Social Security Disability Resource Center

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How the Social Security Disability and SSI process works in NC

Note: The SSDI, SSI disability system is federal and nationally standardized, though there are state differences in approval rates, wait times, the number of appeals available--as of the time of this writing--and even the name given to the stage disability agency (DDS, or the Bureau or Division of Disability Determination). Now, to answer the question...

Disability claims in North Carolina usually start at a local Social Security office and then are processed by a state agency known as North Carolina DDS, which stands for disability determination services.

At DDS, each applicant's application for disability will be assigned to a case processing specialist known as a disability examiner. The examiner will obtain the medical records that are needed to evaluate the claim (based on the medical treatment sources listed at the time of filing) and will also evaluate the individual's work history or school records, depending on whether the disability claim is for an adult or a child.

During the processing of an SSD or SSI claim at NC DDS, the following things will typically occur:

1. A disability claimant may receive a call from the examiner assigned to their case and in this call the examiner may inquire about the claimant's ability to engage in normal daily activities. Typical questions might include "Can you run a vacuum cleaner?", "Can you dress yourself?", "Can you prepare and cook meals for yourself?" Other questions may regard the individual's ability to bring in groceries or reach up or down into cabinets.

While questions like this might seem reasonable, and they are, an applicant who gets an ADL, or "activities of daily living", phone call should be careful with regard to how they answer such questions. To use an example of what we mean, if a person who has a fairly severe back condition such as degenerative disc disease states they are able to use a vacuum cleaner, then they should also point out just what effect this type of activity has on them later. This is because the simple fact of the matter is that many claimants with back problems are able to use a vacuum cleaner occasionally. However, the outcome of this activity tends often to be severe lower back pain afterwards, sometimes going on for days.

Note: More on SSD, SSI, and degenerative disc disease.

2. A person filing may get a letter from a disability examiner at NC DDS notifying them that a medical examination has been scheduled for them. This happens in probably more than 25 percent of all cases and these kinds of examinations are known as a CE, or consultative exam. Consultative exams can be physical impairments or mental impairments. If they are for physical issues, they can be general exams, or they can be neurological, or even simply be appointments for xrays. If they are mental impairments, a CE may be a psychiatric exam or an IQ test.

Even though these exams are often called social security examinations, they are not performed by medical doctors who actually work for the social security administration. The exams are done by physicians who have been contracted to perform these services. Additionally, these disability exams are not conducted for the purpose of delivering medical treatment, but rather to get a snapshot of a claimant's current condition.

Do you have a choice in going or not going to one of these exams? Not really. In fact, a case can be denied for failing to go to a scheduled exam. Social Security schedules these exams in most cases to obtain medical evidence that is more recent and without these exams an approval is often not possible.

Most claimants will notice that a visit to a "social security doctor" will not last long at all. Very often, the examination will only last ten to fifteen minutes and the doctor performing the exam may ask very few questions.

Sometimes, these doctors tend to be rude and short with individuals who are applying for benefits.

3. Once a disability examiner has everything they need to close a case, i.e. make a decision, a social security applicant should very shortly receive a notice in the mail. If the notice indicates an approval, then the claimant will simply need to wait while their case is being put into benefit receipt status. If the letter is a notice of denial, the claimant will need to file an appeal and do this within 60 days of the date of the denial. This date is usually stamped in the upper right hand corner of the notice

For most individuals, of course, the disability process will entail a series of denials on a claim and will, inevitably, result in the need for a claimant to have their case heard by an administrative law judge.

It is at this stage of the disability claim process (the hearing) that an individual is afforded the opportunity to become "more than a file". It is also at this stage that an SSI or SSD claimant can have an attorney present who will advocate on their behalf. Most claimants, certainly be advised to go to a hearing with representation to maximize the chances of winning benefits.

In fact, the majority of claimants who show up at hearing without an attorney or lawyer present will often be offered the opportunity to reschedule their hearing so a lawyer can be found.

  • Social Security Disability Resource Center

  • Social Security Disability SSI Questions

  • 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

    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?