Applying for Disability in North Dakota
How to apply and qualify for SSD, SSI in North Dakota (ND)
Note: If you have already filed a claim and been denied for disability, or are wondering what to do in the event of a Social Security denial, proceed to the reconsideration and hearing appeal sections below.
Level I: Disability Application - As is the case in most states, an application for disability in North Dakota is more likely to be denied than approved. Appproval and denial rates in North Dakota generally follow the pattern in which cases are initially denied at the application level, are denied again at the reconsideration level, and are finally approved at a Social Security hearing conducted by an administrative law judge. This is not always the case, but in a typical year between 60-70 percent of initial claims will be denied, making it necessary for a claimant to file appeals.
In most cases, a Filing a Social Security Disability Application - How to File
and the Information needed by SSA
Level II: Request for Reconsideration - If an individual applying for disability in North Dakota is denied on their initial claim, i.e. disability application, they may file an appeal known as a request for reconsideration.
Claimants who are represented by a disability representative--either a disability lawyer or a non-attorney disability representative--will have their appeal completed by the representative. Claimants who do not have representation may contact the Social Security office where their claim was initiated and request the appeal.
After making the appeal request, Social Security will send out the appropriate appeal paperwork, including a disability report form. In completing the disability report form, it will be important for the claimant to indicate any new medical treatment sources, new visits to existing sources, changes in one's medical condition, or newly diagnosed conditions. Supplying this updated information will alert the reconsideration-level examiner to obtain these medical records.
The reconsideration appeal must be submitted before the appeal deadline. Social Security always allows 60 days, plus 5 extra days to account for mailing time, for the submission of any appeal. To be received timely, though, the appeal must actually be received by the Social Security by the 65th day from the date of the last denial (in this case, the denial of the disability application). The denial date is usually stamped in the upper right hand corner of the letter of denial, also known as the notice of disapproved claim.
How is the decision on a reconsideration made?
A reconsideration is procedurally no different from a disability application. That is to say that after a reconsideration request is made, the claimant's case is sent to the DDS, or disability determination services, agency in the claimant's state. At the DDS, the case will be assigned to a disability claims examiner who will review the evidence of the case in order to render a decision.
In certain instances, the examiner will only need to rely on the medical evidence for a disability decision. This is when it is clear that the claimant has a medical condition that meets or equals the requirements of a Social Security listing. However, satisfying disability qualifications can be very difficult and the majority of approved claims are approved through a medical vocational allowance.
In a medical vocational allowance, the claimant's case is subjected to a five step sequential evaluation process that takes into account both the claimant's medical history and work history. If the examiner finds that the claimant has functional limitations that are severe enough to prevent a return to work activity at the level of SGA (substantial gainful activity) earnings, the claimant will usually qualify to receive ongoing monthly benefits and, generally, some amount of Social Security back pay.
Reconsiderations are typically denied. The rate of denial at this level of the system exceeds the denial rate at the application level. For this reason, claimants who are filing a reconsideration appeal should prepare for the strong possibility of being denied for disability benefits and, likewise, prepared to file the next appeal, a request for a disability hearing. At the Social Security hearing level, the odds of being approved go up substantially provided that the claimant has supplied the proper evidence to satisfy the Social Security Administration definition of disability.
Level III: Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge - The disability hearing is the second Social Security appeal available to claimants and may be requested only after a reconsideration appeal has been denied.
Like all appeals, the hearing must be requested within 60 days of the date of the prior denial, but, ideally, should be requested immediately after receiving notification of the denial of the reconsideration appeal to avoid unnecessary case processing delays, as well as the possibility of a missed appeal deadline.
Basic facts about disability hearings
Note: The approval rate for the Fargo ND disability hearing office is in line with the national average for cases that are decided at the hearing level, as well as being line with the disability award rate for SSA Region 8. Claimants should note that in North Dakota, the chance of being denied at the hearing level is nearly as great as the chance of being approved.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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