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North Carolina and Social Security Disability Benefits

Last updated: May 8, 2023

North Carolina residents who cannot work because of disabilities may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Although SSDI is a federal program, who determines a person's disability, what benefits are offered, and how much they can receive in disability payments varies between states. Like many other states, North Carolina does not provide short-term disability benefits.

Changes to North Carolina Social Security Disability in 2022

An increase of 5.9% in the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security beneficiaries has been set in 2022. Other new provisions for 2022 include upgrades to SSDI benefits as well as an increase in the amount of money employed Social Security recipients can earn before their benefits are reduced.

Below are some of this year's disability program changes for Social Security in North Carolina:

Growth In Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)

A 5.9% COLA has been applied to Social Security beneficiaries’ checks. The increase is a piece of good news for recipients since it is the biggest increase since 1982. Additionally, applicants with dependents may get a higher benefit amount. As a result of the 2022 COLA, the average monthly payment increased from $1,565 in 2021 to $1,657 in 2022, a $92 increase; or an annual increase of $1,104.

Increase In Allowed SSDI Earnings

Due to Social Security's desire to allow disabled people to work if they are able, the agency allows you to earn a certain level of income through "substantial gainful activity" (SGA) before they decide you are no longer disabled. This includes any type of employment, including self-employment. 

A limit for SGA earnings is set by Social Security at which benefits under Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be terminated. For non-blind people who qualify for SSDI in 2022, you can earn up to $1,350 per month ($16,200 annually) and those who are legally blind can earn up to $2,260 per month ($27,120 annually). As compared to the limits set in 2021, this is an increase of 3%.

Trial Work Periods

Trial Work Periods (TWPs) allow SSDI applicants to test whether they can maintain some gainful activity for at least nine months, consecutively or not. It can last up to five years on a rolling basis (i.e., applying repeatedly). SSA determines whether a month qualifies as a TWP by looking at their gross earnings for the month (before taxes).

You can earn more during a Trial Work Period in 2022 before it counts against the time you can spend on the TWP program. As of this year, any month you earn $940 or more is considered for your TWP eligibility. In 2020, the maximum was $910. A self-employed individual whose net earnings are $940 or more per month or works more than 80 hours a month also counts towards the TWP.

Who Can Apply for Disability Benefits in North Carolina

Prior to evaluating whether you have a qualifying disability, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must determine first whether you are eligible to apply for benefits. You must meet certain base requirements before Social Security Administration (SSA) examines your medical records and assesses your potential disability.

Basically, disability benefits are a type of insurance. The insurance is paid for by payroll taxes. You lose eligibility if you don't work for a long enough period of time and stop paying. Insufficient work can result in the lapse of your Disability insurance policy if the premiums have not been paid.

Disability benefits can be applied for and obtained by disabled residents of North Carolina if their condition makes working incredibly difficult, if it is at all possible, as long as it is backed up by evidence. The state's Disability Determinations agency determines an individual's eligibility for SSDI. 

How To Apply For Benefits In North Carolina

You can apply for Social Security benefits in three different ways, regardless of where you live: by phone (800-772-1213), at your local Social Security office, or online.

If you want to learn more about the benefits from SSDI, check out our post about social security disability housing assistance.

If you are curious about Social Security's process when evaluating claims, check out the rest of Disability Help’s resources!

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Victor Traylor
An expert to the field of Social Justice, Victor formed Disability Help to connect ideas and expertise from the US with rising global cultural leadership, building networks, fostering collaboration, long-term results, mutual benefit, and more extensive international perception.
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