Applying for disability benefits is a long process for most people. The exception to this is if you have a condition that qualifies for rapid processing, which is known as the Compassionate Allowances program. You have the option of submitting your application over the phone, in person, by mail or online. Regardless of how you apply, the application goes through a process to determine whether it should be approved or denied.
Many people don’t realize that disability applications don’t go through just one person. Instead, there are several individuals who might make determinations about the case. Typically, the case first goes to a field office where eligibility based on the nonmedical factors is checked. This includes looking at things like the applicant’s Social Security coverage information, employment history, age and marital status. If everything checks out at the field office, it will go to one of the Disability Determination Services offices.
The Disability Determination Services office looks at the medical information to decide whether you qualify or not. You might be asked to undergo a consultative examination if the office needs more information. This office then sends the case back to the field office with the decision. The field office completes necessary steps, including alerting you to the decision.
If you’re approved, you’ll get notification of the issuance of benefits. If you’re denied, you have the right to appeal that decision. Many cases are denied on the first round, but might be approved upon appeal, so it’s usually in your best interest to file the appeal. There are time limits for this, so be sure you react quickly.