If someone cannot continue working because of illness or injury, the wait for disability benefits now exceeds two years. According to a recent news article, the wait here in North Carolina for Social Security Disability benefits is slightly longer.
More than 38,000 people in our state are waiting to hear whether their SSDI claim has been approved. However, about 400,000 North Carolina residents have demonstrated that they qualify for disability and now receive benefits.
The Social Security Administration has four North Carolina offices that handle disability claims. The news article we read listed wait times for three offices (it did not include Charlotte):
Back in 2010, slightly more than 21,500 people were waiting for their disability appeals hearing. That figure has more than doubled today.
SSDI claims filed in 2016 might not be resolved until next year, the article states.
One case highlighted in the article: a former special education teacher who applied for benefits back in September 2016. She appealed a denial of her claim a year ago. The 53-year-old said she expects to wait until 2019 to learn whether her appeal was successful.
The waiting is long and financially punishing. “It’s one of those things where you decide which bill do I not pay this month and double up next month,” the teacher said. “I can live on peanut butter sandwiches all month if I have to.”
Because North Carolina has a higher than average rate of initial denials of SSDI claims, appeals are especially important here. Across the nation, the initial denial rate is about two out of three disability claims; in our state, that rate soars to three out of four.
With so much riding on an appeal, many turn for help to attorneys who know the Social Security system and the administrative hearing process.