South Carolina
Vocational Rehabilitation Department

Enabling eligible South Carolinians with disabilities to prepare for, achieve and maintain competitive employment

Disability Determination Services

The SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department’s Disability Determination Services processes Social Security and Supplemental Security Income claims under the provisions of the Social Security Act. Individuals receive benefits from these programs when a physical or mental impairment prevents them from having substantial gainful employment.

Photo: DDS personnel looking at claims.

In both programs, benefits normally continue on claims that have been allowed until the individual medically recovers or returns to work. Under work-incentive provisions of Social Security regulations, however, an individual whose medical condition has not changed substantially but who is attempting to return to work may continue to receive monthly benefit payments and medical insurance coverage for an extended time.

The determination whether a person meets disability provisions of the law is made by a team consisting of a disability examiner and a state agency medical consultant. These professional personnel are trained in the careful and objective evaluation of medical and vocational factors under the requirements of the Social Security Act. It is their responsibility to ensure that sound medical evidence is obtained, that vocational factors are considered when appropriate, and that the decision to allow or deny benefits meets all requirements of Social Security law and regulations.

This division operates from regional offices in Charleston, Greenville, West Columbia and Lexington. The West Columbia location also houses the administrative staff and the Disability Hearing Section.

The Disability Hearing unit coordinates medical developments on claims pending before administrative law judges in the Social Security Administration Office of Hearings and Appeals. In addition, hearing officers assigned to the unit conduct face-to-face hearings in cases involving potential termination of benefits. The unit handles all claims processed under special provisions resulting from U.S. District or Circuit court decisions. This unit also processes a large number of claims filed under the provisions of various programs. Through an agreement with the South Carolina State Retirement Systems, the unit handles claims for total and permanent disability filed by state, county and municipal workers.

The Disability Determination Services State Claims Office in Lexington processes the Medicaid claims for disability through an agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services. These claims include the Childhood TEFRA claims, working disabled claims, as well as Medicaid disability claims.

In all, the division is expected to receive and adjudicate more than 81,000 claims in the current fiscal year.