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

In North Carolina, a disability representative or attorney can help you win benefits at all levels of the system. Some representatives will take your case no matter what level your claim is at. Other representatives will prefer that you have been denied before taking your case.

One thing, however, is certain: if you are turned down for disability in North Carolina, you should probably seek representation.

This is because, in North Carolina, if you receive a denial and you file a reconsideration appeal (this is the first appeal you may file), this will likely be denied as well.

Reconsideration appeals in NC typically get approved only between 10% and 15% of the time. This means that most people who get denied on an NC disability application will end up having to request the second hearing which is a hearing before a federal administrative law judge.

Several years ago, federal statistics released by the Social Security Administration indicated that claimants who appeared at hearings unrepresented were likely to receive an approval of the claim 40% of the time.

Claimants who went to hearings with representation, meaning their case was represented by either a disability attorney or a non-attorney disability representative (very often, a non-attorney disability representative may be a former Social Security field office worker, or a former disability examiner such as myself, which very effectively gives that individual an in-depth expertise as to how disability decisions are made, as well as how to spot errors that have been made on the case) were likely to be approved, however, as much as 62% of the time.

This essentially means that representation resulted in as much as a 50% increase in the chance of approval.

Why is this the case? Most likely, this is true because claimants who go to hearings unrepresented are not likely to have properly updated their case evidence, nor properly prepared it for presentation to the ALJ, or Administrative law judge.

An unrepresented claimant will typically not be familiar with the medical vocational grid rules that are used to make decisions on the majority of SSD and SSI disability claims. They will likewise not be familiar with the specific definition of disability that is used by the Social Security Administration, or the definitions of past work, other work, Residual functional capacity, substantial gainful activity, etc.

These terms are tied to concepts that undergird how the Social Security disability and SSI system works. They are part of the five-step sequential evaluation process that can lead to an approval or denial based on a medical vocational allowance (a decision in which it is found that a person cannot return to their past work or use their skills and education to do some type of other work, and therefore may be found disabled), or an approval granted through meeting or equaling a listing in the Social Security bluebook.

As a disability examiner, I used this type of in-depth information on a daily basis to decide the outcomes of disability claims. Therefore, I can certainly state, that while a person should never go to a hearing unrepresented, they should likewise not use a disability representative, attorney or otherwise, who has only a limited familiarity with how the federal disability system works.

And by this I mean, you should never choose a representative who handles a variety of different types of cases. For example, an attorney who also dabbles in traffic cases, medical malpractice cases, bankruptcy cases, etc. This type of individual will be extremely unlikely to have developed a legitimate expertise regarding Social Security administrative procedure, and will certainly be unfamiliar with the applicable parts of the Code of Federal Regulations, as well as the pertinent Social Security rulings.

As I have been involved in disability claims since the 1990s, both as a disability examiner and in the representation of claimants, I have come across a number of individuals such as this. And I have been often surprised and stunned to learn that they were attempting to represent claims when they, in fact, had very little knowledge of how claims are developed, how decisions are made, and how to prepare a case that will actually win.

Translation: if you decide to seek assistance on your disability claim, make sure your representative specializes in social security disability and SSI cases only. To win your NC disability benefits, you want a specialist handling your case, not a generalist who has a limited knowledge of the system.

  • Social Security Disability Resource Center

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  • Getting disability in North Carolina

  • 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

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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

    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?