Problems With Arizona Disability Determination Services


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Rejection Rates & Arizona Disability Determination Services

Published on September 12th, 2019 by Eric Slepian

Recent findings suggest a potential lapse in the review system for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applications. Investigations, particularly from sources like the Nashville Tennessean, have pointed out that some physicians responsible for the review might be rushing through the process, compromising the accuracy of their evaluations.

High SSDI Rejection Rates in Arizona

Notably, the federal government does not maintain an immediate data set on the doctors designated for such reviews across each state. However, it is a matter of concern in regard to SSDI in Arizona, given the state’s high disability claims rejection rates.

USA Today Network’s inquiry into the doctors’ workloads and the speed of their evaluations was met with a staggering estimation. The government stated it would require over $2 million to gather the requested information.

Application Processing in Arizona

When an Arizona resident submits an application for SSDI or SSI to the Social Security Administration (SSA), it undergoes a series of evaluations. The SSA assesses financial status, age, work history, and other non-medical eligibility criteria. The medical impairment evaluation, crucial for the claim’s approval, is handed over to Disability Determination Services (DDS) in Phoenix, AZ or DDS in other states. These state agencies are in contract with the SSA to facilitate the application process.

The process involves DDS sourcing medical records from the claimant’s personal physicians. If there are gaps or insufficiencies in the evidence provided, the claimant may be sent for consultative examinations (CEs). While the SSA leans towards the applicant’s personal doctor for a CE, Disability Determination Services Phoenix, AZ, or other DDS agencies may refer the claimant to an independent physician.

Physician Reviewers at Work

Upon completion of the medical record, a DDS-affiliated doctor reviews it to gauge if the applicant is genuinely disabled. Reports from the Tennessean indicate that, in some states, physicians have been seen to review as many as five files per hour. This is alarming, especially when the expected rate is about 1.5 cases in the same duration. Given that DDS pays these physicians per application, not hourly, the system tends to encourage swift reviews.

Considering that some applications comprise hundreds or even thousands of pages of evidence, the average review time of 12 minutes seems impractical and raises concerns about the accuracy of evaluations. Data from fiscal year 2021 revealed a 63% denial rate for disability benefits applications in Arizona, demonstrating one of the lowest approval rates in the country. However, in Arizona, the rejection rate by some doctors reviewing cases for DDS reaches a concerning 80%.

The Importance of Working With a Knowledgeable SSDI Attorney

When you work with a dedicated disability attorney in Arizona, you will have an expert by your side from the time you file your initial application, up to and including your disability hearing before an administrative law judge.

The investigative findings underline the importance of involving a lawyer early in the application process of applying for disability in Arizona. Having legal assistance ensures medical records are thoroughly evaluated and that the disability determination by the Arizona Disability Determination Services is consistent with the medical records. If any discrepancies arise, a legal expert can navigate the process to ensure a fair review.

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