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What to Do While You Wait for Social Security Disability Benefits

The process to receive disability benefits from the federal government can seem unreasonably long, especially if you’re in pain and experiencing financial difficulty. You can’t pay your bills or get out of bed in the morning – how can they not consider those facts and rush the payments over? Our Social Security Disability lawyers lay out the dos and don’ts during that sometimes anxious waiting period. Be careful. Going outside the lines even after approval, but before you start receiving payments, can still ruin your application.

Working While You Wait

Having part-time employment is by no means a barrier to receiving disability payments from the federal government. What matters here is the level of income you’re able to earn and the type of work you’re able to do. After an examiner approves your application, they’ll examine your financial records to see what type of income you’ve earned since you became disabled. If your income is more than $1,040 per month, they’ll consider you able to perform a substantial gainful activity (SGA) and deny your application.

ssd16 - What to Do While You Wait for Social Security Disability Benefits

What if I Can’t Pay My Bills Without Disability Benefits?

Our attorneys understand the financial hardship a disability puts you and your family through every day. The Social Security Administration wants to make sure they give payments to those who really need them, and if you’re able to maintain gainful employment, you might not “need” disability benefits. If you need extra money while you’re waiting for approval, find a minimum wage job working about 15 hours per week. The cumulative paychecks each month won’t come near the SGA threshold, and it may provide you with just enough money to get by until benefits begin.

Five-Month Waiting Period for Disability Benefits

Obtaining at least a small source of income is particularly important given the five-month waiting period before SSD benefits begin. Once approved, your checks won’t start coming in every month until five months after the established onset date (EOD) of your disability as determined by government examiners.

However, once examiners determine the EOD, you can receive back payments of disability benefits once your payments begin. For example, if the government determines your onset date is 18 months prior to your date of application, you’re entitled to receive a full 13 months of benefit payments when it begins. This is paid in one lump sum at the start.

Dire Need Letters and Expedited Claims

Given the precarious nature of your finances, writing a letter stating your ‘dire need’ to the Social Security Administration would seem like a ready way to speed up the approval process. Sadly, examiners don’t take these factors into account during the initial review process. A letter stating your need may provide more help in the appeals process, if they deny your original application.

Our Pennsylvania Social Security Disability Lawyers Can Help

When you need financial help because you can’t work, you absolutely have to get your SSD application right the first time. Call our disability lawyers today, and we can put our decades of experience filing thousands of successful claims to bear for you.


Before coming to Young, Marr & Associates, our SSD attorneys worked for the SSA which gives us an advantage over attorneys who have never dealt directly with the internal SSA system. We know the process is difficult – your job is to get better, and our job is to make sure you get the disability you deserve.

Chances are you are preoccupied dealing with a painful illness. You are concerned about your financial future, about how you will get by without a steady source of income.

Read what our clients have to say about us.


“I have already recommended Paul Young numerous times. He was honest, explained endlessly in terms that were understandable. Paul Young guided me through the process from beginning consultation to the end of case. Highly satisfied and grateful for his expertise.”


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