SSDI Solutions Initiative Publishes Issue Brief on Determination & Appeals Process

The McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Solutions Initiative has published a second brief in its issue brief series on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program in preparation for the August 4, 2015 SSDI Solutions Conference. This brief explores the process for determining eligibility for disability benefits as well as how appealing disability decisions works.

To RSVP to the August 4th Conference, click here.

Below is an excerpt from the brief:

The SSDI Program - The Determination & Appeals Process

In order to receive SSDI benefits, workers with disabilities must demonstrate that they fulfilled the work requirements and have an impairment (or combination of impairments) that is expected to prevent them from engaging in substantial work for at least a year (or result in death). Individuals apply at local Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices, but the initial disability decisions are made by state agencies, known as Disability Determination Services (DDS). To decide if an individual is “disabled” as defined in Social Security law, DDS uses a 5-step sequential evaluation process, detailed in Figure 1.

Figure 1 - SSDI Determination Process

Source: Congressional Research Service

If an initial claim is rejected, there are four possible levels of appeal. The same 5-step disability evaluation process applies at every level of appeal. The appeals process is illustrated in Figure 2 and each of the levels is discussed below.

Figure 2 - SSDI Appeals Process

Source: Congressional Research Service

Click here to read the rest of this issue brief, which describes the rest of this process in detail.

The McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Solutions Initiative is a project dedicated to identifying practical policy changes to improve the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and other services for people with disabilities. With the SSDI trust fund less than two years from depleting its reserves, these solutions can help spur a debate on how to ensure the SSDI program best serves workers with disabilities, those who pay into the program, and the economy more broadly.

The project was launched this past September by former Congressmen Jim McCrery (R-LA) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) in coordination with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The congressmen will be co-chairing the SSDI Solutions Conference on August 4, 2015, featuring 12 commissioned papers with presentations from their authors. The hope is that these papers will catalyze a serious discussion about how to address the program’s funding shortfall well before the Disability Insurance trust fund will deplete its reserves in late 2016 (one of our 2015-2016 Fiscal Speed Bumps).

Click here to learn more about the SSDI Solutions Initiative and here to read the second issue brief on the determination and appeals process of the SSDI program. Click here to read our paper on this year's looming fiscal speed bumps.