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Disability benefits in north carolina

How to Qualify for Disability in North Carolina

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
May 13, 2024  ·  2 min read
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Atticus offers free, high-quality disability advice for Americans who can't work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard-trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience and has helped over 50,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.

See if you qualify

If you live in North Carolina and are unable to work due to a disability, you may qualify for support. More than 333,000 residents currently receive Social Security disability benefits through two programs that the Social Security Administration (SSA) manages: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Continue reading to learn how to qualify to receive benefits through these programs.


How to qualify for disability benefits in North Carolina

Once you submit your disability application, the SSA uses a five-step evaluation to determine your eligibility. Knowing these steps in advance can help you prepare your application correctly:

  1. Are you working at a substantial gainful activity level? First, the SSA assesses whether you’re engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA). If you earn more than $1,550 per month, the SSA will consider you capable of SGA and ineligible for disability benefits.

  2. Do you have a severe impairment? Your disability must be severe enough to prevent you from performing basic work activities for at least 12 months.

  3. Does your disability meet the SSA’s definition of disability? The SSA lists qualifying medical conditions in its Blue Book. If your condition does not appear in the Blue Book, you’ll need to provide medical evidence that your disability prevents you from working.

  4. Can you do work you’ve done in the past? The SSA will determine whether you can still perform any of your past work with your current limitations.

  5. Can you do any other types of work? The SSA will consider whether you can adjust to other work based on your medical condition, age, education, past work experience, and transferable skills.

How to qualify for SSDI in North Carolina

In North Carolina, the average monthly SSDI benefit amount is $1,699. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Disability: You’re disabled according to government rules.

  • Duration of disability: Your disability is expected to last at least one year.

  • Work credits: A certain number of work credits are necessary for you to receive SSDI. You earn work credits by working and paying Social Security taxes. The SSA requires a total of 40 work credits, half of which you must have earned in the last 10 years. This generally equates to working at least five of the last 10 years.

How to qualify for SSI in North Carolina

SSI does not require a specific work history. Instead, the SSA bases it on financial need. In North Carolina, the average monthly SSI benefit amount is $589. You may qualify for SSI in North Carolina if you meet the following requirements:

  • Medical eligibility: To receive SSI, you must be disabled, blind, or age 65 or older.

  • Asset limits: You must have less than $2,000 in countable resources if you're single. That limit increases to $3,000 for married couples.

  • Income restrictions: Your total monthly income must be below the federal benefit rate, which is $943 for 2024.


What qualifies you for disability in North Carolina?

Any medical condition can qualify you for Social Security disability benefits as long as it significantly impairs your ability to work and you expect it to last at least a year. Here are the most common conditions among disability beneficiaries in North Carolina:

  • Musculoskeletal system diseases: 32%

  • Mental disorders: 31%

  • Nervous system diseases: 10%

  • Circulatory system diseases: 8%

  • Injuries: 4%

  • Neoplasms (cancers): 3%

What are the most common mental health conditions among those who qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

Mental disorders are among the most commonly approved disabilities in North Carolina. These include conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Depressive and intellectual disorders affect about 32,000 beneficiaries each, and schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders affect about 14,000 people.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for disability benefits in North Carolina?

You are not required to work with a lawyer when applying for disability benefits. However, statistics show that legal representation can triple your chances of approval. A good lawyer understands the complexities of disability law and can guide you through the process of obtaining benefits.

A disability lawyer can help by facilitating:

  • Application assistance: They will ensure your disability application is complete and accurate, and present your case in the most favorable light.

  • Medical documentation: They will help you compile and organize the necessary medical evidence to support your claim and make sure your documentation meets the SSA’s criteria.

  • Appeal filings: If the SSA denies your initial claim, a lawyer can handle the appeals process, from drafting the appeal to filing it on your behalf.

  • Hearing preparation: In the event your case goes to a hearing, your lawyer can prepare you to testify. They will help you understand what to expect and how to answer questions effectively.

  • Representation at hearings: They will represent you during the disability hearing, advocating on your behalf and working to demonstrate why you qualify for benefits.

Atticus lawyers in North Carolina

Here are a few Atticus law firms that serve North Carolinians:

Martin, Jones and Piemonte

Matthew T. Berry & Associates LLC

McChesney & McChesney

4601 Charlotte Park Dr., Suite 390, Charlotte, North Carolina 28217

2751 Buford Hwy NE, Suite 600, Atlanta, GA 30324 (Serves North Carolina)

930 S Pine St., Spartanburg, SC 29302 (Serves North Carolina)


Get help applying for disability benefits 

Wherever you are in the application process, we’re here to help. Take our simple 2-minute quiz to assess your eligibility, and a member of our team will contact you to discuss your case and answer any questions you may have. We’ll connect you with an experienced disability lawyer who can simplify the application process. There are no upfront costs when you work with Atticus. You'll only pay a one-time fee to your lawyer if they successfully help you secure your benefits.

Common questions about disability in North Carolina

How do I qualify for disability in North Carolina?

To qualify for disability you need to have a condition that prevents you from working for at least a year. You’ll also need to meet certain work history requirements (for SSDI) or be within certain income limits (for SSI). For more on these requirements, read our full write up here.

What conditions qualify for disability in North Carolina?

Any condition that will prevent you from working for a year or more can qualify for disability benefits. Some of the most common conditions include musculoskeletal disorders, mental disorders, nervous system diseases, and circulatory system diseases. See our full list of conditions that qualify here.

How long does it take to get approved for disability in North Carolina?

It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in North Carolina. Most people who apply are initially rejected, and need to appeal this decision. If you appeal and go to a hearing, the process takes around two years on average. Read more: How Long It Takes to Get Approved for Disability Benefits

How much does disability pay in North Carolina?

The average SSDI payment in North Carolina is $1,699 per month. The average SSI payment is $589 per month. What you’ll earn depends on your income or the amount you’ve historically paid into the Social Security program. Read more on what amount you can expect.

How should I prepare my disability application in North Carolina?

Answer the application questions truthfully, consistently, and succinctly. You should also ensure that you gather and submit all your medical records with your application. The SSA paperwork can be complicated, so our legal team has written a full guide to the application here.

Does North Carolina have a state disability program?

No, North Carolina does not have a state disability program. Only five states (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island) have a state program. Residents of North Carolina can apply for federal disability programs (SSDI and SSI). Read more about SSDI and SSI here.


Related resources for disability applicants in North Carolina:

North Carolina Disability Benefits: How to Qualify, Apply, and Get Approved

A hand drawn image of the lead disability lawyer.
By Jackie Jakab

Disability lawyers in North Carolina

A hand drawn image of the lead disability lawyer.
By Jackie Jakab

See what you qualify for

How long has your condition made it hard to work?

Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney

Jackie Jakab

Lead Attorney

Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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