Oklahoma City – Brian Nickles was recently selected to lead the Disability Determination Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
Nickles, from Norman, supervises approximately 350 employees who determine medical eligibility for citizens who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.
DDS’ $45.4 million budget is entirely funded by the federal government, which eliminates a potential financial burden on the state.
As result of DDS staff’s work, the Social Security Administration paid $2.37 billion in disability benefits to eligible Oklahomans in 2016, enabling them to purchase basic goods and services in their communities.
Nickles has 25 years’ experience with DDS, working his way up through the organization as a disability specialist, program manager and deputy division administrator.
A native of Shady Point, he attended high school in Panama and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.
Nickles and his wife Jodi Nickles have four children.
“DDS is consistently recognized at the national and regional levels for accuracy and timeliness in determining initial claims for disability benefits, which means that qualified citizens receive their disability benefits much more quickly than those in other states,” Nickles said.
Due to Oklahoma DDS’s excellent reputation, SSA selected the Oklahoma division to hire additional staff for one of only four help centers, known as Extended Service Teams, in the United States. These teams assist other states, including Arkansas, Virginia and Mississippi, to complete their eligibility determinations.
DDS leaders worked with the U.S. Inspector General and the State Attorney General to launch the Oklahoma Cooperative Disability Investigation Program to investigate and prosecute claimants for disability fraud related to initial and continuing disability claims. Since its inception, CDI has saved taxpayers more than $106.1 million through fraud reduction.
“I am honored to lead a team of dedicated employees who are committed to providing high quality Social Security disability determinations,” Nickles said. “Through collaborative efforts with our state and federal partners, I am confident that we will continue to provide accurate and timely determinations that continue to be consistent with SSA policy and demonstrate good stewardship of public funds.