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3 Questions Under 3 Minutes with Keith Tiller

Blues on the guitar being played and the 3 Questions Under 3 Minutes intro plays with 3 minutes counting down in super fast speed with the question marks and the numbers 1, 2, and 3 flashes on and off.

The video faded into a man playing the guitar on the street with a Route 66 Mural painted behind him. He finishes the song and looks at the camera.

(Off-screen) Most people don't know what Disability Determination Services is or what they can do. Can you explain that to us?

Keith Tiller, Disability Determination Services Administrator: Sure, happy to. So, we're a division of the Department of Rehabilitation Services and what we do specifically is, we take the cases from folks who apply for Social Security Disability, and we gather evidence to them, information from the person who applied, and medical records and everything we need.

We make the medical and vocational determination under Social Security rules of eligibility and approval for those who qualify.

After that, we send the case back to the federal field offices for their final determination. So, it's kind of weird we're a state agency but we're 100 percent federally funded.

So, we operate under all the federal rules on their network, under their guidelines but we are firmly state of Oklahoma employees. 

(Off-screen) I heard that you got a degree in music. How did you go from music to Disability Determination?

Yeah, that's a good question. Everybody... it's kind of unique because everybody who came to work as a disability examiner, which is what we call our caseworkers -- came because they needed a job. There's not... it's a very unique job. It doesn't exist anywhere outside of this specific role and every state in the country has a Disability Determination Services that does the same work we do. 

So myself, I was on track to get a PhD in blues, southern regional folk blues at the University of Memphis and that fell through. So I had worked for the state before and came back and applied for a lot of state jobs because I needed a job. 

I actually was offered the Disability Examiner job and a Claims Bill Payer job at the same time on the same phone call and of course I asked which one pays the most and they said the Examiner. I grabbed that job and expected it to be a six-month just temporary gig until I could get back into the PhD program.

I just fell in love with it. I absolutely loved every part of it. Loved the servicing, the giving the service of claimants, the detective work, the digging around and pulling evidence out and applying those rules.

It's a complex job but, you know, you get to learn every day.

(Off-screen) What keeps you with DDS?

Keith: It sounds like a cliche answer, something you're supposed to say. 

But I really truly love the people I work with -- all of them. It's a pleasure to go to work every day and know that I'm going to be able to talk with those folks. We help each other out. It really is another cliche answer, I guess, it really is a family. When one of us is going through hard times we circle around them and help them out and support them.

Yeah, I mean it just ... I don't know how to say it -- it really is a family. It's just a pleasure and a joy to go to work every morning, which is a rare thing.

(Off-screen) Well Keith Tiller, Disability Determination Services Administrator -- why don't you take us out?

Keith: I'd be happy to.

Keith plays a blues song on his guitar.

3 Questions Under 3 Minutes.

Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Logo.