How to apply for disability in North Carolina?

North Carolina Disability Social Security Attorney - Bishop Law Firm
By Kimberly BishopAugust 17, 2023

If you need to know how to apply for Social Security Disability in North Carolina, read on. The Bishop Law Firm represents disability clients in Raleigh and surrounding areas of NC. We do not get paid unless you win! We offer free case reviews by phone, (919) 615-3095. or you can start your free case review online now.

Realizing that you are no longer able to work because of your health is devastating. So many of our clients tell us that they would rather be working than filing for disability. If you are unable to work because of your health, you need to apply for disability benefits as soon as possible. Waiting may cause you to lose valuable benefits!

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits

Before you can apply for disability benefits, you need to know the types of benefits that you may be eligible for.

SSA (in general) offers two types of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (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.

SSDI benefits (or a variation of it) can be paid to disabled workers, the disabled spouses of deceased workers, disabled surviving divorced spouses and adult disabled children.

SSI is for children and adults with few resources/limited income that have not worked full time for five of the last ten years.

Also watch: Who should apply for SSDI/SSI? [embedyt][/embedyt]

How to apply for disability in NC?

One way to apply for disability in North Carolina is to call your local Social Security Office and set up an appointment to file an initial claim by telephone. This is the method that most of my clients use. You will need this information to apply for disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration also has an online application for SSDI, but for SSI you must meet certain criteria to file online. You are eligible to file an SSI application online if you: (via SSA )

Are between the ages of 18 and 65;

Have never been married;

Aren’t blind;

Are a U.S. citizen residing in one of the fifty states, District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands;

Haven’t applied for or received SSI benefits in the past; and

Are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance at the same time as your SSI claim.

To apply look here .

The Supplemental Security Income application process involves disclosing financial information to ensure that you are eligible for SSI payments. To be eligible for SSI, an adult person must not have more than $2,000 in countable resources. A married couple must not have more than $3,000 in countable resources.

Countable resources include cash, bank accounts, land, life insurance, personal property, vehicles and deemed resources.

Luckily, there are exceptions that do not count as resources to SSA: the home you live in, one vehicle, personal items in your home, insurance policies up to $1500 and burial plots, etc.

Deemed resources means that SSA will treat another's income as yours. Your spouse's income (if you live in the same home) and a parent's income (for a child under 18) can disqualify a claimant from receiving SSI disability benefits. Even people who are not legally married but hold themselves out to the community as a married couple can be subject to deeming rules.

SSA checks the claimant's financial qualifications when a claimant initially applies and again if they are found disabled by SSA. If your resources are more than what the Social Security Administration allows, you will not be allowed to file for or receive SSI benefits.

It is surely better to be denied initially due to resources than to go all the way through the disability process, be found disabled and then be told that you are not eligible due to resources.

As mentioned above, SSDI is based on the credits from the work that you have done in the last 10 years. In general, you must have worked 5 out of the last 10 years to be eligible for SSDI.

If SSA determines that you are eligible to apply for SSDI or SSI, your case starts the disability process.

When you apply for disability benefits, you should inform Social Security about the all impairments that your medical provider has informed you of and your living situation. SSA offers expedited processing for those in dire need, Veterans and those who have conditions on the Compassionate Allowance List. 

What happens after I apply for Social Security Disability benefits in North Carolina?

After you apply for disability benefits, the local Social Security office will send your case to Disability Determination Services (DDS). At DDS, an examiner will be assigned to your file. They will order medical evidence from your health providers and send you forms to complete for your file. If they do not have enough medical evidence to make a decision on your claim, they may send you to a consultative examination (Read more at A Look Inside NC Disability Determination Services).

DDS will use SSA’s Five Step Sequential Evaluation to determine if you are disabled:

  1. Step 1 – Are You Working?  The Social Security Administration defines work as “Substantial Gainful Activity” (SGA). SGA is roughly defined as work from earnings that average more than $1,470 (2023) a month. If you are making that amount you generally will not qualify for disability.
  2. Step 2 – Is Your Condition “Severe”? Severity is key when it comes to what qualifies as a disability. Severe is defined by the Social Security Administration as: your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered.
  3. Step 3 – Is Your Condition on the List of Disabling Conditions? The Listings are very hard to meet in most cases and not always interpreted as a common reading would suggest. If you meet a listing you are gravely ill. The listings are found here.
  4. Step 4 – Can You Do the Work You Did Previously? The Social Security Administration will look at your past work and determine if it was sedentary, light, medium, or heavy. They also will evaluate the skill level: unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled. For instance, an attorney would be sedentary skilled work. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles is found here.
  5. Step 5 – Can You Do Any Other Type of Work? If the Social Security Administration finds that you cannot do what you used to do, they then look to see if you can do anything else. This is where the “grids” come into play. The grids are the Medical-Vocational Guidelines. The grids are only for exertional impairments. Non-exertional impairments are not considered by the grids. If you are found to be capable of any other work, you will be found not disabled. Read The Grids and Your Social Security Disability Case.

Frequently asked questions

  1. How much do you get for SSI in North Carolina?  Currently, (2023) SSI is $914 per month for an eligible individual and $1,371 for an eligible couple. The amount you actually receive in SSI will depend on your financial situation. In NC, SSI comes with Medicaid.
  2. Is SSI the same as disability? Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Income are both types of Social Security Disability benefits offered by the Social Security Administration but the requirements for each type of benefits are different. You must be found disabled before you are entitled to either benefit.
  3. How far back does SSI back pay go? SSI is not payable until you apply for it. This is different from SSDI which can be paid up to one year before your filing date depending on when you are found disabled. So, applying for SSI as soon as possible is imperative.
  4. How long does it take to get SSI once approved? Once SSA lets you know you have been approved for SSI (usually by mail), they will contact you to make a resource appointment to determine your financial need. Until you complete the resource appointment and give SSA the requested information, you will not receive any benefits. Usually, it takes a few months for clients to get paid after being approved.
  5. What pays more SSI or Social Security? Social Security Disability is based on the work that you have completed in your life while SSI is fixed at $914 a month. If you had high earnings while you worked, your Social Security Disability payments would be higher than the amount SSI pays.
  6. What conditions qualify for disability? In our experience, if a condition severely affects your ability to work, SSA can find you disabled no matter the name of your disease.  Severity is key, not the name of the disease. SSA does maintain a Listing of Impairments, but this is not an all inclusive list.
  7. How do I apply for temporary disability? Social Security does not offer temporary disability benefits. SSA does offer a closed period of benefits for those who are ill and then return to work.  The illness must have lasted 12 calendar months. The process for attaining a closed period if the same as the process for attaining ongoing benefits.

The Bishop Law Firm represents Social Security Disability clients in RaleighDurhamFayettevilleCary, Rocky MountWilsonSmithfieldLouisburgChapel HillRoanoke Rapids , Winston SalemGarner, GreensboroGreenville and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call us today for a free case review, (919) 615-3095. 

Also read North Carolina Social Security Disability Attorney

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