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

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
March 31, 2023  ·  8 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 have helped over 10,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.

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If you’re facing health issues that limit your ability to work, you’re not alone. Approximately 16,500 people in North Dakota receive monthly benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a diagnosed disability that leaves them unable to work.

However, these benefits aren’t easy to get. The application process is challenging and lengthy, so you’ll need to know what you’re doing. We’ve created this guide to give you all the essential information about applying for and qualifying for disability benefits.


What North Dakota disability program should I apply for?

Although North Dakota doesn’t have its own disability program, residents can apply for federal and private programs. Here are four options to consider:

  1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI is a federal program that offers monthly benefits to individuals with disabilities that leave them unable to work for one year or more. To qualify, you need to have worked and paid taxes for years, including generally at least five out of the last 10 years. Your income history determines how much you’ll receive in monthly benefits. SSDI provides Medicare coverage as well.

  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI): If you don’t qualify for SSDI, another option is SSI. This program also provides monthly benefits for people who can’t work because of a medical condition.There are income limits for SSI.

  3. Veterans disability benefits: For active and retired service members, there’s also the option of applying for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It is possible to get VA benefits alongside SSDI or SSI. Learn more about how Atticus can help you apply for VA benefits.

  4. Private disability insurance: A private short-term or long-term disability insurance policy offers benefits if you already had a policy before you developed your medical condition. Private disability benefits provide payments worth up to 60% of your income for months or years depending on your policy. Many workers have a small policy through their employers. If you have long-term private disability, your employer may still require you to apply for SSDI or risk losing some of your payments.

The rest of the guide will focus on SSI and SSDI. They’re the benefits that North Dakota residents are most likely to qualify for.

Skip the reading. See which benefits you qualify for in 2 minutes or less.

How to qualify for disability in North Dakota

To qualify for SSI and SSDI, you must meet specific medical and technical criteria. While the technical requirements vary for each program, the medical requirements are identical.

Medical qualifications for SSDI and SSI

To qualify for SSI or SSDI, you must have a medical condition that makes you unable to work for at least a year, if not the rest of your life. To prove your medical qualification, you’ll need to provide documentation of the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of your condition. The SSA especially wants to see how it affects your ability to work.

Certain conditions automatically qualify for Social Security disability benefits, specifically ones that are chronic, severe, or life-threatening.

Your age also factors into the criteria. For people over age 50, qualifying for disability is easier. You’re only required to prove you can’t work the types of jobs you’ve previously done. The SSA doesn’t expect you to have to retrain. Anyone under 50 needs to show they can’t do any job, even if they retrain.

Technical SSDI qualifications

There are two criteria for SSDI applicants:

  • You must be 66 years old or younger.

  • You must have earned enough work credits as defined by the SSA. To verify if you have enough credits, set up a free account mySocialSecurity account on SSA.gov. Generally, you’ll meet the minimum requirements if you’ve been employed for at least five out of the previous 10 years.

Learn more about the technical SSDI qualifications.

Technical SSI qualifications

SSI applicants must meet two technical criteria:

  • Have monthly income of about $943 or less.

  • Have little to no assets, including savings. The asset threshold for those applying for disability benefits is $2,000 for single individuals and $3,000 for married couples.

For more information, see our guide to the technical SSI qualifications.


Conditions that qualify for disability in North Dakota

You might not know that hundreds of conditions qualify for disability. Qualifying conditions have to be expected to cause you to be unable to work and last for at least one year.

