Do you need a Rocky Mount Social Security Disability Lawyer? The Bishop Law Firm represents disability clients in Edgecombe and Nash Counties and we do not get paid unless we win your case and you receive back pay. Call us or start your free case review now!
Generally, there are two types of benefits that the disabled can apply for: Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is based on the credits from the work that you have done in your life while SSI is a need based program. You must be found disabled by SSA before you are eligible for either type of benefit.
The Five Step Sequential Evaluation
Social Security uses a five-step evaluation to determine if you are disabled at every step of the below disability process:
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 cannot be considered disabled.
Step 2 – Is Your Condition “Severe”? Severe is defined by the Social Security Administration as: your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered.
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.
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.
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.
The Social Security Disability Process
Initial: The first step is to apply for disability benefits. You can apply with SSA online, by telephone or in person at the Social Security Office. You can opt to apply without an attorney or you can choose to hire an attorney from the beginning. Social Security calls this the initial level. In North Carolina, after you file your initial application, your disability claim is sent to Disability Determination Services (DDS).
Reconsideration: If you are denied at the initial level, you will need to appeal. This appeal is called the reconsideration. The reconsideration level is very similar to the initial level except a different examiner should review your case.
Hearing Level: If you are denied at the reconsideration level, you will need to request an hearing before an SSA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). As discussed above the Raleigh, NC OHO is your local hearing office.
District Court: Lastly, if you are denied by the AC, you will have to file in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Do you need a Rocky Mount Social Security Disability Lawyer?
Unfortunately, DDS (which handles the initial and reconsideration level decisions) denies most people that apply for disability benefits. Having an disability lawyer in the early stages helps your case move through the process and keeps the DDS examiner informed of any changes to your health, medical treatment, medications, etc. If you receive a denial, appealing as soon as possible is imperative because you do not want any unnecessary delay at these beginning levels.
After you request a hearing, it can take 18-24 months for SSA to schedule that hearing. This only illustrates how important eliminating delay in the first stages can be. You can request a dire need to try to get your hearing sooner, but it is up to SSA to approve that request. An Social Security Disability Attorney or representative can give you legal advice regarding what documentation is needed to request a dire need and frame the request so it has the best chance of being approved.
The hearing will be with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who has the power to approve or deny your case. Throughout the disability process, this is the only time you will be able to explain your case in person to someone who can approve you for Social Security disability benefits. Representation is essential to presenting your case to the ALJ in an efficient and compelling manner. Also, getting your doctor’s opinion and all your medical records to the ALJ in a readable, organized and timely way is crucial to your success.
If you need a Rocky Mount NC Social Security Disability Lawyer give The Bishop Law Firm a call today at (919) 615-3095. We do not get paid unless we win your case. We look forward to working with you!