What to Do (and Not Do) for Income While Awaiting Disability

Published on: November 29, 2017

What to Do (and Not Do) for Income While Awaiting Disability

In addition to awaiting approval, there also is a mandatory waiting period of five months for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) after your application is approved. During this waiting period, you will not receive any SSDI payments for your application. Qualifying for disability assistance also is very competitive; only 35% of applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and SSDI are approved at the application level.

It is important for disability benefits applicants to have a plan for financial assistance as they await the fate of their application. If you’re relying on the disability benefits to make ends meet, the application process can leave you filled with uncertainty, as you aren't sure whether your application will be initially approved or if you will need to appeal the decision. As a result, you will need to consider several options for financial assistance and disability income in the meantime. We have compiled a list of opens to consider and avoid while awaiting your disability benefits.

What options are available?

Seeking financial assistance in order to obtain some disability income in the meantime can be challenging. However, there are a few resources that are dedicated to assisting SSDI and SSI disability applicants. These resources typically:

  • help applicants manage and reduce current debt
  • connect disabled persons with income-based government programs

Managing and Reducing Current Debt

Borrowed money and other forms of debt are among the greatest threats to the financial stability of disabled persons. Debt relief services can provide a way for you to improve your financial stability by allowing you to avoid borrowing more money as you await your disability benefits while reducing your financial burden. These services can include credit counseling, debt consolidation, or debt settlement.

Credit counseling organizations can provide you with information on how to manage your debts and develop a budget. Debt consolidation programs can help you decrease your debt through a second mortgage or home equity line of credit (HELOC), and debt settlement programs enable you to only pay a portion of the total amount of debt owed to creditors.

Applying for Loans

It is typically not advisable to take on more loans as you await a disability approval because your application may take longer than expected to be approved, it may be denied, or you may have to undergo a lengthy appeals process.

However, if you have been approved for a substantial amount of disability back pay, a short-term loan may be worth considering. The funds received from the loan can be a helpful form of interim disability income, helping you to remain current on bills and other payments while you wait to receive your back pay.

Maintaining Health Insurance

Having health insurance as you await disability-benefits can help you protect yourself from high medical expenses. If your disability prevents you from working, you may require ongoing medical assistance as you await your benefits.

There are several options available for obtaining health insurance. You can request a quote for the healthcare plans made possible by the Affordable Healthcare Act. You may eligible for a plan that covers pre-existing conditions and has no waiting period for approval.

You may qualify for income-based subsidies on your premiums because you cannot work. In addition, if your income level falls between 100 and 400% of the federal poverty level, you automatically will qualify for premium federal tax credits. You also may be able to apply for Medicaid if your income is below 100% of the poverty level.

Income-Based Government Programs or Employer Disability Benefits

There are some government-sponsored programs to help with disability income as you await a decision on your application or once you have been approved. These include Unemployment, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and state-mandated short-term disability insurance (available only in five states). Unemployment benefits can be an option if you have a spouse or other family member who needs to stop working in order to provide care to you as you await your benefits. The caregiver can apply for unemployment benefits in the meantime.

Short-term disability is not mandated in Florida and would need to have been pruchased ahead of time to replace a portion of your previous income. If outside Florida, check if your state offers temporary disability payments. You also may be eligible for SNAP, formerly referred to as food stamps, if you meet the household income limits and your household countable resources total less than $2,250 (or less than $3,250 if at least one person is 60 or older).


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