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The first review of a Social Security Disability claim

After applying for Social Security disability benefits in Pennsylvania, an applicant may wonder about the next steps for their claim. The process can be lengthy and arduous at times, but applicants may feel a greater sense of control when they know more about the internal process. An application will be directed to the state agency that handles disability determination services, where a caseworker called a disability examiner will be assigned to the claim. The examiner's job is to review the claim and determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive disability benefits.

The examiner will generally begin by seeking out medical records from the sources listed by the claimant on the initial application. If these records are all dated, in this context 90 days or older, the examiner may request that the applicant come in for a consultative examination. This examination is conducted by a doctor paid by Social Security for benefits review purposes, not to provide additional treatment. In many cases, the physician will have little knowledge of the applicant's additional medical history. These types of exams are frequently unhelpful to a disability benefits claim, except in cases where the applicant has an objectively measurable disability.

In addition, the examiner will attempt to assess whether or not the applicant is able to handle daily life activities. This will help determine if they can also go to work. Examiners may ask claimants questions about their ability to shop, cook or wash a car and measure that against their stated ability to return to work.

The Social Security disability benefits process can be confusing, especially if one receives an initial denial. A disability attorney can help one navigate this system from the initial application to a disability hearing.

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