How long do North Carolina Disability Claims take?
Let’s answer this question in several ways. First of all, if you apply for disabiilty in North Carolina, how long will it take for a decision? You will usually get a decision within 90-120 days. You “can” get an answer in under a month, but that’s rare unless you have a medical condition that obviously satisfies a listing, or you have a special case.
How long a decision takes at each level
Let’s go over all the levels.
- Disability application – expect an answer in 3-4 months, though it could be sooner.
- Request for reconsideration appeal – this is the appeal you file in NC if your application gets denied. There is a higher denial rate on these appeals, but the decision usually occurs faster, often within 30-60 days.
- Request for hearing before an ALJ, or administrative law judge – this is the longest wait. This is the appeal you submit if your reconsideration is denied. From the time you request a hearing until the time you get a hearing, you may be waiting several months to a year. After you have your hearing, you will probably wait several weeks until you get a decision from the judge.
What if you applied and haven’t gotten an answer?
If you file for disability in North Carolina and several months pass and you still haven’t heard an answer, that is not unusual. Disability cases don’t have case processing deadlines. And that’s because sometimes it takes the examiner working on your case longer to get the records from your doctors.
But…sometimes there are issues or problems and you won’t know unless you or your disability representative checks on the case now and then. I say this as someone who used to decide claims and as someone who represents claimants seeking benefits.
My advice to people is to call for a status check on your case. You don’t want to to do that too often, but doing it once in a while may help avoiding a situation where the decision was made and for some odd reason you simply did not receive the notification. That is a potentially bad sitaution to avoid because if it does happen you can end up not knowing you were denied and also missing your deadline to appeal your denial.
If you miss the appeal deadline, and do not have good cause for doing so, you can find yourself in the position of having to start over with a new claim which will be time-consuming and basically mean that all your prior efforts may amount to wasted time. It may also affect your back pay situation since you will be filing with a later application date.
Get your representative to check on your case for you
If you have an NC disability attorney or disability representative have that person do the status check for you. If you chose to check the status of the case yourself, you can call the North Carolina Social Security office where you filed your claim. If a decision has or has not been made, they can tell you. You can also try to speak to the disability examiner who has your case. To get the number for the disability determination service agency in your state where examiners work on SSD and SSI claims for Social Security, you can also call your local Social Security office.
The benefits of speaking to the disability examiner
Speaking to the examiner (who is based at DDS in Raleigh) is often a good idea. They can tell you if they are missing records from a certain hospital or doctor’s office. They may also have questions about your daily activities or work history or medical history and use this opportunity to get those questions conveniently answered.