by Tim Moore. Free Case Evaluation here. Am I eligible for disability in North Carolina?…
You can get disability approved in either the Social Security Disability or SSI program in North Carolina if you are under 40. However, it can be more difficult. If you do not have a medical condition that meets a disability listing (and most claimants do not), then your case will fall into a category where, to be approved, you have to be found eligible through a combination of your age, education level, assessed work skill level, and your remaining functional capacity level (what you can still do despite your various conditions.
This system of approval is called a medical vocational allowance. Most individuals who are approved at one of the first two levels, the application for disability or the request for reconsideration appeal, will be approved through a specific medical vocational rule that applies to their situation, i.e. their age, education, skill level, and functional capacity rating.
But this system gives strong preference to individuals over the age of 50. For people over the age of forty, but under the age of fifty, it will be difficult to get approved on an initial claim or reconsideration appeal.
For example, a person over 40, but less than 50, with a high school education and a history of skilled work will be denied by a disability examiner under either vocational rule 203.29 or 203.30.
Fortunately, a person in NC who is denied on both their application and reconsideration can request a disability hearing where judges are not completely bound by a set of vocational rules. At a hearing, the chances of being approved can go up substantially. This is because Administrative Law Judges can approve claims that were previously denied by giving consideration to actual Social Security law. This is not something that disability examiners at the lower levels are trained to understand, but it accounts for why so many people get denied at the first two steps but then approved at a hearing.
Simply going to a hearing, however, will not mean that your case will be approved. That requires having good medical evidence, and also obtaining recent medical evidence before your hearing date occurs. Additionally, statements from your doctor or doctors can be extremely helpful. And, finally, representation at a hearing can make a huge difference. This is because a disability representative will be able to formulate a legal theory as to why your approval for disability benefits is supported under Social Security law.
So, in other words, if you are over the age of 40, but far from the age of 50, be prepared for the possibility of being denied not once but twice. But be aware of the fact that this happens to most people and if you appeal your claim to the level of a disability hearing with an Administrative law judge, you will increase your chances of approval. And if you have good representation that prepares your case properly, then you have excellents odds of being approved.
About the author: Tim Moore has been interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled “The Disability Mess” and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system. He is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.