How To Make Ends Meet While Waiting for Disability Benefits

You’re not working due to an injury or illness, and you’ve applied for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Jumping through the hoops and completing all the paperwork took more time than you expected. Now you’re in a waiting mode while the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews your application.

Without income from a regular job or elsewhere, you might have to be creative and resourceful to make ends meet while you wait for a benefits decision and your first payment.


Some people don’t realize they can work some and still meet Social Security Disability qualifications. The key is understanding that if you earn more than a certain threshold, you won’t qualify for benefits.

As of 2016, the threshold for what the SSA considers a “substantial gain” is $1,130 per month. As long as you don’t exeed that, you won’t be denied simply because of your income.

You also must have a mental or physical disability that keeps you from earning more than the threshold for at least one year.

If you can’t work part-time or find a job that gives you some support without exceeding the threshold, there are other places to look for income.

Some people borrow from their 401(k) or another retirement plan to help cover bills until disability payments arrive. Others refinance homes, use credit cards, or borrow from friends or family.

While these are all options, it’s best to reserve them for last resorts. If you’re having a hard time staying afloat financially now, you might not be in a position to pay back loans even after your disability payments arrive.


If you’re struggling to pay for basic necessities such as food or utilities as you wait for disability payments, you should know other assistance programs are in place to help you.

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program offers help covering the cost of food. Many utility companies offer short-term assistance with bills if you can’t make timely payments.

While you wait for a decision from the Social Security Disability program, you can check to see if your state has a short-term disability program. In some cases, a state program might approve and make payments faster than the federal program, helping you bridge the financial gap.


While you can’t speed up the work of the SSA, you can follow strategies to avoid adding to the wait.

In preparing your application, you need to make sure to submit all of your information and documentation correctly to reduce your chances of receiving an initial denial. The appeals process just prolongs the wait.

Working with a Social Security Disability lawyer helps you avoid mistakes that could delay your progress. The attorneys at Levine Benjamin have years of experience dealing with the SSD benefits process. We can help you avoid costly mistakes. We work with you to ensure your application is complete and without error, increasing your chances of being approved for benefits in the most timely way possible.


Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Income Limits for SSDI Benefits

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