You can use disability benefits to pay for some of the costs you face each day. Both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) offer cash benefits, paid monthly. For the most part, you can use SSI or disability to help pay for utilities, heating costs, or rent.
Some people believe they must use their disability payments to cover the direct costs of a disability, including treating their health condition or living with their impairment. This is a myth. However, many people do have prescription drug costs and other health care costs to consider in addition to utilities.
If you find yourself in this situation and you are struggling to make ends meet, there may be help available through other programs that provide money specifically for medical care, utilities, heating costs, and rent.
If you have questions about your disability benefits, the lawyers at Berger and Green can help. Call 412-661-1400 today for a free consultation.
How Do I Qualify for Help Paying My Medical Expenses?
The eligibility requirements for SSDI consider only the income you earn from working a job. Some people have significant income and assets that are not considered during the SSDI application process. People who are awarded SSDI benefits can eventually qualify for Medicare after a 24-month waiting period and depending on their financial situation, may qualify for Medicaid in the meantime.
SSI, on the other hand, is a program for those with extremely low incomes and few assets. In most states, those who qualify for SSI benefits automatically get Medicaid benefits to cover their medical needs. They may also meet the requirements for other federal, state, municipal, or nonprofit assistance programs.
Are There Programs to Help Me Pay Utilities, Rent, and Other Necessary Costs?
While having Medicare or Medicaid to cover many of your medical needs leaves more money for other expenses, it can still be difficult to make ends meet when you cannot work. There are several other federal, state, and local programs that can help you pay for housing, food, and utilities.
In the Pittsburgh area, the Allegheny County Housing Authority and the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh operate and allocate funds for two programs that help low-income families pay their rent:
- Low-income public housing; and
- The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP).
Low-income public housing offers placement in government-owned and subsidized housing projects. The HCVP, sometimes called Section 8 housing, offers help paying the rent for families living in poverty, as well as the elderly and those with impairments that prevent them from working. While low-income public housing offer subsidized rent in a housing project, HCVP provides extra money to pay the rent for private units available for subsidized housing.
To qualify for housing assistance, you will need to meet strict eligibility requirements that include:
- Having a qualifying family status;
- Meeting income and asset limits;
- Having a qualifying citizenship status; and
- Not having a history of some types of convictions, such as drug-related crimes.
Food and Other Necessities
If you qualify for SSI or receive SSDI and have a low income, you may also qualify for help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP, or “food stamps,” allows seniors, those with disabilities, and other low-income households to buy certain foods and other supplies at local grocery stores and supermarkets. Approved recipients have money loaded onto a prepaid card each month.
To qualify for SNAP, your household income must meet strict requirements. You may be able to qualify with a higher income if you have childcare payments, housing costs, medical expenses, or other similar costs.
If you do not qualify for SNAP but need immediate help with food, a number of local nonprofits operate food banks that can provide non-perishable food items for you and your family.
There are several things your local utility company may be able to do to help you ensure your bill gets paid every month. It may be able to help you make your home more energy efficient, put you on budget billing so your bill is the same every month, or offer a payment plan. Some may have other programs to help low-income families, as well.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) also offers help with utility payments to extremely low-income families. By providing assistance with gas or electric bills, this program can help you pay for heating costs during the winter. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funds LIHEAP, while local offices administer the program.
How Can I Get Help From a Disability Attorney?
If you have questions about getting disability or need help fighting a denial, the team from Berger and Green is here for you. You can reach our office at 412-661-1400. We offer free case consultations, we can look over your claim before you submit it, and we will handle your appeal on a contingency basis. Call us today to get started.