When people in California apply for Social Security Disability benefits, they may wonder about the next steps for their claim. The process can be lengthy, and initial denials are common, so having more information could help people navigate the system. After an initial application is filed, a state agency that handles disability determination services takes over the claim. Here, a disability examiner is assigned to handle the case. This examiner will go over the medical sources that an applicant provided in the claim for benefits, including requesting and reviewing medical records from the applicant’s treating physicians.

In some cases, the examiner determines that the medical records are not current, typically if they are 90 days past or longer. In this case, the examiner may call the applicant in for a consultative examination by a Social Security doctor to assess physical or mental health. These examinations are often not an excellent source of medical information, especially as the physician is not the claimant’s personal doctor with a knowledge of medical history and detailed symptoms. In most cases, these examinations are unlikely to lead to approval for SSD benefits.

Medical records are one important part of the application, and another key issue is the claimant’s ability to handle daily activities and functions. Applicants may be asked how well they can clean the house, shop, mow the lawn, type or otherwise engage in regular activities. It may harm a person’s claim to be excessively optimistic about management of life activities.

This initial review is just the first step in the Social Security Disability application process. If it results in a denial, applicants could still move through the system to pursue much-needed benefits. A disability attorney may help people present their claim from the earliest stages to a disability hearing and beyond.