If you or someone you care for is unable to work due to a medical condition, and need a Winston Salem Social Security Disability Lawyer, The Bishop Law Firm represents disability clients in Winston Salem and surrounding areas of North Carolina.
You can call us for a free case review of start your free case review online now.
How to apply for disability in North Carolina?
The first step is to file online or call the Winston Salem Social Security Office and set up an appointment to file. You will need the following information to apply for benefits. The initial application which is called the “initial” level is discussed below.
Types of Social Security Disability Benefits
In general, there are two types of Social Security Disability benefits that you may be eligible for: 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. You must be found disabled before your date last insured (DLI) to be found eligible for SSDI. Your DLI is calculated by counting your “quarters of coverage” from your earnings record. You must have 20 “quarters of coverage” of the last 40 quarters. Simply put, you must have worked 5 years of the last ten years (in general). In addition, Adult Disabled Children can be eligible for benefits off their parent’s account.
SSI is a need-based program and you must meet income/asset standards in addition to being found disabled under the five steps above. In 2023, SSI is $914.00 per month for an individual and $1,371 for an eligible couple. SSI will be reduced by 1/3 if you are receiving financial help from others. In NC, SSI recipients are also entitled to Medicaid.
The Disability Process
After you apply for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income, the number of steps required to attain benefits varies. If a claimant has to go all the way, they will have to go through:
Initial – After you apply for benefits at your local SSA office, your case is sent to Disability Determination Services (DDS) in Raleigh, NC. An examiner will be assigned to your case and they will gather your medical records, send you forms to complete and possibly send you for a consultative examination. A note of caution: DDS denies around 70% of the cases that they see, so plan to appeal to avoid delays. Approximately 3-6 months
Reconsideration: If you are denied at the initial level, you will need to appeal denied claims within 60 days. This level is called the “reconsideration.” Your case will be sent back to DDS for another examiner to review, obtain medical records, send you forms, etc. Again, DDS denies most of the claimants that they see. Approximately 3-6 months
Hearing – If you are denied at the reconsideration level, you will need to request a hearing before an SSA Administrative Law Judge. If you live in Winston Salem, your hearing will be held by the Greensboro Office of Hearing Operations (OHO). Approximately 6 months – 1.5 years
Appeals Council – If you are denied at the hearing level, you will need to appeal to the Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia. Approximately 6 months – 1.5 years
District Court – If the Appeals Council denies your request for review, you will have to appeal to Federal District Court which for those in Winston Salem, would be the Middle District. Approximately 6 months – 1.5 years
Repeat all the above
Five Step Sequential Evaluation
At each of the above levels, SSA will ask the following 5 questions to determine if you are disabled:
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.
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.
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 SSA 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 SSA 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
What is the most a disability lawyer can charge? Social Security Disability Attorney Fees are set by the Social Security Administration. The SSA only pays attorney fees if the client wins their case and there is backpay. If you do not win your case or if there is no backpay, no attorney fees are due. Currently, SSA allows attorneys to charge 25% of the client’s backpay up to a maximum for $7,200. For example, if the client attains $10,000 in backpay the attorney will receive $2,500. If the client receives $100,000 in backpay, the attorney receives $7,200.
How far back will SSDI pay? SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits) is payable up to one year prior to your initial application while SSI (Supplemental Security Income) does not become payable until the beginning of the first month after you apply for it.
What is the easiest thing to get disability for? Unfortunately, with Social Security Disability, it seems that the conditions that qualify for disability the easiest are those that have a short life expectancy after diagnosis. See Compassionate Allowance List
What happens after you get a fully favorable decision? After a fully favorable decision from an SSA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), your claim is sent to your local Social Security Office (for SSI claims) or to a regional payment center for processing (for SSDI claims). For those that are eligible for SSI and SSDI, their cases will have to make both stops before payment will be processed. We advise clients to expect their first monthly check before any backpay. After a fully favorable decision, it can take 2-5 months to see any funds.
What is the Social Security 5 year rule? SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is based on the credits from the work you have done in your life. You must be found disabled before your date last insured (DLI) to be found eligible for SSDI. Your DLI is calculated by counting your “quarters of coverage” from your earnings record. You must have 20 “quarters of coverage” of the last 40 quarters. Simply put, you must have worked 5 years of the last ten years (in general).
Can you receive both SSI and SSDI? Yes. If your Social Security Disability monthly benefit amount is low enough (less than $914 in 2023), you can receive both SSI and SSDI, but in total you will receive no more than $914.00
Do you need a Winston Salem Social Security Disability Lawyer?
Having an experienced Social Security Disability Attorney or Representative on your side can help keep your case on track, avoid missing appeal deadlines and most importantly, providing the SSA with all information needed so they can make the right decision on your Social Security Disability claim.
Attorney Kimberly Bishop and EDPNA Chasity Everett have represented Social Security Disability clients since 2009. The Bishop Law Firm has represented clients from the initial level to District Court and at every one of the Social Security Administration Office of Hearings (Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh and Fayetteville) in North Carolina.
Attorney Bishop is a NC State Bar Board Certified Social Security Disability Law Specialist (More About Attorney Kimberly Bishop). She was also raised in Salisbury, NC and for her as a child, Winston Salem was the closest “big city.”
EDPNA Everett is recognized as an Accredited Disability Representative by the National Association of Disability Representatives (More About EDPNA Chasity Everett).
Our firm takes pride in representing disabled & injured clients in North Carolina. Call us today or start your free case review now.