If you have had your initial application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) denied in Florida, you have the right to file an appeal and make your case again. Over 60% of claims filed in Florida each year are rejected at the initial and reconsideration levels – but many of these denials end up getting overturned later through the appeals process.

Why SSDI and SSI Claims Get Denied and Require Appeals 

There are a number of common reasons why the Social Security Administration (SSA) may initially deny your disability claim in Florida, such as:

  • Lack of sufficient medical evidence proving your condition meets a listing
  • Missing documentation about your symptoms, limitations and treatments
  • Income/asset levels exceeding allowable thresholds for SSI
  • Determination that you have the ability to perform some gainful work
  • Issues with meeting insured status criteria for SSDI requirements

Receiving a denial letter does not necessarily mean that you are ineligible forever. The appeals process provides multiple levels for you to address any deficiencies in your original claim and strengthen your documentation.

The Steps of the Appeals Process in Florida

 If your SSDI or SSI claim is initially denied in Florida, you have 60 days to file a Request for Reconsideration. The appeal will be reviewed by different claims representatives. You can submit any additional supporting evidence at this stage. Around 15% of reconsiderations in Florida get approved.

If denied again after reconsideration, the next step is requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This request must be made within 60 days of the reconsideration denial notice.

Your hearing will be scheduled several months to over a year out depending on backlogs and availability. This hearing represents your best chance to personally explain your disability and present a comprehensive case with witness testimony, updated medical reports, and vocational analyses. Nationally, over 60% of hearings result in awarding disability benefits.

If the ALJ judge rules against you, your final appeal options are requesting a review by the SSA’s Appeals Council office, and then filing a lawsuit in Federal District Court. However, the majority of cases are won or lost at the hearing stage.

Success Rates, Timeframes & Tips for SSDI and SSI Appeals 

While only around 15% of claims denied in Florida get approved again at the reconsideration level of appeal, over 50% of those who persist to the hearing level before an administrative law judge end up being awarded SSDI or SSI benefits.

However, the timing of appeals is critical as statutory deadlines are strictly enforced. In Florida, the typical wait for a hearing is 8-12 months after the hearing request is filed. Overall, most disability cases stretch out over 12-24 months from the initial application to a final decision if appeals are needed.

To give yourself the best possible chance at success on appeal, be sure to:

  • Submit any new supporting medical evidence and test results promptly
  • Provide detailed updates on your treatments, symptoms and functionality
  • Compare how your limitations match criteria in the SSA’s listing of impairments
  • Consider having third parties like family and caregivers also submit statements
  • Maintain meticulous records and documentation of everything submitted
  • Comply with SSA requests for updated information or evaluations

The Role of a Florida Disability Lawyer in SSI and SSDI Appeals

 Having a qualified disability attorney advocating for you throughout the appeals process can dramatically improve your chances of eventually being awarded SSDI or SSI benefits. At Disability Advocates Group, our lawyers’ extensive experience gives us expertise in areas such as:

  • Determining the ideal timing and opportune level to file appeals
  • Gathering persuasive medical documentation supporting your disability
  • Cross-examining vocational and medical experts at hearings
  • Crafting legal arguments about why your condition meets a listing
  • Preparing you to articulate your limitations clearly and credibly
  • Negotiating favorable onsets dates and settlements for past due benefits

We aim to resolve cases efficiently at the earliest possible level of appeal, but we are always prepared to tenaciously take your case all the way through the hearing stage and beyond if needed. Our contingency fees are regulated and only paid if you receive a favorable appeals decision.

Disability Advocates Group has successfully navigated hundreds of difficult SSDI and SSI appeals cases in Florida. Our team understands how to cut through the red tape and maximize your chances of a reversal at any stage. Don’t take on the complex appeals process alone – protect your claim by contacting us for a free case evaluation today!