What is Disability Determination Services (DDS)?

The Disability Determination Services (DDS) handles disability claims for benefits paid through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. When you file for disability benefits, you will be evaluated by a DDS examiner to determine whether your disability falls within coverage requirements. DDS makes its determination based on the following criteria: medical evidence, psychological evidence, vocational criteria, consultative evaluation and continuing disability review.

SSDI evaluations are done under the guiding principal that individuals must have worked for a substantial period at a job covered by Social Security and therefore paid their required Social Security taxes during employment. SSI evaluations are done based on financial need and medical evidence without a work history requirement. DDS evaluators will work to gain medical information from an individual's treating physician. In the event that evidence is deemed inconclusive, the DDS examiner may also work with a consultant to come to a final decision.

Continuing disability review is a process by which the DDS examiner goes over an individual’s case once every three years to ensure that they continue to be eligible for benefits. Final decisions about a case will be made by a disability examiner at one of the local district DDS offices. Once the final decision from DDS is made on an individual claim, the case will be returned to its local district office where benefits will begin administration or denials will be eligible for appeal before the Office of Hearings and Disability Appeals Council.