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Free Claim Review

Reconsideration is an intermediate step in the Social Security disability claim process. If DDS denies your initial claim and you appeal, the claim goes right back to DDS for Reconsideration. In 5 out of 6 claims, DDS just denies the claim again. For these claimants, Reconsideration is an unnecessary detour on the way to a hearing by an administrative law judge.

There are ten "prototype" states, however, that skip the Reconsideration step. In those states, the appeal of a denied claim proceeds directly to a hearing with an Administration Law Judge. The 10 prototype states are: Alabama, Alaska, California (Los Angeles North and West areas), Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York (Brooklyn and Albany areas), and Pennsylvania. Social Security has been "testing" this streamlined disability process since 1999.

Apparently the SSA is reconsidering Reconsideration for those prototype states, and is considering reinstating the Reconsideration step. Commissioner Astrue mentioned this when he took questions outside the meeting hall after he addressed the Spring NOSSCR conference in Washington DC.

The SSA is developing a software system to that would better integrate the DDS systems from the 50 states. Each state's DDS uses differing software to manage its claims. So the SSA wants to build one software system to rule them all. And if all 50 states are operating on the same system, the reasoning goes, then all 50 states should have the same procedures, including Reconsideration. No decision has been made yet. The SSA is looking at the issue.

I practice Social Security disability law in Maine and New Hampshire. Maine has Reconsideration, and New Hampshire does not. So I have looked at Reconsideration from both sides now, and I have to say I do not think that the Reconsideration step adds much to the process. The same mistakes are repeated. The littany of DDS failures, such as the inability to evaluate claims with chronic pain and disregard of Social Security's rules, are just doubled by Reconsideration.