Social Security Disability

Authored By: Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida


What is the difference between disability benefits and social security benefits?

Social Security Disability is the benefit you accumulated thru contributions to Social Security. You must contribute to the program for five years to qualify for this benefit and the amount of this benefit depends on how much you contributed. You may obtain benefits for you and your dependents (for their minor children while you are incapacitated). After five years of failing to pay Social Security taxes or not pay enough to qualify, you will not be insured for this benefit.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits for to people who have not worked or have not worked enough to earn in excess of the limit, currently $710 per month. SSI currently pays $6710per month. In some States, they add additional benefits to income supplemental insurance, but Florida is not one of these States. The date on which you called or submitted your application for benefits (which happens first) will be the date of the onset of your incapacity. This is important because when you receive your benefits, you will be paid the benefits from this date even if you were incapacitated months earlier

  • The initial request: the process requires that you submit an application for benefits in the local Social Security Office or online at
  • Submit an Appeal: once you receive the denial of your application, you have only sixty (60) days to submit an appeal. This can also be filed in the Social Security Office or on the internet. It is recommended that you submit this as soon as possible and do not take risks that the date expires. Keep a copy of your appeal for your records. Social Security may take months to deny its reconsideration. Remember that you have only sixty (60) days to appeal.

Request a hearing before an administrative law judge: Once you receive your denial of reconsideration, you have sixty (60) days to request a hearing before administrative law judge. You must keep a copy of this request for your records. From the day you submit your order, you can expect to wait up to a year or more for a response to your request. You have the right of representation the hearing; However, Social Security does not provide you with a lawyer. 

  • If the administrative law judge gives an unfavorable decision, you may apply for a review of the decision/order. You have sixty (60) days to submit an appeal for the review of the decision/order. This form is available in the local Social Security Office or This will be sent to the Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia. The Appeals Council can take a year or two to make a determination.
  • If the Appeals Council denies your appeal, you can submit the trial in the Federal District Court against the Commissioner of Social Security. This should be made within sixty (60) days of the decision by the Appeals Council. 

How Do I Obtain Legal Representation? 

It is recommended that you get legal representation as soon as possible in the process. Once you receive your initial denial, a lawyer can help you. Private lawyers represent cases benefits of the social security disability and supplemental income security for contin­gency. This means that you only pay if his lawyer wins his case, and only 25% of the total received in retroactive benefits which begin on the date of the commencement of the disability until the date of the decision in your favor. You can contact the national organization of representatives of applicants against the Social Security (NOSSCR for its acronym in English) for the name and num­ber of qualified counsel. The toll-free number is 1-800-431-2804. 

What Should I Do To Prepare My Case? 

You should seek medical attention for your disabilities. Often people cannot get treat­ment because they cannot afford a doctor. The lack of treatment allows Social Security to ignore their disabilities. You must be try and access all available medical services, including clinics and emergency rooms. When you have a doctor who treats you, be sure to complain to your doctor about all your problems once you see them and that the doctor makes notes about your condition (for example: January - complained of back pain; February - respiratory infection; March—the improvement of respiratory infection; April - back pain, it hurts to sit) This allows Social Security to conclude that your back should have improved in February and March so it is important that you always complain to the doctor. 

You should also take your prescribed medicine. If you don’t follow the instructions of the doctor, it can affect your case and Social Security may conclude that you feel better and that you can now go back to work. You should promptly complete the forms for Social Security. Ideally, you should get a representative to help fill them out. There are often things that are written in error because the question was read wrong or you did not understood it. If you do not understand a question on the form, you should indicate that instead of trying to answer. If you have a doctor who believes in you, you should ask him to write a statement/note about how your disabilities or diseases and how they affect your ability to work. The more specific the doctor can be, the better for your case. Always keep a copy of any record or document that you submit to Social Security. Also keep a record of when you submitted the paper. 

Updated: May 9, 2017 

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