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Oklahoma City Social Security Disability Law Blog

Strategies that might decrease the wait time for SSD benefits

Oklahomans cannot help but see the repeated news reports about the extensive wait time that applicants for Social Security disability benefits must endure. It can be problematic for people who need the assistance that comes from SSD benefits to wait for time periods that can reach years. However, as the issue becomes more pronounced and the Social Security Administration is under greater scrutiny for it, people are actively seeking methods to get beyond the wait time if possible. While it can be difficult, there are circumstances under which it might be possible to decrease that wait time.

One case that sparked concern over the wait time involves a woman whose husband died as he waited for a decision. In 2016, an estimated 7,400 people who were on wait lists for SSD benefits died. There are more than 1 million Americans who wait an average of two years to get a hearing. In Texas, where the woman whose husband died lives, has a wait time of nearly 500 days. Ironically, this is shorter than much of the U.S., according to the SSA. But there is hope for people who are experiencing this issue.

Can a child of an overseas military member get SSI benefits?

In Oklahoma, people who are members of the U.S. military and have a child who has been approved for Supplemental Security Income might be concerned that an overseas deployment will leave their children unable to continue receiving benefits. There are certain rules for SSI that will prevent some people from meeting the requirements to be approved or to continue getting them. If a person getting SSI leaves the U.S. for a minimum of 30 days, the eligibility for SSI will generally end. However, the Social Security Administration has a special rule for children of military members.

The child can get the benefits or apply for the benefits while overseas in the following circumstances: if the child is a U.S. citizen and the child lives with a parent who is in the U.S. Armed Forces who has been assigned to a permanent posting ashore outside of the U.S. The SSA must get certain information to grant these children their SSI benefits. They need to know: the expected reporting date for overseas duty; when the child will join the parent; what the mailing address will be at the new duty station; and information about military allowances that are being provided such as for housing or rations.

How Social Security Disability Insurance payments are calculated

Oklahomans who have either been approved for Social Security disability benefits or are seeking them should keep certain facts in mind as the process moves forward. One key factor with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is how the amount the recipient will get is determined. It is based on a formula that assesses various factors.

These factors include the person's age, his or her income at the time of the injury, illness or condition, and work experience. People who get SSD benefits under SSDI will not receive more than the average they earned during their time working. Some will get significantly less; others will get up to 90 percent of what they earned. There is a calculator that the Social Security Administration will use. Included in the variables that will decide on the amount the person will get is the average indexed monthly income (AIME), computation years, and elapsed years.

Can I complain if I believe the disability judge was unfair?

When Oklahoma residents are seeking Social Security disability benefits, the fate of the case is often in the hands of the Administrative Law Judge. The ALJs are people too and sometimes they make mistakes. Applicants have the right to file an appeal. However, it is also important to understand what recourse there is if it is believed that the ALJ treated an applicant unfairly. There are steps to take if this is the case and it could help to get SSD benefits.

The Social Security Administration should be informed if there is a belief that the ALJ treated the applicant in an unfair manner. The complaint must be received within 180 days of the date the action took place or the date the applicant learned of the conduct. The request to examine a complaint about unfair treatment can take place even during the claims process and before the decision has been made. To file a complaint, it can be done in writing or the SSA can be called and they will write it down. All personal information must be provided, who it was that behaved in an unfair manner, how the person thinks he or she was treated unfairly, the words or actions that are believed to have been unfair, when it happened, if there are witnesses, and if the complaint is being made for another person.

Don't make these mistakes with Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability is the insurance the federal government provides if you become disabled. No one wants to think about this possibility, but, unfortunately, the reality is that many people will have to face it as they age. 

Even if you are not currently disabled, it is important you understand what you can do now to help your case if you should become disabled in the future. Certain actions you take or do not take now could have an effect on your future ability to collect Social Security Disability Insurance, commonly known as SSDI. 

When can I get expedited SSI benefits?

