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How Can I Make Ends Meet While Applying for Disability Benefits?

The answer to this question is complicated. There are multiple options for obtaining the money you need to pay your bills. You may even be able to do some amount of work. However, you need to be aware that working could hurt your chances of being approved for benefits.

The average wait time for approval for Social Security benefits is a year and a half. Many claimants may consider continuing to work or finding a new job while they wait. You can technically work while waiting for your application to be evaluated.

However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) presumes that a person is not disabled if he or she participates in substantial gainful activity, which is work that brings in over a certain dollar amount each month. The substantial gainful activity limit for non-blind disabled Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants is $1,220 as of 2019. The substantial gainful activity limit for blind applicants for SSDI is $2,040.

While working possibly could be an option, it is not without its risks. If you are working, this will be considered in determining whether you are disabled. The individuals who evaluate your claim may believe that you are capable of maintaining employment and may use this fact to deny your claim. Before accepting any work, speak with a qualified SSDI lawyer for advice on the type of work you may be able to perform without risking the success of your claim.

So what can you do? If your income and assets are limited, you may qualify for other government support while you wait for your SSDI or SSI benefits. Some options may include:

  • TANF: Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) is a federal program that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administers. It provides monetary assistance to low-income families with children for a limited duration.
  • SNAP: The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) or “food stamps” provides funds that can be used only for the purchase of food. If you meet the eligibility criteria for SSI, you may also meet the qualifications for SNAP.
  • Interim Assistance: Some states provide “interim assistance” benefits. These benefits are usually part of a public assistance or general assistance program and may be administered by the Department of Health and Social Services or the Department of Social Services. These monetary benefits are paid directly to the applicant or to service providers on the applicant’s behalf in their state. This program may require you to agree to repay the agency the amount of interim benefits you receive once your SSI application is approved. These programs are administered on the state level, so the process to apply for these benefits may be different. However, the process typically requires that you file an application for SSI benefits before applying for interim assistance. You may then be required to sign an interim assistance agreement, stating that you agree to repay the amount of benefits you receive if you are approved for SSI benefits.
  • Short-Term Disability: Some states, including Virginia offer short-term or temporary disability

You may have other viable options to help you pay for your current expenses or to reduce them while your application is pending. Some options may include:

  • Friends and family – You may be able to borrow money from friends and family or receive help with some of your expenses. You may be able to move in with someone else to help you minimize your expenses while your application is pending.
  • Charitable organizations – Some charitable organizations and churches may help applicants with financial assistance, payment of utilities, rental assistance, clothing, food, medical needs and other financial needs.
  • Refinancing your home – You may be able to refinance your home to lower your monthly mortgage payment.
  • Retirement funds – You may be able to borrow against or cash out your 401(k) or other retirement account.
  • Unemployment benefits – If you were recently laid off, you might consider seeking unemployment benefits. However, this can be risky because by applying for unemployment benefits, you are stating that you are able and available to work. This can be contradictory to the claims that you make for your SSDI or SSI benefits.

Talk to a Virginia Social Security Disability Attorney

The lawyers from Kalfus & Nachman know what it takes to get you approved for Social Security Disability Insurance and/or Supplemental Security Income benefits. We can file your initial claim, attempt to get it marked for the Compassionate Allowance program, and file an appeal, if necessary.

We may also be able to pursue additional compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim on your behalf. If your injuries and impairments occurred because of an accident, let us review the case and determine if we can pursue compensation for your injuries.

Whether you’re preparing your first SSDI application, submitting your claim for Reconsideration or appealing a rejected claim, you have a greater chance of success with the help of a knowledgeable lawyer.

If you live in the Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach or Roanoke, Virginia, areas and need assistance filing your SSDI application or making an appeal, please contact Kalfus & Nachman PC by phone at (855) 880-8163 or through the form on this page to schedule a free consultation.

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