Your Guide to Getting Florida Disability Benefits

Florida disability guide

Florida disability claimants currently getting payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA) make up just 2.6% of the state’s population. With a median age of 42, you’d think more Floridians would apply (and qualify) for Social Security disability benefits. If you’re out of work for 12 months, here’s what you need to know about applying for Florida disability benefits.



Two Ways to Get Approved for Florida Disability Benefits

The two programs we’ll talk about below are designed to help disabled people make ends meet each month. Medical eligibility for both programs is screened the exact same way for every applicant. However, each program has other unique requirements that determine which one you may qualify for.

The Social Security Administration manages two federal programs that provide Florida disability benefits:

  1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Luckily, Florida disability claimants can apply for both programs at the same time using the exact same forms. When you file, check the box on your claim form that says you’re applying for both. It’s that simple!

Eligibility Requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits

The SSA manages a federal benefits program for people whose health issues force them to stop working. However, SSDI isn’t available to people who haven’t worked recently or for enough years to qualify. Keep reading to find out if you may qualify for Florida disability benefits through the SSDI program.

1. Who Can Apply for SSDI?

Here’s how to tell whether you have SSDI coverage before you apply for benefits:

  • Have you paid FICA taxes for most years you’ve worked up until now? If not, then you likely don’t have enough work credits to qualify for Florida disability benefits through the SSDI program.
  • Did you stop working within the last five years? SSDI is a federal insurance program. Once you stop working full-time for five years or longer, your insurance policy lapses. So if your condition started six years ago and you’ve been out of work since then, you won’t qualify for SSDI. Also, you need to have a certain number of work credits to qualify for SSDI. If you’re disabled at a younger age, you might not have worked enough to qualify for benefits yet.
  • Does your doctor say you’ll need to stop working at least one year due to your condition? Your health issue must last for 12 months or longer or result in your death to qualify for SSDI. If you get well enough to start working again any sooner, the SSA automatically denies your Florida disability claim.
  • Has a doctor treated your disabling condition within the last year? If not, the SSA will flag your Florida disability claim for a DDS review. It’s possible to qualify based on this one doctor’s exam, but many people don’t. If this describes you, we strongly recommend talking to a Florida disability lawyer for free before you apply.
  • Are you aged 18-64 and not currently receiving any Social Security benefits? SSDI is a disability insurance program that covers working-age people who’ve paid FICA taxes. If you’re under 18 or haven’t worked, you cannot qualify. And once you turn 65, SSDI benefits convert into Social Security retirement payments automatically. Read this to learn why you cannot get both regular Social Security and SSDI payments.

Only people who can answer “yes” to every question above should apply for SSDI. If you answered “no” to anything, skip ahead to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) section now.

2. How Long Does It Take to Get Your First Florida Disability Payment After Your SSDI Claim’s Approved?

The SSA needs about 3-5 months to review every SSDI application for Florida disability benefits. Federal law also requires a five-month waiting period before the SSA can pay anyone SSDI benefits after they’re approved. Unfortunately, only 1 in 5 applicants get approved for benefits on their very first try. However, getting a lawyer to help you file doubles your chances for approval the first time you apply. Florida disability applications take 624 days, on average, to process. That’s almost 21 months!

Getting a Social Security lawyer to help you file can speed up your claim’s approval time will maximize your payment. Plus, all experienced lawyers we can match you with today work on contingency. In other words, they won’t take on your case unless they think you’ll win. Plus, federal law says a lawyer can’t charge you anything until after your claim’s approved. Nearly 2 in 5 applicants get denied Florida disability benefits for basic mistakes filling out the claim forms. If this happens to you, you’ll likely wait another two years (on average) to get approved for Florida disability benefits. Right now, it takes 19 months to get your Florida disability appeals hearing scheduled, on average. (SSA data for March 2019 shows the national average wait time for an SSDI appeals hearing was 530 days, or 17.7 months.)

How soon can you get paid after your SSDI claim’s approved? Six months after you apply is the soonest the SSA will deposit your first Florida disability check. But if you aren’t approved the first time, you’ll have to wait more than a year for an appeals hearing. Florida disability claimants in Fort Myers have the shortest average wait time at 468 days, or 15.6 months. If you live in Miami, it’ll take you 725 days (a year and 10 months!) to appeal your case.

3. How Much Money Can Florida Disability Applicants Get In SSDI Benefits?

The maximum Florida disability payment available through the SSDI program is $2,861/month. However, the national average payment is $1,234/month for disabled workers approved for SSDI. The SSA averages your highest wages earned over a 35-year working history to figure out your monthly payment. However, the SSDI benefit amount you get paid each month may change in years with a cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase.

4. If My Claim’s Approved, How Long Does SSDI Pay Me Florida Disability Benefits?

Florida disability payments aren’t permanent after your SSDI claim’s approved. Instead, the SSA confirms your disability still prevents you from working every 3, 5 or 7 years. That confirmation process keeps happening until you reach your full retirement age for Social Security. When you turn 65, 66 or 67 (depending on your birth year), Florida disability payments convert to Social Security retirement. The amount deposited into your bank account each month won’t change, and you don’t need to file any paperwork. That’s why people aged 65 and up cannot qualify for Florida disability payments through the SSDI program.