For some Oklahomans, being approved for Supplemental Security Income is one step in the process of meeting their needs for help. They also need to have the SSI-related benefits provided as quickly as possible. These individuals and their families must understand that it is possible to have expedited payments of SSI benefits, but there are certain situations in which it can be done. They are: if there is a presumptive disability or presumptive blindness payment; if it is an emergency advance payment; if it is an immediate payment; and if it is an expedited reinstatement payment. This post will center around PD and PB.

If the SSI will be due to disability or blindness, the Social Security Administration can make PD or PB payments for as long as six months while the decision is made whether the person should receive SSI. The condition itself and its severity will be the basis for expedited payments and the likelihood of an eventual approval. This is not contingent on financial necessity.

If I earn too much to keep SSI benefits, can I retain Medicaid?

People in Oklahoma who are getting Supplemental Security Income and would like to go back to work are often worried not just about how their earnings will affect their SSI benefits, but if it will impact getting Medicaid. Since Medicaid is often vital to the person's care and treatment, losing it can be problematic and might be a determinative factor in attempting to get back to work at all. Understanding the rules with working, getting SSI and Medicaid is imperative to a case.

If a person is blind or disabled and is receiving Medicaid prior to going to work - no matter his or her age - the Medicaid will continue provided the disability is still in place. In general, the person can continue getting Medicaid even if too much is earned from work to get SSI. The person must: be blind or disabled; meet the eligibility requirements for SSI except for the earnings; have been eligible to get regular SSI cash payments for a minimum of one month prior to becoming eligible under Section 1619 of the Social Security Act; Medicaid is needed for the person to work; and the earnings do not replace SSI cash benefits, Medicaid benefits and any attendant or personal care that would be received without earnings.

Detailed criteria for disability benefits due to mental illness

Oklahomans who are suffering from mental illness have a rough road in dealing with their everyday struggles. Their issues can make it difficult to function in any setting be it personal or professional. A lifeline that is frequently beneficial if they meet the criteria for qualifying mental conditions is to file for Social Security disability benefits. For people who are seeking SSD benefits for mental conditions, there are four different areas of mental functioning to remember when the determination is made as to whether they qualify: understanding, remembering or applying information; interacting with others; concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace; and adapting or managing oneself.

Understanding, remembering or applying information refers to having the ability to learn, remember and utilize information to complete work activities. That can mean grasping and learning terms, procedures and instructions; asking and replying to questions; fixing mistakes; solving problems; following sequential requirements and more. Interacting with others refers to having the ability to follow instructions from supervisors, dealing with co-workers and customers, being cooperative, facing conflict, giving one's own opinion and assessment, accepting criticism and suggestions and avoiding being sensitive irascible, suspicious or argumentative.

Will an artist's income affect SSI-related benefits?

Not every Oklahoman who receives Supplemental Security Income works a regular job. Some people are in the creative industry and are artists. For those who work in the arts, the money received for artwork might not count against their SSI benefits when it is calculated how much they can receive. When working in the arts and making an income, it is imperative for the SSI recipient to understand how the Social Security Administration assesses this income.

The type of work the person does in the arts will determine whether it affects the SSI. If the work is as an employee for another person in producing the work, then the income will be considered wages. If it is a person who is operating a small business, the money will be calculated as earnings from being self-employed. For a person who falls into neither one of those categories, any money earned as an artist will count as unearned income during the month it is received. This is because it was not earned from employment or self-employment. If other income is received, the SSI might be lowered, all income will not be calculated.

Most people need to appeal an SSDI decision

Although many people require SSDI benefits, they do not receive approval after the initial application. Some estimates report that nearly 70 percent of people who apply for benefits receive denial the first time around. 

An initial denial does not mean a person should give up hope; people can appeal a claim to receive approval. In fact, when people submit a claim the first time, they should probably prepare to file an appeal to be safe just in case. 

The Law Center for Social
Security Disability

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