Filing for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) may seem easy enough. There's a form to complete and then some documents to attach to the form. All done. Now, you think: all you need to do is send the application in and wait for the approval.
But therein lies the problem: only 30% of initial applications are approved in North Carolina while the national average is 35%, so both remain low. After the first denial, you can request a reconsideration, but even then, only 11.5% of North Carolina applications are approved while the approval rate nationwide for reconsiderations is only 1% more (12.5%). Finally, if you appeal the denial, you are entitled to a hearing, where approval rates are much higher in North Carolina at 61.2% (the national average is 53.9%).
What does this mean for you? If you don't get the initial application right, you could still get Social Security disability benefits, but it can take a long time – like 18 months on average. That's a long time to be without financial support during your time of need.
I am a Social Security disability benefits attorney with two convenient offices in North Carolina, and I am a representative you can count on. Here, I provide an overview of what you need to know about the disability benefits claims process. I believe information helps you put forth your best chance at approval. If you have questions or want to maximize your chances to obtain Social Security disability benefits, contact the Lloyd King Law Firm PLLC today to schedule a consultation.
The Social Security disability claims process can be neatly categorized according to three parts: (1) initial application, (2) reconsideration, (3) the hearing. These categories are summarized below.
The initial application begins the process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits and payments. During this process, you will need to provide:
Symptoms and limitations
Medical history, and
To furnish this information, you will need things like:
Self-employment tax returns
Recent test results
Proof of temporary or permanent workers' compensation benefits, and
Anything else that is relevant and applicable to your medical issue and work history.
The SSA will use this information to determine if your medical issue will prevent sustaining work for a minimum of one year. The evidence must be sufficient and should include everything from the type of work you do to all the tests and lab work you endured, among other things.
The SSA may take three to six months to process and determine if you are eligible for disability benefits. If so, then payments will begin. If not, then you can ask the SSA to reconsider.
Reconsideration is something like an appeal, but you don't submit additional evidence—you are simply asking the SSA to make sure it didn't make any errors or overlook anything.
This process can take another three to six months. If the SSA determines you do qualify, then payments will begin. If not, then you can appeal.
A hearing will be set, and you will go before a judge to present your case, which can also include additional medical evidence. During this hearing, you have a chance to get very personal and tell your story. It's during this stage of the process that most applications are approved.
If you have to request a hearing, however, you are looking at a long wait time. There are so many applications that you could be waiting a year or more.
As you can see, the process is long and complex. There's a lot of paperwork and a lot of deadlines that can't be missed. Your best chance of success at an earlier stage—but even throughout the entire process—is having an experienced disability benefits attorney guiding you through the process, so you can worry about your disability and recovery while he worries about the paperwork, evidence, and deadlines.
You, as the claimant, are the obvious beneficiary of any Social Security disability benefits or payments based on your earnings or work history. But family members may also qualify for benefits through your own work efforts. The qualifying family members can include:
Your spouse if aged 62 years or older;
Your spouse of any age so long as the spouse is caring for a child who is both yours and younger than 16 years of age or disabled;
Your child – natural or adopted – who is (1) unmarried and (2) younger than 18 years old or younger than 19 if in high school still (sometimes a stepchild or grandchild could also qualify under these same conditions);
Your child – natural or adopted – who (1) is unmarried, (2) is 18 years old or older, (3) has a disability that began before 22 years old, and (4) the disability meets the legal definition of disability for adults.
A divorced spouse could also qualify for benefits if he or she:
Was married to you for a minimum of 10 years;
Is not currently married; and
Is 62 years old or older.
The benefits to your divorced spouse will not reduce the disability benefits that you or your current spouse and children receive.
If you suffer from a disability that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits and payments. To learn more, contact me. I am an experienced and resourceful disability benefits attorney in North Carolina. I will answer your questions, advise you on your best options, and help you get started today.