By definition, people who qualify for Social Security Disability benefits cannot work gainfully. Many people in Illinois face significant financial hardships when applying for Social Security Disability benefits. Unfortunately, the SSD approval process can be lengthy.
The Social Security Administration mandates a five-month period between claim approval and benefit disbursal. The rigorous evaluation process can create an even longer wait between the application date and the date when benefits begin. Planning financially for this gap is essential for SSD applicants.
Applicants should take advantage of any available financial resources. Unfortunately, collecting unemployment benefits or working on a limited basis can undermine an SSD claim. However, applicants may qualify for other forms of assistance, including Food Stamps and Medicaid. Applicants can also look into community housing or medical service programs to help low-income or disabled individuals.
Next, applicants can make a monthly budget and identify unnecessary expenses. Frivolous expenses, such as dining out, should be cut back or eliminated. Applicants may be able to reduce monthly bills by changing service plans, switching providers or bundling services. Applicants should also consider switching to less expensive goods and commodities.
Applicants should remember that downsizing might be necessary even with disability benefits. For 2014, the maximum SSD benefit is $2,642. As of August, the average benefit was $1,145.37, according to the SSA. People who used to earn greater monthly income may need to adjust their lifestyles. Moving to lower-cost housing, downgrading personal vehicles and selling other possessions can create income while reducing long-term expenses.
Expedited claim processing
Applicants facing extreme financial hardship may qualify for faster claim processing. The SSA considers a disability claim a “dire need” case under the following circumstances:
- The applicant does not have the resources to obtain food.
- The applicant lacks insurance or funding to receive needed medical care.
- The applicant faces eviction or foreclosure, lacks utilities or is homeless.
To request expedited processing, applicants may submit a dire need letter. Applicants should also include supporting documentation, such as eviction notices, medical bills or letters from utility companies.
Unfortunately, a dire need request might have little effect on the processing of an initial application. Often, there is little that disability examiners can do to expedite the evaluation process. However, a disability hearing for a denied claim may be moved forward based on dire need.
Severe disabling conditions may also qualify for faster processing, even at the application level. Medical evidence requirements are reduced for conditions on the Compassionate Allowances list, which are typically severe enough to merit automatic approval. Claims for terminal conditions are also expedited. Applicants with limited financial resources should check whether their conditions qualify for expedited evaluation.