Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of North Carolina
North Carolina ranks 22nd on America’s state health rankings. Substance abuse and mental health are among the top health concerns of the state. The distribution of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in North Carolina for disabilities stemming from mental disorders amounts to 31%. The second top diagnostics comes close at 29% for diseases that are from musculoskeletal system and connective tissue. Other diagnostics include disabilities that relate to the nervous, circulatory and endocrine systems, and disabilities that stem from injuries.
Any disability can qualify for SSDI benefits as long as it meets or is equivalent to an impairment listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book. There are other basic conditions of eligibility such as:
- Your disability has lasted or is likely to last for at least one year.
- Your disability prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
- You have paid into the Social Security system and have earned enough work credits.
In North Carolina about 26% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level. The goal is to get an approval at the earliest possible stage and to accomplish this you may want to consider getting an advocate, such as DisabilityUnited, to help you with the paperwork.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in North Carolina
About 13.7% of residents in North Carolina suffer from a disability. Not every disability will necessarily qualify for SSDI benefits but those that meet one or more impairments listed in the Blue Book have an extremely good chance of getting approved.
It is very difficult to match a listing in the Blue Book, but the SSA also considers disabilities that are equivalent or comparable to a listing. The approval is based on medical-vocational evidence which includes a review of your work history, medical history, and treatments, along with an assessment of your functional and mental limitations which is evaluated by conducting a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) test. Further diagnostics may be necessary for the assessment. When you do not meet an exact condition in the Blue Book, but have a disability that is equally debilitating to a listing and prevents you from earning a living, you will receive a medical vocational allowance.
You must be sure to submit a detailed history of your disability along with the contact information of the physician who treats you for your condition(s). The more you know how the SSDI claims process works, the better prepared your paperwork will be. Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
The procedure for starting the SSDI claims application process is the same in every state. However, in the state of North Carolina there are 37 Social Security offices. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. The SSA will call you for an interview and then assign your file to a Social Security Disability examiner who works for a state agency. The disability examiner will review your file looking for evidence that you meet the SSA standards of disability. Determinations generally take anywhere between 3 to 5 months. This may take longer if there are a number of backlogs in the system.
Since only 26% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in North Carolina, the rest have to go through the appeals process to get the benefits they are entitled to. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: New medical evidence may be presented at this stage if the initial set of records is more than 90 days old. Another disability examiner reviews your file. Those who are denied benefits should appeal at the next level which is your best opportunity to get an approval.
- The Court Hearing: Your case will be presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who acts independently of a disability examiner. You are allowed to bring in medical and vocational evidence and witnesses. You should make the most of this opportunity as the chances of approval here are 61.7% in North Carolina.
- The Appeals Council: The Council will review the ALJ’s decision. If they determine that a decision was unfair, they may reverse the decision or send your case to another ALJ.
- Federal Review: Not many choose to go to this last stage because it is expensive and slow and the verdict is less likely to be in favor of the claimant. But there are a few who do see their claim until the end since if it is denied at this stage, it will no longer be considered.
An appeal at every stage must be filed with the SSA within 60 days of the date of the denial notice of the previous step. A lot depends on how you present your case to the ALJ. An advocate will help you avoid missing deadlines for an appeal, as well as can help you obtain statements from your treatment physician and other medical and vocational experts. He will help you prepare a case that clearly demonstrates that you meet the criteria. Suffice it to say, that your chances of winning a claim increase substantially by having an advocate represent your case. Legal services are usually available free of charge. They are only paid if you win your case. The SSA sets the fees which is one-fourth of the back pay you receive on approval of benefits. The maximum pay however cannot exceed $6,000.
Know today if you qualify for SSDI benefits. Simply fill out our free disability evaluation form.
We advise you to act as soon as possible to check if you qualify for benefits. The sooner you start the application process, the sooner you will start receiving benefits and the less financial stress you may have to face. Fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in North Carolina
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the North Carolina State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- North Carolina Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: This website provides a wide range of resources for people with developmental disabilities looking for assistance in job training, residential services, and more.
- The LIHEAP assistance program: This is a federally funded energy bill assistance program. You may be able to receive financial help in the form of a grant or credit on an account. Low-income homes that have a disabled family member, an elderly person or a young child are given priority.
- Food Stamp Program: This program may help seniors, low-income workers, those who are disabled, and others put nutritious food on the table. Benefits are given every month through an electronic benefits card which can be used at authorized local food stores.