DDS Examiner vs ALJ

Disability Determination Services (DDS) Examiner and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, one of two people will decide if your disability qualifies you for benefits. These 2 people are the DDS examiner and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

DDS Examiner

The DDS examiner works for Disability Determination Services (DDS) which is a state government agency who’s main propose is to make disability findings for the Social Security Administration (SSA). When you first apply for SSDI or SSI, the DDS examiner is the person that will decide if you meet the SSA definition of being disabled. If the DDS examiner denies your claim for disability, then you can file a reconsideration appeal. Your reconsideration appeal is sent back to DDS and assigned to another examiner (usually a different examiner than the one who handled your initial application). Most of the time, reconsideration appeals are denied. Only about 30% of disability applications are approved by DDS.

Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) works for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) which is a branch of the Social Security Administration whose main purpose is to administer the hearings and appeals program for the Social Security Administration (SSA). If the DDS denies your initial application for disability benefits and also denies your reconsideration appeal, then you have the right to challenge their decision by requesting a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. Most of the time, the ALJ will rule in favor of the claimant. If you are represented by an experienced disability attorney, then the chances of winning you hearing can be as high as 80-90%.

Why does the ALJ approve so many cases that were originally denied by the DDS?

When the DDS is reviewing your application or reconsideration appeal, they request your medical records from your treating sources and they make their decision based on what they find in your medical records. The DDS examiner never meets with you, so you are at the mercy of your medical records and you have no idea how well your doctor did at documenting your condition and your symptoms.

When you have a hearing with an administrative law judge, you will have the opportunity to meet face to face with the judge. You can give testimony on your inability to engage is substantial gainful activity. Most importantly you can bring new, updated medical records and statements (or RFC Forms) from your doctor. Medical records that you provide from your doctor will be given more weight than any CE exams performed by the DDS doctors. If you are represented by a good disability attorney, your attorney will make sure that he/she has all of your updated medical records and statements from your doctors supporting your claim. A disability attorney will be able to draw on years of experience in representing people just like you in disability hearings in order to give you the best chance at winning your disability claim.

Contact Us

For experienced legal representation and an aggressive pursuit of your SSDI or SSI claims, contact Jorgensen Law with offices in San Diego, Los Angeles or Riverside, California. For assistance, schedule a free consultation at our office by email or by calling 1-888-855-2948.

Representing SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY and SSI claims in the following counties and cities: San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, and the Inland Empire. In San Diego, we specifically work with Fallbrook, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, El Cajon, Escondido, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, La Jolla, Lemon Grove, National City, Spring Valley, Vista, San Marcos, Oceanside, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Ramona, Murrieta, Moreno Valley, corona, San Bernardino, Fontana, Ontario, and Imperial Valley.