If you are suffering from a mental or physical condition which prohibits your from working and will last for at least a year or may cause your death, you may be entitled to apply for Social Security disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) gives disability benefits through two programs, namely Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If your application was approved, you will be entitled to receive financial assistance which can be used to sustain all your needs during the time when you cannot work.

However, if your application was rejected, do not lose hope right away. Remember, you still have a chance of reversing the agency's initial decision through the appeal process. You can ask for an appeal by submitting a written request to the agency.

Here are the four levels of appeal:

1. Reconsideration- During this stage, an unbiased person who was not involved in the initial assessment of your application will be required to study the claim. You will be given a chance to present additional evidence in order to prove that you are eligible for disability benefits.

2. Hearing- If you failed to reverse the agency's decision during the reconsideration stage, you can then ask for a hearing which is to be conducted by an "Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)." It is his responsibility to reverse or uphold the decision that was made during the reconsideration level.

You will have a bigger chance of reversing the decision because ALJs generally approve at least 67 percent of all the cases or claims that they are handling.

3. Appeals Council- You may ask the Appeals Council to review your claim if it was rejected by the ALJ, but it can refuse to do so if it believes that the ALJ has made the right decision.

Unlike in hearings, the decision of the Appeals Council is often not in favor of the claimant.

4. Federal Court- Filing a case with a U.S. district court is your last chance to reverse SSA's decision.

If you are planning to sue SSA, it is advisable that you acquire the legal help of a Los Angeles Social security disability lawyer. Remember, you do not have to shoulder and face the problems on your own. Your attorney will try to win the case by gathering and presenting evidence which shows that you are qualified for SSDI or SSI, thus enabling you to receive disability benefits from the agency.