Tuesday, April 18, 2006

SSA Publishes Final Rule Establishing New Administrative Review Process for Adjudicating Initial Disability Claims

The Social Security Administration has published a final rule establishing its new disability determination process, known as the Disability Service Improvement (DSI) process. The rule explains SSA's new procedures for adjudicating the disability portion of initial claims for Social Security disability insurance (DI) benefits and for supplemental security income (SSI) based on disability or blindness.

SSA states that the purpose of the rule is to improve the accuracy, consistency, and fairness of its disability determination process and to make the right decision as early in the process as possible.

Under this rule, the administrative review process consists of several steps, which must be requested within certain time periods. When an application is filed for benefits, SSA will make an initial determination on the claim, and in certain circumstances refer the claim for a quick disability determination (QDD). If the applicant is dissatisfied with the initial determination, they may request review by a Federal reviewing official. If they are dissatisfied with the Federal reviewing official's decision, they may request a hearing before an administrative law judge.

The administrative law judge's decision becomes SSA's final decision, unless the claim is referred to the Decision Review Board (DRB). When the DRB reviews the claim and issues a decision, that decision is SSA's final decision. If the applicant is dissatisfied with the final decision, they may seek judicial review in Federal district court.

View the Final Rule