Living off your Social Security Disability Benefits can be challenging. Your disability check may provide for basic necessities, but it’s not enough to make ends meet. This is especially true if your disability prevents you from going back to work or seek employment.
But, all is not lost yet. With the right mindset, grit, and determination, you can make it work. To help you out, we’ve compiled these tips on how to make the most out of your meager disability check.
Create a Budget and Stick to It
The first rule to making ends meet with limited resources is creating a budget and sticking to it.
Draw up a list of all your fixed and non-fixed expenses for the month. Calculate your fixed expenses or things that can’t be taken out of the budget. This includes rent, medications, utilities, and child support payments (if any).
Next, think of the things you can do without. The most obvious examples are restaurant meals, lottery tickets, and the like. Then strike these items off your budget.
List an amount next to each item. This is how much you should only spend on them. With self-discipline, sticking to this budget won’t be that hard.
Apply for Additional Benefits
Most people think that receiving additional benefits can affect their social security disability benefits. This is absolutely not true.
In addition to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the SSA also offers a Supplementary Security Income (SSI). Depending on your case, you may be qualified for the latter too. You can also avail of food stamps or medical assistance programs.
Apart from you, members of your family may also be eligible for auxiliary benefits.
Look for Ways to Make Extra Income
Another common misconception among SSDI beneficiaries is that they can’t earn any income else their disability benefits will stop. Again, this is not necessarily true.
You can still receive disability benefits if your income doesn’t exceed $720 per month. So, try to look for ways to make extra income as much as you can. You can do errands for neighbors, sell cookies, or babysit for a few hours. Remember, every dollar you earn counts.
Reduce Your Housing Expenses
If you’re living in an urban area, your most significant monthly expense will be on rent. It can take up more than half of your disability check. To save up on rent, consider moving to an income-based housing unit. Some apartments charge rent based on your Social Security Disability income. Most of the time, their rates are much lower than the prevailing market prices.
Collect Your Workers Compensation
Getting your disability benefits doesn’t mean you can’t anymore claim workers’ compensation. Depending on your state’s law, it is possible to receive both workers’ comp and SSDI benefits at the same time.
In Florida, you can receive both simultaneously as long as it won’t exceed 80% of your average current earnings.
If your employer or insurance company denies your workers comp claim, an experienced workers compensation lawyer like Victor Malca can help you.
Check If You’re Qualified for Energy Assistance
Energy assistance is an annual benefit given to defray your energy cost for the whole year. People who qualify for SSI and food stamps will most likely qualify for energy assistance. Inform your energy provider that you’re on social security disability benefits, so you’ll know what energy assistance programs are available for you.
Avail of School Meal Programs
If you have children still in school, free or reduced meal programs are a great help. Some schools also provide both breakfast and lunch for children from low-income families. Check if there are schools or programs like this in your area.
Look Into Your State’s Welfare Programs
Aside from federal government programs, some states also offer welfare programs for the disabled.
In Florida, you can avail of state welfare programs such as:
- Temporary Cash Assistance Program. This assistance is for families with children aged below 18. They must meet technical, income, and asset requirements of standard living. See complete TCA requirements here.
- Optional State Supplementation (OSS) Program. This program provides monthly support payments to disabled individuals and the elderly who are living in non-institutional and assisted living facilities and care homes. The same also applies to those admitted in mental health facilities.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program. What sets this program apart is that it requires ongoing work participation from the beneficiaries. SSI beneficiaries are, however, exempted from this requirement.
Coupons can save you a significant amount of grocery money each month. It’s a great way to reduce your expenses without sacrificing the quality of life. So start clipping as many coupons as you can, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can save.
Ask for Medicine Samples
Medication is one of the most significant financial burdens for most SSDI beneficiaries. But you can save on prescriptions by asking medicine samples from your doctor. Most doctors are more than willing to help if you inform them of your predicament.
Seek Help From Charities and NGOs
Many charities and NGOs offer assistance to struggling families. Charitable organizations like the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Services offer rent assistance programs. You can also approach local NGOs to know how they can help you.
If you have some questions about your benefits, you need to seek advice from an experienced compensation attorney. It’s important to make sure that you will get all the benefits that you deserve.
Victor Malca Law P.A. has been defending the rights of Florida’s workers for more than 23 years. We specialize in workers’ compensation and social security benefits. We’ve helped thousands of workers to fight for their rights and get what they deserve.If you need help with your workers’ compensation benefits, contact us and get a free consultation.