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Current course:  SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Online Course: Adult Curriculum

Access to SSA Disability Programs: Players, Roles & Tasks

The Social Security disability determination process involves a number of key partners. In addition, there are a wide variety of service providers who can assist with medical records, medical/psychological testing, assessments, or mental status exams.

Key Players in the SSA Disability Application Process

Social Security Administration (SSA)

  • Federal agency administrator of the SSI and SSDI programs

Disability Determination Services (DDS)

  • State agency charged with making disability determinations
  • SSA coordinates with state DDS offices
  • Operates under Federal SSA guidelines
  • Gathers medical information
  • Can order additional testing or consultative exams
  • Name of service/division can vary by state (e.g. Disability Adjudication Services, Bureau of Disability Determination)
  • Functions under various state agencies (e.g. Dept. of Labor, Vocational Services, or Educational Services)

Case Manager/Representative

  • Individual who coordinates services
  • Could be a “care coordinator", benefits specialist, peer specialist, or other direct service provider
  • Gathers medical records, and assists in arranging evaluations as needed
  • Serves as applicant’s Appointed Representative by completing the SSA-1696
    • Allows case manager, SSA and DDS to communicate about submitted application
    • Can also act on applicant’s behalf during the application process