In a recent blog post, attorney Charles Hall asked Why The Differences Between DDS And ALJs? Mr. Hall's post discussed an Office of Inspector General report which addressed the issue of differing allowance rates among the ALJs and the various state DDS agencies. The OIG report is definitely worth a look (link opens a pdf).
Former disability examiner Tim Moore answers a similar question in this post: Does Social Security Deny Strong Disability Claims? Mr. Moore concludes that yes, Social Security denies strong claims, particularly at the DDS level. Mr. Moore states:
Disability examiners really do not give proper weight and consideration to the statements provided by a claimant's treating physician when such statements have been obtained or delivered.
I agree, and have written before that the DDS agencies do not give proper weight to treating physician opinions (See DDS and Examining/Treating Physicians' Opinions). In my view, a principal reason why so many claims denied by DDS are granted at the hearing level is the failure of DDS to follow Social Security regulations and rulings, particularly the "treating physician rule" embodied in 20 CFR 404.1527 and Social Security Ruling 96-2p. I still do not understand it.
The lesson for claimants is keep your claim alive so that it gets to a hearing. If you have a Social Security disability or SSI claim, remember these three things:
- don't get discouraged if your claim is denied after your initial application or Reconsideration. Your claim may well be granted at the hearing level.
- Be sure to appeal your denial within 60 days.
- If you haven't already, get some legal help for your claim. When the next step is a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge, you do not want to be unrepresented at the hearing.