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Who Are We?

Mission Statement

The South Dakota Disability Determination Services (DDS) is the State Agency that makes the disability decisions for the Social Security Administration (SSA), according to federal guidelines. When SSA added protection for individuals with disabilities in 1954, the Congress wrote into the law that the disability decision had to be made by a State Agency and not by a federal office. SSA pays the State to run the office and make the decision. The DDS is responsible only for the medical eligibility portion of the disability claim. SSA is responsible for the application process, any other eligibility criteria, and the calculation of benefits if awarded.


The DDS staff gathers medical information from the sources listed by the claimants and any new sources discovered in that process. The agency evaluates that evidence against Social Security Disability criteria. These criteria are very specific. They essentially say that the claimant must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that will last for at least 12 consecutive months, and which prevents them from performing the work-related activities of their previous jobs or any other jobs which they might be able to perform based on their age, education, and work experience, or is expected to result in death. Please follow this link to see how DDS decide if you are disabled under the rules of Social Security.


South Dakota DDS Values:

  • We take pride in the timeliness, accuracy and cost efficiency of the decisions

  • We respond to the claimants in a dignified, courteous and respectful manner

  • We embrace change and challenge

  • We elicit and value client input

  • We demonstrate on an ongoing basis that employees are the most valued asset


    South Dakota DDS Goals:

  • To employ a highly trained, motivated and productive team

  • To provide outstanding public service in the benefit process

  • To enhance partnerships with the medical and educational communities

  • To utilize state of the art technology


    General Information:

    The South Dakota DDS employs approximately 22 disability claims analysts and specialists, 15 physicians, and 10 administrative and clerical staff. The DDS makes over 9,000 medical decisions for Social Security Disability annually.

    The DDS’s address is at 3109 W. 41st St, Ste. 100, Sioux Falls, SD 57105-8155.  Call the DDS toll-free at 800-658-2275.

Performance Standards and Expectations

The Facts
There is a myth in the general community that the Disability Determination Services (DDS) denies cases routinely and that an individual cannot get an allowance without going to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is the most persistent fallacy about our Agency. The fact is that nationally, over 70% of all cases allowed by Social Security are allowed at the DDS level. We work diligently to provide the right decision at the earliest possible time. The Social Security Disability Regulations are very strict, requiring objective medical documentation of an individual's condition, not just an unsubstantiated opinion. Therefore, Social Security expects that through appropriate application of these Regulations, not all claims will be allowed. It is inevitable that some claims will be denied. When one hears that DDS denies every claim we review, it is not factual. In addition, at the time an ALJ reviews a case, it may be a year or more from when the DDS last reviewed the case and it is essentially a different case. We continually review our business procedures to ensure we are processing disability claims as efficiently as possible.

Performance Measurements
The Social Security Administration has high standards for quality performance and processing times with National Standards set for Disability Determination Services. The Social Security Administration reviews and modifies these standards annually, striving to provide outstanding service to people that apply for benefits. The South Dakota Disability Determination Services characteristically meets these standards. Our emphasis has always been to make the most accurate and timely decision possible while containing costs and providing top quality customer service.

Customer Service
Our staff at South Dakota DDS has a responsibility to provide the timeliest, most accurate, and impartial decision possible for every case received at the DDS. All contacts with claimants, treatment providers, and others involved in case processing are maintained within the confidentiality guidelines of the Privacy Act, HIPPA and Personal Identification Information.

Medical Providers

If you are a doctor, audiologist, speech therapist or licensed clinical psychologist and are interested in doing exams for our agency you can contact the SD DDS Professional Relations Officer at 605-367-5499 (toll free at 1-800-658-2272).

Consultative Examinations
If you are with a provider of medical records and want to provide them electronically please contact the SD DDS Professional Relations Officer at 605-367-5499 (toll free at 1-800-658-2272).

Basic Steps In The Process

  • Apply at the local Social Security Office.
    • This may be in person where you sign all forms with the Claims Representative or,
    • You can apply by telephone (800-772-1213) and send the signed forms back to the Claims Representative, or
    • You can apply on-line at
  • Social Security sends the file to the DDS.
  • We gather information from the medical and vocational sources that you told us about.
  • We may arrange for a medical examination at our expense if we need specific information that is not in the records we receive.
  • We evaluate all of the medical evidence and your previous work experience and compare it to SSA criteria.
  • We make a determination on the application.
  • We send your records back to SSA with our decision.
  • SSA contacts you with the final results after they make the final determination of eligibility for benefits.

These are some things that we may do:

  • Contact you and all of your medical sources.
  • Contact people you have told us about who know how your condition affects your daily life.
  • Answer questions about the medical information in file.
  • Ask for your help to get medical evidence.
  • Ask you to go for a specific medical examination at our expense.
  • Invite you to discuss the claim with us.

These are some things that we cannot do:

  • Discuss your claim or any of the medical evidence with anyone but you or your designated representative.
  • Tell you anything about your potential eligibility or payment. Social Security must release that information.

How You Can Expedite Your Claim

* Make certain that you have proper identification when you make your claim: Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, Driver's License, etc.

*Take time to go over your work history and try to list all of your employers for the last 15 years. Company names, addresses where you worked, supervisors' names, and any proof you have of how much you were paid will all be helpful.

*Know the date that you stopped working due to your impairment. Know the date that your work changed due to your impairment if that is different from the date when you finally quit. Explain any special working conditions that may have been provided by your employer to keep you on the job.

*Write down the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any medical source you have seen. We may be able to find "Dr. Smith in Denver" but we will be more certain and much quicker if you provide accurate names, addresses, and telephone numbers.

*We recommend that you bring copies of your medical records to SSA and have the records placed in your application file to assure the best turnaround time.

*If your doctor has given you any written instructions that limit your activities, have a copy placed in your file. The date the restriction started and the date it might end are very important to your decision.

*Send forms back to Social Security and the Disability Determination Service as quickly as possible. The vast majority of the time it takes us to complete a claim is spent waiting on forms and medical reports.

*Keep yourself informed about your claim. Ask questions if something is not clear to you. If we or SSA are waiting for something, see if you can make a call to help expedite the claim. Many times a doctor will respond to a patient before they will respond to a government agency.

*We may ask you to explain your "Daily Activities." Answers to these questions are very valuable and may make the difference as to whether your claim is allowed. It is not the length of the answer that helps. What helps is how specifically you answer the questions. Give examples. Mention any limitations. If we ask "Can you go grocery shopping?" an answer of "I can go to the grocery store, but I have to use the electric carts and have people place items in the basket because I can't hold on to anything heavier than a soup can" helps more than just writing "yes" or writing a long paragraph explaining every detail of your experiences.

Useful Links to Social Security Information