Social Security is not the only game in town. Here is a long list of different types of disability you may be able to apply for.
Social Security Disability
This is also called SSI and SSDI. This is the most popular form of disability. When you hear people say they are “on disability” this is usually what they mean. Learn a whole bunch more about how to apply and how to increase your chances of getting approved: The Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability. SSI and SSDI are two different programs. Learn more here: What Will I Qualify for? SSI? SSDI? Both? Neither?
Some employers offer disability insurance as a job benefit. This is often called STD and LTD. No, not that kind of STD…. it means Short Term Disability and Long Term Disability. While Social Security disability often takes months or years, employer disability payments can start immediately. There are a few things to know about How to Protect Yourself While Applying for LTD. If you are still employed and may apply for LTD soon or someday, please take a look at this link for important info How to Avoid Getting Screwed Over If Your Employer Offers LTD
Some areas offer a small amount of cash assistance to low-income people. You may need to be very low income to qualify. Learn more here: How to Get Cash Assistance While Applying for Disability
Temporary state disability
California, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and Rhode Island offer short term disability benefits through the state. You do not have to be low-income to apply for this. Many people get on this type of disability while waiting for the Social Security Decision. At some point this program also existed in Puerto Rico, but it is not clear if it is still operating. Warning: If you apply for this program, be sure to also apply for Social Security disability right away. Don’t wait.
Social Security for People Who Think They Can’t Get Social Security
If someone has told you that you cannot apply for Social Security disability, double check. Sometimes it turns out not to be true. How to Apply for Disability When You are Told You Can’t Apply for Disability
If you are disabled, you can get widow’s benefits sooner. Most people can collect widow’s benefits at age 60. But you can collect at age 50 if you are approved for disability. You may also be eligible at an earlier age in certain other circumstances.
If you were previously married for at least ten years, you may be eligible for widow’s benefits from your ex’s income record.
Some life insurance policies have a payout for permanent disability. Check yours.
Some retirement plans pay a higher rate or allow an earlier retirement if you are disabled. Check yours.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you have purchased and been paying for private disability insurance, you probably know it. This is different than long term care insurance. Long term care will pay for nursing homes or home aides, but it will not make cash payments.
Veteran’s Disability Benefits
Again, if you are a veteran, you almost certainly already know you can apply for Veterans Benefits. However, some veterans don’t realize they can get both Social Security and Veteran’s benefits. If you have enough work credits, you can apply and collect both.
If you were injured on the job.
Adult Disabled Child Benefits
If you first became disabled before the age of 22. How to Get Adult Disabled Child Benefits. It does not matter what age you are now.
Payment for Your Caregiver
If a friend, family member or loved one is caring for you, in some situations that person may be able to collect a salary for the care they are giving you. Learn more: How To Apply for State Home Aide Programs
Many areas of the country offer low cost apartments to people with disabilities and their spouse or family member. How to Find Yourself a Nice, Affordable Apartment (for People with Disabilities). These apartments are often one or two bedrooms and many do not allow children. If you have a kids or a larger family: Section 8 Guide for the Disabled and Plucky.
Some disability lawyers recommend that you do not go on unemployment while filing for Social Security. It can be more difficult to get approved this way, but some of our readers have done it successfully. Some states allow unemployment for medical reasons.
If you were a state or federal government employee, you may be eligible for retirement disability payments through your employer. Some government jobs pay into a different system instead of paying into Social Security. Check with your jobs human resources department. In addition, even if you did not pay into Social Security, one of our readers reported that she did still pay into Medicare, so she was able to receive Medicare.
Disability Home Aides
You do not need to be approved for disability to qualify for a a home care program. If you are unable to care for yourself, you may be eligible for help in your home. In most states your condition would need to be severe to qualify. Learn more: How to Find Caregiver Programs
Disability Discharges on Student Loans
You do not need to be approved for disability to apply for a disability discharge: How to Escape the Crushing Weight of Student Loans
Second Kind of Disability Medicaid
If your care needs are severe, but you have too much income for medicaid, or your spouse earns too much, you may still be able to get Medicaid if you qualify for a medicaid waiver program. In most states, you can apply for this even if you have not yet been approved for Social Security. Medicaid Waivers
Third Kind of Disabled Medicaid
If you work any amount (even one hour per month) and you are disabled, in some states you can qualify for Medicaid Buy In Programs
Early retirement. If you are over the age of 62, you can begin collecting early Social Security retirement while waiting for your disability decision. You should still continue your disability case, because it will probably mean more money. Warning: You must prove you became disabled before you filed for retirement. If you are planning to ask your doctor for a letter, RFC form, or medical test, make sure to do this before putting in for retirement.
Spousal benefits. If you are over the age of 62, you can collect early retirement based on your income or based on your spouse’s income. Social Security will usually automatically give you whichever is higher. This amount will be less than if you wait for full retirement age.
Ex-Spousal benefits. If you were previously married for at least ten years, you may be eligible for spousal benefits from your ex’s income record.
Cashing Out Retirement Plans – If you cash out your 401k or other retirement plan early due to disability or hardship, check out: How to Avoid Penalties from Retirement Plan Early Withdrawals
Other Types of Aid – There are many (many!) other programs you can apply while waiting for your Social Security decision. How to Get for Help While Applying for Disability. You can apply for food stamps, medicaid, discounted meds, housing programs, student loan forgiveness, cash assistance, medical equipment, home modifications, paratransit, and much more.
Other Assistance. Check out: How to Survive Financially While Applying for Disability and How to Be Poor in America
💮 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability
💮 Page Updated: 7/1/19
💮 Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.
💮 If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: