Social Security Disability is a form of benefit reserved for those who have worked long enough to pay into the fund. Depending on your situation, it may also be available to family members, but is not generally meant for disabled who have never worked before, or not worked for long enough. It’s also reserved for people who are no longer capable of working, so if you are disabled but still have a job, this is not the right program for you.

Here’s everything you need to know about collecting SSD in New York, and what filing might mean for you.

Collecting SSD in New York is difficult

New York State rejects well over half of all claims submitted to them (62%). If you apply unprepared, the odds are good your claim will be rejected. If you have been severely injured and can no longer work due to a disability, getting on SSD is a long and difficult road. An experienced SSD lawyer is your best possible chance at smoothing out the path to collecting SSD, and it’s highly recommended you get one.

Statistics show that those who have a lawyer are more likely to succeed in their case, so it’s better to have one rather than not.

You will probably have to go before a judge

Most claims are ultimately rejected, but New York is one of 10 states currently testing out a system where rejected claims are automatically moved to the appeal process. That means if your claim is rejected, you can expect to go before a judge on the matter.

This might seem scary to you, especially if you’ve never been in a courtroom before, but bringing your case before a judge and hiring a good lawyer (if you did not already have on to this point) can help improve your overall chances of being successful.

You may have to wait a significant amount of time

The current average wait time for a Social Security disability hearing in New York is 23 months. A lawyer usually will not be able to help bump your hearing up any faster, but they can sometimes help you get SSD faster by finding stronger medical evidence that may allow you to skip the process.

You may be able to get additional money

New York has an additional program that pays a small additional sum on top of SSD. This is usually around an extra $80 a month. While it is a small sum, when living on the tight budget provided by SSD, it can make a world of difference.

Becoming disabled and unable to work is an extreme hardship, but SSD is there to help make things better. If you are no longer able to work, getting benefits can make a huge difference in your quality of life. Hiring a lawyer to help you will not come out of your own bank account—lawyers typically collect directly from the government after a successful case. You have nothing to lose by getting the help you need, and everything to gain. Get the help you need so you can live a somewhat more financially stable life.