Social Security Disability benefits are only available to people who cannot perform gainful work. In 2015, people earning over $1,090 per month cannot receive SSD benefits, as any disability lawyer in Chicago can attest. Due to this requirement, covering regular monthly costs may be a challenge for many SSD beneficiaries. The following measures can help beneficiaries reduce their expenses and create a reasonable disability budget.
- Reduce general expenses
SSD beneficiaries should make monthly budgets that account for all income and necessary expenses. These expenses include housing, utilities, insurance, food, gas and savings. Then, beneficiaries can determine whether they need to reduce any essential costs. Beneficiaries should also identify luxury expenses, such as cable, dining out and travel, and reduce or eliminate them completely.
SSD beneficiaries additionally should consider ways to lower unavoidable living expenses. As any disability lawyer in Chicago knows, beneficiaries may be eligible for various forms of public assistance. These include food stamps, subsidized housing and state welfare programs. People who have been eligible for SSD benefits for a period of two years also qualify for Medicare coverage.
- Control housing costs
Housing expenses are one of the most significant expenses most individuals face. Financial experts recommend that housing should cost no more than 25 to 30 percent of monthly income. People who have significantly higher mortgage or rent payments should consider relocating or taking other steps to reduce this expense.
If public assistance isn’t available, SSD beneficiaries may be able to lower living expenses in a few ways. Beneficiaries can live with a roommate or in shared housing. Beneficiaries who can perform limited work may enter living arrangements that offer reduced rent costs. For instance, someone with a physical disability could act as a companion to an elderly person. Renting a house or apartment to travelers for a few days per month can also help offset living costs.
- Check benefit amounts
In addition to limiting expenses, SSD beneficiaries should consider whether they are receiving the full amounts they are entitled to. A person’s initial SSD benefit amount may increase later for a few reasons. First, SSD benefits may be reduced based on the amount of public disability benefits, such as workers’ compensation, that a beneficiary receives. People who previously collected these benefits may be entitled to greater SSD payments after the benefits cease.
Additionally, people whose earnings increased significantly during the year before the disability began may qualify for larger SSD benefit amounts. When Social Security first determines a person’s benefit amount, complete records of recent earnings may not be available. Therefore, as a disability lawyer in Chicago can explain, a person’s benefit may change once updated earnings records become available.