Answering Common Questions About Negligence and Injuries Sustained in Florida

Come get your personal injury and accident questions answered on topics including motorcycle accidents, automobile accidents, disability insurance, and workers’ compensation matters. We handle cases throughout Florida concentrating on the greater Central and North Florida area, and we have the in-depth answers you need.

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  • After I apply for Social Security disability, how long will I wait for benefits?

    calendar_pagesThe timeframe between applying for Social Security disability and receiving benefits varies from person to person. Some applicants receive a determination within a month, while others can wait a year or more before their benefits are paid. In most cases, it depends on the stage at which your claim is approved.

    The Different Stages of Social Security Disability Approval

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) can potentially approve disability applications at many different points in the claims process. The more steps it takes to approve your claim, the longer you'll wait for benefits.

    The length of time before you receive benefits will depend on whether your application is approved:

    • The first time. It takes up to 90 days to get a decision on a new disability claim. However, many claims are denied the first time, so it's likely you'll have to proceed to a first appeal.
    • On reconsideration. If your first application is denied, you can appeal the decision by filing a request for reconsideration. Appeals generally take between 60 and 90 days to process and notify the claimant of the determination. If the appeal is denied, the next step is to request a disability hearing with an administrative law judge.
    • At a disability hearing. There's typically a backlog of cases waiting to be heard by a judge, so it can take anywhere from a few months to over a year to schedule a disability hearing. However, disability applications are more likely to be approved at a hearing than at any other level of the process.
    • For a terminal condition. Claimants who apply for benefits based on a terminal condition or a class of severe disabilities may receive expedited benefits through the Compassionate Allowance Program and quick disability determination programs.

    There are many things claimants can do to speed up their cases and increase their chances of approval. Providing complete and convincing medical information and filing for disability as soon as you're unable to work can both increase approval rates, as can hiring a Social Security disability attorney to present your case.

    Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our Social Security attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • Can I receive Social Security disability and retirement benefits at the same time?

    woman_and_financesThe Social Security Administration (SSA) primarily pays disability benefits to people who cannot work and are too young to retire. Since disability benefits automatically transition into retirement benefits, most people cannot collect both Social Security (SS) retirement benefits and SS disability benefits at the same time.

    However, some claimants may qualify for both types of benefits as well an additional amount of income based on their circumstances.

    How Retirement Affects Your Social Security Disability Benefits

    The SSA allows people to receive SS retirement benefits when they reach full retirement age, which is 65 or 67 years old, depending on what year you were born. Since a person who is retired is assumed not to be working, disability payments stop and retirement benefits kick in at one of those two ages. While the type of benefit changes, payments continue automatically and the amount stays the same.

    Although this is the general rule, some retired claimants can receive multiple kinds of SS benefits if they:

    • Take early retirement. The SSA allows people to claim retirement benefits as early as age 62, but the amount these claimants received is reduced. However, if a person qualifies for both early retirement and disability, the SSA may provide a disability payment on top of their early retirement benefit that makes up the difference.
    • Receive back pay. A retired person who qualifies for disability will also likely be approved for retroactive disability benefits for the months in which they were disabled before application.
    • Qualify for Supplemental Security Income. If you're already receiving disability or retirement benefits, you could also qualify for Supplemental Security Income if you can demonstrate financial need and few resources.

    If you're unsure what kinds of benefits you may qualify for, our attorneys can determine how much you've paid into Social Security during your past employment and see how your personal circumstances affect what you're owed. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our Social Security attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • Can I get workers' compensation for job-related stress in Florida?

    workplace stressMany people suffer from anxiety, depression, and even panic attacks as a result of their work environments.

    As it can be difficult to prove the medical extent of these injuries, workers’ compensation for stress is usually not an option unless the stress is related to a physical injury.

    Workers’ Comp Requirements for Mental or Nervous Injuries

    Under Florida law, an employee can only collect workers’ compensation for job-induced stress if he or she also suffers a physical injury. In addition, the employee’s stress and injury must have a significant impact on one another.

    Florida law allows a workers’ compensation claimant to get additional benefits for stress if he or she:

    • Demonstrates the link between the mental condition and the injury. The employee’s physical injury must be at least 50 percent responsible for his or her nervous condition. For example, if you suffer an injury that causes disability, you may be entitled to further compensation for the depression caused by the disability. On the other hand, if you had anxiety before you suffered a broken leg at work, the two conditions may be seen as unrelated.
    • Provides adequate evidence. Claimants must have a diagnosis and prognosis from a licensed psychiatrist according to the criteria established for mental disorders by the American Psychiatric Association.
    • Suffers unduly. Workers’ compensation will only provide nervous condition benefits for anxiety related to the specific compensable injury. Therefore, no benefits will be paid for psychological injuries related to being out of work, suffering pain, losing out on job opportunities, or resulting from a pre-existing mental condition.
    • Claims short-term benefits only. A person may only claim stress or nervous suffering benefits for up to six months after the date that his or her physical injury reaches maximum medical improvement.

