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Pay bills while waiting for Social Security Disability benefitsFiling for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is a long process. On paper, it seems simple. You meet all the criteria, your doctor says that you are disabled, and you file a claim immediately, expecting to be approved and begin receiving benefits. Unfortunately, because over half of those awarded SSD benefits are denied the first time, you'll likely have to file an appeal. Filing an appeal may lengthen the process by yearsMeanwhile, you are unable to work and are responsible for supporting yourself.

Here are a few tips that will help you stay on top of your finances while waiting for Social Security Disability benefits.

Find New Ways to Make Money

Be careful; you don't want to work a job that will disqualify you from receiving SSD benefits. Also, you don't want to push yourself too hard and aggravate your injury. Your health and wellbeing should always remain your top priority. But there are ways you can make money and lessen the financial burden of unemployment. 

Seven ways you can make money while waiting for disability benefits:

  • Donate blood or plasma
  • Rent out a room in your house or apartment
  • Freelance
  • Contact charities for support
  • Sell unused items and clothing
  • If you're creative, create a store to sell your paintings, jewelry, decor, etc.
  • Work a part-time job, such as food delivery or driving for a ride-sharing service, like Uber or Lyft.

Request an Advance Payment

If eligible, you can apply to receive your Social Security Income (SSI) payments in advance. To receive an early payment the money must be used for an emergency. This payment is not extra money you are receiving and if you are awarded SSD benefits you are required to pay the money back. If you are denied benefits because the Social Security Administration does not believe that you are disabled, then the payment is waived. 

Apply for Financial Aid Programs

Many people are reluctant to rely on government assistance and external programs for financial help, but remember that you need to do what is best for you and your situation. Local, state and federal temporary programs are viable options to help you save money while waiting for SSD benefits. A few of these programs include:

  • Temporary Assistance To Needy Families (TANF)
  • Food Stamps
  • Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)

Warning: Do not apply for unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits are temporary and imply that you are actively searching for a job, whereas disability benefits are awarded until the age of retirement. The very act of submitting an application could disqualify you from receiving Social Security Disability benefits. If you are awarded disability benefits after unemployment benefits, you may be required to return all of the money you received.

Decrease Your Wait Time

While the amount of time it takes from filing your claim and receiving benefits varies depending on your exact situation and the backlog of the appeals court, hiring an attorney can speed up the process. Armed with an experienced attorney, you can go through the process as quickly as possible and will avoid common mistakes made on SSD applicants that will lead to a denial. If an attorney helps get your first claim approved, you'll get your benefits over two years quicker than if you have to file a claim.

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.