Disability Hearings In North Carolina
Administrative law judges hold hearings at the hearing office located nearest to your local Social Security field office. The hearing offices are called Offices of Hearings Operations these offices were formerly known as Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review, or ODAR. Contact information for North Carolinas four OHO offices is below. Sometimes a hearing is held by videoconference however, you can ask that the hearing be held in person.
It takes a long time to get a hearing date in North Carolina: In 2018/2019, it has been taking, on average, 18 months from the time the request for hearing was filed to the date the case was decided by an ALJ. In 2018/2019, DDS offices awarded disability benefits in only 29% of the initial applications they looked at, which is lower then the national average. But North Carolina ALJs awarded disability benefits in 61% of the cases they heard, above the national average. Of those approvals, 88% were fully favorable, and 12% were partially favorable. Here are the state and national approval rates at each stage:
|Stage of Application|
You Earn Too Much Income
For SSDI, which is the benefit program for workers who have paid into the Social Security system over multiple years, one of the most basic reasons you could be denied benefits is that, when you apply, you are working above the limit where it is considered “substantial gainful activity” . This means you earn too much money to be considered disabled. You are allowed to work a small amount when you’re applying for and collecting SSDI, but not over the SGA limit, which is $1,310 per month in 2021 . The figure is adjusted annually. Income from investments does not count toward the SGAonly work income counts, as it shows your ability to work.
As to SSI, which is the disability benefit for low-income people, when you apply for SSI, you can’t be making over the substantial gainful activity level . But there’s a limit on all earned and unearned income for SSI, around $1,600 per month, that applies both when you’re applying for benefits and when you’re collecting benefits. And any time your income is over $85 per month, your SSI payment will start to be reduced, by a somewhat complicated formula. If you make more than about $1,650, your payment would be reduced to zero in other words, you won’t qualify for SSI.
Firefighters’ And Rescue Squad Workers’ Pension Fund Disability Retirement Information
After 10 years of creditable service, if you become totally and permanently disabled and can no longer perform the duties of a firefighter or rescue squad worker, you are eligible for disability retirement status. If your disability is the result of a non-duty related activity, you must continue to pay monthly into the fund until you have paid for 20 years. At age 55, you may apply to receive your monthly benefit provided you have made contributions for 20 years.
If you become totally and permanently disabled while performing your duties as a firefighter or rescue squad worker, you may apply to receive a monthly pension when you reach age 55. After being approved for a line-of-duty disability, you will no longer have to make contributions to the pension fund.
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Social Security Death Benefits
Social Security is intended to protect working parents and families. If a parent dies, their children may be entitled to receive benefits.
Unmarried children may collect benefits after a parents death if they are:
- Younger than 18
- Between the ages of 18 and 19, but are enrolled as full-time students at a secondary school
- Ages 18 and older, but have serious disabilities that occurred before they were 22
Nonpublic Schools And Special Education
Children who are placed in a nonpublic school by their parents do not have a right to receive all of the special education and related services that they would receive if enrolled in the public schools. Likewise, a private school does not have a legal obligation to provide special education and related services to students with disabilities. Parents are encouraged to select a nonpublic school carefully and to establish a plan prior to enrollment which meets their childs educational needs.
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How Long Until Approved Ssdi Claims Receive That First Disability Payment
Six months from your SSDI application date is the soonest youll get your first North Carolina disability check. The SSA typically takes about 3-5 months to review every SSDI application for North Carolina disability benefits. Thats because federal law requires a five-month mandatory waiting period prior to depositing any SSDI program payments. Unfortunately, many people wait closer 2 years for their first North Carolina disability check. Thats because they get denied benefits the first time, then finally win after filing an appeal. Having a lawyer file your SSDI application makes you almost 3x more likely to get benefits. Plus, a North Carolina disability lawyer cant charge you anything until after the SSA approves your claim for benefits. Right now, SSDI applications for North Carolina disability take 410 days to process, on average.
If you decide to chance it on your own and apply without legal assistance, youll probably get denied. Right now, the SSA approves just 19% of North Carolina disability applicants on their first try. If that happens, you have 60 days to appeal. Reconsideration is the first appeal stage, and it adds another 100 days to your wait time, on average. At this stage, the SSDI program approves just 2% of claimants. However, you can appeal a second time and plead your case in front of an Administrative Law Judge .
Health Resources For People With Disabilities
Federal, state, and local government agencies and programs can help with your health needs if you have a disability.
Explore the Disability and Health section of CDC.gov for articles, programs, tips for healthy living and more.
Learn more about benefits for people with disabilities from the Social Security Administration.
Contact your local city or county government to find out what medical and health services are available locally for people with disabilities.
Your state social service agency can help you locate medical and health programs.
Visit USA.govs Government Benefits page to learn more about government programs and services that can help you and your family.
