Very few people realize that most of the decision makers in the Social Security disability process are not federal employees. The processing and decision making at the initial application stage and the reconsideration stage are actually state employees under contract to SSA. These are disability determination services (DDS) and each state has one. DDS is where employees called disability examiners or adjudicators gather medical records and evaluate such records in conjunction with a claimant’s vocational factors (age, education, work history and job skills) to arrive at a decision.Though it seems they do not truly consider the vocational factors in making their decisions.
There are also medical consultants that are under contract to DDS. A medical consultant is a doctor who works for DDS. Often they are retired doctors who receives a flat fee for each file they review. Their medical estimations of claimants physical abilities they have never seen before are actually completed by the disability examiners and then they review and sign off on them. They many times review files of claimants who have conditions outside their practice areas. In Illinois, we have a retired pediatrician who has not been in private practice for more than 10 years who reviews adult disability claims. About the only thing you can say about them is they have a license to practice medicine. These are not the doctors that SSA may send you for an exam. The exam is known as a consultative exam (CE). Those doctors are private physicians who perform exams on a contract basis. Medical consultants actually work in the same processing units as disability examiners and their job, officially, is to provide consultation to examiners who are deciding claims. It is DDS that is the most dysfunctional part of the system. Need help with your disability claim in central Illinois, contact my office.