Bonus Tip: Buy copies of your full medical records from your doctor before you apply for Florida disability benefits. Receipts, free itemized statements in the mail and credit card bills are not enough medical evidence to prove your claim!

Eligibility Requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits

If you’re 65 or older, haven’t paid FICA taxes or stopped working more than five years ago, apply for SSI. SSI is a federal assistance program that helps only the poorest Americans who cannot work make ends meet. This program also has financial eligibility requirements you must meet in order to qualify for monthly payments. While the SSI program pays a lot less to approved Florida disability claimants, payments keep going after your 65th birthday.

1. There’s No Difference In Medical Eligibility Requirements for SSI & SSDI

If you’re blind or meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled,” then you’re medically eligible for either SSI or SSDI. Both programs offer long-term Florida disability benefits to residents whose health issues stop them from working. However, it’s much easier to qualify for SSI if you’re under 18 or over age 65 when you apply.

2. You Need Very Limited Income and Almost No Assets To Qualify for SSI

You must earn or receive less than $771/month to qualify for Florida disability benefits under the federal SSI program. This income includes money earned from working or any other sources, like savings account interest, alimony or child support payments. You must also have less than $2,000 in financial assets to your name to qualify for SSI Florida disability payments. This means anything you can sell for cash, like jewelry, stocks, bonds, plus 401(k) or IRA account balances. However, the SSA won’t count certain items when totaling up your assets towards that limit, including:

  • Your house and the land it sits on (for owned, not rented properties)
  • One vehicle you use for household transportation (car, truck, motorcycle, boat, etc.)
  • Your wedding ring, furniture, clothing and other items you need for daily living (appliances, bedding, towels, etc.)

If you own many things or have too much money in the bank, the SSI automatically denies your SSI claim. For eligible couples, the max amount in assets you can own is $3000. In addition, you cannot earn or receive more than $1,157/month to qualify for SSI when applying as a couple.

3. The Maximum SSI Florida Disability Payment Is $771/Month for Individuals, $1,157/Month for Couples

It’s not a lot of money to live on, but if your health stops you from working, every penny counts. Remember, though, the SSA looks for anything that may disqualify you from meeting the SSI program’s financial requirements. Living rent-free with a relative or get free meals at church every Sunday? The SSA will count those things against you and treat them like free money.

Tempted to lie or hide things from the SSA in hopes they’ll approve your SSI claim anyway? That’s a really bad idea. The SSA checks in with SSI recipients every three years to confirm their status remains exactly the same. If they catch you lying about something, expect an SSI overpayment letter in the mail. That means you’ll have to pay back any SSI money the SSA says they paid you by mistake. They can withhold your monthly Florida disability payments if you can’t pay back all the money you owe at once. If you usually get an IRS refund, the SSA can take that money until the debt you owe is repaid.

What About Temporary or Short-Term Florida Disability Benefits?

Unfortunately, the state doesn’t have its own Florida disability program that offers short-term or temporary benefits. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get paid if your health forces you to take some time off work! Here are some programs that may help you:

  1. Workers’ compensation insurance. If you work for someone with four or more full-time employees, they’re required to carry workers’ comp insurance. For you to qualify, your injury or illness has to happen in the workplace while working your shift. Not sure if your injury or condition applies? Sign up here to talk to an experienced workers’ comp attorney for free about your claim.
  2. Personal injury damages. Hurt in a car accident but it wasn’t your fault? Then you might qualify to get 100% of your costs covered through a personal injury claim. Insurance companies only pay 52% of costs, so don’t accept a settlement until you talk to a lawyer. Here’s how to get one free legal consultation about your case before you decide what to do.
  3. Mass tort claims for unexpected medical side effects. If a dangerous drug, faulty medical device or harmful product hurts you, you may qualify for financial compensation. For example: You need Florida disability benefits for about six months to recover from open heart surgery. The reason? Your IVC filter put in to catch blood clots moved and punctured your aorta. You can potentially get your surgery costs and lost wages back by filing a mass tort claim. To see all current mass tort claims that lawyers are willing to review right now for free, visit DrugJustice.com.

You May Qualify for Legal Assistance

Applying for Florida disability benefits is easier with experienced legal assistance on your side. An experienced Social Security attorney can help you right now and won’t charge anything up front. You can get a free, no-obligation, confidential consultation right now and get answers to all your Florida disability claim questions. All Florida disability lawyers work on contingency, so they don’t get paid anything unless you do.

Already applied once and got denied? A Florida disability lawyer can review your claim and fix any mistakes before you appeal. Just remember: You won’t pay anything unless a Florida disability lawyer helps you win benefits. And if you do win, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee. It’s federal law!

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!

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