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…
To meet the requirements for SSI and Social Security Disability in North Carolina, you must satisfy the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability.
The SSA definition of disability states the following:
A. Your condition must be severe.
Sometimes, what is severe versus nonsevere is something of a subjective call. A sprained ankle would almost certainly be considered nonsevere. Allegations of headaches, however, would probably warrant investigation, especially since “headaches” may refer to migraines, cluster headaches, or some type of neurological problem.
B. Your condition must be relatively long-lasting. For Social Security Disability and SSI purposes, the minimum durational length is one year.
That is, you must be disabled for at least one year in order to meet the requirements for disability benefits.
Note: you do not have to be disabled for a full year before you actually file a claim for disability. If your condition has not lasted this minimum length by the time you file, the disability examiner who reviews your claim can make a projection, based on the medical evidence they have available to them, as to whether or not your condition will eventually last this long.
In other words, if your disabling condition has a relatively recent origin, this should not necessarily prevent you from applying for disability benefits in North Carolina, or any other state.
The simple rule of thumb is this: if your condition has a definite impact on your ability to work and earn a substantial and gainful income, you should probably consider filing for disability.
C. Your condition must be severe enough that it prevents you from engaging in work activity at a level that would earn you what Social Security considers a substantial and gainful income. Social Security refers to this it as SGA. This is essentially an income level above which you will not qualify to receive disability benefits.
In other words, a person who files for disability, or a person who receives disability benefits is not prevented from working. They simply become ineligible to receive disability benefits if they work and earn more than the SGA limit that is in effect for a given year.