If you need a Fayetteville Social Security Disability Lawyer, The Bishop Law Firm can help. We represent disability clients in Fayetteville and surrounding areas and do not get paid unless we win.
If you are unable to work because of your health, you should apply for disability benefits as soon as possible. You can file an application online or by phone with the Fayetteville SSA office. You can hire a Disability Lawyer in Fayetteville, NC at any time. Some clients wait until they have received a denial while others hire an attorney even before they apply for Social Security Disability benefits.
Who can apply?
In order to be able to apply for benefits you have to be making less than substantial gainful activity (SGA in 2023 is $1,470 a month) and be eligible for generally one or both of the benefits that the Social Security Administration offers: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is based on the credits from the work you have done in your life, while SSI is a need-based program. In 2023, the SSI monthly amount is $914 for an individual and $1,371 for a couple.
You must be found disabled by the Social Security Administration under the Five Step Sequential Evaluation before you are entitled to either benefit.
How to apply for disability in Fayetteville, NC
You should call your local Social Security office and schedule an appointment to file for benefits or you can start a claim online. For information on how SSA will evaluate a specific impairment, read Social Security Disability Conditions.
What happens after I apply?
After you initially apply for Social Security Disability benefits, your case is sent to DDS (Disability Determination Services) in Raleigh, NC. An examiner at DDS will send you forms to complete and order your medical records. Your records will be gathered and sent to a in-house DDS doctor for them to make a determination if you are disabled.
Unfortunately, DDS denies most of the cases that they see. An applicant must appeal the denial within 60 days to keep their disability claim alive. The appeal is called a reconsideration (See our post on Appeal Form 3441).
At the reconsideration level, essentially the initial level is repeated except for the fact that the case will be assigned to a different examiner. If you are denied at the Reconsideration level, you will have 60 days to request a hearing before an SSA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Fayetteville has its own Office of Hearing Operations (hearing office) where disability hearings are held but it takes substantial time to get a hearing scheduled there.
Please note that if you miss either of the above 60 days deadlines, you will have to start the process from the beginning which is what you want to avoid. Statistically speaking you have a better chance of being approved in front of an ALJ than you do by DDS, so please don’t delay in getting your case before the ALJ as soon as possible.
If you are denied by the SSA ALJ, you will need to appeal to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is located in Falls Church, Virginia. You will need SSA Form HA-520 to appeal.
For more information on the appeals process, read NC Social Security Disability Lawyer.
What can I do to improve my chances of winning my case?
In order to be approved for SSDI or SSI, you need evidence of your disability. This evidence is medical records. The problem that my clients most frequently encounter is the ability to afford health care and their medications. I advise clients to apply for Medicaid at Cumberland County Social Services, contact MedAssist to try to get help with their medications and try to obtain free/low cost medical treatment. Many of my clients go to Goshen Medical Center or The Care Clinic. Also see low cost clinics in Fayetteville. You need to do all you can to obtain medical treatment. Effort counts for a lot!
Be responsive. Complete the forms that SSA or DDS sends you as soon as possible. The longer you delay your case at the initial or reconsideration levels, the longer it will take you to make it to a hearing before an SSA Administrative Law Judge (where you have your best chance of being approved). If DDS schedules you for an appointment with one of their doctors (consultative examination), you should definitely attend. Failing to attend these appointments can spell a denial and ALJs seem to take issue with people who miss DDS’ doctor appointments without very good cause.
Disabled veterans who are “wounded warriors” or have a compensation rating of 100% P&T should receive expedited processing by the Social Security Administration. But, this does not mean that your case will be automatically approved because you are a disabled veteran with a rating. VA Disability benefits and Social Security Disability Law are very different. Documentation of your current rating should be given to SSA as soon as possible.
If you have been injured at work and have a workers’ compensation case, you need to inform SSA. Please note that if your workers’ compensation claim includes weekly payments, this money can directly offset your disability payments.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the most that a disability lawyer can charge? The Social Security Administration controls how much an attorney can charge a disability client. Currently (2023), SSA allows a lawyer to charge a client 25% of their backpay up to a maximum of $7,200.00. For example, if a client receives $10,000 in backpay, the attorney would be paid $2,500.00. If a client receives $50,000 in backpay, the attorney receives $7,200.00.
- How much SSI Backpay will I get? Supplemental Security Income (SSI) becomes payable as of the day you apply for it OR on the day that you are found disabled, if after your SSI application date. As discussed above, SSI is a need based program and your monthly benefit can be reduced if someone is helping you financially. SSA will send you a notice of award letting you know when your SSI begins and how much your monthly benefit will be once you are awarded benefits.
- What gets you denied for disability? If you are working and making over SGA, you will be denied for disability. If you have never worked but live with a spouse who makes too much income, you will be denied for SSI. Lack of medical treatment and refusal to return necessary forms are some of the reasons why a disability claim may be denied.
- Is it hard to get SSDI in NC? As in all states, you must prove to Social Security that you are disabled under their Five Step Sequential Evaluation. Medical records are required for this proof. I would say that it is hard to get SSDI in NC because of a lack of access to free/reduced cost medial care for those in need.
- What is the most you can get from disability in NC? The amount of disability you receive from Social Security is not based on the state of North Carolina. Social Security Disability is a federal program. SSDI is determined by the credits from the work you have done in your life while SSI is a need based program that currently tops out at $914 per person.
Social Security Disability Lawyer Fayetteville NC
A disability lawyer can help your case move through the initial and reconsideration levels without gathering dust on a DDS’ examiner’s desk, as well as keep up with the appeals you need to file and when. The most important job of a disability lawyer is representing a client at Social Security Disability hearings.
Representing a client at a disability hearing starts long before the day of the hearing. Gathering medical evidence, obtaining opinions from the client‘s doctor, preparing your client for the questions that may be asked at the hearing and presenting their case to the ALJ in the way that Social Security needs to see it to make the right decision are all essential steps in preparing for your Social Security Disability case hearing.
Our disability attorney, Kimberly D. Bishop, has practiced Social Security Disability in front of North Carolina ALJs since 2009 and is a NC State Bar Board Certified Social Security Disability Lawyer. The Bishop Law Firm offers free case reviews by phone and we do not get paid unless you win your case and you receive back pay. Call us today for a free case review, (919) 615-3095.
Also read Ten Myths about Social Security Disability