The Role of the Bureau of Disability Determination
Once the application for disability benefits, or case is taken at the local office, it is forwarded to the Bureau of Disability Determination to assess whether the medical requirements are met for disability. Under the rules of Social Security, a person must be found unable to perform any type of work for a period of at least 12 months due to a physical, mental, or combination of impairments.
Under the Social Security Disability Program, an applicant cannot be found "25 percent" disabled as may be the case under the rules for worker`s compensation or Veteran`s benefits. The Social Security Administration uses a "Listing of Impairments" to guide disability assessment. This set of criteria is based on common types of medical conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. While every medical condition is not covered in the Listings, it does provide general guidance to assess them.
When the case is received by the Bureau of Disability Determination, it is assigned to a Disability Claims Adjudicator. This person reviews the application materials and may contact the applicant, or claimant, to clarify issues and obtain further information regarding treatment and limitations due to his or her impairments. The adjudicator then contacts relevant medical sources in order to obtain documentation regarding the impairments. At times, it is necessary to schedule consultative exams for claimants. This examination provides functional information to help determine what limitations may result from an individual`s impairment(s), and is not for purposes of providing treatment. Once sufficient medical evidence is obtained the adjudicator, using the Listings as a guide, will determine if the individual qualifies for disability.