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Is it hard to get disability benefits in North Carolina?

There is a percentage of individuals who apply for disability in North Carolina and get approved on their initial claim, sometimes within 60 days, 90 days, or 120 days.

The main point, of course, is that these individuals will be approved fairly quickly without the need to file appeals.

For them, the process will present few signicant obstacles and it will not be hard to get disability benefits in North Carolina. This will be true even if they are required to assist the disability examiner in providing additional information about their work history, or their history of medical treatment, or to provide information about their activities of daily living, or even to go to a medical exam that is scheduled and paid for by Social Security.

Unfortunately, the majority of individuals who file for disability in NC do not fit into this category.

Regardless of where you file in the state, there is typically a 70% chance, or greater, that you will be denied on your initial claim.

When this happens to a North Carolina resident, the outcome is fairly predictable, and this is based on my many years of observation from working within the system as a disability examiner, and being involved in the representation of claimants.

1. Some applicants for disability benefits will file brand new claims, and some will do this repeatedly, only to be denied for the very same reasons, time and time again. This wayward process can easily consume months and years of valuable time, and it is a mistake in almost all cases since the best route for a person who has been turned down will be to file an appeal.

2. Individuals who have been denied and do not make the mistake of starting over with a new claim but, instead, take the correct step of filing appeals will still, unfortunately, have a fairly long wait ahead of them.

The first appeal in North Carolina, for example, the request for reconsideration, can easily take just as much time as the initial claim. Typically, a decision on a reconsideration is received sooner, and sometimes it can be received in just a matter of weeks after filing the appeal paperwork. But this is not always the case, of course.

And the more notable fact about reconsiderations is that they are denied at a significantly higher rate than even the disability application.

Reconsiderations usually face a greater than 80% chance of being turned down. This is pretty much in sync with the national average, and what happens in most other states. But the net effect is that it requires a person to file yet another appeal, this time a request for an ALJ, or administrative law judge disability hearing.

A person's approval chances at a disability hearing are much, much better. And this is for a variety of reasons, one of which is the simple fact that a Judge at a Social Security hearing will give the proper consideration to a statement from a physician if that physician can be categorized as a "treating physician "and that same physician's medical records support the statement that has been obtained for the purposes of the hearing.

Note: handwritten statements will not suffice; typically, the physician statement, or "medical source statement " will be a form that has been supplied to the doctor by the disability representative who is providing representation for the claimant.

Not every doctor willingly supplies this type of statement, and sometimes it can take some effort to convince the doctor to take the time to fill out a medical source statement for their patient.

However, something else that also affects the outcome of the case at the hearing level is this one simple fact: at the first two levels of the system in North Carolina, the claimant has almost no input and involvement on their own case. They simply wait for a decision to be received from Social Security, via the disability examiner who made the decision.

In contrast to this, at a hearing a case will be presented that is supported by new and very specific medical evidence that has been gathered by a disability representative.

The case will be supported by Social Security rules and regulations that contend that the claimant should be awarded disability benefits based on the supposition that they either:

A) meet the requirements of a disability listing (such as, for example, the listing for a type of cancer, or rheumatoid arthritis -- Note: most cases are not approved on the basis of a listing),


B) they should be awarded benefits based on a medical-vocational allowance--in this type of approval, the disability representative will prove that the claimant's functional limitations outweigh whatever skills and education they may have that would ordinarily allow them to go back to work -- this, of course, involves a careful reading of the information in the medical evidence.

So, to circle back to the original question with which we started, is it hard to get disability benefits in North Carolina? The answer is yes; in most cases, there will be some difficulty experienced in getting disability benefits awarded.

However, the fundamental lesson is that if an individual is denied, they should file an appeal. And if they are denied again, they should file their second appeal which will take their case before a Judge where the approval chances, with representation, will generally exceed 60%.

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

How much can you receive in disability backpay in North Carolina?

How far back do you get disability benefits in North Carolina?

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

How to Get the Status on Your Social Security Disability Claim in North Carolina

How do I get help to win my disability claim in North Carolina?

The disability process in North Carolina

What condition or conditions qualifies for disability in North Carolina?

How long does it take to get through the disability system in North Carolina?

Is it hard to get disability benefits in North Carolina?

What are my chances of being approved for disability benefits in North Carolina?

How long does it take to receive North Carolina disability benefits after you are approved?

Disability determination services in North Carolina

Disability decisions in North Carolina

How long does it take for the disability decision in North Carolina?

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

Getting disability benefits in North Carolina

Getting denied for disability in North Carolina and filing appeals

What does getting disability benefits in North Carolina involve?

How to get on disability in North Carolina

NC Disability requirements and qualifications

Will I Qualify For Disability Benefits in North Carolina?

What is the criteria for disability benefits in North Carolina?

What are the disability qualifications in North Carolina?

Proving the requirements for disability in North Carolina

How do you meet the Disability qualifications in North Carolina?

SSI and Social Security Disability requirements in North Carolina

How do I Know If I Qualify For Disability in North Carolina?

Winning Disability benefits in NC

How do I win disability benefits in North Carolina?

Improving your chances of getting disability in North Carolina

How to improve the chances of winning a North Carolina disability hearing

Will an attorney or representative help me win North Carolina disability benefits?

Winning disability benefits in North Carolina

Mental Disability benefits in NC

Receiving disability for a mental condition in North Carolina

How do you receive benefits for a mental disability in North Carolina?

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

The Social Security disability award notice process in North Carolina

What affects how much time it takes to get a disability award in North Carolina?

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

What kind of decision will you get at a disability hearing in North Carolina?

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?