Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Florida
Known as the sunshine state, Florida is a retiree’s paradise and a major tourist attraction with its endless orange groves, sprawling gardens, sandy beaches, amusement parks and the Kennedy Space Center. Florida may be the third most populous state, but about 13% of the residents suffer from a disability making it one of the top 5 states in the country to have the highest number of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries. In 2014, the top two diagnostics on the SSDI beneficiary list in Florida were disabilities that stem from a mental disorder (30%) and those of musculoskeletal system diseases (29%).
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Florida
In Florida, only about 27 out of 100 SSDI claims applicants will be awarded benefits in the initial application state as against the national average of 30%. People who have a medical condition that is an exact match to the listings published in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book are more likely to receive approval of SSDI benefits at the initial application stage, provided they meet other eligibility criteria such as having made enough contributions to the Social Security trust fund.
Those who do not meet exact conditions in the Blue Book can still apply for SSDI benefits. The disability should be severe and likely to have lasted or expected to last for at least one year. However, with only 30% of applicants being approved at the initial level, the majority of SSDI claimants in Florida will need to take their case a step further and file for an appeal. If you are able to prove that your medical condition is comparable to a listing in the Blue Book or that you are unable to work at your current job or any other job or even gain skills to work at any other job, the SSA will assess your residual functional capacity and may award you a medical vocational allowance to receive SSDI benefits. These benefits can be awarded to you and certain family members. The more detailed and thorough your documentation, the more likely it is to facilitate a faster decision from the SSA.
Winning a case can rest on how familiar you are with the social security disability claims process which is why it is important for you to gather as much information as possible right at the outset.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
There are close to 60 Social Security offices in the state of Florida. Beginning the application process is the same as in any other state. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you.
Since only 27% of SSDI claims in Florida are approved for SSDI benefits in the initial application process the majority is forced to appeal.
There are four stages in the appeals process and claimants who want to pursue their claim must start at the first level:
- Reconsideration: At this stage another social security disability examiner reviews your case. Here, they basically check if the previous examiner has overlooked any facts or evidence that might overturn the initial denial. Denial rates are generally high in Florida at this stage. Only 9% are approved which means that 91% must appeal at the second level.
- The Court Hearing: Getting a hearing date in Florida may take 180 days to over a year. In every state the claims process is full of backlog which is why it is always better to file for SSDI benefits as soon as possible. At the hearing, your case will be examined by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You are allowed to bring in medical witnesses to solidify your case and introduce more medical evidence. The approval rate of SSDI claims in Florida at the hearing level is about 48%, slightly lower than the national average of 50%.
- The Appeals Council: This is another level of checks and balances. The Appeals Council will review the case to determine whether the decision made by the ALJ was fairly determined.
- Federal Review: This last stage is expensive and time-consuming and it is very rare for a claimant to go to a federal court. It is even more difficult to prove your case here as you would also need to prove that the SSA failed to determine your case properly.
You have the right to question an appeal within a stipulated time period (usually 60 days within the date of denial). Many people think that by starting the process all over again, they may have another chance at getting an approval but advisors who specialize in the SSDI claims process know that the chances for winning a claim is better if you go through the appeals process. Such advisors will also help you get the best onset date of your disability. Establishing an early onset day is very important to receiving the maximum backpay since on approval of benefits, Social Security will pay you from the date of disability onset.
Our expert advisors in Florida can help you get the SSDI benefits you deserve. Find out if you are eligible for SSDI benefits now! Get a free consultation by filling out the evaluation form to the right!
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities
Not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or want additional support and live in the State of Florida? The Florida State administration offers several other programs to also help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- The McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program: Provides students with special needs the opportunity to attend in participating schools.
- Aging and Disability Resource Centers: This program provides services to caregivers, elders and adults with severe and persistent mental illnesses.
- Agency for Persons with Disabilities: This agency serves those with developmental disabilities, identifying the needs while providing supports and services.
- SNAP Benefits: This federal program may help seniors, low-income workers, those who are disabled, and others put healthy food on the table. Benefits are given every month through an electronic benefits card which can be used at authorized retail food stores.