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How the DDS Decides If You Are Disabled

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To obtain Social Security disability benefits, an applicant must prove to the SSA that their injury, illness, or medical condition qualifies as a compensable disability under federal law. Of course, it is not always so easy to determine who counts as disability. You may be wondering: How does Social Security decide if you are disabled? In large part, the federal SSA relies on input from state agencies called Disability Determination Services or DDS.

What to Know About the Disability Determination Services (DDS)

Overseen by the Missouri Department of Education and Secondary Education and the Office of Adult Learning and Rehabilitation Services, the state’s DDS agency helps to assess medical eligibility for Missouri residents who have applied for SSDI benefits or SSI benefits.

When you apply for Social Security disability benefits in Missouri, your claim will typically (eventually) make its way to Disability Determination Services—at least assuming you meet the technical eligibility requirements. The SSA not the DDS is responsible for technical determinations.

If the SSA determines you are ineligible for financial or legal reasons, the DDS will not receive your file. Instead, you will likely receive a denial letter that explains why your claim was rejected on technical grounds and what you need to do to appeal.

Your Medical Records and Evidence Will be Reviewed

The Missouri DDS is primarily responsible for assessing an applicant’s medical eligibility for disability benefits. In doing so, a claims examiner at DDS will review and evaluate all relevant medical evidence, documents, and records.

When a comprehensive and well-supported initial claim is filed, DDS may have enough to approve medical eligibility based on the documentation provided. No other details may be needed. However, in other cases, the Missouri agency may request more evidence or even seek an independent medical exam.

If you are seeking SSDI or SSI benefits and you have any general questions or concerns about Missouri’s Disability Determination Services, please do not hesitate to contact a law firm, such as Social Security Law Group in St. Louis, for immediate assistance. An attorney can help you navigate the claims and appeals process.  

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