A denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application in Florida can leave you feeling frustrated and uncertain. But don’t lose hope! You have the right to fight back by requesting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This guide will walk you through the process of requesting a hearing and explain why having an experienced disability lawyer on your side can make all the difference.

Why Request a Hearing?

There are several reasons why someone in Florida might request a hearing after an initial SSDI or SSI application denial:

  • Disagreement with Denial: You may believe the SSA made a mistake in their assessment of your disability and its impact on your ability to work.
  • Incomplete Application: The SSA might have denied your application due to missing information. A hearing allows you to present a more complete picture of your disability.
  • New Medical Evidence: Your condition might have worsened since your initial application. Presenting new medical evidence during a hearing can strengthen your case.

Requesting a Hearing in Florida

There are three ways to request a hearing in Florida:

  1. Online: You can submit your request through your online Social Security account at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.
  2. Phone: Call the SSA Hearing Office at 1-800-771-1060 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778) to request a hearing by phone.
  3. In-Person: Visit your local SSA office and request a hearing form (SSA-Request for Hearing or Reconsideration (Form SSA-561)). You can complete and submit the form at the office.

Required Paperwork

  • The completed SSA-Request for Hearing or Reconsideration (Form SSA-561) (if requesting in-person).
  • A copy of your initial application denial notice.
  • Any additional medical records or documentation not previously submitted.

Helpful Supporting Documentation

  • Detailed medical records: Doctor’s reports, test results, treatment plans, and anything documenting your disability and its limitations.
  • Statements from doctors: Letters from your physicians explaining your condition and how it affects your ability to work.
  • Vocational reports: If applicable, a vocational assessment evaluating your ability to perform different types of jobs.
  • Witness statements: Testimonies from friends, family, or therapists who can confirm your limitations.

Response Time

The wait time for a hearing request response can vary depending on the backlog in your area. It typically takes anywhere from 2 to 4 months. However the time to an actual hearing can take much longer:

The average wait time for a hearing in Florida is 9.0 months, which is slightly better than the national average of 10.1 months.

However, wait times vary significantly between different hearing offices in Florida:

  • Fort Myers: 7.0 months
  • Orlando: 7.6 months
  • Fort Lauderdale: 8.3 months
  • Jacksonville: 8.3 months
  • Tampa: 9.4 months
  • St. Petersburg: 9.6 months
  • Tallahassee: 10.4 months
  • Miami: 11.7 months

Denied Hearing Request?

If your request for a hearing is denied, you have two options:

  1. Request a review by the Appeals Council: This is a higher-level review body within the SSA.
  2. File a lawsuit in federal court: This is a last resort option, and consulting with a disability lawyer is highly recommended before pursuing this path.

Approved Hearing Request

If your request for a hearing is approved, the SSA will schedule a hearing with an ALJ. You will receive a notice with the date, time, and location of your hearing. Here’s what to expect next:

  • Pre-hearing: An attorney at Disability Advocates Group can help you prepare for the hearing by gathering additional evidence, practicing your testimony, and familiarizing you with the hearing process.
  • The Hearing: You will have the opportunity to present your case before the ALJ, answer questions, and submit evidence. A Disability Advocates Group attorney can represent you during the hearing and ensure your voice is heard.
  • ALJ Decision: The ALJ will issue a written decision on your case after the hearing. This decision could be an approval, a denial, or a request for more information.

Why Choose Disability Advocates Group?

Navigating the complexities of a disability hearing can be overwhelming. An experienced attorney at Disability Advocates Group can:

  • Review your case: We can assess your situation and advise you on the best course of action.
  • Gather evidence: We will help you compile a comprehensive record that effectively supports your claim.
  • Represent you at the hearing: Our legal expertise ensures your case is presented persuasively before the ALJ.
  • Fight for the benefits you deserve: We are dedicated to helping you secure the financial support you need.

Don’t go through the appeals process alone. Contact Disability Advocates Group today for a free consultation and let us help you win your disability hearing!