SSI & SSDI Florida Disability Advocates

What are SSI and SSDI?

Supplemental security income, or SSI, is a benefits program for disabled individuals. Funded by tax revenue, it is reserved for the aged, blind, or other disabled people with little to no income. SSI provides money for basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing.

Social security disability insurance, or SSDI, pays benefits to individuals who suffer a disability during their career. Usually, if a worker has sufficient work credits and paid Social Security taxes before suffering a disability, they are eligible.

The primary difference between both programs is that SSI is a need-based supplemental income. SSDI specifically covers workers whose new disability prevents them from working.

Guidelines for Social Security Disability Claims in Florida

Florida Disability Claim Advocates: The state of Florida is home to over 11 million people, with more entering the state every day. Many who are older or disabled come to the state because it has a lot to offer. That is why it should not come as a surprise to use the well over 450,000 of those who live in Florida are also collecting social security disability benefits. If you feel that you qualify, it is important to understand the SSA guidelines to receive disability and to meet any income or work requirements that would get you in the system.

Thousands of applications for permanent or long-term disability are filed in the state of Florida every year. Well over half are rejected by the Social Security Administration. If you find that you are in such a situation, how can you improve your odds of receiving disability? Is a rejection the end of the line and if not, how can you turn that no into a yes?

First of all, we discussed that it is not out of the ordinary for someone who is applying for social security to be rejected. That is only the first step in the process. At that point, you need to regather your information, make sure of the details and file a Request for Reconsideration. It may be necessary at that point to have a hearing before a judge.

The majority of those who are currently receiving Social Security disability benefits in Florida have appeared before an administrative law judge. That fact should give you some hope if you have already received an initial rejection. The problem is, this is not a process that typically moves along smoothly or quickly. It may take anywhere from 1-2 years before you even get your hearing. After you appear before a judge, you can expect to wait up to 90 days longer to get a decision.

The agency that is responsible for managing those hearings is the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). There are 8 ODAR offices located in Florida in the following cities:

  • Fort Myers
  • Jacksonville
  • Miami
  • Orlando
  • St. Petersburg
  • Tallahassee
  • Tampa

The office you choose will depend on where you currently reside. Each of these offices may have different time frames as to when the disability hearing will be scheduled. These times range from under a year to almost 700 days, as is the case with Tampa, Florida. It can be a frustrating process, especially as you are waiting to see if you and your family will be cared for under this process.

There are times when you are not able to wait 2 full years to get your appeal and decision. At other times, you might just not want to wait that long. Fortunately, you are not without choices. You can hire an attorney that will help to streamline the process.

A SSA disability advocate in Florida works along with you and the information you provide to improve your chances of getting a speedy, positive outcome to your case. They typically work on a contingency, receiving a percentage of what is awarded by the SSA. It is well worth considering for your peace of mind and increase your odds of winning the case.

How to Apply for SSI or SSDI Florida

Step 1: File the initial application

To apply for either SSI or SSDI, you must file an initial application for benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA can take up to a year to approve and application, but most applications receive a decision within 3 to 6 months.

According to their Annual Statistical Report, the SSA only approved around 26% of all SSDI applications in 2017. SSI application approval was slightly higher, at around 32% approval.

Step 2: Appeal for reconsideration

If the SSA denies your initial application, you have the option to appeal for a reconsideration of benefits. When you receive notification of your denial, you have 60 days to notify the SSA that you want your application reconsidered.

Usually, another group of people at the same SSA office you applied at initially will review your application again. It takes the SSA 3 to 6 months to review and process a reconsideration appeal.

In 2017, the SSA only accepted 9% of reconsiderations, which is slightly lower than the 20-year national average. If the SSA rejects your reconsideration appeal, you can ask for a final hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ).

Step 3: Attend the hearing

The SSA gives you 60 days to file for a hearing upon denial of your reconsideration appeal. It usually takes a long time to receive a hearing. Applicants should expect to wait around 12 to 16 months. During this stage, it is essential for applicants to use witness testimony or medical experts to support their case.

