According to the Florida Disability Benefits Center, 65 percent of the applications they receive are initially denied. And in the state of Florida, it can take anywhere from one to two years to get a disability hearing, and even longer to get a decision.
There is also a mandatory five-month waiting period to even start receiving benefits, even after a person gets their established onset date. That means if a person is awarded benefits, say, March 1, a person would not receive them until August. And if a person was to receive a year's worth of back disability, they would only receive payment for seven months.
According to the FDBC website, it can take anywhere from 376 to 682 days to obtain a disability hearing. It will take an additional 45 to 90 days to receive a decision on the disability claim.
The area in which people live will also be a factor in how long they wait.
In the Orlando, office, which serves the Kissimmee, Lake Mary, Leesburg, Ocala and Orlando field offices, the average processing time is 502 days. In the Fort Lauderdale ODAR office, it takes an average of 376 days to schedule a disability hearing before an administrative law judge. In the Fort Myers office, the wait is 11 months. In the St. Petersburg office, it's 13 months. And the Tampa office is 682 days.
So we took our research one step further and searched the Social Security Administration data on average wait times until a hearing is held. According to their records, for the month of May 2017, here's how the averages break down. The shortest wait time is 14 months in Fort Myers. While the longest wait time is 23 months or 699 days for the Miami office.
The average times are based on how long the people who had disability hearings in May had to wait to go before the judge.