Florida, unlike some other states, does not provide short-term disability benefits to those who can't work. If you live in Florida and you aren't able to work due to a medical condition, unless you have disability insurance through your employer, the federal disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) are likely your only chance to get disability benefits.
The SSA provides two programs that pay disability benefits: Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is available to people who have a qualifying work histories with employers who paid taxes to the SSA. SSI is for people who do not have a qualifying work history and have low income and assets. The definition of disability is the same for both programs, and it is not easy to meet (and your inability to work must last at least one year).
You can apply for benefits in three different ways, depending on whether you are applying for SSI or SSDI.
Online. You can apply online for SSDI at www.ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm. When you apply, you will need as much of your personal information as possible, such as your Social Security number, previous addresses, and information about any past marriages. You will also need information about your disability, doctors you have seen, and the treatment you've had.
In person. You can apply for benefits at your local field office (Florida has 56). Applying in person at your local field office can be helpful if you need assistance reading and understanding the application. To find your local field office, visit the SSA’s website and enter your zip code into the locator. Make sure to call ahead to see if you need to make an appointment. You can call the SSA at 800-772-1213.
By telephone. If you live too far from your field office or if travel is difficult, it may be easier to apply by telephone. You can do this by calling 800-772-1213. You will need to provide the SSA with your Social Security number to begin the application process. If you are deaf or hearing impaired, call 800-325-0778 for help with your application.
After taking your disability application, it is sent to the Florida Division of Disability Determinations (DDD). DDD, administered by Florida’s Department of Health, is the state agency that will make the initial determination(s) about whether you are disabled under the SSA’s definition. Specifically, the Bureau of Medical Disability Program Operations handles the actual processing and adjudication of claims for disability, and approves 34% of Florida claimants for benefits. Below is the contact information for Florida’s DDD:
Department of Health
Division of Disability Determinations
Ashley Building, Suite 100
1321 Executive Center Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32399-6512
Main Number: 850-488-4222
Toll Free: 800-499-6590
You can also visit the DDD website for more information.
The federal government will pay you SSI benefits of up to $783 per month (in 2020). States have the option to provide a supplemental payment to SSI recipients. In Florida, if you receive SSI and live in an adult family care home or assisted living facility, you may be eligible for an additional state supplement in the amount of $78.40. Couples receive the same as two individuals; they are treated as two individuals once they stop living independently. If you live in a Medicaid facility, you may receive an additional $5 per month.
If you live in Florida and get SSI, you are automatically eligible for Medicaid coverage. You may also be eligible for "food assistance."
An experienced disability attorney can help you collect the right medical information for your medical condition and represent you at your disability appeal hearing (where over half of disability claimants in Florida are approved for benefits). You might want to set up a consultation with one to discuss your case. To find a Social Security disability lawyer in your area, try our lawyer locator tool below.
Updated October 31, 2019