You’re accustomed to working and don’t stray away from hard work, but life has its challenges. After years of working, the onset of a disabling medical condition could prevent you from continuing to do so. Not receiving a paycheck can be detrimental to your financial status and ability to make ends meet.

In such a case, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) could act as a lifeline and be your only source of income during a difficult time. Applying for SSDI, however, does not guarantee you will receive benefits.

What is SSDI?

A payment into Social Security typically comes out of paychecks and wages you’ve earned throughout your work history. Then, when an unforeseen situation arises and leaves you facing a disabling condition that hinders you from working for a year or longer, SSDI will pay you and eligible members of your family benefits.

To qualify for SSDI, the Social Security Administration requires you to have recently worked in a job covered by Social Security. You also must have worked for a specific period.

What can you do if your SSDI application is denied?

A decision on your SSDI application comes highly-anticipated, and a denial can leave you heartbroken and worried. How will you afford life’s necessities? Do you have to accept the decision?

Fortunately, you can appeal the decision within 60 days of receiving it. The appeals process consists of four steps. The Social Security Administration outlines these proceedings:

  1. Reconsideration: You can file for reconsideration of either a medical or non-medical condition. During this step, you may present additional evidence for someone new to your case.
  2. Have an administrative law judge hear your case: If you’re again denied SSDI at the reconsideration stage, you have the option to take your case to a judge to evaluate. Judges are typically located within a 75-mile radius of you.
  3. Ask the Appeals Council to review a decision: Did you receive another unfavorable decision? If so, the Appeals Council exists as the next step. They could review or reject hearing your case. The Appeals Council may not actually come to a decision but could pass your case back down to an administrative law judge to re-evaluate.
  4. Federal Court review: The final option for overturning your SSDI application denial is to file a lawsuit in a federal district court.

Even though a denial can be disheartening, the possibility of a decision reversal exists. Getting approved for disability carries great significance in your life and means you will do what you can to receive SSDI benefits. When minor details can mean the difference between approval and denial, you may seek professional legal assistance to help you through the process.