Unfortunately, sometimes residents of New Jersey with legitimate disabilities initially have their applications for Social Security disability insurance rejected. But a denial is not necessarily permanent. Denial does not have to mean that a person does not receive the SSDI benefits that they need. It is just an early step in a longer journey.

When an application is denied or otherwise unsatisfactory, the Social Security Administration provides for four levels of appeal: reconsideration by someone other than the initial decision-maker, a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, review by an SSA Appeals Council and, finally, a case in federal court. Each stage has its own rules and procedures that must be adhered to.

But one commonality is that each stage contains tight deadlines that must be met. At each stage, a person must file within 60 days. The timeline begins when the applicant receives the notice of the SSA’s decision. In general, the presumption is that the person receives the notice within five days of the SSA mailing it out.

People challenging a denial of benefits have the right to representation. This representation can be from a lawyer, an expert, a family member or someone else. For those who choose this route, they will need to have their representative file a form that informs the SSA of that decision.

To learn more about each specific stage, residents of New Jersey may benefit from speaking with a Social Security disability attorney. Doing so could be key to avoiding a denial in the first place or to remedy an erroneous denial. And that means getting much-needed benefits faster.