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How to Survive Financially when waiting for Social Security Disability benefits

How to Survive Financially When Applying for Social Security Disability

One of the questions my clients ask me the most is: “How to survive financially when applying for Social Security Disability?”

This is usually a tough question because in most cases the claimant is unable to work. Or at least, unable to work full time.

And Social Security tends to deny benefits if the claimant is working.

In some cases, the person can’t even work for one hour. Much less a meaningful amount of hours to generate enough income to survive.

It’s also not uncommon for most people to live paycheck to paycheck.

And depending on how old the claimant is they will also not have that much in savings to hold them over for the average time it takes for a claim to go through.

So how to survive financially when applying for Social Security Disability if one can’t really work anymore?

Those lucky enough to have a spouse, family members or friends who offer to help will certainly be in a better position to wait until their benefits to “kick-in”.

But what do you do if you’re by yourself?  Or your spouse’s income is not enough to support the household expenses?

What if friends can only help you occasionally? Or your savings are draining as we speak?

There are many things one can do to make a buck here and there.

Some of these ideas may not be an option for those with certain medical impairments. But with some creativity, you could potentially make a little bit of money to supplement your income.

First, what exactly is the rule about working while your Social Security Disability claim is pending?

You must watch very closely what you are making per month so as not to exceed the amount allowed

This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission from any purchases you make through these links without any extra cost to you. This is how I make sure this blog is available to help you in your claim journey

You must also be concerned about the physical and mental requirements of the job.

While you are allowed to work during the pendency of the case, this will ALWAYS raise an eyebrow on the decision maker.

There will always be a question, “If this person can do this part time, why can’t she work full time?“.

It is indeed a fine line.

The program doesn’t want you to starve.  And they even offer a “trial work period” for those who already receive benefits but who wish to work while getting benefits.

But this is not a subject for today’s post. Just know that it is an option for later.

Back to the rules:

As of this print, you are allowed to work and make no more than $1180 gross per month while you are applying for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).

If you are applying for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) you need to be careful.

For every dollar you make, Social Security will offset and deduct your earnings from your SSI benefits.

Currently, SSI pays $750 per month (as of this print).

To learn the difference between the two programs click here.

The amounts allowed are not a lot, but it’s better than nothing.

Of course, if you are receiving any other welfare benefits from your own State, you must check the rules about each individual program.

You need to make sure you won’t lose those benefits too.

Now that we know what amounts you could potentially make, let’s check some potential money-making ideas.

Money Making Ideas

This list of ideas is not all-inclusive and will also depend on your physical or mental abilities.

Most of these ideas are work-from-home, at your own pace, ideas.

Some would be difficult or impossible for some. For others, they will make total sense because of training or past skills that come naturally to them.

If you have any other ideas, feel free to share them in the comments.

No scams, please!

And nothing that requires people to pay to work (with few exceptions below).

Here they are:


If you are a writer or like to talk about things going on in your life, blogging may be a great option to make some “side income”.

It is not immediate money.

But if the subject matter is relevant and you can connect your message with others, this is a great way to make money.

Plus you will feel like you are still contributing one way or another.

This is one of the options that will require some upfront fees since you will need a domain name (a website name and web address) and hosting (where your website will be “parked” or “housed”).

Both domain and hosting are offered by most hosting companies. And they are usually not that pricey.

One of them is Siteground. They are known amongst bloggers to have a great customer service line. Click on the box below for costs and more:

Web Hosting
Hosting and domain have some upfront fees. But once you are set up, the hosting company will walk you through setting up the basic website.

Then you can check Pinterest and even Youtube on how to set up your website theme. Once you are set up, you can start writing articles and posts about your subject matter.

There are free blogging platforms but you may not be able to “monetize” it. So it’s worth getting your WordPress site with a hosting company.

Common subjects for disabled claimants are:

Coping with Disability, Mental Illness, Healthy Recipes, Fashion for the Disabled, Easy Crafts. The ski is the limit on what you can talk about.

Once you have enough posts (about 5 or so) you can start applying for affiliate programs where you can make a commission for products you mention on your posts or site.

You can even sell ad space and also offer to write sponsored posts for brands.

Vlogging (Video Blogging)

If writing is too much for you but you still want to make some money you could set up an account on Youtube and just go live and talk about your subject matter.

To make money on Youtube you will need to get a lot of followers but you can start building it now and soon you may have enough followers to apply for “monetization”.


Your online presence can be reviewed by the decision maker.

So you must be very careful how you present yourself online.

Be sure to check your privacy settings. And if you are a business be sure to create a brand name for it.

You can read my post about Social Media and Social Security Claims to learn more about it to avoid any issues.


Most people hate the idea of selling their stuff because they can’t afford things anymore. But once you are strapped for money, a garage sale can always help with some extra cash.

Physically it may be difficult for you to set up a garage sale. You could try recruiting friends and family members to help you set up outside.

