The DARS Division for Disability Determination Services (DDS) makes disability determinations for Texans with severe disabilities. DDS works with those who apply for and receive Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits to improve their quality of life. Those benefits include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Texans with physical and/or mental impairments apply for benefits directly to the SSA. Their application is forwarded to DDS by the SSA, which determines if an applicant is disabled according to federal criteria.
DDS obtains evidence from the claimant's own medical sources. Its staff arrange for a consultative medical examination to obtain additional information if medical evidence is unavailable or is insufficient to make a medical determination. A two-person team, consisting of a medical or psychological consultant and a DDS disability specialist, make the disability determination. DDS returns the claim to the SSA field office for appropriate action and communication with the claimant. Although DDS makes the disability determination for SSA, only SSA can determine who is eligible to receive benefits.
To assist the national Social Security disability program, staff of the DDS assisted with the disability workload in the states of California, New Mexico and Oklahoma by completing disability medical reviews.
Staff of the DDS served in leadership roles on national workgroup's to address consistency and streamlining of policy issues, a centralized disability case processing system, and Social Security antifraud initiatives.
The DDS hosted the Commissioner of Social Security Administration (SSA) in Austin during a community wide advocacy meeting and round table conversation to further educate innovations occurring within the SS disability program.
Building Successful Futures for Texans with Disabilities
DDS helped Texans with disabilities build successful futures in 2015 by continuing to process disability determinations with accuracy, speed and care. DDS staff were recognized by Social Security Administration Regional Commissioner Sheila Everett for clearing 323,550 disability determination cases this year, while maintaining an impressive 95.5 percent accuracy rate.
The determinations made by Texas DDS make up 7 percent of determinations made across the nation and 49 percent of the determinations made in SSA Dallas Region VI, which includes Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico. In addition to processing a high number of determinations with a high level of accuracy, in 2015 DDS staff processed initial claims in approximately 73.4 days, which is 10.1 days faster than the national average.
DDS staff also determined 4,726 Military Casualty/Wounded Warrior cases in 2015. Wounded Warrior cases are determined by a special unit within DDS dedicated to processing these cases in the most accurate and timely manner possible. These expedited determinations help United States military service members in Texas receive Social Security disability benefits if eligible.
Due to DDS staff's efforts, more Texans with disabilities who are eligible for Social Security benefits have access to these benefits today.