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Ssi Claimants Also Need Very Low Income And Few Resources To Qualify
Youll have to list all monthly income and financial assets on your SSI claim for North Carolina disability benefits. SSI program rules state that any money you get each month counts as income, even if you cannot work. That includes things like alimony or child support payments, interest from a savings account, lottery winnings, TANF, SNAP, etc. In addition, you cant have more than $2,000 in your bank account when you apply. Countable assets include any resources you own now and can easily sell for cash. Examples include your jewelry, property, 401k or IRA accounts, stocks or bonds. Things that never count towards your $2,000 asset limit include:
- Your house and the lot it sits on
- A vehicle you use for daily transportation
- Wedding ring, furniture, clothing or other daily living items
Basically, you wont qualify for SSI if you own too much stuff or receive too much money every month. Married couples must have less than $3,000 in resources and $1,350 in combined monthly income to qualify for SSI.
How Eligible Employees Qualify For North Carolinas Ncflex Disability Insurance Plan Benefits In 2021
NCFlex provides both short-term and long-term North Carolina disability benefits to all eligible employees. This NCFlex coverage isnt mandatory, so be sure to enroll as soon as youre eligible! Important: The NCFlex plan does not cover any employees working in the University of North Carolina system. If health problems force you to stop working, you must apply for disability through your DIP-NC plan instead.
For everyone else, heres what you need to know:
- Only full-time, active employees of a state agency, select community college or charter school can enroll in NCFlexs disability plan. You must work at least 30 hours per week to count as a full-time employee under the NCFlex plans rules.
- Short-term disability benefits through the NCFlex plan begin once your mandatory 14-day waiting period passes. NCFlexs short-term North Carolina disability benefits last until the 60th day after you stop working.
- You can receive up to $150/day, or up to $750/week in short-term disability benefits. NCFlex pays STD benefits each week. If you also receive workers comp or Social Security benefits, they wont reduce your STD payment amount.
- The NCFlex plans long-term North Carolina disability payments start on day 61. If your condition makes you permanently unable to work again, LTD payments can last until your full retirement age .
- LTD payments equal 66 2/3% of your monthly paycheck amount while working. The maximum amount you can receive in monthly LTD payments is $12,500 per month.
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Request An Appeal Online
Recent changes to the appeals process now make it possible to request an appeal online if you were recently denied Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income . This can save you time and may lead to a faster decision. You can also go online to check the status of your appeal.
To request an appeal online:
Legislative Retirement System Disability Retirement Information
After five years of creditable service and while a contributing member of the General Assembly, if you become permanently disabled before your 60th birthday and are unable to continue your service as a member of the General Assembly, as approved by the Medical Review Board, you are eligible for disability retirement benefits.
Your disability benefit under the Maximum Allowance is calculated using the same formula as a service retirement benefit and you may choose any payment option. If you choose a survivorship option, it will be calculated using disability reduction percentages. In calculating the disability retirement benefit, your highest annual salary as a member of the General Assembly is determined and your creditable service is counted as though you continue membership to age 60.
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How To Put Together All The Information
Place all the information together in a file. This will allow you to have easy access to it when you need it. Fill in the application and report and send them off to your local district office . You can also book an appointment with your local Social Security office in North Carolina. Take a copy of the application and the file with you when you attend the meeting at the field office.
Once the application and the information are submitted, you will receive a letter from a Disability Examiner who will either approve or reject your claim. It is important to stay in touch with this Disability Examiner and make sure they receive all of your medical records and any supporting statements from your doctors. You will receive an answer within a few months. Be forewarned, however, that the rejection rate for a disability application in North Carolina is high. Less than 30% of all initial applications are approved by Disability Determination Services at this stage in the process. This is lower than the national average. As a result, you may want to consider hiring the services of a local disability attorney to improve your odds of approval.
Clauson Law has focused on representing the injured and disabled for over 10 years. We have handled thousands of cases. Each client is important to us and has a unique situation.
Help Filing For Disability Benefits In North Carolina
It is rarely straightforward filing for disability benefits in North Carolina as there are so many aspects of your disability claim that must be assessed and approved before any disability benefits can be granted. A disability can help you properly prepare your claim and assist with filing any appeals.
Get a Free Case Evaluation Today!
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What Do I Need To Know About Advance Designation
You should be aware of another type of representation called Advance Designation. This relates to the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018, which was signed into law on April 13, 2018.
Advance Designation allows capable adult and emancipated minor applicants and beneficiaries of Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and Special Veterans Benefits to choose one or more individuals to serve as their representative payee in the future, if the need arises.
To help protect whats important to you, we now offer the option to choose a representative payee in advance. In the event that you can no longer make your own decisions, you and your family will have peace of mind knowing you already chose someone you trust to manage your benefits. If you need a representative payee to assist with the management of your benefits, we will first consider your advance designees, but we must still fully evaluate them and determine their suitability at that time.
