Man who needs SSI and child walking

Our country believes it necessary to protect the most vulnerable people in our society. The U.S. Social Security disability programs, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), are meant to provide a safety net for people who are disabled and are unable to work to provide for themselves.

Then why is it that so many Americans fall through the cracks and find themselves without a net to cushion their fall?

Miles of federal government bureaucratic red tape have made the system increasingly difficult to understand and navigate. Even the smallest mistake could mean denial of benefits that you may need and be entitled to. The Social Security Administration (SSA) rejects the majority of disability claims. In fact, over 75 percent of claims are denied again on a second review.

That’s where Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons comes in. Our Social Security disability lawyers slash through the red tape to seek the benefits Oklahoma residents are entitled to. Our skilled and experienced Oklahoma City SSI lawyers are ready to fight for your rights and guide you through the complex and confusing paperwork of the Social Security system.

Call our office in Oklahoma City or reach out to us online to set up a free consultation now.

What Is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

There are some major differences between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and SSI.

SSDI is funded through payroll taxes and is like a paid insurance policy. That means that benefit recipients have made contributions to the system in the form of FICA Social Security taxes deducted from their paychecks. In order to qualify for benefits, you must be at least 18 years old but no older than 64 and unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least for 12 months or result in death.

SSDI benefits are subject to a five-month waiting period before being paid out. Since a claimant has paid into the system through payroll taxes, the amount of benefits depends on earnings. If you visit the federal government’s web page, you will find a laundry list of paperwork, information, personal documents, and medical paperwork to apply.

SSI benefits are need-based and is funded by general taxes. SSI is based on income and assets. SSI benefits are targeted for disabled adults and children with limited income and assets. To qualify for SSI benefits, you typically must have less than $2,000 in assets, not including certain excluded assets. These benefits may also be available for people who are over the age of 65 without disabilities, but who do meet financial limitations.

The key difference between the two programs is that SSI benefits are for individuals who have never worked or who have not worked long enough to qualify for SSDI benefits. Eligibility for SSI is means-tested, unlike SSDI.

Who Is Eligible for SSI in Oklahoma?

To qualify for SSI benefits in the state of Oklahoma, you must meet the following guidelines:

  • Disabled by a medical condition that keeps you from working and has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or cause death
  • Totally or partially blind
  • At least 65 years of age

People in Oklahoma who are applying for SSI benefits, which are need-based, cannot have assets that exceed $2,000 in value, or $3,000 if they are married.

The Social Security Administration includes countable income as the following:

  • Any money you earn from work
  • Food or shelter that you get for free or for less than what it is worth
  • Any money you receive from family and friends
  • Income from stocks, bonds, property
  • Other benefits such as workers’ compensation, unemployment, SSDI, or a pension

An experienced and qualified Supplemental Security Income lawyer in OKC can sort through your medical documentation, prepare an initial application, check for missing information or inaccuracies that may slow down the process, and even file an appeal if, for some reason, your initial application is denied.

The attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons are knowledgeable and work quickly and efficiently to make sure that a claim is filed correctly. Firm partner Philip Ryan, in particular, has successfully handled SSDI and SSI claims for almost 30 years.

What Type of Benefits Can I Receive Through SSI?

If you are approved for SSI benefits, you can expect to receive a monthly cash payment. Cash benefits may be payable back to the month in which you applied since it can take time for the Social Security Administration to process and approve an application.

Everyone who receives benefits is eligible for the same base amount. Your actual monthly payment, however, depends on several factors, such as whether you have countable income, your marital status, and your state of residence.

Oklahoma, like most states, disburses what is known as a “state supplemental payment” that is added to the federal benefit. Only a handful of states do not pay a supplement. Check out this tool to calculate what you may be entitled to receive in the way of benefits.

If you are approved for SSI benefits, you will also automatically be entitled to receive Medicaid benefits. SSI recipients may also qualify for food stamps through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

What Happens If My SSI Benefits Are Denied?

An initial claim rejection is common. Many people are also rebuffed in their follow-up claims.

There can be various reasons why a claim may be turned down. For example, you may earn too much money to qualify, your disability is considered insufficiently severe, you lack enough medical documentation, you don’t follow prescribed therapy, or you have been convicted of a crime.

Maybe you don’t think you any of those circumstances pertain to your situation, and yet you still might find yourself rejected. The Social Security disability regulations are wordy, tedious, and often hard to understand. Trying to make your way through the numerous requirements and mounds of paperwork on your own can be difficult and exhausting.

Carefully combing through all the websites, guidebooks, and medical jargon takes time, which you may not have. The more complicated the process, the fewer people apply and get approved. Don’t let the process discourage you from pursuing the benefits to which you are entitled. Your chances for success could be greatly enhanced with the guidance of an SSI attorney in Oklahoma.

There are opportunities to invoke an appeals process if SSI benefits are initially denied in Oklahoma. Appealing the first time will trigger a reconsideration (second review). The agency will assign examiners who did not take part in the initial claim. You are permitted to add additional information to your application during this process.

If you are again denied, you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge where you will be allowed to call witnesses who can bolster your claim.

If you are still denied, you may opt for a review by Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council, which may issue a decision or even send it back to an administrative law judge for further consideration.

If you are still unsatisfied with the results, you may appeal to federal court by filing a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration.

Given the complicated procedures in play, an experienced SSI attorney greatly increases your chances of obtaining benefits either the first time around or on an administrative appeal.

Bottom line: An SSI attorney in Oklahoma can make sure that your claim moves quickly and efficiently through a system that is known for slowdowns and overburdened by new claims and regulations.

Should I Hire an OKC Attorney to Help with My SSI Claim?

Perhaps the better question is “can you afford not to hire an attorney to provide Supplemental Security Income help in OKC?” With the vast majority of claims being denied at first, an SSI benefits claim lawyer on your side can significantly increase your chances of securing SSI benefits as promptly as possible.

For decades, the law firm of Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons has been helping disabled Oklahomans successfully work their way through the system and seek the benefits that they are entitled to. Our highly experienced legal team knows what information the Social Security Administration needs and can gather all the necessary paperwork, information, and medical documentation you need to submit a claim properly the first time around.

If you or a loved one is disabled and needs legal advice on how to proceed with an SSI or SSDI claim, call Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons in Oklahoma City or reach out to us online.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your personal circumstances and which disability benefits to which you may qualify. Think you can’t afford an attorney? The government sets the amount of all attorneys’ fees in disability claims and we never request an attorney fee in a disability claim unless you are approved and receive benefits. Let us help you seek the benefits that you deserve.

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