    If your physical injury was caused by stress, or you're suffering a great deal of mental and emotional trauma as a result of an injury at work, we can help you get the medical and wage loss benefits you are owed. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our work injury attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • How does Social Security issue back pay on disability benefits?

    gov_checkIt can take several months for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to issue a decision on a disability claim. For this reason, nearly every person who is awarded Social Security disability will be owed past due benefits, also called disability “back pay.“

    However, the amount of back pay granted to each claimant varies depending on the date used to calculate benefits.

    Dates That Affect the Amount of Social Security Disability Retroactive Benefits

    Claimants can receive up to 12 months of Social Security disability back pay for the months in which they were waiting for benefits to be paid. After the claim is approved, the full amount of retroactive benefits is issued in one lump sum, with regular monthly benefits continuing as usual.

    The number of previous months for which you will be awarded benefits depends on three different but important dates:

    • Date of disability. When the SSA approves an application for benefits, it decides a date on which the claimant's disability began. This is known as the established onset date (EOD), and is determined by a disability examiner using the claimant’s medical records and work history. An EOD can be several months before the application date, greatly affecting the amount of back pay. For this reason, it's not uncommon for a claimant and a disability examiner to disagree on the exact date of disability. A Social Security disability attorney can help by gathering additional medical information and other evidence to prove the claimant wasn't able to perform work.
    • Application date. Claimants can receive benefits back to the date they applied for disability, as long as their medical evidence supports they were disabled on or before this date. If their medical evidence shows they were disabled in the year before applying for benefits, retroactive payments may be granted for the months before the application date.
    • End of the waiting period. Social Security disability benefits have an automatic five-month deduction to allow a reasonable period for benefit processing. In other words, a person isn't entitled to benefits until five months after his or her disability began. For example, let’s say a claimant files an application on December 1 and is given a disability date of January 1 of the same year. Although the claimant has been “officially” disabled for 11 months, he or she will only be entitled to six months of retroactive benefits.

    Make the Process Easier With Our Help

    As you can imagine, the established date of your disability can have a big impact on the amount of benefits you receive. If you win your disability claim on appeal, you could potentially get back pay for the many months you were forced to live without your rightful benefits.

    If you're having trouble collecting rightful payment from Social Security, simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our attorneys at no cost to you.

  • What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

    SS_carddsThe Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability payments to workers who previously paid taxes into the Social Security system but now have a condition that makes maintaining employment difficult. The SSA also has an entirely separate disability program called Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that pays benefits to claimants who are unable to work and live on an extremely low income.

    Who Is Eligible to Receive Supplemental Security Income?

    Supplemental Security Income is a purely needs-based program for people who have limited income and resources. Unlike Social Security disability benefits, SSI is paid out of general taxes rather than Social Security taxes. This is important because people applying for SSI don't need to have work in jobs where they paid Social Security taxes—in fact, they don't need to have worked at all in the past to be eligible for benefits.

    In order to qualify for SSI benefits, there must be proof that you:

    • Are disabled. If you're under 65, you'll need to prove your disability matches the SSA’s definition of long-term disability. This includes a complete inability to do the type of work you've done in the past, as well as an inability to be retrained into other kinds of work available in your area. If you're over 65, you may be able to collect if you're not disabled but are in financial need. If you're applying for benefits on behalf of a child with disabilities, you'll still need to prove his or her condition and limited financial resources.
    • Have limited resources. SSI is reserved for people with a demonstrated financial need. Claimants must prove they have less than $2,000 worth of assets and possessions available to them, not counting one car and the house in which they live. A person may be denied SSI benefits if he or she lives with multiple people who are able to earn a living, have more than $2000 in a savings account, own multiple vehicles, or have other potential income available to them.

    If you do qualify for SSI, you can make a claim for these benefits at the same time you apply for Social Security disability. If you need help with an application or need to appeal your Social Security benefits decision, fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • Could I receive both Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits?

    SSDI_and_SSIThe Social Security Administration (SSA) offers different kinds of disability income depending on a beneficiary’s specific needs. Social Security disability is for people who have paid enough taxes into the Social Security system to draw upon the fund if they become disabled. The other form of payment, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), is reserved for beneficiaries with disabilities who have low income and few financial resources.

    Who Qualifies for Both Social Security Disability and SSI?

