Oklahomans who are unable to work due to a disabling medical condition may be entitled to disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. However, even people with qualifying medical disabilities often have trouble obtaining disability benefits and receive rejection notices initially. Many people who obtain Social Security Disability Insurance benefits have to file appeals and fight hard for benefits. It can be a daunting bureaucratic process, particularly while you are trying to recover from an injury. Having a knowledgeable Oklahoma City disability benefits attorney guiding you through the process and protecting your rights can make all the difference in the outcome.
At Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons, our attorneys are committed to helping disabled Oklahomans obtain the full benefits they are entitled to by law. Senior partner Philip D. Ryan focuses his law practice on helping disabled clients pursue benefits. He has represented clients at more than 3,000 Social Security Disability Insurance hearings and has an active role in the disability cases the law firm handles. Mr. Ryan currently serves as chairman of the Disability Law Section of the Oklahoma Bar Association and has authored the book, “Seven Costly Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Disability Claim (and How to Avoid Them).” Our law firm has been assisting injured and disabled Oklahomans since 1984 and we take pride in the attentive, one-on-one service we provide clients.
If you have a medically diagnosed disability and are having difficulty obtaining disability benefits, contact a knowledgeable and caring Social Security Disability benefits attorney in Oklahoma City. Contact Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons. Let us review your disability and discuss your options for pursuing benefits.
What Types of Social Security Disability Benefits Are Available?
The Social Security Administration offers two primary types of disability benefits to Oklahomans who are disabled and cannot work. The disability benefits are:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The two programs are both administered by the Social Security Administration. Both require a determination of a medical disability. But they have different eligibility requirements and provide different levels of financial benefits.
SSDI benefits are available to workers who become disabled and who have contributed to the Social Security system enough years to be insured and qualify for disability insurance. To be eligible, you must have a medically diagnosed, physically or mentally disabling condition that keeps you from working and that is expected to last at least a year or be a terminal condition. SSDI also provides benefits to people with disabilities who are dependents of insured individuals. A disabled person’s spouse and dependent children are eligible to collect auxiliary benefits.
SSI is a program for disabled individuals with very limited assets and little or no income who have never been employed or who haven’t worked long enough to qualify for SSDI benefits. SSI provides cash assistance to cover basic needs such as food, clothing and housing.
Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Disability Benefits
Oklahomans who sustain injuries in the course of performing their jobs and become temporarily or permanently disabled also may qualify for disability benefits through their employers’ worker’s compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage for medical care for work-related injuries or illnesses and payments for temporary disability as well as payment for permanent disabilities.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance under Oklahoma law, meaning that it provides benefits regardless of who caused your work-related injury. But injuries that occur outside the scope of your employment are typically not covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
Workers’ compensation pays two types of temporary disability benefits to replace lost wages while an employee is unable to work due to a work-related injury. The types of benefits are:
- Temporary partial disability (TPD)—A worker may qualify for workers’ compensation TPD payments to replace some lost income if the worker can perform alternative work but cannot earn as much as he or she made before the workplace accident.
- Temporary total disability (TTD)—A worker who is totally disabled and cannot work for a period of time after has a work-related accident may receive workers’ compensation TTD payments. The payments for temporary total disability are calculated to be 70 percent of the injured worker’s average weekly wage. A worker is entitled to receive wage replacement disability benefits as long as he or she is unable to work, but there are some time limits based on specific medical conditions. The treating physician determines whether the worker is disabled.
Workers’ compensation insurance also pays benefits to injured employees who have permanent disabilities from on-the-job accidents. The two types of permanent disability benefits are:
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)—A person who can still work but has a permanent impairment and cannot do the same job he or she did before a workplace accident may be entitled to permanent partial disability payments. When an injured worker recovers and reaches maximum medical improvement, the doctor rates the person’s level of impairment. PPD payments are typically paid in a weekly amount based on an impairment rating, but the benefit may be paid as a lump sum.
- Permanent Total Disability—An injured worker who is permanently disabled and incapable of doing any type of work may receive permanent total disability benefits for up to 15 years or until the worker is eligible for maximum Social Security retirement benefits. PTD is paid weekly in an amount based on 70 percent of the injured worker’s average wage.
Workers’ compensation disability benefits are separate from federal disability benefits administered by the SSA and have different eligibility requirements.
How Much Can I Receive Through Oklahoma Disability Benefits?
The size of the Social Security Disability Insurance checks you are eligible to receive is based on your lifetime average earnings covered by the Social Security system. Most disabled Oklahomans who receive SSDI benefits receive between $700 and $1,700 per month. Disabled Oklahoma workers received an average monthly Social Security Disability benefit of $1,197 in 2018, according to a Social Security fact sheet.
Claims examiners at the Disability Determination Services Office, a Division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, review applications for SSDI benefits and decide whether applicants have qualifying disabilities based on medical evidence and other factors. The applications require numerous supporting documents, and any missing document or inconsistency in the information provided, can cause a denial. More than 75 percent of applicants receive a denial letter after a reconsideration of their application.
Who Can Receive Benefits?
Oklahomans who are totally disabled or have a disabling condition that is expected to continue a year or longer or be a terminal condition may qualify for SSDI benefits. The disabling condition must interfere with your ability to work or adapt to other types of work.
More than 125,000 disabled workers in Oklahoma received disability insurance benefits in 2017, according to Congressional Statistics.
If you are only partially disabled and can still work, you may not meet the Social Security Administration’s narrow definition of disability.
- Disabled Widows and Widowers— The death of a working spouse who was the family breadwinner can cause financial hardship for disabled dependents, but SSDI does provide a safety net. A disabled widow or widower may have a right to claim Social Security disability benefits if their working spouse passes away. These benefits can offer a significant source of income if you meet the eligibility criteria. To qualify for SSDI’s disabled widow or widower cash assistance benefits, you must be between the ages of 50 and 60 and comply with the Social Security Administration’s strict definition of disability.
- Children of Disabled Workers— A child, stepson or stepdaughter or dependent grandchild of a disabled individual may be eligible to receive SSDI benefits if the child is under the age of 18 and not married, or up to age 19 if a full-time high school student. Each qualifying child may receive a monthly payment of up to half the disabled individual’s payment, but there is an overall cap for the amount of SSDI benefits a family may collect each month.
- Adult Disabled Since Childhood Benefits — An adult who is still living with a disability diagnosed in childhood may be eligible to claim Social Security disability assistance based on a parent’s earnings if the parent is receiving retirement or disability benefits or is deceased.
Contact Oklahoma City Disability Benefits Attorneys
Whatever disability you have, you need to understand the range of disability benefits available to assist you and your family in Oklahoma. Working with a knowledgeable Oklahoma City disability benefits attorney can make the SSDI application and appeals process go more smoothly. If you are unfamiliar with the process, it can be complicated to gather all the necessary medical evidence of a disability and follow all the instructions to seek disability benefits. Our knowledgeable disability attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons represent SSDI applicants throughout the Oklahoma City area. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation about your claim.Get Started