opinions and the opinions of your treating physicians, DDS will either find you to be disabled or not disabled based upon Social Security’s 5 step decision process.
Administrative Law Judge
If you appeal your denial and proceed to a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) becomes responsible for deciding your claim. The ALJ works in a different office than DDS and has no prior involvement in the earlier case decisions.