Today I start discussing some of the topics on the Adult Disability Report , used to provide medical background information by adults applying for Social Security disability and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability. Not being discussed is the Child Disability Report, used when applying for SSI disability on behalf of a child.
Local Social Security representatives do not make medical decisions. They are responsible for non-medical decisions required before a medical decision. For example, local SSA representatives determine if a person meets Social Security disability work requirements or the SSI financial income and resource requirements. If non-medical requirements are not met, the application ends there. If met, the local SSA office forwards the application to a state agency, called the Disability Determination Service (DDS).
Funded by Social Security and using SSA rules, state DDS examiners develop the medical portion of an application and write the medical decision. Steps in this decision process are in the SSA disability planner section.
Completing the Adult Disability Report is important. It is how you tell the DDS examiner what your disability is, why it prevents you from working, and where to find medical information about you. DDS examiners work from medical records. The examiner will not meet you and might not speak to you.
One advantage to completing the disability report online is that you can exit and return to it. You have time and opportunity to provide complete information and, in your own words, explain how the disability affects you as an individual.
While I am not going to cover all the actual questions on the Adult Disability Report, know that it has several sections with examples and drop-down boxes to explain what is required.
You are asked to list the physical or mental conditions that limit your work ability. If you have more than one medical problem, list them all. This is important because the definition of disability under Social Security is different than other programs. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability. Even if your main condition is not severe enough, when coupled with other problems you could be eligible.
Your medical sources are requested. If you already have medical records on hand, please provide a copy to the SSA office but do not request medical records just for your application. DDS examiners request records from sources shown on your disability report.
The Adult Disability Report has separate sections asking about treating physicians, hospitals, and other medical information. Drop-down boxes provide more information about the questions. In general, focus on the current medical problems involved. For visit dates, be as specific as possible. If the exact date is not known, narrow the timeperiod as best you can. For example, spring 2013 is more helpful than “unknown.”
Other ideas are to specify whom your primary medical person is when providing medical sources. In addition, state what condition you saw a source for and what medications or treatments were provided. Write down medication names from your pill bottles if possible. If the technical name for a treatment is not known, describe it as best you can. Did your primary medical source refer you to another source for a test? Mention the referral. Do you have a patient number or claim number? What is it?
Providing complete information can help speed your application by letting the Disability Determination Service examiner know your best medical sources, meaning those with the most up-to-date and complete records about you. Medical providers are busy. A DDS request that is specific about the when and what of treatment can be easier to obtain compared to a very general one. In other words, how easy can you make it for the DDS examiner to request, and your medical sources to provide, evidence needed to approve your application?