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North Carolina Disability Determination Services: a closer look

Although the Social Security Administration oversees disability benefits like Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance, North Carolina readers may not have realized that a state agency adjudicates some of those claims.

Specifically, the SSA provides funding to the North Carolina Disability Determination Services agency to make decisions regarding an applicant’s initial claim for SSI or SSDI benefits. Of course, an applicant may also seek answers from the SSA’s website. However, an attorney that focuses on disability benefits may recommend going through the DDS office for certain strategic benefits. For example, the DDS review process may include informational requests from a disabled individual’s treating professionals, and perhaps even a consultative examination. 

Although an individual with a diagnosed disability might assume that he or she will qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits, the truth is that strategy is often required to overcome the high denial rate of initial applications. That tactical mindset begins with keeping good records of all doctor visits. In fact, record keeping should continue even after an application has been submitted, as an individual’s most recent treatment notes might be relevant in the event of an appeal hearing. Sometimes the opportunity to supplement a denied initial claim with additional information or treatment records may also arise. 

At both the initial claim and reconsideration level, the same legal definition of disability will be applied. The disability examiner will often include a written explanation of how his or her decision regarding the disability claim was reached. An attorney can help an applicant bridge the gap that may exist between a medical diagnosis and the legal definition of a disability. By documenting functional impairment, an applicant can demonstrate the extent to which a condition makes it impossible to work anymore. 

North Carolina Disability Determination Services, “Professional Relations Office

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