SSDI benefits can be delayed for any number of reasons and it is crucial that applicants take proactive steps to manage their finances early on in the process. There are many steps individuals can take to “tighten their belts” and protect their financial position.
Individuals should start by assessing their assets, debt, and income. Whenever possible, debts should be paid down or restructured. This can reduce monthly payments and help preserve savings. Individuals should also reexamine their budget and trim discretionary spending on things such as entertainment, dining out, etc. Individuals may also be able to borrow against home equity or 401(k) plans, however, borrowing against these can add additional financial burdens down the road which may not make these advisable.
Working While Waiting for a Decision
It is possible to continue working while awaiting a decision from the Social Security Administration for SSDI benefits. However, individuals cannot earn more than $1170 per month. Applicants can also work while applying for Supplemental Security Income, however, this can cause a claim to be denied since individuals don’t qualify for SSI if they have substantial income or assets. Further, it is not advised to collect unemployment benefits because an individual must state that they are physically available for work when applying for unemployment.
Applicants should discuss these options with a social security lawyer who can help applicants navigate the rules so that their application won’t be denied. A lawyer can also help prepare the application so that all the required information is correctly submitted. This can reduce the possibility of delay or denial and the subsequent appeals process which can extend the wait for benefits.
Applying for Other Benefit Programs
There are several benefit programs that can help individuals stay financially stable while awaiting a benefit decision. Applying for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) can keep food on the table, the heat on, and a roof overhead. Initial SNAP benefits typically last six months and can be renewed and extended every few months to every few years depending on circumstances. For TANF, individuals are limited to collecting benefits for a maximum period of 5 years over the course of a lifetime. Individuals should apply for these benefits immediately after a disability has occurred. It can take 30 days or longer for these benefits to kick in so it is advisable to apply as soon as possible.