The benefits available through Social Security disability are crucial to the recipients who are disabled and cannot support themselves with a regular income. Even though people are not going to get rich from these benefits, they do go a long way in helping people cover things from housing and groceries to healthcare and transportation.

Considering how crucial these benefits can be, it can be devastating when the Social Security Administration denies someone’s application for benefits. However, before you lose hope if you are in this situation, it is vital that you stop, take a breath and then consider filing an appeal.

Don’t panic

Appealing a denied claim is not uncommon. In fact, most SSDI applicants will have to file an appeal because the SSA routinely denies applications from people who do ultimately qualify for benefits. This happens because of a huge backlog of applications and overworked agents tasked with reviewing applications.

One mistake or oversight that could easily be cleared up under ideal circumstances is typically all it takes for representatives to deny a claim for a medical or non-medical reason.

Filing an appeal

There are four levels to the appeals process: reconsideration, administrative law judge hearing, review by an Appeals Council and finally a Federal Court review.

Depending on the level of review, you may not be required or able to submit new information. An agent or judge will review the previous decision(s) as well as any clarifying information you may be asked to provide and then make a decision on your case. If you do not agree with the decision, you can request the next level of appeals.

Know your legal options

There are several rules to this process, including a strict 60-day window to request an appeal. Between these rules and the frustration associated with navigating the Social Security systems, it can all prove to be overwhelming and confusing. Do not give up, though. You have the option to work with an attorney during this process.

A legal representative can help you understand your rights and guide you through the complexities of filing an appeal. With disability benefits on the line, seeking help can be a wise decision.