The typical Social Security disability application takes two to three years. If you are able to plan ahead, be creative, and reach out for help, there are many ways to help make it through.
GET APPROVED EARLY
🌷 The best and simplest way to survive financially is to get approved when you first apply, and not have to spend years appealing and going to hearings. Steps you can take to improve your chances to Get Approved During Initial Application.
🌷 After initial application, there is a quick appeal steps call reconsideration. Steps you can take to improve your chances to Get Approved During Reconsideration
🌷 If you have a mental health diagnosis and you are currently homeless or at risk for becoming homeless, contact The Amazing SOAR Program to see if they are in your area. They can help get disability applications approved very quickly.
GET A QUICKER DECISION
🌷 In some circumstances, it may be possible to speed up the decision making process, or to get a quicker hearing date. This doesn’t improve your chances any of getting approved, but it does make the process faster!
🌷 Special circumstances include dire financial need, homelessness, certain veterans, safety threats, compassionate care conditions, and presumptive disability. Learn more: How Can I Get a Faster Disability Decision?
APPLY FOR OTHER KINDS OF HELP
🌷 Some people (wrongly!!!) think that they cannot get any help until after they are approved for Social Security. No, no, no. There are bunches of other things you can apply for.
🌷 If a program requires that you be disabled, you can usually prove this with a form signed by your doctor.
🌷 If a program has a work requirement, you can usually get out of this with a form signed by your doctor.
🌷 Examples of things you can apply for:
- Disability Discharges for Student Loans
- Free or Discounted Medications
- Free or Discounted Doctors
- Free or Discounted Dentists
- Free or Discounted Lab Tests
- $10 Internet
- Affordable Housing
- Apartments for People with Disabilities
- State Cash Assistance (sometimes)
- Other forms of disability
- Food stamps
- Food banks
- Home Aides
- Help If You Have a Live-In Aide
- Disability parking placards
- Wheelchairs and Medical equipment
- Tax Breaks for Disabilities
- Home Modifications
- Help with Car Expenses
BE WILLING TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE
🌷 Many people have to make hard choices and big changes in their lives while applying. For example, moving in with family members, selling their car, using food banks, or filing for bankruptcy. If you make changes early on in the process, it may help you avoid getting into getting into a crisis situation down the road.
🌷 It is very common for people to move in with friends or family while applying for disability. Many people sleep on a friend’s couch. If you make this change before things get desperate, you may have more options.
🌷 If you live in a state that did not expand Medicaid, some people move so they can access health care.
ASK FOR HELP
🌷 Reach out to friends, family members, neighbors, or any kind soul you think might be willing to lend a hand.
🌷 But wait! Don’t just ask your support people to give you money or bring you food or clean your house. Food and money goes away and by next week your house will be messy again. You might try asking them to look through this site with you and pick out a few things they can help with.
🌷 Think about it this way: A friend can spend two hours taking you to the doctor one day one time. Or a friend can spend an hour helping you apply for a disability transit program, and then you can get rides to the doctor every day for the rest of your life.
🌷 Fundraisers can cause problems for Medicaid, Food Stamps, utilities assistance, SSI backpay, or subsidized housing. In some cases, there are safe ways to fundraise. Please take a look: How to Fundraise Without Losing Your Benefits
WORKING OR GOING TO SCHOOL
🌷 It is possible to get approved for disability while working part time. However, it may be more difficult to get approved, and may take longer to get approved. Just something to consider. Learn more: Applying for Disability While Working
IF YOU GOT TURNED DOWN
🌷 If you applied for food stamps and got turned down, learn the food stamps regulations. Then try again.
🌷 If you applied for Medicaid and got turned down, learn about the different kinds of medicaid. Then try again.
🌷 If you were told all affordable housing wait lists are closed or take 3+ years, learn where to find open waiting lists. Then try again.
DEALING WITH DEBT
🌷 It may help you to know that there are special laws in place that will protect people on Social Security from debt collectors. It may also help you to know that debt does have an expiration date! Creditors will keep calling you forever, but sometimes they are bluffing. Debt & Disability
🌷 Ask yourself this question: Do I want to be a homeless person with good credit? If you expect that at some point you will not have enough money to survive, please think carefully before giving all your money to debt collectors right now! We have seen this happen. It does not end well.
QUALIFYING FOR HELP
🌷 Many programs take several weeks or several months to get approved. If you wait until you are down to your last dollar before applying, you can get into a bad spot.
🌷 If you are looking ahead to what kind of help you will need over the upcoming three years, it’s helpful to keep in mind that some programs will disqualify you if you have over a certain amount of money in the bank. The amount that is allowed varies by program ($2,000 is a common limit for a single person).
🌷 Most regulations will not count if you own one house, one car, and certain other items. For example, someone can own a $300,000 house, but cannot have $3,000 in the bank. Although the criteria varies for each program, the SSI regulations are similar to many other programs: What Counts as a Resource for SSI?
🌷 If you are over the limit, spending money is allowed, as long as you do not give money away, do not hide money, and if you are making large or frequent cash purchases, keep your receipts. Some people find it helps them to pay down a mortgage, buy needed medical supplies, prepay a phone or internet bills, pay for critical repairs, or stock up on food or other needed items.
🌷 Once again, if you are over the resource limit, Do not give your money away. (Giving away money may cause problems with applying for benefits). Safe Ways to Save or Spend Money
🌷 Some programs only consider income and do not have a limit on resources. Rules vary by state, so please check the program you are applying for.
MORE BRIGHT IDEAS
🌷 Unemployment – In some situations, you may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits while applying for disability. However, disability lawyers report that collecting unemployment may make it more difficult to get approved.
🌷Other Disability – You can check this list of other forms disability to see if there are other disability programs you are eligible for. Including cash assistance, disability through your employer, temporary disability, retirement plan disability, veterans benefits, life insurance disability, private insurance, and more.
🌷 Retirement Plans – If you take an early withdrawal from your retirement plan, it may be possible to avoid penalties by requesting a hardship withdrawal. It may also be possible to avoid tax penalties. Learn more about: How to Avoid Penalties from Retirement Plan Early Withdrawals
💠 After you are approved, if you have dire financial need, your congressperson can help get your first check released much more quickly: How To Get Help from Your Congressperson
💠 If you are applying for SSI, the way you are living right now can make your disability check go up or down later. Learn more about How to Apply for SSI Without Falling into Quicksand. This is SSI only, not SSDI.
💠 A long list of other ways to get help and assistance for people who are low income with disabilities or chronic health problems: How to Be Poor in America
Updated January 2019. Please comment below with your questions, stories, input and ideas. Also: kindly let us know if any links on this page stop working. If you liked this page, please share with others by pressing one of these magic buttons: