How Do I Provide for Myself While Waiting for My Benefits?

How Do I Provide for Myself While Waiting for My Benefits?

It’s no secret that the whole process of applying for and receiving disability can be quite lengthy. Not to mention, the fact that you’re often denied the first time you apply. So, how does one make ends meet while they’re waiting? Here are some tips on how to do just that:

Tip #1: Work in the Mean TimeHow Do I Provide for Myself While Waiting for My Benefits?

It is possible to work and also file for disability benefits, though it can be a little tricky. Any work you do must not be the kind or amount that will disqualify you for benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) also has two types of disability benefits for which you may apply. Each program has its own financial eligibility standards.

  • With Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you cannot earn more than what is considered “substantial gainful activity” or SGA. In 2015, SGA was set at $1,090.00 a month.
  • With Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you can’t have a large amount of income or other assets, since this is a need-based program. Only certain income and assets count toward eligibility and the calculation of countable income and assets is complex.

It’s highly plausible that any income from employment will put your eligibility for SSI at risk, but income from employment may or may not affect SSDI eligibility. A disability professional can help you understand how working in particular kinds of jobs or a certain number of hours can affect your eligibility.

Tip #2: Apply for Support in Other Ways

While you wait for disability benefits to be approved, consider seeking assistance through other local, state, and federal support programs. Some might include:

There just may be additional programs for which you might qualify. The local family social services office or Department of Social Services is the place to start.

Tip #3: Find Other Sources of Support

Realize that you may have other sources of financial assistance you can get access to while you wait for benefits.

  • If you own a home, you may be able to refinance or take out a home equity loan.
  • If you have friends or family who are willing and able to help, consider accepting their aid.
  • You may be able to borrow against or cash out a 401k or life insurance plan.

These ideas may seem extreme, but your financial circumstance may deem it necessary for you to take aggressive steps to ensure you can get by while you wait for disability benefits.

BE Forewarned:

Unemployment Benefits and Social Security Disability

Unemployment benefits are a source of income for anyone who finds themselves without work, but these benefits are often not a practical solution for people awaiting a disability determination from the SSA. This is because Unemployment is a program for people who expect to be able to work at some point in the near future. Disability benefits on the other hand are designed for people who expect to be unable to work for a year or longer.

These programs fundamentally contradict one another, so even an application for Unemployment may cause you to be denied disability benefits. Additionally, if you’re eventually approved for disability benefits and you’ve recently received Unemployment benefits, you may have to pay them back.

Speeding up the Disability Application and Review Processes

For the most part, the time it takes to get a decision on your disability claim is out of your control. However, having a disability attorney on your side can make the process run more smoothly. They can help you build a stronger and clear cut claim for benefits, leading to a faster approval.


Social Security Benefits May See a Raise

You may have heard the buzz over recent years that the Social Security disability fund will run out of funds in 2016 unless something happens to change it. The Social Security Disability Insurance program and the Supplemental Security Income program are what people are referring to when they discuss Social Security disability. The money for benefits comes from the Social Security Administration’s disability fund and it’s the SSA that administers both these programs.Social Security Benefits May See a Raise

Additionally, there’s a Social Security retirement fund which pays Social Security retirement benefits to those people who are said to be collecting Social Security. The SSA administers both funds via tax withholdings maintained in separate funds due to their separate purposes. Until recently, however, if the money was getting low in one fund, it could simply borrow money from the other fund so that benefits were not reduced. This happened many times over the disibility program’s existence until a Congress passed a recent law.

Fixing this problem is not difficult with the current amount in the retirement fund being enough to last until 2034. If one year of funding were transferred out of the program, there’d be enough money for the retirement program to operate without a hitch until 2033, then the disability programs would have enough funding for at least 15 years. The reason for the large descrepency is that the number of those collecting retirement benefits far outweighs the number of those collecting disability benefits. Approximately 10 millions Americans collect disability.

However, although reallocating funds has previously worked well, it’s now harder to implement, since the GOP passed a regulation against this occurring, in a party line vote. One side of the issue vows not to fund the program unless major changes are made, yet they don’t indicate what changes need to be made. On the other side of the issue, people are urging the continuation of reallocation so that 10 million Americans don’t see their monthly income cut by 19%.

Forbes has published a recent article indicating that Congress is currently considering a proposal to increase Social Security disability benefits. This increase wouldn’t put an end to cuts in late 2016 but would increase individual benefits based on cost of living increases since the current level was set. Clearly, current disabled Americans could use more monthly income to meet their needs, however, it’ll be interesting to see if this proposal goes anywhere given the current issues with funding.

Applying and Appeals for Social Security

Applying and Appeals for Social Security

Unable to work because of a mental or physical impairment? If so, and it could possibly last more than a year, then you should apply for Social Security Disability and/or SSI benefits. However, be aware that it can take a while and you may go through a few appeals.

When you first apply

Applying and Appeals for Social SecurityWhen you first apply, it can take around three to six months. It’s possibly to only take a couple of weeks, but three to six months is the norm.

Around 33% of claims are permitted at first, 67% are denied.

Round two/Reconsideration

If you don’t get approved after your first try, you are one of the 67% who experienced initial denial. You must file a request for reconsideration within 60 days of the initial denial. Review of this request could take one to eight months.

Around 11% of appeals are permitted at first reconsideration and 89% are denied.

Hearing before a judge

If you’re denied again, then you have 60 days to file a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge. This can take 10 to 16 months until your hearing is scheduled and another one to four months for the judge to make a decision after the hearing.

Generally, around 48% of the claims are permitted after a hearing and 35% of them are again denied. 17 % of claims are dismissed at this level. Dismissals are usually due to failure to appear at the hearing.


If you’re one of the 35% denied at the hearing level, you may appeal to the Appeals Council. This is what’s called a “paper appeal” and must be filed within 60 days. You should do this by certified mail to prove that you did it in a timely manner.

It usually takes the Appeals Council six months to three years to review a claim and they usually only permit about 1% of them.

Federal Court

The final administrative level of review is the Appeals Council, so if you wish to appeal further, you must file a lawsuit in Federal District Court.

This can take around 10 to 12 months but can be much longer in some areas. Usually, 44% of appeals are reversed here and 46% of the time, they uphold the council’s decision. 9% are dismissed.

If you’re still denied at Federal District Court, you may appeal to the Federal Circuit Court.

An attorney can really be of real assistance at all levels of appeal, Most representatives charge a fee contingent upon winning your claim, at a rate of 25% of your back-award or $6,000, whichever is less.

Scoliosis? You May Qualify for SSD or SSI Disability Benefits

Scoliosis? You May Qualify for SSD or SSI Disability Benefits

Scoliosis? You May Qualify for SSD or SSI Disability BenefitsScoliosis is a curve in the spine that cause your spine to have the shape of a “C” or “S”. It is abnormal and the severity can vary from person to person. Many with scoliosis suffer little effects from it while others may suffer persistent back pain, breathing problems, or spine or nerve damage from spinal surgery or uncorrected scoliosis. Due to the varying degrees of and complications with scoliosis, treatment can range from regular appointments with doctors to ensure there are no changes in the curve of your spine to requiring surgery to straighten the spine by inserting metal poles.

Very severe cases of scoliosis, referred to as kyphosis and kyphoscoliosis, are the only cases that will qualify for Social Security disability benefits. If you should be one of these cases, you can qualify for disability benefits by either meeting the requirements of a disability listing set out in Social Security’s listing of impairments called the blue book or you can show that you’re unable to work due to your limitations.

Qualifying Under a Disability Listing

The blue book does not list scoliosis as its own listing as a disease but does note that if the scoliosis causes severe enough problems, you may meet the requirements of the disorders of the spine listing. Additionally, if your scoliosis should affect your breathing or your heart, you could qualify for disability under the listings for respiratory or cardiovascular disorders.

Qualifying as Disabled Under Section 1.04: Disorders of the Spine

You must have one of the following:

  • -Pain , muscle weakness, limited ability to move your legs due to nerve root compression
  • -Inflammation of the membrane surrounding the spine that causes pain requiring you to change your position more than once every two hours

Required Medical Evidence

Medical evidence to prove spinal disorders include:

  • -Medical imaging, such as x-rays, MRIs, and CAT Scans
  • -Physical examination with detailed description of limitations
  • -Records of ongoing treatment that shows that the condition is not improving despite therapy to improve it.

Other Disability Listings Associated with Scoliosis

Scoliosis can also affect many other body systems. Severe scoliosis can affect your ability to breath, your heart function, and your mental health due to visible deformities or chronic pain. Listings such as these that may apply to scoliosis include:

  • -Respiratory disorders
  • -Cardiovascular disorders
  • -Mental disorders, and
  • -Inflammatory arthritis.

Your Ability to Work

If you’re unable to found by Social Security as disabled under the blue book, you may be eligible for benefits if you are found unable to return to work. Social Security will assess your physical, mental, and sensory limitations using a RFC (Residual Functional Capacity) form. They then use a formula to calculate your ability to work any job based on your age, education and work experience.

If you have scoliosis, your biggest limitation to returning to work is physical. Besides walking and standing, requirements such as lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling may be impossible for you due to scoliosis. Mental problems such as isolation or depression may also make returning to work impossible.

Contact us today to see if you qualify for benefits.

How to Prepare for the Social Security Disability Mental Exam

How to Prepare for the Social Security Disability Mental Exam

Preparing for a mental consultative examination (CE) for the Social Security Administration is really just about learning what to expect.

What tests will be done at the examination?How to Prepare for the Social Security Disability Mental Exam

The type of tests done during the CE vary and depend on each case as each case is unique. A reviewer from the Disability Determination Services is the one to request whatever tests they need to be able to obtain a more complete picture of your disability and make a decision regarding your benefits.

What should I bring with me to the appointment?

For mental examinations, most of your appointment will be spent discussing your past and current situation. There are, however, some things you should bring with you:

– your Social Security claim number

– an ID (such as a license or passport)

What questions will they ask me at the examination?

The whole purpose of the examination is to fill in any gaps that your medical records may have. To do this the physician will want to know the following:

– Your medical history. They will want you to tell them your impairments and how they affect your everyday life.

– Your social history. They will want to know about your relationships with family, friends and the public as well as your ability to interact with those in the community. They will also want to know what kinds of social activities you take part in.

– Your educational background, including any difficulties you faced in school.

– Your work background, including attempts to return to work and the results of those attempts.

Although, this is all clearly information that you already know, you will want to think about these aspects before your CE so that you are sure to remember everything and communicate it properly.

Additionally, remember all this information is so that your reviewer is able to gain more complete and ac curate information about you in order to make a decision regarding your benefits. Therefore, it is vital to be accurate and honest with your answers.

What should I write down before the mental exam?

You should write down anything you think you might forget. Remember, the physician needs your most accurate and complete past and present medical and social history. Consider writing down:

– current medications you’re taking

– previous hospitalizations

– treatments you’ve received and the results of them

– previous diagnoses

– any supported living facilities you’ve lived in and when

– criminal history


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