Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

If you’re applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you know it can be confusing and complicated, and the long wait can be frustrating. A North Carolina Social Security Disability lawyer at Henson Fuerst is here to help you through the social security system.

We can help you by:

  • Gathering needed medical and work history documentation
  • Explaining the application and appeals process
  • Preparing you for a hearing (if necessary)

As your North Carolina Social Security Disability lawyer, it’s our job to help you understand and deliver all the information the government needs in the most efficient and thorough manner possible so you get all the benefits that you’re entitled to.

Get the help you need today—call (919) 781-1107 or complete a free initial consultation form. If you have questions, Henson Fuerst has answers.

Claims Process

The Social Security Disability application process has three distinct levels. The North Carolina Social Security Disability lawyers at Henson Fuerst can assist you in all stages of this process, from application through hearing.

  • Level One

    After you complete your initial application it will be reviewed by a North Carolina state examiner from North Carolina Disability Determination Services, which is contracted by the Social Security Administration to handle the first two levels of applications.

  • Level Two

    If your claim is denied, you must file a Request for Reconsideration, which then elevates your file to the Reconsideration level, where it will be reviewed by a higher-level state examiner.

  • Level Three

    If your claim is denied at the Reconsideration level, then a Request for Hearing must be filed.

Your case will then be transferred to the Social Security Administration, where it will be put in line with the other applicants for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

At the Hearing

At the hearing, your North Carolina Social Security Disability lawyer will appear before the ALJ with you to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and argue the legal and medical factors of your case, which may determine why you should be approved for benefits.

If your claim is still denied at the hearing level, then there may be further appeals that can take place, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Apply for Medicaid

In North Carolina, Medicaid serves low-income parents, children, seniors, and people with disabilities who can’t afford healthcare costs. The type of coverage you are eligible for varies depending on your needs.

You may automatically qualify for Medicaid if you are a recipient of:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Work First Family Assistance
  • State/County Special Assistance for the Aged or Disabled
  • Special Assistance to the Blind

You don’t have to be approved for SSI to qualify for Medicaid. However, if you are already approved for SSI benefits, you do not need to apply for Medicaid—you are already covered.

Why Should I Apply for Medicaid?

After you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, it is also a good idea to apply for Medicaid benefits. Being approved for Medicaid benefits does two things:

  1. Medicaid allows you to get treatment for your on-going medical disabilities.
  2. Approval of Medicaid through SSI is evidence that a judge must consider when reviewing your disability.

How to Apply for Medicaid

To apply for Medicaid, you need to visit the County Department of Social Services (DSS) in the county where you live. If you can’t apply in person, you may complete and mail a copy of the Medicaid and Health Choice applications to your local DSS office.

Under certain circumstances, such as being disabled, a county representative may be able to visit your home and help you complete an application. You may also be able to apply at certain health centers and hospitals. Ask your healthcare provider if you can apply there the next time you visit your doctor.

Improving Your Odds for Approval

More people than ever are applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits in North Carolina. That increased demand also means that fewer people qualify to receive these benefits. People waiting for hearings often get denied, and those who already receive benefits may get audited and have their benefits eliminated.

Getting approved for benefits—or being allowed to continue receiving benefits—may seem out of your control, but there are certain things you can do to increase your odds of approval. The North Carolina Social Security Disability lawyers at Henson Fuerst are familiar with the appeals process, and we’ll do everything we can to help your case get approved.

Factors to Consider

Approval rates for SSD claimants often depend on important factors, such as:

  • The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) Location
    In North Carolina, wait times and approval rates can vary depending on where your hearing is held. These factors can change at each ODAR from month to month, but we’ll stay on top of these changes to help you get the best odds of approval.
  • Quality of Medical Documentation
    It’s vital that your medical documentation includes things such as reports of your symptoms and medical condition, letters from doctors describing your physical limitations and restrictions, and testimony from friends, family, and employers about how your disability has affected your life.