    The biggest difference between Social Security disability and SSI is that SSI is a needs-based program. Just as people who have never paid into Social Security aren't eligible for benefits, people who have access to stable sources of income, property, or other assets aren't eligible for SSI benefits.

    However, there are some cases where people may qualify for both types of disability benefits—sometimes called “concurrent benefits.” You may get concurrent benefits if you're approved for Social Security disability, but receive a low monthly payments due to your work history.

    Claimants may collect both benefits with proof that they:

    • Worked in the past ten years prior to becoming disabled
    • Worked long enough in jobs where they contributed to Social Security
    • Have medical records that show clear evidence of disability due to an injury, condition, or treatment for a condition
    • Have a disability which has lasted for one year, is expected to last over a year, or will eventually lead to death
    • Own less than $2,000 worth of total countable assets as a single person
    • Own less than $3,000 in total countable assets if claiming disability as a married person

    You may apply for SSI benefits after you're approved for disability, or you can apply for both types of benefits at the same time.

    If you have trouble collecting Social Security benefits, simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our Social Security attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • Can I win my Social Security disability case if I haven’t seen a doctor for my condition?

    SS_cardsIt will be difficult to win your Social Security disability claim if you don't treat with a doctor. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates your case partly on medical records. 

    However, you may still be able to win your case if you haven't had regular medical appointments due to the cost of these appointments.

    Claiming Social Security Disability When You
    Can’t Afford a Doctor

    Generally speaking, the SSA won't look sympathetically on applicants who claim to suffer from a serious medical condition but haven't seen a doctor. Few people live with a disability that hasn't been diagnosed or under treatment unless they have a good reason, such as an inability to pay the high costs of medical bills.

    If you cannot afford medical treatment, there may be low-cost ways to benefit both your health and your application for benefits. For example, you'll greatly improve your position if you:

    • Apply for subsidized health insurance. Florida provides qualified low-income residents with free healthcare through Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act can allow patients to get healthcare at a price they can afford.
    • Seek out public benefits. There are many state and federal organizations which offer income assistance, food coupons, and health benefits. Even if you may not qualify for healthcare, the savings from other benefits may allow you enough financial leeway to see your doctor.
    • Visit an emergency room or urgent care for treatment. Some people have insurance that only covers emergency care. If you have coverage that pay for you to be seen in an urgent setting, these visits establish some testing and guidance and provide another entry on your medical record.
    • Attempt to find a clinic offering low-cost services. Some providers offer payment plans or reduced-cost services to patients who don't have insurance. Others may provide free or lower-cost services to patients who can prove need or special circumstances.

    If there isn't enough medical evidence in your case, the SSA may require you to undergo a consultative exam to determine your disability claim. While this doctor may evaluate your condition and the extent of your disability by performing testing, he or she doesn't provide treatment. His or her opinion greatly impacts the outcome of your case.

    Even if you cannot afford to see a doctor, you still have the burden of proving to the SSA that you couldn't obtain low-cost treatment. If you're having trouble collecting Social Security disability benefits, we can help. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our Social Security attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • What documents do I need to apply for Social Security disability benefits?

    stack_of_filesWhile there are a few different ways to apply for Social Security disability benefits, each one requires you to provide specific documentation about your case.

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) needs both personal and medical evidence to evaluate your claim effectively, and your decision may be delayed if you don't provide complete information.

    Documents Needed to Apply for Social Security Disability

    The SSA asks you to provide a variety of official documents as proof of eligibility. If you provide the original documents along with your application, the SSA makes photocopies and returns the originals to you. If you send copies, they must be certified by the office that issued them.

    Your disability application should include documentation:

    • Family records. You may need to provide a copy of your Social Security card, driver’s license or ID, and proof of age for each of your family members who may qualify for benefits. You may also need a copy of your marriage license if your spouse is applying for benefits as well.
    • Medical records. You'll be asked to answer questions about your medical condition as well as provide copies of your medical records related to your disability. This includes your laboratory and test results, imaging studies, prescribed treatment, and the names and dosages of your medications.
    • Work and tax history. You'll be asked to provide a summary of your work history and what kind of work you performed. Documents required for this section include your most recent W-2 forms or a copy of your federal tax return showing self-employment.

    Processing times for Social Security disability benefits can take anywhere from three–to–five months, and sometimes even longer. However, there are many things you can do to shorten the time between application and decision. Our attorneys keep in contact with the SSA to move the process along on your behalf.

    To learn how we can help, simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our Social Security attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • Where is the nearest Social Security Administration office?

    man_and_woman_SS officeA few years ago, people applying for Social Security disability benefits would have to drive to the nearest office to complete an application in-person, and would likely make a trip back every time they needed to collect their checks.