They can also help distribute signs or post on social media to attract potential buyers.

This also goes for downsizing the house

Yes, I know you worked all your life to have that nice house.

But if your income will not cover the house expenses you risk losing the house if you can’t pay for it anymore.

You are better off selling it now before you are hit with a foreclosure or eviction if you are renting.

Buy low, Sell High

Selling your stuff online is a great way to make money.

You can go to thrift stores and look for brand name clothes, purses and other items that are in good condition. Then you can sell these items for more than what you paid for them.

Since used items don’t really have a set price, if people are interested in the item they will be willing to pay your price.

As long as the price makes sense, of course.

Sell Your hobbies

If you have any talents like knitting, painting, crochet or anything that you can easily make in just a few hours, this may be an option for extra income.

If you never tried a hand at crafts, you can check our sister site and learn some easy things like making a sign with scrap wood, for example.

All you need is some scrap wood from your backyard or even the “reject pile” at the home improvement store.

Just slap on an encouraging message (there are tons of ideas on Pinterest) and sell these babies online or at a yard sale.

skitterphoto source realtactics how to survive financially when applying for Social Security

Some of these signs can go for an easy $25 to $45 depending on the size.

You can make your own stencils on your computer and write things like “Welcome”, Bible Quotes, or Season related signs.

The same goes for spray painted glass jars

Yes! You can decorate or paint those mason jars or tomato sauce jars you already get from your groceries and make money selling them.

I made this mason jar with a piece of rope around the neck and a chalkboard sticker in less than 10 minutes!

Pinterest has thousands of mason jar inspiration ideas you can copy.

mason jar rope realtactics4disabilityclaims how to survive financially when applying for social security disability

You can also try a hand in candle making, artificial flower arrangements or anything that it’s easy to make in just a few minutes.

Then you can list them online like the Facebook marketplace, Craigslist or an Etsy shop.

These accounts are very easy to set up and you can just post a picture of the product and people will flock to your online shop.

Create an Ebook

If you have a story to tell about you, your family, your illness, or even a cool fiction, why not write an ebook?

Amazon Kindle has a whole platform to create and upload your book. Plus it’s Amazon. The biggest seller of books online!

If you write about a subject matter that is current, your book may be the next big hit.

You don’t have to do it in 2 days. I know it’s not quick money either.

But if you can crank some short ebooks and charge an average of $5 or $6 bucks, you can make some good money.

Once published, you don’t even have to do any work after that.

Sure you have to promote it. But that is easy on social media like Facebook, Instagram, etc.

You can also join Facebook groups for that particular subject and attract a lot of potential buyers that way.

Who doesn’t like passive income?

You do risk making more than you should if you are too successful. You can always pull the book or live off it if you turn out to be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling!

I, myself wrote an ebook

It was an incredible experience to write it and my inspiration was you, my reader.

It is called Real Tactics for Filing Your Disability ClaimNow I have a product out there that hopefully will help thousands of claimants with their disability claim.

If I can do it, so can you! 

My book is available on Amazon Kindle and paperback. Simply click on the image below if you wish to grab your own copy:


10 Books about Filing for Social Security Disability

The book was created to teach you everything you need to know about preparing and filing your disability claim. It also contains a chapter where you will learn how to read your medical records to make sure that they are really supporting your claim.

And best of all, I created an exclusive Facebook group so you can ask questions about the concepts you learn in the book so you don’t have to guess if anything is not very clear to you.

Anyway, the point is that if you have something to say, an ebook is a great way to make some extra income by sharing your knowledge and experience with the world.

If you do write a book, please share with us so we can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Tutorials and Courses

If you have something to teach, you can create an online course and sell it the same way you sell books.

There are many online course platforms out there.

I use Thinkific.com for my own courses. They even a have a free option to start!

You can check all my courses HERE.

There are even one of my free courses you can check to see how the chapters work.

It’s easy to create chapters and lessons. You can also record videos and slides to make it more attractive.

Just like the ebook, you have to promote it to sell.

But if the subject matter is current and needed, I bet you can make some money there.

The sky is the limit on the subject.

And you can take your time creating it and use your “good days” to work on it.

If you were a trainer or teacher it’s even easier.  Also, those who speak another language. Arts and crafts is another thing people like to learn.

The question is: Are you good at something enough that you can teach?

Then do it!

Become a Notary

I know it may sound pretty boring but it’s very easy to become a notary.

Simply go online and check the rules about becoming a notary in your State and follow through.

The advantage is that you can charge your own fees and you can do this around your “good” and “bad days”.

You can print business cards ($10 bucks or so) and send them to local Realty and brokerage companies and any other places that require the services of a notary. And people can come to you if it’s hard to drive.

Selling Your Photos

Selling photos is a new thing.

