Before you a claim for Social Security disability benefits is taken to the hearing level, claimants receive two denials from the Social Security Administration.
Assuming there is sufficient evidence in the file (and in most cases there is), Disability Determination Services (DDS) comes up with a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) of what work the claimant is supposedly physically and mentally capable of performing. If the claimant is over 50, in addition to considering whether the individual can do past work, DDS looks at whether that individual has attained transferable skills from past work that would allow them to easily adjust to similar jobs.
In general, disability attorneys are not fans of DDS determinations. These decisions are prone to significant errors, often ignoring important evidence or misclassifying past work.
Especially lately, there seems to be an increase in DDS decisions where claimants are denied, but just a surface review of these decisions indicate that the claimant actually should have been approved under Social Security’s own rules.
In these cases, it is often just a matter of pointing out the error to a judge to quickly get a claimant approved.
Unfortunately, given the way DDS determinations are written, it is often difficult, if not impossible for most claimants to understand these errors when they receive these decisions, and no doubt many people give up after receiving these denials when they should be receiving disability benefits.
Though applying for disability benefits can be a long and difficult process, this is a key reason why you should always talk to a disability attorney when pursuing your claim.