You can submit your advance designation request when you apply for benefits or after you are already receiving benefits. You may do so through your personal account, by telephone, or in person.
What Is The Complete Work History For The Disability Application
Another indispensable requirement for your disability application in North Carolina is a complete work history timeline. Provide precise information on where you have worked, and the dates and length of time employed at each job for each company covering the last 15 years. Also, make sure you include a detailed description of the job you performed and the demands of the job. Supply current contact information as well. Do not forget to indicate where your injury occurred and when your health issues began.
Short Term Disability Insurance
Available through the workplace, this coverage helps protect your income if you cant work after an accident or illness.
Weekly payments: receive a portion of your salary for 3 months to 1 year, depending on your policy
Rehab incentives: coverage may include financial incentives designed to help you transition back to work
Easy claims filing: report claims online or by phone
Competitive rates: this group coverage is offered only through employers
For complete plan details, talk to your companys benefits administrator.
Do You Qualify For Ssd
The evaluation process follows strict criteria to determine an applicants eligibility. For example, the type of disability must be included in the Social Security Administrations List of Impairments.
Types of disability in the SSAs Listing of Impairments include:
- Musculoskeletal disorders: spine disorders, amputation, major fractures, osteoarthritis, etc.
- Special senses and speech disorders: blindness, hearing loss, or loss of speech due to any cause
- Respiratory disorders: chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, lung transplantation, etc.
- Cardiovascular disorders: chronic heart failure, recurrent arrhythmias, heart transplant, etc.
- Digestive disorders: gastrointestinal hemorrhage, liver dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease , etc.
- Genitourinary system disorders: kidney disease, kidney transplant, etc.
- Skin disorders: Ichthyosis, dermatitis, burns, etc.
- Neurological disorders: epilepsy, parkinsonian syndrome, multiple sclerosis , amyotrophic lateral sclerosis , traumatic brain injury , etc.
- Mental disorders: There are currently 11 categories of mental disorders. for a complete list.
- Cancer: lymphoma, leukemia, breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc.
- Immune system disorders: lupus, systemic sclerosis , inflammatory arthritis, etc.
Disability evaluation is a complex process that involves multiple agencies, medical professionals, and sometimes an administrative law judge should a claim determination be disputed.
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Contact Information For North Carolina’s Dds
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services administers the state’s Disability Determination Services program. Unlike many states, North Carolina does not have individual DDS locations. Here is the contact information for North Carolina’s DDS headquarters:
DDS Mailing AddressPhone: 919-814-3222Fax: 800-804-5509
For more information, visit the website of the Department of Health and Human Services. Note that disability examiners at DDS are no longer allowed to make medical assessments regarding the severity of a physical disorder without the help of a medical consultant the “single decision-maker” model that was being tested as part of the SSA’s Disability Redesign project ended in 2018.
Reminder: There Is A Strict Time Limit For Filing A Charge Of Discrimination
A charge of discrimination must be filed at the EEOC within 180 days after the adverse employment action. For example, if you were fired on May 1, 2009 because of your disability, you must file at the EEOC within 180 days from then, which would be October 28, 2009.
However, you are strongly encouraged to file a charge of discrimination as soon as the adverse employment action happens. If your 180 days has already gone by, your claim against your employer has been lost. However, check www.eeoc.gov/charge or ask the EEOC if yours is one of the extremely rare and special times when you have more than 180 days to file.
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How Do I Apply For Dip
The application process for DIP-NC benefits is done through the University Benefits Office. If you believe you qualify for benefits and will be out of work due to an extended illness, schedule a meeting with the University Leave Administrator as quickly as possible. Spouses and/or significant others are welcome to attend.
You Have Been Convicted Of A Crime
Certain conditions related to conviction of a crime or imprisonment will prevent you from receiving Social Security disability insurance benefits. They are as follows.
- You are in prison after being convicted of a felony, unless you are in a court-approved rehabilitation program that is likely to result in your getting a job when you get released, and your release is expected to occur within a reasonable amount of time.
- You were injured while committing a felony and were convicted of the crime. The impairmentor the worsening of an existing impairmentthat you suffered during the commission of a felony cannot be used as a basis for applying for disability benefits.
- You were injured while in prison. The impairmentor the worsening of an existing impairmentthat you suffered while you were in prison cannot be used to obtain benefits. But you can generally receive benefits after being released from prison.
However, it’s worthwhile to apply for SSDI benefits even if one of the above situations apply to you, because even if you can’t get cash benefits, you may be granted a period of benefit-free disability that will “freeze” your earnings record, keeping your eventual disability, retirement, or dependents benefits from decreasing.
Note these situations do not prevent you from receiving SSI disability benefits, although being incarcerated does keep you from collecting SSI benefits.
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