There are more than 11 million residents living in the State of Florida. Approximately 461,000 of these residents receive Social Security Disability benefits. To qualify Social Security disability benefits in Florida, you must meet the SSA's guidelines for disability as well as meet the work or income requirements.
Each year, thousands more will apply for benefits as a result of an unexpected long-term or permanent disability in the State of Florida. Unfortunately, approximately 65 percent of initial Florida Social Security Disability applications are denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The majority of Florida Social Security Disability applicants are also denied at the first stage of the appeal process, which is called the Request for Reconsideration. In order for most Florida Social Security Disability applicants to receive disability benefits from the SSA, they must request a hearing before an administrative law judge.
While the hearing stage of the disability appeal process is when most disability applicants are awarded Social Security Disability benefits, obtaining a disability hearing before an administrative law judge takes time. In the State of Florida, it can take anywhere from 376 to 682 days to obtain a disability hearing. Once you have had your case heard before an administrative law judge, it will take another 45 to 90 days to receive a decision regarding your disability claim.
The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) is the Social Security agency in charge of managing Social Security Disability hearings. Where you live determines which Florida ODAR office will handle your disability case. The area in which you live will also determine how long you must wait to have your case heard before an administrative law judge. The cities and towns in which the ODAR offices for Florida Social Security Disability applicants are located and the areas each ODAR office serves are as follows:
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Fort Myers, Florida
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Miami, Florida
- Mobile, Alabama
- Orlando, Florida
- St. Petersburg, Florida
- Tallahassee, Florida
- Tampa, Florida
The Fort Lauderdale ODAR office handles the Social Security Disability hearings for the Belle Glade, Cocoa Beach, Delray Beach, Ft. Lauderdale (East & West), Melbourne, North Broward, Port St. Lucie, South Broward, Vero Beach, and West Palm Beach Social Security field offices. It takes this office an average of 376 days to schedule a disability hearing before an administrative law judge.
The Fort Myers ODAR office services the Ft Myers, Naples and Port Charlotte Social Security field offices. It takes this office an average of eleven months to schedule a Social Security Disability hearing.
The Jacksonville ODAR office serves the Daytona Beach, Deland, Gainesville, Jacksonville: Downtown & North, Lake City, Palatka and St. Augustine Social Security field offices. The average processing time for this office is 426 days.
The Miami ODAR office handles the disability hearings for Allapattah, Florida Keys, Hialeah, Key West, Little Havanna, Little River, Miami Beach, Miami Central, Miami North, Miami South, Miami-Dade County, Monroe County, Perrine, the Jackson Memorial Site Social Security field offices. The average processing time for the Miami ODAR office is 547 days.
The Mobile ODAR office in the State of Alabama services the Ft. Walton Beach and Pensacola Social Security field offices in Florida. The average processing time for this office is 438 days.
The Orlando ODAR office serves the Kissimmee, Lake Mary, Leesburg, Ocala and Orlando Social Security field offices. The average processing time for this office is 502 days.
The St. Petersburg ODAR office services the St Petersburg, Bradenton, Clearwater, Pinellas Park, New Pork Richey, Venice and Sarasota Social Security field offices. It takes this office an average of thirteen months to schedule a disability hearing.
The Tallahassee ODAR office serves the Marianna, Quincy, Panama City and Tallahassee Social Security field offices. It takes this office an average of eleven months to schedule a Social Security Disability hearing.
The Tampa ODAR office handles the disability hearings for the Carrollwood, Dade City, Lakeland, Sebring, Tampa, Valrico and Winter Haven Social Security field offices. The average processing time for this office is 682 days.
What Is The Most a Social Security Lawyer Can Charge In Florida?
When you’re submitting an application for Social Security disability benefits it’s a good idea to meet with a Florida Social Security disability lawyer that can answer your questions. A Florida disability attorney will help you figure out what medical evidence and other documents you need to submit to make your application as strong as possible. And you won’t need to pay anything up front to talk with a Florida disability lawyer—(and yes, you read that right—you don’t pay anything out-of-pocket to work with a disability attorney in Florida and get their advice on your claim).
This is because Florida Social Security disability attorneys work on what is called a contingency basis. This means that you don’t have to pay any money up front. Instead, the lawyer will get paid once your application for disability benefits is approved and you start receiving disability benefits. To figure out specifically how they get paid, keep reading.
When you get your first disability benefit check, you will also receive something called back pay. Back pay is the amount of disability benefit that you would have received if you had started receiving benefits as soon as you submitted your application. Your attorney will get paid from that back pay amount. The most that a Florida Social Security attorney can receive is $7,000 or 25% of the back pay that you receive—whichever amount is less.
And, if your application is denied, your lawyer doesn’t get any money. So you will never have to pay out of pocket for a Florida disability attorney’s advice. Because of this, there’s no risk to you to speaking and even working with a disability lawyer.
Beyond how disability attorneys get paid, it is critically important to note that, if you have help from a Florida disability lawyer, you have a better chance of having your application approved on the first try.
Hiring a Florida Social Security Disability Attorney
Many applicants wonder if there is any way to avoid the extensive wait times required to obtain a hearing before an administrative law judge. For most Florida Social Security Disability applicants, the only way to do this is to file a successful application at the initial stage of the disability claim process. The services of a qualified Florida Social Security Disability lawyer may be the best way to do this.
If you hire a Florida Social Security Disability attorney to represent you in your disability claim, your attorney will work with you to ensure that you obtain the medical evidence that will be needed to support your claim for disability benefits and he or she will also ensure that your application is presented to the SSA in the best light possible. This will increase your chances of obtaining an approval at the initial stage of the application process. If, for some reason, your initial claim for disability benefits is denied, your Florida Social Security Disability lawyer will also be able to represent you during the appeal stage of the disability claim process.
Most applicants who receive a denial of their initial disability claim must have their case heard before an administrative law judge. While an applicant is allowed to represent themselves at this hearing, your chances of winning your appeal are statistically higher with proper legal representation. Fortunately, hiring a Florida Social Security Disability attorney does not have to be cost-prohibitive. Your attorney will work on a contingency basis, receiving 25 percent of the back pay that you are awarded by the SSA or $6,000 (whichever is less). If your claim for disability benefits is not won, your attorney does not get paid.
If you would like to learn more about hiring a Florida Social Security Disability lawyer, click here to receive a free evaluation of your Florida Social Security Disability case.