The Social Security Administration and its role in disability claims

The Social Security Administration was formed in 1935. It currently has approximately 62,000 employees. It has an approximate budget of $657 billion. Its primary mission includes retirement benefits, survivor benefits, disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income and Medicare. As you would imagine, there are several sub agencies within the Administration. There are 10 regional offices. There are six processing centers that process a variety of claims. There are 1260 field offices, also known as district offices. They are the front line of the connection between the individual and the Administration.

Typically, a potential claimant will apply online or through a field office. Regardless of how they apply online, everything is funneled through the field office. Social Security is attempting to go paperless and encourages people to apply online and to perform appeals online.

Once the application is received,in Florida, the file is transferred to a Florida state agency called the Office of Disability Determinations. Typically, they order the medical records from the various sources. They usually set up an exam with independent doctors, depending on the allegations of the disability and the completeness of the medical records. Exams are usually ordered unless the records are sufficient in and of themselves to allow a decision. Forms are usually sent to the claimant for them to complete and return. These forms usually touch on activities of daily living and a description of symptoms. Once the exams are performed, the records received and the exams completed, a medical doctor determines if the claimant meets the requirements of disability. A letter is sent to the claimant and any representative indicating whether disability is granted or not.

The file goes back to the field office. The claimant has 65 days to file an appeal. If an appeal is filed, the file goes back to the Offices Disability Determination. Updated medical records are ordered. More forms are sent to the claimant. Typically there are no new exams ordered. A different medical doctor reviews the file and determines if the claimant is disabled or not. A letter goes out to the claimant indicating whether they have been determined disabled not. If not, the claimant can file a second appeal.

If the claimant files this appeal,the field office transfers the file to the hearing office, also known as the office of disability adjudication and review (ODAR). A hearing is set. Locally, there is a hearing office in St.Petersburg and a hearing office in Tampa. There are approximately 10 judges in St. Petersburg. The average wait time from the request for the hearing is 14 months to the hearing. It then takes around 60 to 90 days to receive a decision. If you win, it takes about 45 days to process. As of December 28, 2012 there were 7752 cases pending.

There is also a hearing office in Tampa. There are approximately 15 judges. The average time from requesting a hearing to going to a hearing is 14 months. There are 11,000 pending cases in Tampa.

If the claimant loses at the hearing level, they can appeal to the Appeals Council. It is located in Falls Church, Virginia. At the end of the fiscal year 2011 there were hundred and 53,000 pending requests. 126,000 appeals were processed. The average processing time is 360 days.

The Social Security Administration and its role in disability claims