According to a report by the Social Security Administration (SSA), only 22% of disabled workers who apply for Social Security benefits get approval on the first application. The rest must go through the appeals process before receiving income.

You may feel frustrated by a denial for disability benefits. When you can’t work, you need a way to pay your bills. However, you are not alone. Like millions of other Americans with disabilities, you can appeal the decision of the SSA. An appeal has four levels:

  • A new person reviews your claim – After your denial, you can ask the SSA to reconsider the application. Someone who has not dealt with your file yet will look over your claim to see if it should have received an approval. You can also submit more evidence that your disability prevents you from working.
  • A judge holds a hearing – If the SSA denies your reconsideration, you can bring your case to an administrative law judge. This judge must not have worked on your claim before. Before the hearing, the SSA may ask you to provide additional information. You can bring witnesses to this hearing to speak about your disability and why you can’t work. The judge then either decides that the SSA should approve your claim or confirms the denial.
  • Asking the appeals council to review the claim – If the judge upholds the denial, you can ask the Social Security Appeals Council to review the application. This council can either decide to review the claim, deny the request for review or send it back to a different administrative law judge for review.
  • Filing a lawsuit – Once you have exhausted all other options, you have the right to sue for your benefits in a federal district court.

The appeal process for disability benefits can be long and complicated. An attorney familiar with appeals can help guide you through the process.

Disability benefits through SSA can provide you with the income to pay for medical bills, housing, utilities, food and more. Without it, you may struggle to get by.

If you receive a denial for benefits, you can fight for that needed income with an appeal.