mentalEvery day, you are struggling in innumerable ways to live with and overcome your disability. Your physical or mental challenge is as real and daunting as it can be. Yet, for reasons known only to the Social Security Administration, you have been turned down for disability benefits. What is your next step after such a crushing emotional and financial blow?

Rest assured that you are not alone. According to, approximately 70 percent of SSDI applicants nationwide get denied the first time. So take a deep breath, put your doubts and fears aside and prepare yourself to fight for the benefits you deserve. With perseverance and attention to detail, you have a very good chance of coming out victorious in the end.

Once you have gotten a letter telling you that you have been denied, you need to contact your local Social Security office to set up a meeting. Go to to learn the contact information of the office closest to you. At this meeting, you can ask the representative to explain why your claim was turned down. In addition, you can file an appeal and ask that your claim be reconsidered. Don’t procrastinate: You have only 60 days to submit a written request for reconsideration.

Next, speak to your senator and congressional representative about your case. Ask both to intercede on your behalf. If they do, a special code will be attached to your case at the SSA marking it as critical or worthy of added attention.

Even so, odds are good that your reconsideration will be denied and you will be given the opportunity to bring your case before an administrative law judge. At this point, it is recommended that you hire an attorney to partner with you and guide you through what can often be a long and frustrating process. You can also get help and advice from a SSA representative or from a staff-person at a nonprofit or governmental agency. During the hearing, all that is in your Social Security file will be admissible, as will any facts that have become known since your original claim was made.

If your appeal is rejected by the judge, you can then request a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. This body will either decide to hear your case or send it to another administrative law judge. If your claim is still denied after this step, you have the right to sue the SSA in federal court.

Although this process may sound overwhelming, it is sometimes the only way to obtain the benefits you deserve and have earned. Fortunately, you don’t have to wade through the legal quicksand on your own. Take the time to find an attorney who can be on your side throughout the process, from start to finish. Here are a few qualities to look for in your disability attorney: Once you find the one who understands your situation, you can work to ensure that you are compensated for the loss of earnings that your very real disability continues to cause in your life.