Who makes the decisions about disability benefits? - II

In our last post, we discussed how even though the process of securing Social Security disability benefits might seem incredibly complex thanks to the myriad considerations and arcane language, the underlying question is always the same in every case: Are you disabled?

We also started discussing what officials are responsible for making these disability decisions and what matters are taken into consideration when making these decisions.

Where does the DDS start when making its disability determination?

As we discussed last time, the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services' Division for Disability Determination Services, located in Austin, is the state agency tasked with making disability determinations.

The first inquiry made by the DDS relates to whether you are working and, if so, how much you are earning.

What exactly is the DDS looking for concerning work and wages?

Here, officials want to ensure that your monthly earnings do not average more than an amount predetermined by the Social Security Administration each year. If your monthly earnings are at or below this monetary threshold, or you are not working, DDS officials will then set their sights on your medical condition.

What are the requirements that must be satisfied regarding my medical condition?

DDS officials will look to determine whether your disability "significantly limits" your capacity to perform otherwise basic work functions for at least one year.

What kinds of basic work functions will be considered?

The DDS officials will look to see whether the disability makes it difficult to walk, sit, stand, remember or perform other essential activities.

What if the DDS finds my condition does or doesn't "significantly limit" my work activities?

If the DDS officials find your condition to be severe, they will continue with their inquiry. Conversely, if they find your condition is not severe, you will not be considered disabled and your application will be denied.

We'll continue exploring the five-step process employed by the DDS in making disability determinations in our next post.

Source: The Social Security Administration, "Disability benefits," Accessed Dec. 4, 2014