Arizona Disability Determination Service for the Social Security Administration
The Disability Determination Services, which receive all of their funding from the Federal Government, are State agencies. They gather medical evidence and make the first decision about whether a claimant (the applicant for disability payments) is disabled or blind under the law.
The DDS usually looks for evidence first from the claimant's own medical sources. If that evidence is unavailable or not sufficient, the DDS arranges a consultative examination (CE) to obtain other needed information. For the CE, the DDS typically chooses the claimant's treating source, but it may also choose an independent source.
(See Part II, Evidentiary Requirements, for more information about CEs.)
After gathering evidence for the disability claim, the DDS makes a determination. A two-person adjudicative team makes the decision. The team consists of:
- a medical or psychological consultant, and
- a disability examiner.
If the adjudicative team finds that more evidence is needed, the consultant or examiner may re-contact the medical source(s) to ask for supplemental information.
The DDS also determines whether the claimant is a candidate for vocational rehabilitation (VR). If so, the DDS makes a referral to the State VR agency.
After the DDS makes the determination, it returns the case to the field office. Then:
- If the DDS finds the claimant disabled, SSA will complete any outstanding non-disability development, compute the benefit amount, and start to pay benefits.
- If the claimant is found not disabled, the field office keeps the file in case the claimant appeals the determination.
If the claimant appeals an initial unfavorable determination, the appeal is usually handled much the same as the initial claim, except that a different adjudicative team at the DDS makes the determination.