Waiting for the decision on your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application may be a prolonged process. You could be waiting up to six months for the initial decision, and, in addition, if your claim is denied, filing an appeal only prolongs the decision. The first appeal level (the Reconsideration) may take up to another six months to get a decision. The second appeal level (the Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge) may take up to seventeen months to schedule the hearing. The possible two years or more without a steady or any, substantial income has the potential for financial devastation. Making ends meet waiting for SSDI or SSI can be a challenging. Here are some tips how to manage money while waiting for SSA disability benefits.
Working While Waiting
It is possible to have a job and file for disability benefits, however, there are rules that need to be followed. Make sure the work is not the type or volume that could potentially disqualify you for Social Security (SS) disability benefits.
- Sometimes people do attempt to work while waiting for a decision on their disability. However, the number of hours you work, the amount of money you are paid per hour and how long the job last could all affect your ability to receive Social Security benefits. It is very important that you speak with your representative before you attempt any work so that they can advise you on how this may affect your case for Social Security Disability. If you do try to work keep your representative informed on how many hours you are working, how much you are making and the amount of time you have held the job so they can advise you properly on how it will affect your specific case. This is true for both SSDI and SSI claims.
- SSI has an additional evaluation of resources after the medical determination of disability has been decided. Since SSI is a need-based program, the calculation of countable income and assets is done to see if you are technically eligible to receive the benefit. It is recommended that you speak to a professional, for clarification. The last thing you want to do is void your application. Any income you earn may put your SSI at risk.
Other Kinds of Government Support
There are many other government programs that you may apply to for support during this period. Research local, state, and federal agencies. Some programs include both Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Check into what your state offers, the Department of Social Services is a great place to start. You will be assigned a case worker, who can assist you in completing applications. The key here is patience. Make sure to ask many questions, and provide all paperwork required. It may take a whole day to apply, but the benefits tend to start rather quickly, so it is worth it and can help in making ends meet waiting for SSDI/SSI checks to start.
Alternative Sources of Financial Assistance
There are other sources you may not have realized you can tap into.
- If you own your home, consider refinancing or taking out a home equity loan.
- Speak with friends and family. See if they can offer help.
- Do you have a 401K or a life insurance policy? You may be able to borrow against the insurance or cash out the investment.
Some of these actions seem drastic. But, your financial situation may make it necessary. Before you act, talk to a professional and analyze all the pros and cons of taking any of these steps. While they appear aggressive, consider them as a final action and use them only as a last resort.
Avoid Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment Benefits are for American workers who find themselves suddenly without work. The benefits are for those who expect to work in the near future. SSA Disability Benefits are for people who anticipate being out of work for over a year or more due to a chronic physical or mental injury.
The two programs are contradictory. So, therefore an application for Unemployment Benefits may void your SSDI/SSI application. Once again, having a professional on your side helps.
The knowledgeable Disability Support Services team is here to help you to sort through all of this.
Contact DSS today for your consultation.