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Social Security disability evaluations

West Virginia residents who are living with serious illnesses and disabilities may wish to consider the possibility of applying for Social Security disability benefits. These benefits are intended for individuals who are disabled and, as a result of their disability, unable to work.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has established a Listing of Impairments, which is the criteria used by physicians and others to determine whether an applicant has a disability that may entitle them to benefits. Applications are typically received by SSA employees in field offices before they are referred to a Disability Determination Services (DDS) office in the state where the applicant lives.

It is the responsibility of DDS officials to provide an initial determination of whether the applicant medically qualifies as disabled. In general, this process requires a review of the applicant’s medical records and may also require additional evaluations by health care professionals other than the applicant’s own physician.

In some cases, SSA and DDS officials may deny an individual’s application for benefits. At this time, the applicant may decide that they wish to appeal the decision. The appeal may take place within the DDS that made the decision or go to an administrative law judge. This appeals process can be lengthy, and applicants may wish to prepare financially and otherwise for additional requests for medical evaluations, paperwork and hearings.

Individuals applying for Social Security disability benefits, or considering the appeal of a denial of benefits, may benefit from speaking with an attorney. The lawyer may be able to review the client’s case and make recommendations regarding appeal strategies.