Representing
Clients for over
thirty years with
Social Security/SSI
Disability Claims.
Denver/Boulder 303-449-5297
Cheyenne 307-637-7704
Greeley 970-353-5297
Albuquerque 505-217-9597
Grand Junction 970-245-0499
Toll Free 800-870-4951
The Process.

I am going to concentrate on the Hearings level of the process.  In the two other levels,
Initial and Reconsideration, DDS gathers evidence from medical sources you have
identified to them, schedules consultative examinations with physicians and
psychologists DDS thinks may be necessary to develop your claim and, then,
recommends a decision to SSA about your claim. DDS is frequently the target of a lot of
criticism; however, as I pointed out earlier, they make 71% of all of the favorable
decisions in the process.  I have expanded a little on these points about the Initial and
Reconsideration levels below:

First, DDS will likely send you forms they consider appropriate to your claim.  These
forms cover a number of topics such as pain and past work activity.   These forms tend
to be somewhat intimidating with a lot of words and a lot of white space.  These forms
are not a test.  Answer the questions to the best of your ability and get the forms back to
DDS as soon as possible.  (If a client of mine gets the forms I usually get a copy, too.  I,
or a paralegal, will go through the forms with the client if he or she desires that.)

At one or both of these steps, DDS may send you to a physician or a psychologist for
what is called a “consultative examination” (CE).  These are doctors under contract to
DDS.  They are not DDS’s doctors.  DDS does this usually when it does not think there
is adequate information in your file to make a decision.  These doctors will assess your
physical and/or psychological limitations.  Sometimes a brief examination is adequate.  
These physicians and psychologists have a limited mission.  You have not been sent
by DDS to them for treatment or medications.

SSA usually quits gathering evidence at the time it makes its decision at
Reconsideration (the Initial level in Colorado).  At this point the burden to prove disability
becomes solely that of the claimant and/or his or her attorney.  During the hearing
process I frequently hear with regard to relatively recent treatment that “they (SSA)
should have that”. They most likely do not and, by logical extension, neither do I.

The first question about the
Hearings level is why does it take so long to get a
hearing?
  The usual, and correct, answer is that it is the “backlog”. The Denver Office of
Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) is a typical hearings office in SSA.  Recently
its backlog was 6,884 cases most of which will eventually be heard by one of the twelve
or so Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) presently assigned to that office.   New cases
are coming in as the older ones are being adjudicated.  A typical case in Denver will
take,
on average,  about 15 to 18 months to process from the time a Request for
Hearing is filed (not the date you first applied for the benefits) to finish in some cases
maybe a couple months or so longer or a couple of months less.

Social Security Disability Attorney