Disability Determination Services and Social Security Disability Claims

Each state has an agency that decides disability claims for Social Security.

There is an agency in every state that employs disability claims examiners who decide the disability claims for Social Security and Medicaid cases for all applicants of that state. In many states, the agency is called "Disability Determination Services," or DDS, but the agency goes by various names. For instance, Florida calls its agency the Division of Disability Determinations (DDD), California calls it the Disability Determination Service Division (DDSD), and Pennsylvania calls it the Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD). New York calls the agency Disability Determination Services (DDS) and Nevada calls it the Bureau of Disability Adjudication.

All states have at least one office for the disability determination agency and some only have one centralized office for all disability claims. But other states have a "decentralized system" with multiple DDS offices. You can find the name and contact information for your state's disability agency by visiting our state-specific disability information pages.

The disability determination agency (we call it DDS on this website) is the state-level agency whose basic task is determining the eligibility of disability applicants ("claimants") to receive cash disability benefits or benefits from the state's adult Medicaid program. Examiners at DDS decides both Social Security Disability (SSD) claims and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) disability claims. DDS is where the question of medical eligibility for disability is resolved at both the initial application and reconsideration levels ("reconsideration" is the first level of appeal in most states except for New York, Pennsylvania, and a few others).

Typically, approximately 65% of disability claims evaluated by DDS are denied, requiring disability claimants to request a reconsideration. DDS examiners deny about 87% of the reconsideration claims they see, requiring claimants to have their cases heard by an administrative law judge at a disability hearing before they can be approved for benefits.

For more information, see our article on how decisions are made at the disability determination agency.

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