    These days, you can apply for benefits and set up direct deposit online, making it much easier to access your benefits from home. However, there are still instances where applicants may need to visit their local Social Security office.

    How to Find the Social Security Administration Office Nearest You

    The Social Security Administration's website has an easy-to-use tool that gives you all the necessary information about your local Social Security Office:

    1. Go to www.ssa.gov and click “Menu” in the top right corner.
    2. In the menu on the left, click on the link that says “Contact Us.”
    3. On this page, click on the link that says "Find an Office." 
    4. Type in your zip code.

    The site should respond with the address, regular telephone number, toll free number, hours of operation, driving directions, and other useful information about the Social Security Office closest to you.

    Help for Social Security Disability Claimants Near Ormond Beach

    For the convenience of claimants filing for disability benefits in Ormond Beach, we've provided information below for the four nearest Social Security offices. All of these locations close early on Wednesdays, and aren't open on Saturday or Sunday.

    Port Orange

    • Address: 4990 S. Clyde Morris Blvd., Port Orange, FL 32127
    • Phone: 1-866-210-8089
    • Driving Directions: Merge onto I-95 S and take exit 256 for FL-421 toward Port Orange. Use the left two lanes to turn left onto FL-421 E/Taylor Rd (signs for Williamson Blvd. S/Port Orange/Daytona Beach Shores). Turn right onto Clyde Morris Blvd. The office is on the right, behind Walgreens.

    DeLand

    • Address: 1629 S. Adelle Ave., DeLand, FL 32720
    • Phone: 1-866-964-7396
    • Driving Directions: Merge onto I-95 S and continue onto I-4 W. Take exit 116 from I-4 W and turn left onto Orange Camp Rd. Turn right onto S. Woodland Blvd., and use the left two lanes to turn left onto FL-15 (Taylor Rd). Turn left onto S. Adelle Ave. The best time to visit this office is on Tuesday or Friday.

    Lake Mary

    • Address: 101 Commerce St. (Ste. #2001), Lake Mary, FL 32746
    • Phone: 1-866-964-7379
    • Driving Directions: Merge onto I-95 S and continue onto I-4 W. Use the right two lanes to take exit 98 toward Lake Mary/Heathrow. Turn left onto W. Lake Mary Blvd., then turn right onto Lake Emma Rd. The office is on the corner of Lake Emma Rd. and Commerce St., directly across the street from Sun Lake Apartments.

    St. Augustine

    • Address: 2428 Old Moultrie Rd., St. Augustine, FL 32086
    • Phone: 1-877-405-5867
    • Driving Directions: From I-95 N, take exit 298 to merge onto US-1 N toward St. Augustine. Turn left onto Lewis Point Rd, then turn right onto Old Moultrie Rd. The office is on the right, directly across the street from Hideaway Lake Dr.

     

    If your benefits application has been denied, or you need help appealing your disability benefits decision, simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • How long should I wait before applying for Social Security disability benefits?

    applying_for_ssIt can be difficult to know at what point you should attempt to claim disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn't provide short-term disability payments, so claimants are expected to be out of work for 12 months or longer to qualify for benefits.

    However, it's usually better for disabled workers to apply for Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible, even if they're not sure if their injury will last more than a year.

    The Benefits of Applying for Social Security Disability Early

    Social Security disability claims can take several months or even a year to process, forcing disabled claimants to live on an extremely tight budget while they wait for a decision. The good news is that if benefits are approved, the SSA will issue a payment for each month you're disabled—including many of the months you were waiting for a decision. The SSA provides up to 12 months of past-due disability benefits, also known as back pay, in one lump sum payment.

    The amount of disability back pay you can receive depends on many different factors, including:

    • Date of application. Applicants are eligible to receive benefits back to their date of application, or even in the year prior to application if they were disabled for 12 months before claiming benefits.
    • Medical onset date. Some applicants will have a different established onset date (EOD) than the day they actually became disabled, known as the medical onset date (MOD). The medical onset date is the date your impairment first met the medical criteria for the SSA’s definition of disability.
    • Established onset date. The EOD is the date that the SSA acknowledges as the beginning date of your disability. Generally, it's the date determined after considering all of the medical and non-medical factors surrounding your disability. If your EOD is before your application date or before your approval for benefits was issued, you should be eligible to receive back pay.
    • Mandatory waiting period. The SSA has an automatic five full month waiting period after your EOD on all benefit applications. If you're approved, you'll receive benefits back to your eligible disability date, minus the waiting period. So for example, if your EOD is February 12, your benefits will start after the waiting period on August 1.

    If you're unable to work and have paid into Social Security during your past employment, you may be eligible to receive disability benefits. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our Social Security attorneys at no cost to you.