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Disability Determination Services

Medical professionals

Director: Jacki Russell

Disability Determination Services (DDS) is a division of the NC Department of Health and Human Services. Funded primarily by the federal government’s Social Security Administration (SSA), DDS makes medical determinations for Social Security and state Medicaid Disability claims.  

People can apply for Social Security disability benefits in person at a local SSA field office, by telephone or by filing online. Social Security Disability claims are initially processed at local SSA field offices.

The application and related forms ask for a description of the person’s impairment(s), treatment sources and other information that relate to the disability that is being claimed.

The field office is responsible for verifying non-medical eligibility requirements, which may include age, employment, marital status or Social Security coverage information. The field office then sends the case to DDS to evaluate the disability. DDS is responsible for obtaining medical evidence and making the initial determination on whether that person, or a claimant, is disabled or blind under the law.

DDS works to obtain evidence from the claimant's own health care providers first. If that evidence is unavailable or insufficient to make a determination, DDS will arrange for a consultative examination (CE) to obtain additional information. The claimant's treatment provider is the preferred source for the CE, but DDS may obtain the CE from an independent source. Trained staff at DDS then makes the disability determination.

After a determination is made, DDS returns the case to the field office for appropriate action. If DDS finds the claimant is disabled, SSA completes any outstanding non-disability development (such as current income and resources), computes the benefit amount, and begins paying benefits to the claimant. If the claimant was found not to be disabled, the file is kept in the field office in the event of an appeal. The local SSA field office will assist claimants with completing paperwork to begin an appeal if applicable.

DDS also processes Medicaid disability claims for the state of North Carolina. Medicaid disability claims can be filed by contacting a county Department of Social Services office. Once a Medicaid disability application is received, DDS will develop medical evidence and make a determination on disability using the same protocols as outlined for Social Security Disability benefits.

General Information: 1-844-259-8985
Disability Claim Status: 1-866-542-8113

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