Filing for Disability in North Carolina

Judges in North Carolina overturn many of the denials made by claims examiners at the state DDS office.

By , Contributing Author
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When you file for Social Security disability in North Carolina, a state agency decides whether you are disabled, even though Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are federal programs. North Carolina's Disability Determination Services (DDS) is the agency that makes the initial approval or denial of benefits (contact information below). North Carolina's DDS approves fewer disability applications (29%) than the national average (35%).

North Carolina also differs from other states in that it pays a substantial additional payment to low-income residents who reside in adult care homes, assisted living, or special care units.

How Do I Appeal if My Disability Application Was Denied?

If you receive a denial from DDS and want to appeal, you first request that DDS reconsider its decision by filing a Request for Reconsideration. If DDS denies your claim a second time, you file a Request for Hearing form.

Disability Hearings in North Carolina

Administrative law judges (ALJs) hold hearings at the hearing office located nearest to your local Social Security field office. The hearing offices are called Offices of Hearings Operations (OHO); these offices were formerly known as Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review, or ODAR. Contact information for North Carolina's 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

North Carolina

Nationally

Initial Application

29%

35%

Reconsideration Review

11%

13%

Appeal Hearing

61%

45%

Hearing Wait Time

18 months

18 months


How Much SSI Will I Receive in North Carolina?

For most SSI recipients, the federal government funds the entire SSI payment (up to $771 per month in 2019), but for those who live in an adult care home, North Carolina provides a state supplementary payment on top of the federal payment.

North Carolina's State-County Special Assistance Program

The State-County Special Assistance program helps pay for room and board in residential facilities. The maximum special assistance payment is tied to the maximum rate that adult care homes can charge Special Assistance recipients for room and board. That room and board rate is currently $1,182 (in 2019). An individual's monthly countable income will be subtracted from that rate to come up with the benefit amount, but a personal needs allowance of $46 is added on.

Qualified individuals living in a special care unit, such as for dementia or Alzhemier's disease, are eligible for a higher amount to pay for room and board: $1,515 per month (in 2019).

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources, Division of Aging and Adult Services administers this special assitance. You can find more information in the state's Special Assistance brochure or Special Assistance for Special Care Units brochure. You can apply for the supplement at your county's Department of Social Services office; use North Carolina's DSS locator to find the office closest to you.

How Much Will it Cost to Get My Medical Records?

North Carolina law places a limit on how much a doctor's office or hospital can charge you for your medical records. In North Carolina, medical providers can charge a $0.75 for the first 25 pages, $0.50 for pages 21-100, and $0.25 for each page copied over 100. A doctor can also charge a reasonable fee to review your records and write a short description of your treatment and condition based on the records.

Contact Information for North Carolina's DDS

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) administers the state's Disability Determination Services (DDS) 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 Address
P.O. Box 243
Raleigh, NC 27602

Physical Address
Dorothea Dix
3301 Terminal Dr.
Raleigh 27604

Phone: 919-814-3222
Fax: 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 (doctor); the "single decision-maker" model that was being tested as part of the SSA's Disability Redesign project ended in 2018.

Contact Information for North Carolina's OHO Offices

North Carolina has four hearing offices, called Offices of Hearings Operations (OHO), located throughout the state. Formerly these offices were referred to as Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) hearing offices. Below is the contact information for each office.

Charlotte

2201 Coronation Boulevard, Suite 200
Charlotte, North Carolina 28227
Phone: 888-397-4124
Fax: 704-845-0697


Fayetteville

150 Rowan Street, 2nd Floor
Fayetteville, NC 28301
Phone: 888-552-7169
Fax: 910-483-9542

Greensboro

101 South Edgeworth St., Suite 300
Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
Phone: 866-690-2091
Fax: 336-333-5435

Raleigh

4800 Falls of Neuse Rd., Suite 200
Raleigh, North Carolina 27609
Phone: 866-708-3174
Fax: 919-790-2793

Contact Information for Rehabilitation Services

North Carolina offers vocational rehabilitation and retraining services through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS). DVRS provides assistance to disabled individuals with job placement, self care skills, and help to achieve independent living. For more information, see the DVRS website.

Legal Resources

You can visit our North Carolina disability lawyer page if you decide to hire an attorney to represent you in your appeal.

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