Note: The SSDI, SSI disability system is federal and nationally standardized, though there are state differences in approval rates, wait times, the number of appeals available–as of the time of this writing–and even the name given to the stage disability agency (DDS, or the Bureau or Division of Disability Determination). Now, to answer the question…
You can improve your chances of getting disability in North Carolina approved if you do the following:
1. If you get denied on a disability claim, file an appeal immediately.
Social Security always gives you an appeal period of 60 days from the date of the denial, plus an additional five days for mailing time. This by itself goes a long way toward improving your chances of getting disability in North Carolina simply because a missed appeal deadline will usually require filing a new claim from scratch which will typically be denied again for the same reason as the first initial claim.
Also, filing a new claim starts the case with a new filing date and the potential loss of a significant amount of disability back pay.
Many claimants will wait until practically the end of the appeal deadline period. However, to save processing time on your case, you should always file the appeal as soon as you get the notice of denial.
If you do not have representation, contact the Social Security office that initiated your claim and advise them that you wish to file an appeal. This will result in them sending you the appropriate appeal forms.
If you are represented by a disability attorney, or a nonattorney disability representative, call that individual’s office immediately to put them on notice to file your appeal.
Ordinarily, your representative will also receive a copy of whatever denial notice that you receive. Nonetheless, it’s always a good idea to call them whenever you receive correspondence from SSA just in case one or both parties did not receive their copy.
If your disability representative files the appeal for you, they will ordinarily keep one copy of the appeal for their internal file, and then send a copy to you for your personal records, in addition to submitting the appeal to the Social Security office. They will also contact Social Security at some point to verify that the Social Security Administration has received the appeal.
It would be difficult to understate the importance of filing appeals when you are denied. This is because the great majority of disability applications are denied, and an even higher percentage, usually over 85%, of reconsideration appeals are also denied.
Once you get to the second appeal level, though, which is the disability hearing level, your chances of approval rise substantially, especially if you have representation involved in your case.
However to get to the disability hearing level, you must pass through the initial claim and then the reconsideration appeal level first. And this means filing appeals in a timely manner…so that you do not end up having to begin the claim process all over again.
The simple fact of the matter is that if you choose to file new claims versus filing appeals, or you miss your appeal deadlines and are then forced to file a new claim instead of an appeal, you will most likely simply keep getting denied again, most likely for the very same reasons as the first denial.
For most individuals, the greatest chance of being approved will occur at the ALJ, or administrative law judge, disability hearing. This is for several reasons. At the hearing, you will be able to meet the decision-maker on your case, which is the ALJ.
However, you will also be able to present a reasoned and rational argument for approval. If you have a disability lawyer, or nonattorney disability representative (nonattorney representatives are very often former disability examiners), this rationale for approval will be in the form of a case theory that is supported by the medical-vocational grid rules that direct decisions on cases, the federal regulations, and whatever Social Security rulings may apply to your particular case.
2. Supply appropriate medical evidence.
You or your disability representative should supply solid medical evidence; in other words medical records that contains enough information so that the decision-maker on your case (who may be a disability examiner or a federal judge) can make the assessment that either A) you have a condition that meets a listing in the Social Security bluebook or B) you have mental and/or functional limitations that exceed your ability to return to work activity.
3. Supply current medical evidence.
In the Social Security Disability and SSI system, you cannot be approved to receive disability benefits if at least some of your medical records are not current, meaning that they are not any older than 90 days.
Even if the remainder of your medical records indicate that you clearly meet the requirements for disability, under either the SSD or SSI disability program, you cannot be awarded benefits if none of those records are current. This simply means that for Social Security to grant you benefits there must be proof that you are “currently disabled”.
4. Supply older medical evidence.
To be awarded disability benefits under SSD or SSI, as we have just stated you must supply current medical evidence. However, to receive back pay benefits–back to the time that you stated on your disability application that you first became disabled–you must supply medical evidence that corroborates your alleged onset date, which is basically when you claimed that your disability started.
5. Attempt to get a statement from your doctor, or a doctor that has a history of providing treatment to you.