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How Do I Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits in Florida?

The Social Security Disability Application Process in Florida

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is a federal program that provides benefits for individuals who cannot work at all or who can’t work enough to earn a living. You apply for these benefits via a Social Security Disability Application and must meet certain eligibility requirements to get benefits.

The unfortunate nature of government-run programs is that they often include a lot of red tape and potentially slow processes. The SSDI program is not immune, and it can take three to five months or more to get a decision on your application. You also can’t receive benefits through the program until the sixth full month after your disability began except in cases involving a compassionate allowance.

On top of all of this, applications can be denied for a variety of reasons. This leads to many people ending up in the Social Security Disability Appeals process. Working with an experienced SSDI attorney may help expedite your case or reduce the risks of a denial. Learn more below about what qualifies you for SSDI in Florida.

Federal Qualifications for SSDI

Since SSDI is a federal program, you must meet requirements set by the U.S. government. There are two Florida disability benefits qualification requirements:

Disability Requirement

To meet the Florida disability benefits requirement for SSDI, you must be able to answer yes to all of the questions below:

  • Does your medical condition preclude you from engaging in work that is a substantial gainful activity? Typically, you can’t earn more than $1,470 per month — or $2,460 if you are blind (as of 2023).
  • Does your medical condition keep you from doing work you have done previously or from finding new work to replace that work?
  • Is your condition expected to last for a year or more or cause your death?

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It’s not simply a matter of answering yes to these questions on a form. The Social Security Administration will require medical records and other documentation to support the answers.

Social Security Disability Work Requirement

SSDI is a sort of insurance plan, health care coverage, but instead of paying premiums, you pay into it via withholdings from your paycheck. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked enough in a job that takes those withholdings — or paid self-employment taxes on enough income.

The SSA decides whether you’ve met this requirement or not on the basis of a credit system. You must have earned at least 40 credits and earned 20 of those in the 10 years prior to when your disability began. You earn credits for a certain amount of income earned each year — the amount can vary by year. You can earn a maximum of four credits each year.

There are some exceptions to the requirement of 40 credits. For example, younger people may be able to qualify with a lower number of credits because they wouldn’t be old enough to have worked at least 10 years.

What Does the State of Florida Have to Do With the SSDI Applications?

The Florida Division of Disability Determinations is the agency that reviews medical records and other documents and makes a decision about whether or not Florida residents meet the medical eligibility criteria for SSDI.

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It also conducts reviews periodically of cases where Florida residents are already receiving SSDI. The purpose of these reviews is to determine whether or not someone still has a qualifying disability.

Supplemental Security Income

Some people may also qualify for a second benefit called Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. The requirements for this program are:

  • You are over age 65, blind, or disabled
  • You are legally authorized to work in the U.S., or you are a citizen of the U.S.
  • You cannot work due to your disability
  • You have limited income and assets

If you meet all the qualifications and successfully apply for SSI benefits, you are allowed to receive them alongside Social Security benefits. This can be a big help to many individuals, as it increases the income they are working with each month.

What Happens if Your Application Is Denied?

It’s possible your claim for SSDI may be denied. If this happens, you’ll receive a letter telling you why. You can request that the Social Security Administration reconsider your entire application and case file; do this in writing as soon as you receive any denial.

If the reconsideration process does not yield positive results, you can appeal the case before an administrative law judge. Throughout the reconsideration and appeals process, ensure that you are providing medical records and other documents that help establish your claim of a serious disability case. You may want to ask your doctor to provide additional documentation, including letters or other forms, to support your case.

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Social Security disability program application processes can be long and complex, and you might be denied even if you do actually qualify. Missing paperwork, administrative oversight, misunderstandings on claim forms, or an incorrect interpretation of documents in our medical history are all reasons you might be denied SSDI.

If you are a Florida citizen dealing with SSDI issues or denials, having a lawyer on your side can help. Call Jiles Law, P.A., today at 863-875-6900 and make an appointment with our legal team to find out how we can help with your case.

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