At Henson Fuerst, our North Carolina Social Security Disability lawyers can help you prepare your medical documentation for review by the ODAR. We also can help you choose a location for your hearing that offers the shortest wait time and highest chance of getting your claim approved. Contact us right now—we’re here to help.

What You Need to Apply

When you’re applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, the more information you can provide, the better. A complete and thorough application may improve your chances for approval.

Ideally, you should have:

  • Medical Information
    • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of all doctors, hospitals, and clinics you’ve visited since your disability began
    • Patient ID numbers from hospitals and clinics (if known)
    • Dates you visited hospitals and clinics (as best you can remember)
    • Names and dosages of all medicines you are taking
    • Copies of any medical records in your possession
  • Proof of Citizenship
    • An original or certified copy of your birth certificate OR proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency if you were born in another country
    • Social Security Numbers for you, your spouse, and your minor children
  • Work and Military Records
    • If you were in the military, obtain the original or certified copy of your military discharge papers (Form DD214) for all periods of active duty
    • If you worked, obtain your W-2 Form from last year; or if you were self-employed, your federal income tax return (IRS 1040 and Schedules C and SE)
    • Kinds of jobs, names of employers, and dates you worked in the 15 years before you became unable to work
    • Workers’ compensation information, including date of injury, claim number, and proof of payment amounts
  • Financial and Contact Information
    • Your checking and/or savings account numbers
    • Name, address, and phone number of an emergency contact

How & Where To Apply

If you want to apply for social security benefits yourself, there are three routes you can take:

  • Call the Social Security Administration (SSA) at (800) 772-1213. The SSA will arrange a time for you to conduct a telephone interview with a disability representative who will fill out your initial application over the phone.
  • Visit your local SSA office. You can apply there or schedule an in-person interview to complete your initial application.
  • Apply for benefits online at the SSA’s website.

No matter how you apply, it’s our goal to alleviate as much stress as possible for you. Call today at (919) 781-1107 or complete a free initial consultation form. Our North Carolina Social Security Disability attorneys are happy to answer your questions.

Questions for the SSA Representative

If you apply over the phone or in-person, be sure to ask the Social Security Representative these three questions:

  1. What is my Primary Insurance Amount (PIA)?
    This is the amount of monthly benefits you will be entitled to if you are approved for benefits.
  2. What is my Date Last Insured (DLI)?
    This is the cut-off date after which you are no longer eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. You must be able to prove that your disability condition began before this date.
  3. Am I eligible for SSD, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or both?
    Depending on your work history, the number of work credits paid into the system, and your financial situation, you may be eligible for one or both of these programs.

The answers to these questions are important because they tell us what benefits you may be entitled to and assist us in calculating how much in past and future benefits you will receive if approved. We can help you answer these questions and best explain your options.

Tips for Getting Approved

By keeping your North Carolina Social Security Disability lawyer informed, you may be able to improve your chances of getting the benefits you need. There are a few things we ask all of our clients to tell us:

  1. If you receive any correspondence from the Social Security Administration (SSA), please share a copy with us within one to two days.
  2. If the SSA or Disability Determination Services calls you, please ask them to call HensonFuerst before speaking with anyone about your claim.
  3. Let us know immediately about any changes in addresses or phone numbers or changes in marital or family status.
  4. If you return to work, or are thinking about returning to work, please contact your North Carolina Social Security Disability lawyer so we can discuss the impact on your claim.
  5. If you are hospitalized, receive a new or additional diagnosis, or your condition significantly changes, please let us know.
  6. Keep a medical diary of doctor’s visits, tests, X-rays, MRIs, etc. so if and when we need to obtain your medical records, we will easily be able to do so.

Keeping us informed about your medical, personal, and financial status may help you get benefits. Remember, if you’re ever unsure if you need to communicate something to us, just call (919) 781-1107 and talk to a member of our firm.

If you haven’t spoken with our experienced Raleigh Social Security Disability attorneys yet, call us right away or complete a free initial consultation form online. At Henson Fuerst, we will fight hard to secure the Social Security benefits you deserve.