Oklahoma Social Security Disability Insurance falls under the federal Social Security Disability programs, which provide financial assistance to people who are disabled or unable to work. Social Security Disability Benefits or SSDI are paid to individuals who have generally worked for 5 out of the last 10 years. SSDI is a federal insurance program whose funding comes from the person’s payroll taxes paid while they are still working.
Oklahoma Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance, the Social Security Administration (SSA) collects your medical records and other information to make a decision about whether or not you meet their criteria for disability. Most disabled people who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance the first time, and sometimes even the second time, are denied. Unfortunately, many of those who are denied their disability claim get discouraged and don’t pursue it further. However, a social security disability (SSDI) attorney can help, from the initial application stage to the appeals process to the administrative law judge stage (ALJ stage). The Social Security Administration has some basic guidelines regarding the following disabilities:
- Back Problems
- Bipolar Disorder
- Cerebral Palsy
- Chronic Heart Failure
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Mental Retardation
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Personality Disorders
- Somatoform Disorders
- Spinal injuries
If you haven’t worked (and didn’t pay insurance) or you applied for social security benefits and didn’t establish your disability within the 5-year time limit, you can apply for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. SSI benefits also are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits. SSI is a program funded from the federal government’s tax revenues. Monthly SSI payments vary up to the maximum federal benefit rate which is standardized in all states, but not everyone gets the same amount because it may be supplemented by the state of Oklahoma or decreased by other income and resources.
SSDI vs. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
If your Social Security disability claim has been denied, there are basically four stages to appeal the decision. The first appeal is the reconsideration stage, which can be requested after your initial claim has been denied, and must be requested within 60 days from the date of the denial. The second appeal is the hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The third appeal is a review by the Appeals council of an ALJ's decision, however the chances of getting benefits beyond this stage taper off. The Appeals Counsel comprises a panel of ALJ judges who are only looking for error on the part of the ALJ judge and only review information that was already on record.
Social Security Disability Appeals Process
The fourth and final appeal is a suit filed in federal court. If you are denied, you can either give up or start a brand new claim for monthly disability benefits and back pay.
The ALJ hearing is the process whereby you have the best opportunity to appeal: this is the stage when you are able to testify about your disability before a judge.
Denied SSDI & Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing
The administrative judge is independent of the Social Security Administration and therefore unbiased. They look at the totality of your circumstances to reach a decision. That means the judge will take into account all medical records and consultative examination records (Social Security will ask their contracted physician to look over the claimant’s medical records). They also take into account your testimony such as your day to day ability to function, your quality of life, and what you can or cannot do. Typically when you appeal at this level and the judge has given a favorable decision, you will receive disability benefits within a few months.
Part of the ALJ process is determining at what point disability is established, and this is imperative if you are to receive back pay. If you are deemed disabled, the judge also sets the time when you first became disabled, and this time is typically based on medical records. Usually the judge’s decision is clear, e.g. an individual had an accident and is unable to work. Sometimes someone is fired due to their disability and the time when they could no longer work needs to be established. In other words, there are certain landmarks that establish the time of disability.
Someone may apply for benefits and guess at the date of their disability. Perhaps they use an arbitrary date but their employment records indicate they worked past that date. In this case, the time of disability needs to be adjusted. This time frame may mean the difference between getting Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The following 5-step Sequential Analysis is from the Social Security Administration website. These steps (i.e., questions) are used to determine the validity of SSDI claims:
Step 1. Are you working?
If you are working in 2011 and your earnings average more than $1,000 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled. If you are not working, we go to Step 2.
Step 2. Is your condition "severe"?
Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, we will find that you are not disabled. If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, we go to Step 3.
Step 3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?
For each of the major body systems, we maintain a list of medical conditions that are so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled. If your condition is not on the list, we have to decide if it is of equal severity to a medical condition that is on the list. If it is, we will find that you are disabled. If it is not, we then go to Step 4.
Step 4. Can you do the work you did previously?
If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then we must determine if it interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously. If it does not, your claim will be denied. If it does, we proceed to Step 5.
Step 5. Can you do any other type of work?
If you cannot do the work you did in the past, we see if you are able to adjust to other work. We consider your medical conditions and your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot adjust to other work, your claim will be approved. If you can adjust to other work, your claim will be denied.
You can apply for Oklahoma social security benefits on your own. However, to get your ” best shot” at the ALJ stage, you need someone to represent you who is familiar with procedure; an attorney’s representation is most effective at this stage. The social security procedure is very much driven by the 5-Step Sequential Analysis (above) that you must be familiar with to maneuver through at the ALJ stage. You will need to know how the process works so you can craft your case according to this 5-step analysis.
How an Oklahoma Social Security Attorney Can Help
It is also beneficial to have an attorney help at the beginning stages of the application process. Because this stage is very much form-driven, a SSDI attorney can ensure that all forms are filled out correctly and make sure they get to the right person at the Social Security Administration office. As well, experienced attorneys can ensure that better information is received from medical providers. For instance, they send out ‘a residual functional capacity form’, which is a form for the health provider to fill out that will bridge the gap between Social Security guidelines and the clinical medical records. In other words, it makes sure your doctor and Social Security administrators are “on the same page” and speaking the same language so there is no room for error or misinterpretation.
Oklahoma Social Security attorneys are only paid if back pay is awarded. They do not receive any portion of your ongoing monthly benefits; they only get compensated if you are awarded a lump sum.
Oklahoma Social Security Legal Costs
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Last updated on Oct-28-11