Once you are in the hearing, the ALJ will ask questions about your disability and your ability to work. At this crucial stage, you should have an SSI or SSDI Florida disability advocate on your side. SSI or SSDI Florida disability advocates can assist you in the hearing and represent your case.

Florida Social Security Disability Statistics

According to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), the average wait time for an SSI or SSDI Florida hearing is 15.1 months, which is higher than the national average. However, the SSA also approves around 44% of hearing cases in Florida, which is higher than most states. 

The SSA denies cases 2% less in Florida. In fact, most areas in Florida have high approval rates. In the Fort Myers office, the SSA approves 49% of cases, which is 5% more than the state average. The office in Fort Myers also has the lowest wait time, around 12 months, and the lowest application processing time, which is 441 days.

Social Security Administration SSI & SSDI Florida Hearing Offices

Florida is part of Region 4 of the SSA. The Region 4 headquarters is in Atlanta, and there are 8 hearing offices throughout the state of Florida. 

When applying for SSDI in Florida, it is important to know which hearing office you will use and how long you can expect to wait for your hearing. Below are a list of Florida hearing offices for your convenience.

Fort Lauderdale Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

Suite 1000, 10th Floor

500 East Broward Boulevard

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394

Telephone: 888-436-2637

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Services the following Social Security Field Offices: Belle Glade, Delray Beach, Ft. Lauderdale (East & West), Melbourne, North Broward, Port St. Lucie, South Broward, Vero Beach, W. Palm Beach

Fort Myers Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

2nd Floor

3650 Colonial Boulevard

Ft. Myers, FL 33966

Telephone: (888) 462-1109

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Services the following Social Security Field Offices: Ft. Myers, Naples, Port Charlotte

Jacksonville Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

DeSoto Building, Suite 400

8880 Freedom Crossing Trail

Jacksonville, FL 32256

Telephone: (866) 931-0124

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Services the following Social Security Field Offices: Deland, Gainesville, Jacksonville (North), Jacksonville (South), Lake City, Port Orange, St. Augustine

Miami Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

One Riverview Square, 8th Floor

333 S. Miami Avenue

Miami, FL 33130

Telephone: (866) 964-5052

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Services the following Social Security Field Offices: Allapattah, Hialeah, Key West, Little Havanna, Little River, Miami Beach, Miami (North), Miami (South), Perrine, Jackson Mem Site

Orlando Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

Glenridge Building, Suite 300

3505 Lake Lynda Drive

Orlando, FL 32817-9801

Telephone: (877) 833-2730

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Services the following Social Security Field Offices: Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Kissimmee, Lake Mary, Leesburg, Ocala, Orlando

St. Petersburg Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

2nd Floor

830 Central Avenue

St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Telephone: (877) 452-4193

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Services the following Social Security Field Offices: Bradenton, Clearwater, New Port Richey, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Venice

Tallahassee Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

2nd Floor

1961 Quail Grove Lane

Tallahassee, FL 32311

Telephone: (888) 472-5996

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Services the following Social Security Field Offices: Marianna, Panama City, Tallahassee and GEORGIA: Thomasville

Tampa Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

Fountain Square II, Suite 200

4925 Independence Parkway

Tampa, FL 33634

Telephone: (855) 248-0239

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Services the following Social Security Field Offices: Carrollwood, Dade City, Lakeland, Sebring, Tampa, Valrico, Winter Haven

Why Should I Hire an SSI or SSDI Florida Disability Advocate?

It is essential to have a social security disability attorney or disability advocate on your side when applying for SSI or SSDI. A disability advocate can help you with every step of the social security disability application process. At GAR Disability Advocates, we help individuals apply for SSI and SSDI in Florida. We even manage reconsideration appeals and represent applicants at benefits hearings.

You have a higher probability of getting disability benefits if you have a Florida disability advocate to represent you. Our SSI and SSDI Florida disability advocates work hard to get you approved. We also help clients navigate the intimidating disability benefits application process.

Most importantly, we work on a contingency basis; we only get paid if we get you approved for benefits. If you are not approved for benefits, you pay us nothing. Call us today at 201-308-9520 or fill out our online form for a free evaluation.

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