by Tim Moore. Free Case Evaluation here. The process for receiving disability benefits in North…
You should file an application for disability as soon as possible if you have a mental impairment that interferes with your ability to work and earn a substantial and gainful income.
The disability application can be filed online using the SSA website. However, it is recommended that you actually contact a local Social Security office to do this since this will give you the chance to ask questions during your disability application interview with the Social Security CR, or claims representative.
If you file your claim online, you will not be given an interview, and, therefore, you will not have the chance to receive answers to specific questions from a Social Security representative, which, it should be said, can be highly instructive, but can also help you avoid time-consuming mistakes later on, regarding what to do in specific situations, and how to file certain types of paperwork.
After your claim is started at a Social Security office, it will be sent to North Carolina disability determination services (NC DDS) where it will be worked on by a disability examiner.
The examiner will look at a list of medical treatment sources that you provided on your application. The examiner will request records from each of these sources. This sometimes takes three months or longer to obtain your records.
Once the records have been obtained, the examiner should be able to start the process of determining if you meet the requirements for receiving benefits. Often, more than 70% of the time, the claim will be denied, which will then typically require that a reconsideration appeal be made. Reconsiderations are also usually denied, and this necessitates, in most cases, that a hearing appeal be requested.
What will the disability examiner be looking for in your records? If you are filing on the basis of a mental impairment, the examiner will be looking for a diagnosis. Ideally, this diagnosis should come from a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, or psychiatrist.
In many cases, a person’s diagnosis comes from their general practitioner. This, predictably, does not tend to carry much weight with Social Security.
Therefore, if you are applying for disability benefits based on a mental condition, it would be good if your medical records indicated that you have been diagnosed, and have received treatment, from someone working in the mental health field.
It would also be good if your records indicated that you have an ongoing history of mental treatment. This should go back at least a year; however, as a disability examiner, I noted that mental consultants at DDS usually like to see a history of treatment going back even further than this.
When claimants apply for disability based on a mental impairment, and it is clear that the diagnosis is fairly recent, then it is almost guaranteed that the condition that the case will be denied on the basis of “duration”; meaning that Social Security believes the condition will not be severe enough to be considered disabling for the minimum length of one year (which is the time required in order to qualify for disability benefits).