Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Can you get Disability through the Department of Social Services or Department of Human Services?

This question was recently submitted so I am addressing it here. I am a former disability examiner for the social security administration's DDS, or disability determination services. This meant that I worked--in a case processing unit that also included a medical expert and a Ph.D.- level psychological consultant--on both SSI and Social Security Disability claims (for those who have not filed and might be wondering, from a processing standpoint, there is no real difference between these two programs and they are evaluated in exactly the same way: the real differences between SSD and SSI have to do with how the two programs are funded and in how non-medical criteria, i.e. assets and income are viewed.

In addition to being a former examiner, I am also a former caseworker at more than one Department of Social Services, so this gives me, perhaps, a broader perspective for questions like this. Having said this, however, an answer to this question may be more or less valid depending on one's state of residence (california, for example, seems to have a state disability system that is separate from the federal system and I won't even pretend to understand how it operates).

In my own state of residence (North Carolina), a correct answer would have been: no, you cannot get disability benefits established through social services. Government awarded disability benefits are determined by the social security administration and the process generally involves filing at a local social security office and having that claim worked on at a DDS (disability determination services) agency by a disability examiner.

However, medicaid for disabled adults is a different matter. These applications are taken at departments of social services, after which they are also sent to DDS and are then processed in medicaid-only units. This means that there are case processing units at DDS that only work on medicaid cases (clarification: for disabled adults, not for income insufficient children and families). In these units, the same process that is used to determine SSD and SSI cases also applies. With one difference that is pretty major, however, and which causes most medicaid for disabled adults claims to be denied. That difference is the fact that medicaid claims of this type must have a decision done within 90 days from the date of application.

Now...why or how would this cause most claims to be denied? Let me point something out here. Social security disability and SSI claims usually take longer than 90 days to determine. That's because the examiner needs to have enough time to get the records gathered, to read and evaluate them, to consult with the doctor or psychologist in his or her case unit, etc, etc. When you put an artificial deadline of 90 days on case processing for a medicaid claim, you often make it impossible for the examiner to get the job done.

Why does the 90 day deadline for medicaid claims exist? Here's the true irony: to protect the rights of the applicant to a speedy decision. It turns out to be a horrible joke. Truly horrible. Because in imposing such a short deadline, the disability examiner usually has to send the case back to social services with no decision reached. And the receiving caseworker at social services must then issue a denial. By the way, I was one of those casworkers who took medicaid for the disabled claims and I had no real clue as to why we nearly always had to deny them. Until I became a disability examiner.

However, the answer to the question is, no you cannot get disability from the Department of Social Services or Department of Human Services? At least not in North Carolina, and I would guess not in other states either.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Social Security Disability SSI: What is an on the record decision ?
How many Social Security Disability and SSI cases get denied?
How does Social Security decide if I am Disabled ?
Social Security Disability Requirements
Applying for Disability with Depression
Applying for Disability Based on MS, Multiple Sclerosis
How to Claim Disability Benefits from the Social Security Administration
Drawing Social Security Disability Benefits for a medical or mental condition
Can you apply for social security disability or ssi if you are working ?