Applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is an extensive process that can take months or even years. The Social Security Administration (SSA) processes applications within three to five months from the date of application. That means that, even if the SSA approves your application, you may still be facing financial hardship and mounting bills by the time you begin receiving benefits.
For those with hefty insurance premiums and high prescription drug costs, financial limitations may mean making a decision between whether to buy food or pay for drug treatments or medical procedures. Skipping doctor-advised drugs or procedures can negatively impact your ultimate determination for disability benefits.
Can anyone help me financially while I wait for a decision on my disability case?
For many, relying on the generosity of family or friends to help during the disability claim process is not feasible. While you are waiting on the SSD application process, there are a number of resources that you can turn to for financial help, depending on your source of need.
Help With Medical Bills
Your county health department, physician, or hospital billing department should be able to work with you on a payment plan. They may also be able to provide you with contact information for services assisting low-income individuals who need help paying for medical bills. There may be local churches, charitable organizations, or free clinics that can help you offset your medical bills while you are waiting on your SSD benefits determination. There are also prescription assistance programs, run privately or through drug manufacturers, that can help you with your prescription drug costs.
If you find that you can no longer afford the cost of your insurance premium, you can file for Medicaid, which will allow you to continue to receive medical benefits based on your income, whether or not you ultimately qualify for disability.
Help With Housing Costs
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development helps families with low income find suitable, safe, and financially affordable housing. This program will base your monthly rent on your family’s gross income and place you in a public housing unit that you can afford.
Help With Utilities
Your utilities company or local government should be able to provide you with contact information for an office or division that can provide temporary assistance for your utility bills. The process varies from provider to provider and may not be applicable during certain months.
Help With Food Costs
Many local organizations run pantry programs to assist those with low incomes. You may also be able to apply for WIC or food stamps based on your income and whether or not you qualify for SSD benefits.
Can I qualify for Interim Assistance?
Interim Assistance is a short-term benefit funded by your state government. It serves as a loan that can help you bridge the gap from application time until you receive your benefits.
This program, administered by the state’s department of social services or welfare office, offers some financial assistance while you wait for your benefits and SSD back pay, with a promise or repayment after you receive your back pay.
To qualify for Interim Assistance, you must apply for both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income, which is a need-based program for those who have little or no income and resources. Those who apply just for SSDI benefits typically do not qualify for Interim Assistance.
Can the SSA expedite my claim?
In most cases, the SSA processes applications in order, because most applicants are facing the same kinds of financial shortcomings as you are. However, in some cases, there may be grounds to request an expedited application.
- Terminally ill patients: If your illness will likely result in death in less than a year, the SSA may expedite your application.
- Veteran status: If the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs finds a veteran to have a disability, then the SSA will expedite his or her application.
- Dire need: In some extreme cases, such as risk of homelessness, going without food, or the inability to seek necessary medical care, the SSA may expedite your claim.
How can I give my application a better chance of approval?
The most important thing you can do when filing for disability benefits is to submit complete and accurate documentation in a timely fashion. A disability attorney can assist you with the process to minimize your chances of a rejection letter, which can result in costly delays of 12 months or longer while waiting for an appeal.
An attorney can also assist you with providing documentation to a landlord, bank, or services provider showing that you are in the process of applying for disability. In some cases, these letters can delay an eviction or foreclosure.
The Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC can advocate for you during the disability application process and can help you secure the benefits you need. Call us for a free consultation at 866-628-8179.