SSI (Supplemental Social Security Income) is a form of disability payment provided by the SSA to people with limited income and resources. Unlike SSDI, which is based on work credits that a person has accrued during their time being employed, SSI provides much-needed assistance to persons who are disabled and with limited income. Florida, unlike, many other states, offers very few other kinds of disability assistance programs apart from SSDI and SSI.
Qualifying for SSI In Florida
In Florida, you must meet several basic requirements before you qualify for SSI. You must either be 65 or older, disabled or blind. In order to be classified as blind by the SSA, your central visual acuity must be 20/200 or less with the use of correcting lenses in your better eye. You can also be classified as blind if the visual field limitation in your better eye does not exceed 20 degrees.
For you to be considered disabled, you must not be able to carry out any substantial gainful activity, and your condition must last for at least 12 months or result in death.
Since the SSI program in Florida is based on financial need, there are income requirements that applicants must meet before they can qualify.
1) Applicants must have a limited income after factoring in all income received from work, Social Security, the VA, unemployment and other benefits and assistance from others.
2) The value of your personal resources must be less than $2,000 total for singles, and $3,000 total for couples. Things that the SSA counts as resources include real estate, stocks, bonds, cash and bank accounts. Things like your car and the home where you live are typically not counted towards your resources.
3) You must apply for other benefits that you may be eligible for first, such as SSDI or Workers' Compensation or VA benefits.
The Application Process
Florida has 56 different SSA field offices where you can apply for benefits. You also have the option of submitting an application online or by phone. Once your application is received by the Florida office of the SSA, it is forwarded to the Division for Disability Determinations (DDD) which falls under the Florida Department of Health. Florida is one of the few states that allow disability examiners, as opposed to medical consultants, to review disability applications.
In fact, the state is looking to move towards a "single decision maker" model for incoming disability applications in order to make the process move faster and more efficiently. Mental disorders, however, will still be reviewed by a psychiatrist/psychologist.
The approval rate for disability applications in Floridalies slightly lower than the national average. While the national average stands at 31%, Florida’s approval rate is currently at 26.8%. Only about 8% of reconsiderations in Florida are successful, with 48% of ALJ hearings in Florida being approved.
Florida Offers Supplemental Payments for SSI
SSI monthly benefits typically come from the federal government at a base rate of up to $735/month. Individual states may choose to add state-specific benefits to that base SSI amount. Florida pays additional SSI amounts to persons living in community care programs (family care homes), assisted living homes, or in Medicaid homes (i.e. accommodation where Medicaid pays for more than 50% of the cost).
Florida SSI and Medicaid
Those who qualify for SSI in Florida are also automatically eligible to receive Medicaid coverage. In addition, such recipients may also be eligible for food assistance programs to help with monthly costs.
Florida SSI Resources
There are several important resources that SSI applicants in Florida should be aware of:
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
This is a department that has been set aside to specifically assist those who are disabled but desire to return to work, to be able to do so. The department offers job-specific training, resources for obtaining a job that suits your abilities, and assistance to help you maintain employment. Their contact information is as follows:
Florida Department of Education
Tallahassee, Fl 323201
1 (800) 451-4327
The Florida Office of Disability and Adjudication Review (ODAR) is located in Atlanta, Georgia, and it serves as the location where appeals are processed and scheduled for hearing.
Atlanta Federal Center
61 Forsyth St. SW.
Atlanta, GA 30303
1 (404) 562-1182