Common conditions that qualify in North Dakota

Based on the number of disabled people in North Dakota with disability benefits (by condition), the most common qualifying disabilities are:

  • Mental health conditions: 40.7%

  • Musculoskeletal disorders: 25.1%

  • Neurological (nervous system) disorders: 10.8%

  • Cardiovascular (circulatory system) disorders: 5.4%

  • Injuries: 3.8%

  • Cancers (neoplasms): 3%

  • Respiratory conditions: 2.5%

  • Endocrine disorders: 1.8%

  • Genitourinary disorders (kidney disease): 1.7%

  • Digestive system disorders: 1.4%

  • Congenital anomalies (birth defects): 0.9%

  • Infectious and parasitic diseases: 0.6%

  • Skin conditions: 0.2%

  • Other qualifying conditions: 0.2%

  • Hematological (blood) disorders: 0.1%

Of the 40.7% of disability recipients with mental health conditions, here are the most common:

  • Intellectual disorders: 2,162 people

  • Depression, bipolar disorder, and related disorders: 1,469 people

  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders: 949 people

Related: How Hard is it to get disability for mental health?


How to apply for disability in North Dakota

The first thing you need to do to apply for Social Security disability benefits is complete the main disability application. You’ll also need to complete a work history report and function report to explain your previous work experience and how your condition impacts your daily functioning.

Filling out these forms is long and can be confusing, so working with a disability lawyer is a good option for most applicants. A lawyer will answer your questions or complete the forms for you, greatly reducing your stress.

The process is the same if you’re applying for disability on behalf of a loved one or trying to get disability benefits for a child.

How to prepare your application

It’s best to start working on the application as early as you can, because it will take time to gather the necessary documents and answer all the application questions properly. A disability lawyer can help you do both of these things, but there are things you can do too.

  • Gather your personal records. The more medical records you can show the SSA, the better. You’ll need to provide any imaging results, lab work, and treatment plans you have. Also collect your contact information for your doctors. For SSI applicants, make sure to have proof of your income, savings, and the value of any other assets you own. (Learn more about what counts as income for SSI.)

  • Submit the application and all supplemental documents. Before sending your application, triple-check that you’ve answered every question and are submitting all the necessary forms. Missing information is a common reason for delays or denials.

  • Follow up with the SSA after you submit. After submitting your application, calling the SSA to confirm they’ve received it is always good. You can do this yourself or have your lawyer do it if you have one.

  • Respond to any requests from the SSA immediately. Usually, the SSA will allow up to 10 days to respond to additional document requests. Avoid delays by gathering what they want as soon as possible.

For more help getting started, here’s our step-by-step guide to the disability application.

3 ways to submit your application

There are three ways to file the disability benefits application:

  1. Apply online through the SSA website.

  2. Apply over the phone by calling 1-800-772-1213 or your local office.

  3. Apply in person at your local SSA office.

If you choose to apply for benefits in person, the SSA staff can guide you on how to answer the questions correctly. This is a great choice if you’re not working with a lawyer. However, the SSA staff can’t tell you if your answers are strong since that’s considered legal advice and only a lawyer can offer that.

Further reading: How a lawyer can help your disability application

Getting help with the application

We always recommend finding a disability lawyer to help you file for disability benefits. With their assistance, you’ll have the support you need throughout the entire application process. They can also help you with appeals and represent you in a hearing, which is something most applicants have to go through.

A good disability lawyer also won’t charge you any up-front fees and you’ll only pay them after you win benefits. Fill out our 2-minute disability quiz to get matched with an experienced lawyer today.


What happens after you apply for disability?

After you’ve submitted your disability benefits application, the SSa will determine whether you meet the technical requirements. Your state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) will review your health information to decide if you meet the medical requirements for disability.

Depending on the specifics of your case, the SSA may request an in-person interview to gather more information about you and your disability. DDS may also have to undergo a consultative exam — a medical exam conducted by an SSA doctor. 

The review process takes time — just over six months on average.


Your chances of getting approved for benefits

Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to go through multiple rounds of denials and appeals to win benefits.

About 70% of initial disability applications are denied. If this happens, you can try again by filing for reconsideration. The odds of getting approved at this point are still low — around 90% of applicants are denied at this stage. After two denials, you can appeal for a disability hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). In 2022, more than half of the people that received a hearing were approved for benefits (about 54%). Applicants with lawyers were three times more likely to win benefits.

Learn more about the odds of winning a disability appeal.


