Obtaining Disability Benefits In North Carolina
If you no longer find it possible to work due to health issues – mental and/or physical, you have options. One of the potential ways to continue to provide yourself and your family with an income is through disability benefits. North Carolina makes this service available. Social Security Disability Benefits apply only for those who cannot work for the minimum period of a year. In North Carolina, a claimant must either have a condition that will prevent them from working for a year or have already been out of work due to their health for a year.
If you believe you are eligible – be sure to check Social Security’s listing of impairments and grid rules on their web site. If you feel you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you should obtain an application form. Fill it in either in writing or online. Go through the required steps, including providing medical information and work history. You can also arrange to attend an interview at your local district office to file for disability benefits.
However, before you begin, you need to know something about the approval of disability benefits. In North Carolina, the success rate for obtaining benefits is not high. Approximately 30% of all applicant s are successful at the first stage of the process.
If you are among the many that are denied following the initial processing of the claim for disability benefits, North Carolina does allow you to file for reconsideration. This phase is similar to the initial one. It is actually easier in the sense that the information is already compiled for the examiner to re-evaluate. The examiner has all the information there – providing you appropriately and completely filed all of it with your first application; however, it is important to update the examiner of any new treating sources, or any medical records that were missing from your initial denial letter.
The chances for approval at the Reconsideration level are not improved. Statistics indicate that, in North Carolina, only approximately 10% of all individuals who undergo the reconsideration process are successful. When this occurs, do not think you have to give up. Consider consulting a lawyer and advancing to the last phase of the process – the Hearing stage.
The Hearing Stage
When it comes to improving your chances, the hearing stage, although informal, provides you with the best opportunity to obtain disability benefits. This is the phase of the process where you actually deal with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). For this step, a disability lawyer provides you with a great advantage. He or she can help you in presenting your case in front of the ALJ. A lawyer will make sure the ALJ has all the evidence and any related items to support your case, as well as a comprehensive hearing brief, outlining the argument for why you should be approved based on SSA’s rules and regulations. At the hearing stage, a representative can increase your chances of being awarded disability benefits in North Carolina.
If you are successful and eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you will receive disability benefits based on your income as earned over the duration of your working career. If you are not insured for SSDI benefits, but have little to no income and resources and applied for SSI, you will receive an amount of monthly SSI benefits set by Social Security (maximum of $721 in 2014). It can take a number of months to receive any past due benefits after a favorable hearing decision.
As is the case with various aspects of disability benefits in North Carolina, you must be prepared to wait a couple of months for a hearing decision and another couple of months for payment.