Gov. Rick Scott declared March 7th to be Developmental Disabilities Day and March as Developmental Disabilities Month. The declaration of honorary titles highlighted the announcement that 36 million dollars of much needed funding would be budgeted in the 2013-2014 fiscal year to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. More people will be able to enroll in home and community based services. The Florida Families First Budget will also provide 2.5 million dollars to approximately 1000 people who want to work so they may participate in job internships or see employment coaches.
Florida has been proactive in helping those with disabilities, using demonstration programs like the Florida Freedom Initiative. The Initiative focuses on aiding Medicaid beneficiaries with developmental disabilities who use long-term care and services. The goal is to use an alternative system of services where cash is allocated to the recipient instead of agency-based services. The beneficiary recipient is given the opportunity to choose the type of long-term support services themselves. The goal is to promote work, savings, and development of personally earned income.
Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities and the Federal Social Security Administration both provide excellent opportunities for citizens who qualify. However, obtaining Supplemental Security Income or Disability Benefits can be a daunting process. To receive an SSI benefit you must be over 65 years of age, legally blind, or meet the definition of permanent disability. You are considered disabled by the Social Security Administration if 1) you are unable to perform work you performed before, 2) convince SSA that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition, and 3) your disability is expected to last a year or result in death. If you seek benefits, you may apply online or in person at a Social Security Office. Data collected by SSA shows that only 34.8% of applications were awarded at all levels of adjudication in 2010, so the chance of the SSA denying your application is high. If you are denied, there are four levels of appeal you may need to utilize: reconsideration, hearing by an administrative law judge, review by the appeals council; and federal court review.
Gathering the correct paperwork is important to overcome any technical or medical denials. Technical denials include mistakes in paperwork or missing documents. Proper documentation of one’s medical condition is absolutely essential for a determination of disabled under SSA’s rules. You may be denied if the medical evidence does not adequately reflect the extent of your disability, if the evidence presented isn’t relevant to the claim, if you have the type of disability that is difficult to prove in medical records, or you simply do not meet the guidelines for approval.