Obtaining social security disability (SSD) benefits in North Carolina can be a long and exhausting process. Most applications are denied initially, so you have to appeal and appeal again. There are particular situations, however, that will allow certain people to obtain SSD benefits faster than others.
At Swindell Law Firm, PC, our social security benefits lawyer in Kinston, Greenville, or Goldsboro handles all types of social security benefits applications throughout North Carolina. We will review your case, and make sure the application is completed properly and all supporting documentation is included. We are proactive to avoid common mistakes people make, but if you have already applied and now face challenges, we will address them quickly and competently. We can also advise you of a special situation that may help you obtain benefits faster. Contact us today at 252-527-1711 to schedule a consultation and learn more about our social security benefits services.
Special Situations and Social Security Disability Benefits in North Carolina
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has identified four special situations that apply to certain workers who seek social security disability benefits. These situations involve the following:
- Workers who are blind or have low vision
- Surviving spouses of qualified workers
- Children with disabilities
- Wounded warrior and veterans
Specific rules apply for each of these special situations, allowing only certain people to qualify for SSD benefits.
Four Special Situations to Obtain Social Security Disability Benefits
Following is an explanation of all four special situations as mandated by the Social Security Administration.
Blind or Low Vision
The SSA considers a person blind in two situations:
- When your vision in the better eye cannot be corrected to better than 20/200; or
- When your visual field in the better eye is 20 degrees or less, and it has lasted or is expected to remain this way for at least 12 months.
If your vision is impaired, but you are not blind according to the above two situations, you still may qualify in situations where your vision, by itself or in combination with other health problems, keeps you from being able to work.
The SSA requires proof of blindness before it will approve a claim for benefits. The results of any testing performed should be included with the application. There are certain methodologies that can be used to prove blindness, and the SSA may require documentation that they have been performed by an ophthalmologist before approving any claim for SSD benefits.
Surviving Spouse of a Worker
When a person dies, and before their death they were receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, their surviving spouse may be able to receive the same benefits. Certain criteria, however, must be satisfied.
When the surviving spouse is 60 years of age or older, they can qualify for reduced benefits whether or not you are disabled.
If the surviving spouse is between the ages of 50 and 60 years old, they can receive benefits if:
- The surviving spouse is disabled or their condition meets the definition of disability for adults; and
- The disability started within seven years of the decedent spouse's death.
When the surviving spouse is any age, they can receive benefits if:
- The surviving spouse has not remarried; and
- The surviving spouse is taking care of the deceased worker's child who is under the age of 16 years or who has a disability and receives child benefits.
Further, survivor benefits are not affected if the surviving spouse remarries after reaching the age of 60, or 50 if they are disabled.
Children with Disabilities
For children with a disability that began before the age of 22, they may be able to qualify for benefits under their parent's earnings if their parent is deceased or begins receiving retirement or disability benefits. The child must:
- Be single;
- Be 18 years old or older; and
- Meet the same definition for disability as an adult.
In addition to any natural children born to the worker, their stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, or adopted children may qualify for benefits.
Wounded Warriors and Veterans
Wounded warriors and veterans may be able to receive compensation from the SSA in addition to any benefits they receive from Veterans Affairs (VA). They may also be able to have the review of their claim with the SSA expedited under certain circumstances. The SSA will tag the claim as a military service member claim, and, as such, it will receive priority through all phases of the claims review process. Spouses and dependents of wounded warriors and veterans may also qualify for benefits.
What Happens if SSD Benefits Are Denied for a Special Situation in North Carolina?
SSD benefit denials for special situations are treated the same as denials for claims for benefits under regular circumstances. If an applicant has their claim denied, they are able to pursue an appeal.
Generally speaking, an applicant has 60 days from the time they receive notice of the denial to ask for any type of appeal, and there are four levels:
- Hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ);
- A review by the Appeals Council; or
- A federal court review.
How a Social Security Disability Lawyer Can Help Your Case
When a person's disability falls under the “special situation” criteria, a social security disability lawyer can be very helpful. As there are special criteria for these situations, an attorney that focuses their practice on this area of the law will know of any special documentation that must be provided to the SSA. They will also be aware of any additional steps the applicant should take to increase the possibility of being approved for SSD benefits.
A social security disability lawyer has a trained eye and, in many cases, can provide the extra knowledge needed to greatly improve an applicant's chances of being approved.
Contact a Social Security Disability Attorney in Kinston, Greenville, or Goldsboro Today
These special situations can be difficult to understand, but when one applies, it can increase the chances of obtaining Social Security Disability benefits. To learn more about these special circumstances and the process to obtain benefits through either the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs, contact Swindell Law Firm, PC today by calling us at 252-527-1711 or filling out her online form. Our Social Security benefits attorney in Kinston, Greenville, or Goldsboro will meet with you to discuss qualifying Social Security benefits.