Oklahoma City – Innovative ideas that improve customer service and benefit the public earned Brian Nickles from Norman a Trail Blazer Award from the Dallas Region of the Social Security Administration.
Nickles, who is Disability Determination Services administrator in Oklahoma, received an award letter from Regional Commissioner Sheila Everett, who wrote, “Ideas, such as Brian’s, are imperative for SSA to advance in our service to the public.”
DDS is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
“Brian is truly a valued partner and is recognized outside the Dallas region as an innovative leader,” she wrote.
Nickles supervises approximately 350 employees who determine medical eligibility for citizens who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.
Nickles developed a new business process using video technology to assist other states in resolving their pre-hearing and hearing backloads.
As a result, Everett explained, applicants for disability benefits found out if they were eligible more quickly and Social Security Administration experienced reductions in administrative costs, hearing officer travel and pre-hearing and hearing processing times.
“Due to the Oklahoma DDS’s success with using flexible video cameras to target specific workloads across state lines, we are identifying new ways to leverage this tool that extend above and beyond the use of traditional Video Service Delivery units used in most of our offices.”
Since 2011, Oklahoma DDS’s consistent high performance and 97 percent accuracy rates have resulted in additional federal SSA funding to hire staff and medical consultants who have assisted many other states in managing their workloads.
DDS’ $42.3 million budget is entirely funded by the federal government, which eliminates a potential financial burden on the state.
“I am honored to be entrusted to lead Disability Determination Services and credit our dedicated team with implementing solutions to new challenges that continues our tradition of quality service,” Nickles said.
Nickles has 25 years’ experience with DDS, working his way up through system as a disability specialist, program manager, and deputy division administrator.