10/21/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Bright Spot - Disability Determination Services

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Good morning, IDHS Staff:

As you know, we continue to work together to navigate through COVID-19. Our priorities remain to keep you safe, while also ensuring that Illinois residents who need our services and assistance are not going without. Our Bureau of Disability Determination Services (DDS) team continues to carry out these priorities and I am excited to again highlight them in a Bright Spot.

In addition to the heroic work of our 24/7 staff, DDS has been one of the few IDHS bureaus that have been able to keep their physical doors open for service throughout the pandemic. When Illinoisans are looking to us the most, DDS continues to move forward.

Today's Bright Spot - Disability Determination Services

With more than 368 employees, DDS is the largest bureau within the Division of Rehabilitation Services and is charged with determining the eligibility of Illinois individuals to receive benefits under Social Security's disability programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI are monthly benefits to disabled people with limited income and resources or are 65 years or older and SSDI is a benefit for workers who acquire disabilities, or Illinoisans who retire and many others. More than 200 of these employees are currently working remotely, thanks to the dynamic Information Technology (IT) team who serve as the lifeline for these employees when facing issues. Thanks to the support of IT and our fearless advocates, we are proud of the DDS team for again meeting and exceeding their goals in claims cleared for 2020.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, DDS readily adjusted to the changing workload priorities, proactively making sure to meet established federal guidelines. Across the board, DDS exceeded workload targets for first time applicants, and for applications needing reconsideration. These clearances were only made possible due to all of your hard work, and dedication to providing timely, quality service to the people of Illinois.

There are many at DDS who have contributed to these successes, including Julie Potter, Acting DDS Deputy Director, and Assistant Bureau Chiefs Jessica Truesdale, Ann Hamrick, and Mary Gorman (Interim), as well as the Information Systems Unit led by Dallas Wright and his team (Tinnie Randle, John Rockwood, Joel Sharp, Paul Bellan, Scott Kinsella, Jodi Morrison, Shelly Williams, Donald Goodman, Scott Kinsella, Tina Brown, and Kevin Woodson).

I am proud of the continued leadership and dedication that is exemplified daily by all of our IDHS staff.

Thank you,


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS