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:
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:
- Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families(TANF)
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.
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.