It’s not a lot of money (sometimes a dollar, sometimes less). But if you have accumulated enough good quality pictures you can sell them.

Flat lays are a good way to make money too. These are pictures of things lying on a surface (desks, tables) and that inspire a color or a theme. Like the ones below:


How to survive financially when applying for Social Security Disability

If you have a good camera, you can certainly use that.

But most good cell phones have good cameras too. You just have to play with editing to change lighting and mood.

Your desktop will likely have editing software already installed. And even the phone may give you some options for editing.

You can also set up an online shop (Etsy is one of them) or your own website to sell your images too.

Some people will even sell packages with themes (more money).

You can sell office pics, garden, flowers, buildings, animals and human images (without a face, like a photo of a person’s back or lowered head, hands, arms, legs, etc).

Part-time Customer Service

Probably one of the easiest jobs to do at home.

Some companies even offer voice recognition software. That way, you don’t have to type anything while talking to customers over the phone.

It may require some concentration, which can be difficult if you have constant pain or anxiety.

But if you can do one or two hours at a time, you can certainly make a little bit of money.

You may even work from your recliner or while in bed.

Envelope Stuffer

I know it’s a funny name for a job but this does exist.

This is a great job for those who wish to do something with their hands to “kill” some time and make money.

It is also a great job if you are not able to handle being in public.

You get to work around your impairments and still make a little money without going to a job site or dealing with co-workers.

Online Surveys

There are several companies that will pay you for your input on their products.

Always check for reviews online on how they pay and if they are a well known and reliable company.

Pinterest will have a lot of articles about the “good ones” that will not be a scam or take advantage of you.

You can sign up with them and some will pay per survey. Others will pay for referrals to their products or new sign-ups.

This job will allow you to make a bit of money while working around your good and bad days.

Airbnb Hosting

(If you book an Airbnb space through my links I get a commission but you will never pay extra for it)

That’s right! If you have an empty bedroom, a cool guesthouse, garage, or barn with bathroom facilities you can certainly host guests.

With some creative decorating and some fresh linens and towels, you could make some good money on Airbnb.

If your town has sports events, conventions, or any other big event, Airbnb hosting can be a great money-maker.

I, myself am an Airbnb host and during baseball season can make as much as 1/3 of my mortgage in just 3 months!

Check it out!


The ideas are unlimited.

The only question is what you can physically or mentally do

Think about these ideas. There are so much more.

Be sure to do activities that are not inconsistent with your impairments.

Don’t take a job stocking shelves when you have a bad back. Or a sewing job when you have carpal tunnel.

You also have to be mindful of the number of hours you are working. Even if you are making less than the allowed amount.

Remember that “Anything you say or do, can and will be used against you in your claim”.

So be very careful and watch your earnings.

Ideally, we all want to work and not have to file for disability. But if you have no other choice, you have to do what’s best for your health.

If none of these ideas is a possibility for you, keep searching. And also check for welfare benefits provided by your State.

That way at least you have a roof over your head, health insurance (without it you don’t have a case) and food on the table.

Hopefully, these ideas will inspire you so you can make a bit of money while you wait for benefits.

Don’t forget to share your own ideas in comments or at our exclusive Facebook Group Realtactics4disabilityclaims VIPS.

It’s free to join and you can ask questions about the Social Security Disability process.

Until next time,

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Courses by Realtactics4disabilityclaims

Do you know how to read your own medical records to see if they are actually supporting your disability?

Learn how to read and how to improve your medical records like a pro with my course “Medical Records Reading 101 for Disability Claimants”. Stop wasting time “hoping for the best” with your current records. The course also includes a Checklist and Worksheet so you can keep track of your treatment to make sure you don’t have any “gaps” that could jeopardize your claim. Take a quick “free sneak peek” before you purchase the course and learn the ins and outs of improving your medical records with actionable instructions from Yours Truly (Yes, Me!).

Copy of Medical Records Reading for Disability Claimants Banner Course Card for site


If you were denied disability and you are looking to appeal with “better” evidence, I created a course about using a Residual Functional Capacity Report to add to your medical records. This is a form you can take to your doctor to complete in support of your claim. The course includes forms for physical or mental impairments and instructions on how to ask your doctor to complete them. You can take a “free sneak peek” to see if this course is for you. Click on the image below and you will be directed to the course page:

course card RFC Intro Doc buy button (1)

Also from Realtactics4disabilityclaims

If you are looking to file for disability and don’t know where to start, I created a course called the “5 Day File your Disability Claim”Guide where I teach you every step you should take to file your claim.

Simply click on the image below and it will take you directly to the course page. Take a “free sneak peek” of the first lesson to see if this course is for you.

You know the blog, now you can take one step further and learn the process of preparing and filing your claim.


5 Day File Your Disability Claim Course



    • Tatiana says:

      Thank you! So glad you liked the post. I hope it helps a lot of people in the same situation.

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