Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the safety net maintained by the federal government for those whom, through no fault of their own, are unable to work and therefore at a loss to support themselves or their families. And yet, denials of SSDI claims—including Oklahoma SSDI—are quite common.
A story in the Journal Record of Oklahoma City on July 25, together with a similar probe in The Wall Street Journal back in May, supported the challenges associated with coming out on the winning side of an SSDI application.
Perish the thought that a proud American, having worked his entire life and having paid into a system over that time, considers a successful benefits claim akin to winning the lottery. But it feels like a "win, " just the same, for most.
That's because of the difficulty in getting to that point.
An attorney in Oklahoma City noted, in comments published in the Journal Record, that the Social Security system has a "very high" initial rate of denial. That puts a stress on the appeals process which—following an initial appeal to the Social Security Administration (SSA)—moves to the second pathway to appeal: a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
At that point, there is an entire new set of challenges, according to the report. First, there is a backlog of cases, with too few judges to hear them. As of the summer, according to the Journal report, the backlog of cases across the country pushed close to three-quarters of a million.
More judges are reportedly being hired in an effort to address the backlog. But it also doesn't help when judges are benched for having too high an approval rate, as was the case with an administrative law judge serving impoverished areas of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. Out of 1,284 cases heard, the judge awarded benefits to all but four.
That, apparently, proved too much for SSA. The generous judge was judged too generous, was placed an administrative leave and has since retired.
What that suggests is the SSA expects a good number of SSDI cases—including applications for Oklahoma social security disability—to be denied on appeal.
An Oklahoma City attorney noted that the entire process can take a year or longer—with no guarantee of success.
That's why claimants get a lawyer—for help in weaving through the heavy traffic of a backlogged court system.
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"I always tried to use doctors and medical experts to testify," the judge told the Journal Record. "I used doctors as much as I could.
"If the doctor told me their patient was disabled then as far as I was concerned the hearing was over."
That said, not everyone has access to a doctor or medical care. What happens when a doctor isn't available, or there is an issue with, or complete absence of, medical records?
All the more reason to turn to an SSDI attorney. Once a claim for Oklahoma SSDI is denied, that's the time to seek the services of an attorney.