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Oklahoma City Social Security Disability Law Blog

Social Security disability for the blind or vision impaired

Blind Oklahomans or those who have low vision might not know that there are certain special rules that might let them receive benefits while they are unable to work. There are two programs under Social Security disability that allow those with vision issues to get benefits. They are the Supplemental Security Income program and the Social Security Disability Insurance program. The medical requirements for each are the same.

A person will be classified as blind if his or her vision cannot be corrected to be superior to 20/200 in the better eye or if the visual field is 20 degrees or less in the better eye and this lasts for one year or is expected to last for one year. A person who does not meet the requirements to be classified as blind can still get SSD benefits if the vision issues by themselves or in combination with other health issues stop the person from being able to work. With SSDI, the person must have worked for a long enough period where Social Security taxes were paid. When seeking SSI benefits, the person does not have to have worked, but the income and resources must be lower than certain levels.

How the president's budget might affect SSD benefits

Oklahomans who are suffering from a condition, injury or illness that they believe is severe enough to warrant Social Security disability benefits might not be interested in politics or how the government goes about overseeing the various programs available to people in their situation. However, changes are frequently proposed that can alter how the SSD benefits are approved, how long they will last and other factors. Having a basis understanding of this is important.

The new budget proposed by President Donald J. Trump seeks changes to the Social Security Disability Insurance program. It is believed that the changes could save a minimum of $72 billion in the next 10 years. SSDI is for people who are not able to take part in substantial gainful activity, but it is widely believed to be lacking in oversight and rife with fraud. Currently, the average amount a person who receives SSDI gets is approximately $14,000 annually. Overpayments and failure to keep track of recipients is believed to be a reason for the financial issues with the program.

What if a military member whose child gets SSI is deployed?

Oklahoma has many people who are in the military and it also has many children who are getting Supplemental Security Income. In some cases, these two factors combine. A concern that many military members have is whether the SSI benefits for their children will continue if the parent is sent overseas. There are special rules for children of military personnel.

Ordinarily, people who are receiving SSI who leave the United States for 30 days or longer cannot get SSI. But for the military, it is different. A child can continue receiving SSI benefits or can file an application for SSI if the child is a U.S. citizen and lives with a parent who is in the U.S. Armed Forces who has received a permanent assignment anywhere out of the U.S. When a parent is being deployed overseas and has a child receiving SSI, the Social Security Administration needs to be told when the service member expects to report for duty, when the child will join him or her, the mailing address at the new station and other information regarding military allowances at the new station.

What is the five-step process for SSD benefits?

For Oklahomans who are suffering from a condition, illness or disability and believe that they warrant Social Security disability benefits, the simplest factors in an approval or disapproval are often lost in the shuffle. Included in these matters is the five-step process that the Social Security Administration utilizes to determine whether the person meets the requirements. Knowing these is vital to a case, especially when the claimant is denied Social Security.

First, the SSA will ask the applicant if he or she is working. If the person is working and the earnings average more than a specific amount per month, he or she will not be viewed as disabled. The amount varies and is changed on an annual basis. For a person who is not working or the amount earned on average per month is equal or less than that amount, the SSA will then look at the medical condition. The medical condition must be "severe" for there to be an award of SSD benefits. By "severe," it must limit the person's ability to do basic work activities like standing, sitting walking and similar factors. This must last for at least 12 months. Without the condition being deemed severe, benefits cannot be granted. If it is deemed severe, the next step will be considered.

Can SSI benefits continue for a person who is in a facility?

Some Oklahomans have medical or personal issues that require them to be placed in a hospital, nursing home or rehabilitation center. If they are receiving Supplemental Security Income, this can be a concern as to whether they can continue to get their benefits. The Social Security Administration has certain requirements for this eventuality and it is important to understand them so as not to have a problem with the SSI benefits.

If a person needs to be placed in a nursing home, a hospital or another medical facility and Medicaid pays for greater than half of the cost of the care, the SSI benefits will be limited to $30 every month. Those who are 18 or older and reside in a public medical institution in which Medicaid does not pay more than half of the costs will not be able to get SSI benefits. If a person under 18 goes into a facility in which Medicaid or private insurance individually or combined pays more than half the cost, the child's SSI will be capped at $30 per month. If a child under 18 is in an institution in which neither Medicaid nor private insurance are paying for more than half of the costs, there can be no SSI benefits.

Important points about a review of SSI benefits

Oklahomans who meet the requirements to receive Supplemental Security Income through the Social Security disability program should understand that the benefits will not continue indefinitely. Being approved for SSI benefits carries with it certain factors that must be accounted for. One is the review of the medical condition to decide if the person should continue getting the benefits. Failure to understand this can be problematic.

Those who have been approved and are receiving SSI benefits must have their conditions reviewed on a periodic basis. The benefits will continue except in cases where there is significant evidence that the condition has improved medically and the person is deemed able to get back to work. These reviews will be conducted based on the medical condition, its severity, and how likely it is that there will be improvement.

What is the representative payee program with SSI benefits?

When Oklahomans receive Supplemental Security Income under the Social Security disability program, they might be in such condition that they will not be deemed able to manage the benefits on their own. If that is determined to be the case, then there will be the appointment of a representative payee. A representative payee can be an individual, an agency, an organization or an institution. Prior to a representative payee being appointed, the medical evidence and other factors will be assessed to decide on the person's ability to manage the SSI benefits.

There are certain people who must have a representative payee. They are most children under the age of 18; people who are adults but are legally incompetent; and anyone who the Social Security Administration decides is not capable of managing or directing the management of the benefits. There are a wide variety of people and entities that can function as a representative payee. They include a person who is concerned about the recipient's welfare such as a parent or other relative; an institution like a nursing home; a social service agency or a nonprofit; administrators at a homeless shelter; or a community-based nonprofit the SSA has approved can charge fees for providing representative payee services.

What is the Compassionate Allowances program for SSD benefits?

People in Oklahoma who have an injury, illness or condition that prevents them from working can seek disability benefits from Social Security. While there is often a wait time to be approved for SSD benefits, there are some applicants who need their benefits faster than others. This can be because the conditions from which they suffer are of sufficient severity and progress with such rapidity that they are deemed to have met the requirements and will get their benefits without the normal amount of time elapsed. This is through the Compassionate Allowances program.

The Social Security Administration is obligated to provide these benefits to people whose issues are so blatant that there is no reason to wait to approve them. With CAL, these conditions and illnesses can be identified quickly to decide that they meet the requirements under the Listing of Impairments. This will be based on the minimal amount of medical information necessary. CAL lets the SSA find the people whose disability is clear and provide them with benefits. This is not separate from the available disability programs. It is simply a strategy to expedite the cases that qualify.

Mistakes to avoid when applying for SSDI benefits

When you file for Social Security Disability Insurance, it is likely that your first claim will be denied. This means that you will be forced to appeal the decision and jump through additional hoops to get the benefits you need. The appeal process can take up to two years, extending the time between your initial claim and when you get your first payment.

To speed up the process, there are a few mistakes you should do your best to avoid.

Are my SSI benefits affected by property I need for self-support?

Oklahomans who are seeking or have already been approved for Supplemental Security Income through the Social Security disability program will undoubtedly be aware of the limits on resources to continue getting SSI benefits. However, various factors are considered with resources and SSI. Resources are items that the claimant can turn to cash.

The total value of items that the claimant can own is not allowed to go beyond $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. However, if the claimant owns a business and needs various items to run that business, they might not be counted in the resources. Property that a person needs to achieve self-support will not count as a resource.

The Law Center for Social
Security Disability

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