Overview of Disability

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Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

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What happens on a disability application in North Carolina?

1. After your disability claim is taken at a Social Security office, it will be sent to DDS (North Carolina Disability determination services) where it will be assigned to a disability examiner.

2. The disability examiner will request medical records from all the treatment sources listed by you on your disability report form.

Receiving the records may take weeks, or even months. However, once the records have been received, the examiner will review them to determine how your condition limits your ability to engage in normal daily activities, including work activity.

In some cases, the examiner may find that you have a condition that is listed in the Social Security bluebook. If your condition is listed, and your records show that you meet the approval criteria for the listing, you may be approved on this basis.

In most cases, however, a person's medical records will not allow them to meet or equal the requirements of a listing.

In these cases, receiving an approval will depend on the records indicating that the claimant has functional limitations that prevent them from returning to work activity.

How does this process work exactly? The medical evidence will be evaluated to determine the claimant's remaining functional capabilities; this is referred to by the Social Security administration as "residual functional capacity", or simply RFC.

The RFC rating that you receive will help determine whether or not you can be expected to return to your past work.

For example, if you are given an RFC rating of "light work", this would mean that, according to the opinion of Social Security, you can only do light-exertion work, which is defined as the ability to lift or carry a maximum of 20 pounds occasionally, and 10 pounds frequently.

With this type of RFC rating, you could only be expected to return to your past work if your past work had required the same level of exertion that you are currently limited to--light exertion or less.

If your past work, however, had required you to do medium exertion work (medium level work requires the ability to occasionally lift or carry as much as 50 pounds, and frequently lift or carry as much as 25 pounds), you could not be expected to go back to your past work. This is because, in this example, the demands of your past work (medium exertion) exceed what you are currently limited to, which is light-exertion work.

3. If the medical records indicate that the claimant has not been to a doctor in the last three months, they may be sent to a medical examination performed by an independent physician. This is known as a CE, or consultative examination.

The report that is generated from the CE will probably not provide the basis for winning benefits. Just the same, though, it is very important that you go to your CE appointment if one of these exams is scheduled for you. Failure to go to the appointment can result in your case being denied.

4. After reviewing your medical evidence, and coming up with an assessment of your residual functional capacity, or RFC, the disability examiner will usually consult with a medical expert who is part of his case processing unit at DDS. This expert is a medical doctor.

In most cases, in order for the disability examiner's decision to be valid, it must be signed off by the medical expert (who, prior to concurring with the disability examiner, will also have read the medical evidence in the file).

5. After a decision has been reached by the examiner, the file will be transferred back to the Social Security office where the claim started.

If the claim has been approved, the claimant can typically expect to receive their Social Security backpay within 30 days, and then receive their regular monthly benefits the month after this.

If the claim is denied, the Social Security office will send the claimant a "notice of disapproved claim".

At this point, the claimant should probably contact Social Security and request an appeal.

If they have representation, they should probably also contact their disability representative to make sure the representative handles the task of filing the appeal.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Filing for NC disability benefits

Applying for Disability in North Carolina - How to apply, qualify, and meet filing requirements

Applying for NC disability benefits

More about filing for disability benefits in North Carolina

How to claim disability benefits in North Carolina

What happens on a disability application in North Carolina?

How long will it take to receive NC disability benefits if your application is approved?

Basic questions about disability benefits in North Carolina

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Can You Work and Collect Social Security Disability in North Carolina?

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The disability process in North Carolina

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How does the North Carolina Social Security disability determination process work?

Getting disability benefits in North Carolina

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Proving the requirements for disability in North Carolina

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Winning disability benefits in North Carolina

Mental Disability benefits in NC

Receiving disability for a mental condition in North Carolina

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Getting approved for mental disability benefits in North Carolina

Disability awards and award notices in North Carolina

Getting a Social Security disability award in North Carolina

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Disability representation in North Carolina

Should I get a disability representative or lawyer in North Carolina?

Who can provide disability representation in North Carolina?

Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in North Carolina

How do Disability Lawyers in North Carolina get paid their fees?

Denied for disability in North Carolina, should I get an attorney or representative?

Disability attorney fees in NC - paying your lawyer or representative

How does a disability lawyer or representative get paid in North Carolina?

How much does the fee cost for a disability attorney in North Carolina?

Do you pay your disability lawyer in North Carolina or does Social Security pay the fee?

Will your North Carolina disability lawyer charge you upfront for taking your case?

Will your NC disability attorney charge you for any expenses other than the main fee?

NC disability hearings

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NC disability hearing - how long for a decision?

Do you have to go to a Social Security hearing in North Carolina to get approved for disability?

The disability hearing in North Carolina- things to keep in mind

How do you prepare for a disability hearing in North Carolina?