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How do you meet the Disability qualifications in North Carolina?

The Social Security Administration operates two disability programs: Social Security disability, or SSD, and SSI, which stands for supplemental security income, which is need-based.

Though the nonmedical criteria for each program is somewhat different, the medical eligibility criteria for SSD and SSI are exactly the same, with no differences between the two programs whatsoever.

This is exactly why it presents no problem to a disability examiner who is working on a concurrent claim, which means a claim in which a person has an application for Social Security disability and an application for SSI disability simultaneously.

Note: whether or not a claim will be for SSD, SSI, or concurrent, will be determined at the time of filing at the Social Security office.

To meet the qualifications for disability in North Carolina, you will have to go through an evaluation process that, typically, begins with filing a claim at a local Social Security field office.

Filing a claim in North Carolina

You actually have several options for filing a claim. You can initiate your claim through the Social Security toll free line. You can initiate your claim using the SSA website. Or, you can contact a local Social Security office and arrange to have an appointment date set for a disability application.

The third option is the most preferable.

First of all, Social Security Teleclaims representatives have a fairly bad reputation when it comes to dispensing information. Very often, in fact, they have been known to dispense incorrect information.

Attempting to file a claim through the SSA website presents its own problems. The most pressing is the fact that an SSI claim cannot be filed online. Unfortunately, most individuals will have no way of knowing whether their claim will be for SSD, SSI, or if their claim will be concurrent and will involve both programs. For this reason, it may be best to avoid the online process simply because it may not be the best use of an applicant's time.

Filing in person, however, will allow a claimant to deliver their information regarding their medical history and work history in detail, and will also allow them the opportunity to ask whatever questions they may have regarding the application and appeal process, as well as questions regarding what to do in specific situations should those situations arise in their case (such as being denied, or attempting work activity while a case is pending, or is being appealed).

Meeting the qualifications for disability

After a disability application is taken at the Social Security office, it is then sent to NC DDS, which stands for North Carolina disability determination services.

Practically as soon as a case arrives at NC DDS, it becomes part of a disability examiner's caseload.

The examiner's first task will usually be to look at the file and review the medical treatment sources listed by the claimant at the time of application. The examiner will send out medical record request letters to each doctor, clinic, and hospital listed. After this is done, there will be relatively little for the examiner to do.

However, once the medical records arrive (and this may be several weeks to several months, depending on how fast each medical treatment source responds to request for records), the disability examiner will review them.

What will the disability examiner be looking for in the medical records? They will be looking for objective signs and symptoms, supported by medical observations, lab values, and test results, of your physical or mental functional limitations.

Functional limitations

What are functional limitations? Simply the various ways in which your condition, or conditions, restrict your ability to engage in normal daily activities, extending to your ability to engage in work activity.

Examples of functional limitations might include a reduced ability to crouch, bend, reach, grasp, manipulate objects, a reduced ability to lift more than a certain amount of weight, or an inability to sit, stand, or walk longer than a certain amount of time.

A functional limitation might also relate to a decrease in your ability to hear, see, or smell.

Or, of course, it could relate to difficulties you are experiencing in short-term memory, concentration, the ability to learn and retain new information, and even the ability to sufficiently interact with coworkers and supervisors in a work setting.

How your limitations affect your claim

Once your medical records have been reviewed, and your functional limitations have been noted, you will be rated on a functional capacity form. There is a functional capacity form for your physical impairments, and a functional capacity form for your mental impairments.

The ratings you receive on these forms will be compared to whatever types of work you have done in the past to determine a) if you have the ability to go back to one of your past jobs, and b) if you have the ability to do some type of other work.

If your functional limitations limit you enough, and it is determined that you cannot go back to a past job or do some type of other work, then you will be approved for disability benefits in North Carolina.

Proving your case

Obviously, to meet the qualifications for disability, your medical records must show sufficient evidence to prove that you no longer have the ability to perform work activity.

Unfortunately, and this is where some of the difficulty lies in most disability claims, the vast majority of medical records do not contain specific information about a person's functional limitations.

Quite the contrary, medical records generally contain a diagnosis, current observations--as they are made with each visit to the doctor, hospital, or clinic--and the prognosis for the condition.

Physicians,though, are generally not in the habit of noting the various ways in which a condition restricts an individual's ability to perform the full range of normal daily activities, including work activities.

This constitutes a major reason as to why the rate of denial at the disability application level inNorth Carolina, or any state, is so very high (typically 70% of initial claims are turned down).

For the majority of NC disability claimants, it will not be possible to be awarded disability benefits until the claimant, or their representative, has been successful in proving that their case meets the requirements for disability.

A hearing is often required, but not always

But, it is not until a case gets to the level of a disability hearing that a claimant, or their representative, can actually actively present a viewpoint--backed up by medical evidence as well as an interpretation of the medical evidence and work history information--of the case to an adjudicator, who, in this case, is a federally appointed administrative law judge, or AL J.

As far as hearing outcomes are concerned, the majority of individuals who appear at hearings in North Carolina will receive a disability award when their case is handled properly, meaning that it is substantiated by detailed evidence, and is supported by the rules and regulations of the Social Security system.

Cases can even be won at the disability application stage, or the reconsideration appeal stage (the first appeal in NC), when the evidence is substantial and a solid case is built.

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?