The State Agency Level (DDS)
When you first apply for benefits, SSA sends your case to an agency in your state to review it and determine if you meet Social Security's standards for disability. These agencies are frequently called Disability Determination Services (DDS). They will collect information about the medical professionals you've seen, the work you've done in the last 15 years, and what you or other people who know you think you are capable of doing.
It is important to complete the documents that DDS sends you and return it. If you ignore their letters, they may deny the claim for lack of cooperation.
You can always reach out to your representative to help explain the forms your receive. If you are working with Norwood Law or IBI you can reach them by phone or email.
The state agency denies most claims but if they do deny your claim there are appeals, and you will eventually get to explain your case to an adjudicator in a hearing.
Basic State Agency (DDS) Level Tips
Filling out forms!
There are a lot of forms to fill out for the state agency: work history forms, medication forms, work activity forms, function forms, daily activity forms, etc.
Do you need to fill them all out? How should you complete them? Do any of these even matter?!
You should fill them out, and be honest. Make sure you are complete - always explain what trouble you have and why or how. If you go to the store, but can only lift a gallon of milk or have to take a break on the bench, make sure to include those important details.
Medical Treatment - All of it!
Medical records are the most important evidence in most claims. If you are not getting treatment, it is hard to prove your case to SSA. It is important to see your doctors, counselors, therapists, or chiropractors. It is also important to tell us and SSA about all your doctors. Don't pick and choose who you think is important or relevant. SSA needs everything, so tell them about all your doctors.
A really good practice is to keep track of what doctors you see and when. At least keep all their cards so you can let us know who you saw and give us good contact information.