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Oklahoma City Social Security Disability Law Blog

Upcoming COLA will raise payments in SSI benefits

Oklahomans who are injured, ill or disabled and meet the necessary income thresholds can receive Supplemental Security Income through Social Security disability. SSI benefits are for people who have a limited income and are disabled, blind or over 65-years-old. Many people rely on SSI when they cannot work and are not able to support themselves. An issue that many face is that the SSI payments are not sufficient to cover their expenses.

An important factor they must remember is how much they will get and how the amount is determined. To ensure that those who get SSI benefits receive enough to survive, the Social Security Administration will periodically have a cost of living adjustment, also referred to as COLA. For people who are getting or seeking SSI-related benefits, knowing about an upcoming COLA is essential.

What should I know about SSI benefits and prerelease procedures?

Oklahomans who are receiving Supplemental Security Income through the Social Security disability program might have medical issues that require inpatient treatment or some other form of institutionalization. A concern that frequently comes up is how they can get their SSI benefits quickly once they have been released. This is when it is important to understand the prerelease procedure.

There are certain requirements to use the prerelease procedure. It is for those who: are in an institution like a hospital, nursing home or jail; appear to be readily qualified to receive SSI when they are released; and are set to be released within several months of the date of filing for SSI benefits. In some cases, there will be a prerelease procedure in place between the Social Security office and the institution. If not, the person can still file for the prerelease procedure. It can be formal in that it is written and signed by both parties, or it can be informal. The agreement will allow the staff to know the prerelease procedure and gives them a contact to help.

Helping Oklahomans over 50 get SSD benefits

For Oklahomans who are over the age of 50, the rules for Social Security Disability benefits differ slightly than they do for people under age 50. When a person over 50 thinks he or she does not quite qualify for SSD benefits, they might be mistaken because they are not fully aware of how the system works and what the requirements are. Having legal assistance to sift through all the issues can be beneficial and might help a person who would not get benefits if under the age of 50, get them because they are over the age of 50.

If a person over 50 has a condition that does not meet a qualified disability on the Listing of Impairments, the age might push them over the top to get the benefits. The Social Security Administration is cognizant of the reality of changing job markets and the difficulty that people over a certain age might have trouble adapting. This is important when seeking SSD benefits.

Can I get SSD benefits for obsessive-compulsive mental disorder?

Mental illness can be difficult to pinpoint and define. Often, Oklahomans who are suffering from it are not even aware that it can reach the severity to warrant getting Social Security disability benefits. One mental disorder that afflicts many people is obsessive-compulsive disorder, otherwise known as OCD. Having OCD can result in an approval for SSD benefits if all the necessary criteria are met.

People with OCD tend to harp on certain issues or rituals and continually focus on them to the detriment of their life. They are unable to control their obsessions and compulsions and it can prevent them from living a normal life, working and more. Understanding the requirements to receiving SSD benefits for this mental disorder is vital before applying. With OCD, there must be a medical documentation of one or both of the following: being preoccupied with involuntary and time-consuming intrusive and unwanted thoughts; or behaving in a repetitive manner in an effort to stem the feelings of anxiety.

It may be best to file concurrent SSI and SSDI claims

The Social Security Administration accepts and processes claims for both Social Security Disability Insurance benefits as well as benefits under the Supplement Security Income program. At times, a concurrent claim under both programs is appropriate.

While the two programs are different, the criteria for a finding of disabled for both is the same. However, the time frame for when the claimant must prove he or she met the definition of disabled can differ.

What is monthly wage reporting when getting SSI benefits?

Oklahomans who have been approved for Supplemental Security Income already know that the benefits are based on financial need and are for people who have a disability, are 65 or older or are blind. The resources a person has available will largely dictate what they receive in SSI-related benefits. To ensure that recipients are getting what they are supposed to when they are supposed to get it, it is necessary to take part in monthly wage reporting. At the start of each month, the SSI recipient will report his or her wages to the Social Security Administration. This is a requirement under the law. The wages might or might not affect the amount the person gets. The SSA will factor in expenses that are paid so the person can work.

In general, the more money a person makes, the less he or she will receive in SSI. Failure to report wages accurately can lead to the SSA asking for money back. Wages earned by others will have to be reported in certain circumstances. The following must be reported: if it is a spouse who lives with the SSI recipient; if the SSI recipient lives with a parent and is younger than 18; and if there are sponsors for a non-U.S. citizen even if the sponsors and the person are not living together. If the spouse, parents or sponsors stop working, the SSA must also be informed of that.

How to survive while your social security case is pending

Many people take advantage of social security benefits in Oklahoma. However, there are numerous laws and regulations concerning the area, and many people receive a denial initially when they make a claim. Appeals are certainly possible, but this is time-consuming. Many people struggle to stay afloat while awaiting a final decision. 

Occasionally, people waiting on an outcome cannot work. They struggle to find some way to pay the bills. In these instances, it is best to look into all possible options to see what is most advantageous. 

Understanding medical equivalence when seeking SSD benefits

Oklahomans who are injured, ill or suffering from a condition that results in an inability to work should know that they can seek Social Security disability benefits. However, the Listing of Impairments does not always specifically address the person's specific issues. It is then that the medical equivalence becomes important. Knowing what the medical equivalence is and how it can apply is vital to meeting the requirements to get an approval for benefits. An impairment is found to be at least equal to an impairment that is on the Listings if it is viewed as having the same severity and duration. Then it will meet the criteria of medical equivalence.

There are three ways in which the Social Security Administration will decide on medical equivalence. First, if the claimant's impairment is described in the Listings, but the claimant does not have one or more of the findings specified or does have all the findings but one or more is not as severe as it is specified, then the impairment will be considered medically equivalent if there are other findings related to the impairment and they are considered of equal medical significance.

Can I get SSI benefits if I am not a U.S. citizen?

People in Oklahoma who are not U.S. citizens but are in the country legally should be aware that they can get Supplemental Security Income if they meet the requirements. Since SSI is for people who fall under certain income requirements, are blind or are 65 or older, these benefits can be beneficial. For noncitizens, it is vital to understand how to qualify.

One of the following must be in place: the person must have been residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996 and be blind or disabled, he or she must have been getting SSI on August 22, 1996 and living in the U.S. legally or he or she must have been legally admitted under the Immigration and Nationality Act and have 40 work credits in the U.S. Those who entered the U.S. on or after August 22, 1996 might not be able to get SSI for the first five years of legal residence.

Can expenses that allow me to work affect my SSI benefits?

Many Oklahomans who are seeking or already receiving Supplemental Security Income are physically able to work while getting benefits. However, their issues are such that they still have expenses to account for their impairment to work. Known as impairment related work expenses, generally, the Social Security Administration can deduct these costs when the determination is made as to how much SSI the recipient will get. This allows the SSA to not count all earnings and will not reduce the SSI by as much.

Some people need medicine, medical devices, a service animal, technology to assist them to work, tools and other items. These out-of-pocket expenses will be deducted. It might also be possible to deduct medical services like doctor visits, counseling and attendant care services to let the person prepare for work, attend to the person at work and get them back and forth to work. If the person can use public transportation, this will generally not fall into IRWE.

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