A How-to Guide
Applying for disability in North Carolina is often not a simple, one-step process. Like most application processes, the chance of denial is high, and there can be a lengthy waiting period. Below you will find a guide to help you successfully go through the difficult steps of filing your disability claim with a nearby Social Security office.
First, you will start with completing your application for disability with the Social Security office. In the event you are unable and/or have difficulty physically appearing in person to complete your application, you have the choice of a phone interview. If you appear in person, a claims agent will be responsible for documenting your claim and making sure it is complete in its entirety for processing. If you choose to apply via phone, the claims rep will send the correct paperwork to the applicant for signatures via the postal service. It is the responsibility of the applicant to return the documents via mail to the Social Security office.
For the Social Security office to process the claim, medical history, work history, and personnel information will be required. This information is used by the reps in order to accurately submit the claim data. It may be helpful for the applicant to gather their medical history information including treatment providers, doctors’ offices, clinics visited, and/or any hospitals the applicant has used or is currently using. The Social Security department will need all available contact information for each provider you list, including the names of each medical professional that treats you. Providing the above information is likely to decrease the time it will take a representative to obtain pertinent medical records and/or any other documentation needed for your claim. As you will be told by the rep handling your application, these documents will be used to determine if you (the applicant)are in fact disabled,as well as determining the earliest date of onset possible to provide the most back pay of benefits.
Another keypiece needed to file your disability claim is an outline of every jobcompleted in the prior 15 years. It is important to go back 15 years as this is the time frame the Social Security department considers as an appropriate work period. As with the medical history, specific details are needed to satisfy the submission and review of the claim. The Social Security department requires the dates of each job performed and details as to what each job entailed in terms of work. These details are important not only to your application process, but the approval process as well.
After the application process is completed, your information is sent to the NC Disability Determination Services department where an examiner will take over your case. More often than not, once a case is assigned, the examiner will request medical records immediately. Typically, the medical records requests will be the longest portion of the application and approval period. An important tip to remember when applying for disability is that this can be a time-consuming process, so it is helpful to be patient. You (the applicant) may not always have up-to-date medical records on hand; therefore, it is common for an examiner to request a full medical exam for the claimant. This medical visit is not necessarily to prompt treatment, but to establish the presence of a medical disability.
Approval is determined in two ways. The first is meeting the requirements of the listed impairments per the Social Security Department. The second is the 5-step process that permits for a medical allowance. Most people do not qualify under the impairment list; therefore the steps process is more common. If your medical records provide enough information to determine you have one of the listed impairments and the inability to return to work in the same capacity, the Social Security department can approve your claim and you are eligible for the allowance. If that does not happen in your case, you will have to use the 5-step process. More detailed information about this process can be found on the Social Security website for the state of North Carolina.
It is widely known that the denial rate for disability is much greater than the approval rate in the state of North Carolina. In the event of a denied claim, all applicants have the right to request reexamination; however, it should be done rather quickly upon receiving said denial. This does not differ much from the initial application and approval process, but it is almost always much shorter in length. Requirements for reconsideration remain the same, but your window to apply for review is only 60 days after the initial denial. As stated above, it is better to apply for the reexamination process as soon as you receive the denial. While all applicants are subjected to the reexamination process, it is important to note the likelihood of another denial unless new medical evidence is presented to support the claim. After the second denial, claimants are able to apply for a second appeal where an actual hearing will take place. It is at this stage where most claims are granted, per supporting medical and physicians’ data. It is the responsibility of the claimant to request a hearing immediately after receiving the second denial.
More often than not, it is beneficial to seek representation if you as the claimant make it to the hearing level. It is not a requirement to seek professional representation; however, it is highly recommended and can increase the chances of being awarded assistance. While an attorney is beneficial, please remember the medical evidence must also prove a significant case for being granted aid by the Social Security Department of North Carolina. If you have any further questions regarding the application for disability process and/or would like more information, please contact the Social Security Department of North Carolina or a licensed North Carolina Attorney.
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