You’ve been paying into federal coffers set aside for disability insurance for years, and now you need help from those stashes. But the government isn’t always eager to hand out benefits, so you may have to jump through a few extra hoops to get the help you need.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies nearly 70% of applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) on the initial claim. This means you’ll more than likely have to navigate the appeals process if you want to get benefits.

Appealing benefits

Looking for disability benefits can be a long and frustrating process, but there are steps you can take to progress after a denial:

  • Apply for reconsideration: The first step of an appeal is usually asking the SSA to take another look at your case. A medical consultant and examiner that weren’t involved in the initial decision will typically take your claim under review.
  • Request a hearing: If you need to progress to the next step, you’ll need to seek an audience with an administrative law judge. At this time, you might be able to request more details about your claim and also provide additional information for the judge to consider.
  • Stand before the Appeals Council: In the event that a judge doesn’t rule in your favor, you may be on to the Appeals Council for further review. The body can dismiss your application if it agrees with the judge, or it will levy a decision to grant or deny if an examination does take place.
  • File suit in federal court: Once all of your other options are exhausted, your last resort is typically filing a lawsuit in federal court. A judge here may rule in your favor, or send your claim back to the SSA for further consideration with instructions.

Getting the help you need isn’t always easy, but it might be possible with a few extra steps. Knowing what those steps entail could be crucial for getting the assistance you deserve.