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Filing for disability after a motor vehicle accident
Friday April 11, 2014 | Staff

Filing for disability after a motor vehicle accident

After a motor vehicle accident, filing for disability in Florida is much like filing in any state because Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are federal programs. However, there are variations between the states on how they handle the application process and payment of disability benefits.  Here is some valuable information specific to the Florida application and appeals process, Florida's state supplemental payment for SSI, vocational rehabilitation services, and contact information for the disability determination and hearing offices in Florida.


Initial Application

You can apply for SSD and SSI by contacting any of the 54 Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices in Florida or by filling out an online disability application at the Social Security website. Once the application is received by the local SSA office, it is sent to the Division of Disability Determinations (DDD) under the Florida Department of Health. A claims examiner at DDD will review the application and make a decision regarding whether or not you will receive disability benefits. Note that Florida, unlike most other states, allows disability examiners, rather than medical consultants, to make medical assessments regarding the severity of and limitations imposed by various physical disorders you may suffer in an accident  (Florida is testing this “single decision-maker” model as part of the SSA’s Disability Redesign project. Mental disorders must still be reviewed by a psychiatrist or psychologist.)

At the initial application stage, only 26.8% of individuals are approved in Florida. This approval rating is lower than the national average disability approval rate, which is 31%.


If you are not satisfied with the determination that is made by DDD, you have the right to appeal the decision. In Florida, there are four parts to their appeal process.


At the reconsideration stage, a new reviewer at DDD who did not take part in the initial decision on your case will look at your entire application and any new evidence that you have submitted.  At the reconsideration stage in Florida, 8.9% of the initially denied claims are approved. This is about the same as national average for approvals at the reconsideration level.

Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing

If you are not satisfied with the decision after reconsideration, you have the right to a disability hearing before an ALJ. The ALJ will review your application and any new evidence that you have submitted.

Many cases are won at the hearing stage, as it is usually the first opportunity for those making the decisions regarding your case to see and speak with you. However, the wait time for a hearing in Florida is just over a year, at 367 days. This is nearly a month longer than the national average wait time for a hearing, at 342 days.

In Florida, the approval rating at the disability hearing stage is 48.3%. This is slightly below the national average approval rating of 50%. The approval percentage increases if you hire a disability attorney to represent you at the hearing.

Appeals Council

It is hardly likely that your case will get to an appeal stage, however, if you receive an unfavorable decision (a denial) from the ALJ, you have the right to appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council makes a decision on your case only if they believe that your case was decided incorrectly, meaning the decision made was not supported by your record or there were procedural problems.

Federal Court Lawsuit

If your case is not reviewed by the Appeals Council or the ALJ's decision wasn't overturned, you may chose to file a lawsuit in federal court in Florida district court. This step may occur only when all other appeals steps have been tried.

Florida's Supplemental Payments for SSI

The federal government pays a monthly benefit to individuals who qualify for SSI, but states have the option to pay additional monthly benefits to individuals in their state. Florida has chosen to pay additional monies only to an individual living in a community care program (a.k.a. a family care home) or Medicaid facility (that is, a nursing facility for which Medicaid pays more than 50% of the cost). The payments from Florida and the federal government are outlined below.

I can make representation with Florida's Department of Children and Families for information on applying for Florida's Optional State Supplementation (OSS) once you have been approved for disability.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services


Often individuals with impairments want to attempt to return to work but are in need of job re-training return to work successfully. In Florida, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) under the Florida Department of Education is the government office that helps individuals to prepare for, get, and keep jobs. You can apply at your local VR office to receive services and be on your way to life after a motor car accident. My firm is here to make the transition as easy as possible for you. We are conveniently located at West Palm Beach, Florida and we have the experience to provide competent individualized representation. For more information or to schedule a free initial consultation, call (561) 682-9060 or visit www.pbcinjuryattorney.com


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