How long does it take to get disability benefits in North Dakota?

For the average disability applicant, getting approved takes more than two years because of the multiple rounds of reviews and appeals. You also can’t speed up that process.

Your best options are to respond to SSA requests as soon as possible and work with a lawyer to increase your odds of approval. Luckily, after the long wait, your first SSA check will include months of back pay

Here are the average wait times at each stage for applicants from North Dakota:

  • Initial decision: 6.1 months (184 days)

  • Reconsideration decision: 6.1 months (183 days)

  • Time to get a hearing: 10 months (plus 1-3 more months to get a decision)

All told, North Dakota residents can expect to wait about 22 months to get a final decision. Your exact wait time will depend on which hearing office handles your claim. It’s possible you’ll have to go out of state, but it's more likely you’ll have to go to North Dakota’s only local SSA office.

Hearing office

Wait time

Fargo

10 months

Related: How to Find a Good Disability Lawyer Near You


How much are disability benefits in North Dakota?

Your monthly benefit amount is based on work history, past income, and whether you qualified for SSDI and SSI. Sometimes, you can receive both at the same time.

Estimate your disability benefit amount in just a few steps

We'll use the Social Security Administration's formula to estimate your monthly benefit.

Average
monthly check

$1,489

Average SSDI payments in North Dakota

On average, North Dakota residents get $1,269.30 per month in SSDI benefits. The maximum possible payment is $3,822 per month in 2024.

Only two things determine your payment amount: your income history and how much you’ve paid into Social Security. The SSA doesn’t consider your geographic location as they calculate your monthly benefits.

Here’s how to check your monthly SSDI check amount:

Learn more about how SSDI benefits are calculated.

Average SSI payments in North Dakota

In North Dakota, the average SSI payment is $572.09 per month, significantly lower than the maximum possible payment of $943 per month in 2024. You’ll get the maximum payment if you don’t bring in an income each month. However, if you have any income, the SSA will take the difference between your income and the maximum payment to determine what you’ll receive each month.

Learn more about what counts as income for SSI.


How to find a disability lawyer in North Dakota

Consulting a disability lawyer is one of the best decisions you can make as you apply for benefits. They can act as a liaison between you and the SSA and handle all parts of the application process. If required, they’ll also represent you in a hearing — giving you a higher chance of winning benefits.

If you’re looking for a disability lawyer, here are three important factors to consider:

  1. Communication: A good lawyer will keep you informed at each stage of the application process and be accessible to answer your questions, even if you don’t communicate regularly.

  2. Experience: Look for an experienced lawyer who specializes in disability benefits. Lawyers who also work in other areas of law, like workers’ comp or personal injury, may not have the expertise and dedication necessary to help you win disability benefits.

  3. Reviews: It’s crucial to read reviews of a lawyer when possible. But don’t just look for good or bad reviews. Even great lawyers can’t win every case and sometimes the best lawyers are more willing to take on difficult cases. Instead, look for patterns in the reviews. Do the negative reviews often focus on poor communication, disrespectful experiences, or missed deadlines? Those are red flags.

We know that finding the right disability lawyer is an overwhelming task. That’s why, at Atticus, we’ve researched law firms nationwide to find those who will show the care and dedication you deserve. To get matched with a disability lawyer today, start with our free disability quiz. We’ll follow up to learn more about your situation. If you do want to work with one of our lawyers, you’ll never have to pay anything unless you win benefits.

Ready to get benefits today?

Frequently asked questions about benefits in North Dakota

What qualifies you for disability in North Dakota?

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 Dakota?

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 Dakota?

It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in North Dakota. 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 Dakota?

The average SSDI payment in North Dakota is $1,269.30 per month. The average SSI payment is $572.09 per month. What you’ll earn is dependent 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 Dakota?

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 Dakota have a state disability program?

No, North Dakota 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 Dakota can apply for federal disability programs (SSDI and SSI). Read more about SSDI and SSI here.


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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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