The disability requirements in NC, that is the requirements to get Social Security disability benefits, are that one be disabled and have “something else.”
The definition of disability that is a part of the disability requirements in NC is that one be unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months or to result in death. The definition of disability goes on to say that it is not enough that one be unable to do past relevant work. One has to be unable to perform work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy considering one’s age, education and work experience.
Let’s go through this definition of disability that is part of the disability requirements in NC slowly. Here is what is required:
- You have to be unable to engage in employment. It’s not enough that you can’t find a job. You have to be unable to do a job even if you can find it. Many of my clients want to tell Social Security to consider the fact that no one will hire them. That doesn’t help because Social Security can’t consider it.
- What does that fancy term “substantial gainful activity mean”? It doesn’t mean that any little bit of work you do after you become disabled defeats your Social Security disability claim. It gets pretty complicated but this part of the definition of disability helps you.
- That “medically determinable” part of the definition of disability has always been a problem. How do you medically determine how much pain someone is in? There is no machine that measures pain. For that matter, there is no machine that measures weakness or mental illness or many other things that cause disability.
- At least the definition of disability talks about both physical and mental illness. Many people have both and both can be considered.
- The twelve month requirement means that if you break your leg and have to be out of work for six months you don’t get Social Security disability benefits. It must last 12 months, unless it’s going to kill you before that.
- Being unable to perform your old work isn’t enough — usually — to get you on Social Security disability benefits. You have to be unable to do other work — but they do have to consider your age, education and work experience. They pay a lot of attention to your age; the other factors, no so much.
I said that you have to be disabled and you have to have “something else” to meet the disability requirements in NC. Here are some examples of the “something else” and you only have to have one of these:
- You have worked a fair amount in recent years before becoming disabled.
- You have low income and few financial resources.
- You are a widow or widower of someone who worked a fair amount, you’re 50 or older and your late spouse died not that long ago.
- You became disabled before age 22 and one of your parents is on Social Security benefits or might be on them except he or she has died.