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How long does disability take in North Carolina?
How long does it take to get through the disability system in North Carolina? The answer to this question will usually boil down to one thing: that is, how many levels of the system your case actually has to go through.
If you only have to do a disability application and no appeals
If you are approved for disability benefits on your initial claim, i.e. the application, then your involvement with the disability system may only be a matter of months. In most instances, a decision on an initial claim will be made in under six months, and very often between three and four months.
Everything changes, however, when a disability case in North Carolina gets denied. When this happens, the claimant will find themselves in the position of having to file appeals.
If you have to file appeals in NC
The first appeal in North Carolina is the “request for reconsideration”. This appeal is also handled by NC DDS. Disability determination services is the state-level agency where disability examiners process decisions on cases for the Social Security Administration.
The reconsideration appeal has a ridiculously high rate of approval; usually, more than 80% of reconsiderations are denied in any given year. Ordinarily, the only useful thing we can say about the reconsideration stage is that going through it will allow a person to file their next appeal, which is a request for a Social Security hearing before a federal administrative law judge.
Unfortunately, the reconsideration appeal also consumes time. In most cases, a reconsideration will not take as long as an initial claim. However, that said, it may still add anywhere between 1 to 4 more months of case processing time.
If you have to request a disability hearing in NC
Once the reconsideration stage is completed (and this usually is in the context of being turned down again), an individual may request their second appeal, a disability hearing.
It is at this point that a person will encounter their longest delay and wait. It will usually take many months to get a hearing scheduled after one has been requested, either directly by a claimant or by their disability representative.
How long does it take to get a disability hearing appointment? Due to considerable backlogs in North Carolina, at one point in the recent past it could easily take well over two years to get a hearing after a hearing request had been submitted.
Currently, the estimate is that it takes an average of 11 1/2 months to get a hearing scheduled after the request has been made.
However, this is not the end of the process. Even if an individual goes to a disability hearing, and receives an approval for benefits, they will still have to wait for the judge to render an official decision, which can take weeks or months.
As you can see, the entire process of filing for disability in NC can realistically extend to two years, or longer.