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Disability Determination Services

The Social Security Act provides benefits to disabled individuals under Title II (Disability Insurance Benefits) and Title XVI (Supplemental Security Income). Disability Determination Services (DDS) is the state agency responsible for determining if individuals are disabled within the Title II/XVI requirements. All disability benefits, as well as the administrative costs of operating the DDS Program, are 100% federally funded.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of Social Security disability benefits are available to Louisiana citizens? Who can get disability benefits under the Social Security Administration (SSA)?

The Social Security Act provides benefits to disabled individuals under Title II (Disability Insurance Benefits) and Title XVI (Supplemental Security Income-SSI).

Under Title II there are three basic categories of individuals who can qualify for benefits on the basis of disability:

  •  A disabled insured worker under 65. 
  •  A person disabled since childhood (before age 22) who is a dependent of a deceased insured parent or parent entitled to Title II disability or   retirement benefits. 
  •  A disabled widow or widower aged 50-60 if the deceased spouse was insured under Social Security.

Under Title XVI (or SSI) there are two basic categories under which a financially needy person with limited income and resources can get payments on the basis of disability:

  •  An adult age 18 or over who is disabled. 
  •  A child under 18 who is disabled.

How is disability defined by the Social Security Act?

The law defines disability as the inability to perform in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which is expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

What is a "medically determinable impairment"?

A medically determinable physical or mental impairment is an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities which can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. A physical or mental impairment must be established by medical evidence consisting of signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings -- not only by the individual's statement of symptoms.

What is the "disability determination process"?

Most disability claims are initially processed through the network of local Social Security field offices and State agencies. In Louisiana, the state agency is called Disability Determination Services (DDS). Subsequent appeals of unfavorable determinations may be decided by Hearing Officers in the DDS's Hearing Units or Administrative Law Judges in SSA's Office of Hearings and Appeals.

How can I find out more detailed information from SSA about disability?

Most questions can be answered by visiting the Social Security Web Site at If you do not have access to the internet, you may call the toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213.  Operators at this number are available from 7 AM to 7 PM on business days.

How can I find out more information from the DDS handling my initial claim?

  • Baton Rouge area - call 1-800-256-2288
  • Shreveport area - call 318-869-6401
  • New Orleans - call 1-800-256-2299

How can I find out more information from the DDS Hearing Unit that is handling my hearing request?

  • Baton Rouge area - call 1-800-732-8921
  • Shreveport area - call 1-800-732-8919
  • New Orleans area - call 1-800-732-8920

What amount of benefits is paid to Louisiana citizens?

As of December 2002, the annual payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to disabled Louisiana citizens and their dependents total $5.0 billion. The average monthly benefit amount for disabled workers was $834. Under the SSI Disability program, the average monthly benefit was $398.

What roles do the federal and state governments have in disability evaluations? How do citizens apply for disability?

The Disability Determination Services Program was established in 1954 by Congress enacting Section 211 of the Social Security Act. It was the intent of Congress that each state administer its own Disability Determination Program following the guidelines established by Congress and the SSA.  Applications for disability are taken 1) in person at local Social Security offices located throughout the state or 2) via the internet at  or 3) by calling 1-800-772-1213. The claims are forwarded to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) Area offices located in Baton Rouge, Shreveport, and Metairie for medical determination. Upon completion of the medical decision, the claim is routed back to the appropriate Social Security Office for final processing of the decision. 

What evidence is used to make a disability determination and who makes the determination?

Usually, the DDS tries to obtain evidence from the individual’s own medical sources.  If that evidence is unavailable or insufficient to make a determination, the DDS will arrange for a consultative examination (CE) in order to obtain the necessary medical evidence.  After completing its initial development, the DDS makes the disability determination.  If the DDS finds that additional evidence is still needed, the consultant or examiner may re-contact a medical source(s) and ask for supplemental information.

What if I disagree with the decision made on my claim?

If you disagree with your decision, you may request a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge

What happens if I am receiving benefits and the DDS tells me that I am no longer disabled?

If a claimant is receiving benefits and a continuing disability review (CDR) finds the impairments are no longer disabling the claimant may request for a face to face hearings with a Disability Determination Services (DDS) Hearing Officer. DDS has Disability Hearings Units located in Shreveport, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge.

Can someone work and receive disability benefits?

Social Security rules make it possible for people to test their ability to work without losing their rights to cash benefits and Medicare/Medicaid. These rules (called "work incentives") are different for Title II and XVI recipients but they both may provide:

  •  Continued cash benefits
  •  Continued help with medical bills
  •  Help with work expenses
  •  Vocational training

Related Links

Social Security Administration

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