How to Make Ends Meet on Social Security Disability Benefits (Updated for 2023)

Submitted by Shane on

When living on Social Security Disability, making ends meet can be a challenge, to say the least. Covering your living expenses with your disability payments can sometimes be challenging. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to alleviate some of the financial burden and make your Social Security Disability benefits stretch further.

In some cases, your family members may be eligible for auxiliary benefits. If you've been having trouble making your Social Security Disability payments cover your monthly living expenses, try some of the following tips and suggestions.

Apply for Additional Assistance

If you are really having a hard time financially, you may want to consider applying for additional benefits in addition to the Social Security Disability Insurance benefits you are already receiving. Benefits such as SNAP (formerly food stamps), Supplemental Security Income and medical assistance can provide you with additional resources during the month. It is important to note, however, that these benefits are based on income limitations and need. If your household income exceeds the limits established, you will not qualify for these additional benefits.

Start Clipping Coupons

When most people discuss tips to make Social Security Disability benefits stretch further, they discuss things like budget and low-income housing. Coupons, however, are a wonderful way to reduce expenses without sacrificing quality of life. People who use coupons on a regular basis can cut their grocery expenses by fifty dollars a week or more. Shop the sales at your local grocery stores and combine the sales prices with coupons. You'll be surprised to see that you may actually be able to cut your grocery bills in half.

Look Into Energy Assistance

If you qualify for SSI and food stamps, you will likely qualify for energy assistance as well. Energy assistance isn't automatically given out to those who qualify for it. It is usually provided as a once-a-year benefit that will help defray your annual energy costs. The exact amount of your benefit will be determined by your total energy bills, where you live, and how much income you have. Contact your energy provider and let them know you are on Social Security Disability and that you would like to find out what energy assistance programs are available in your area.

Additional Income Sources

Many people assume that they cannot earn any income when receiving Social Security Disability payments. This is not necessarily the case. Recipients of Social Security Disability benefits can receive income as long as it does not exceed $771 per month. If you can manage it, try making extra income from home. You can sell items on eBay or perform work for family and friends. Even babysitting for a few hours a week can help you make a few extra dollars and those dollars can add up to help you cover some of the expenses that Social Security Disability just isn't covering.

Look for Income-Based Housing

Housing expenses can take a big chunk out of your monthly Social Security Disability benefits. If you are struggling to make ends meet, you may want to look into apartments that charge rent payments based on your monthly Social Security Disability income. Some apartments cater to elderly and individuals with disabling conditions. The exact amount you pay for a rental in these places will depend on what your income is, but it will likely be lower than what you would pay if you were paying market rates.

Ask Your Doctor for Samples

Many people who are on Social Security Disability have significant medication expenses. Oftentimes these expenses can be offset by asking your doctor for medication samples when they are available. If you explain your situation to your doctor and ask if samples are available, they may be willing to help you if they have samples of the medications that you need.

School Meal Programs

If you have children who attend school, call the school office to see if your school district offers a free or reduced meal program. Some schools will provide free breakfasts and lunches to students if parents are struggling financially. Ask the school what the requirements are and how you can apply to enroll your children in this program.

Financial difficulties can be a humbling experience, but it is nothing to be ashamed of. Keep the above advice in mind and don't be afraid to ask for help where help is available. With a little planning and a few money-saving strategies, you can make your monthly Social Security Disability payment stretch further, allowing you to live more comfortably and without the unneeded financial stress.

Find Out If You're Eligible for Financial Help

Additional Resources

Blog comments

Sabrina (not verified)

I get Disability the whole

I get Disability the whole amount of 671.00. Y'all want to tell me how to budget my money OK. You tell me how I even pay my bills with what I make. I have a 368.58 care payment 250.00 rent 230.00 light bill not to motion the stuff u have to have for the house. Before anybody says this yes I've tried to get my car payment lowered nobody will help me. I'm going to lose my home because i can't afford to pay for it.

Sun, 08/20/2017 - 00:54 Permalink

In reply to by Sabrina (not verified)

Hi Sabrina,

Hi Sabrina,
I'm sorry to hear about that! You may want to look into re-financing your car payment if possible.

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 10:22 Permalink
Carol (not verified)

In reply to by Sabrina (not verified)

Hi, I'm sorry to hear

Hi, I'm sorry to hear this . I've come pretty close myself to losing my house. I'de sell the house and buy one of those tiny homes. Bless you for better.

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 21:42 Permalink
Alan M. (not verified)

Anyone living in Sacramento

Anyone living in Sacramento and on assistance can sign up at The Union Gospel Mission to get on their monthly food give out program. Just contact them in person or by phone for simple info.

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 16:30 Permalink
Shaggy (not verified)

I actually feel blessed after

I actually feel blessed after reading some of the other posts bc I receive quite a bit more in SSI and was irritated that the amount I receive in SSI prevents me from receiving SSDI or any other additional assistance bc my income is “too high”. I was earning well over six figures when I became disabled so I’m basically earning @ 1% of my salary and though it’s quite a bit more than what others are receiving it’s still extremely tough to get by and not close to covering my ongoing medical expenses that are never less than $500/month. I had significant savings but “experimental” surgeries and treatments quickly ate away hundreds of thousands of dollars?

My Question: In Texas, I can work part time to earn some extra income? I was discouraged to do so because:
a.) Your SSI is reduced dollar-for-dollar by any extra income you make
b.) Work of ANY kind can be used as evidence to show that since you are CAPABLE of working you are not disabled and should not qualify for disability

I cannot Drive and am not capable of working 90% of the time regardless but it would be nice to try to supplement my income on the rare opportunities Im capable of using the computer, etc..,

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 05:06 Permalink

In reply to by Shaggy (not verified)

Hi There,

Hi There,

Thank you for sharing your story. You are able to work part time receiving SSI, however your monthly income cannot exceed the 2018 SGA limit.

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 09:12 Permalink
J (not verified)

When I Broke my back, I

When I Broke my back, I worked anothe a8 yrs before I just could not take the pain anmore. Ihave had 8 sugeries. I Hate laying in bed, soe days I just cant move. Mentally being disabled is a nitemare both financially and of mental health. By allowing people to be productive it helps buy food, pay bills, meet expenses such as co-pays. it also helps people use thier minds a bit, to move around and just think is so productive. By penalizing people for going and working a minor art time job for 12 to 18 hours a week is not cheating. For some people it is the difference between life and death. No one is getting rich by trying to break even every month. I for instance can not afford to be disabled but have no choice. I can not sustain working 60 to 80 hours work ever again. I can however be a security guard for 10 hrs a week. that $100 covers my groceries. I can not be on foodstamps or any of that assistance. WHY DO THE PENALIZE PEOPLE FOR JUST TRYING TO LIVE..... The rules are ridiculous!

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 12:00 Permalink

In reply to by J (not verified)


I'm sorry to hear about that! You may be able to work while receiving benefits, but the SSA would reduce benefits roughly one dollar for every two that you earn with SSI benefits.

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 16:16 Permalink
Donna (not verified)

I get 1060.00 a month. I was

I get 1060.00 a month. I was getting 196.00 a moth in food stamps. But they called and said they were only giving me 26.00 . But as soon as I got Medicare I got on Human a they pay for everything even that 140.00 they pay for me so nothing comes out of my check. The amount you get is based on your income you made all your life. But what i get I can't have a place of my own. Thank God my daughter did well. I live with her and her husband. But I don't know how most people make it.

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 12:22 Permalink
Cindy (not verified)

How much are you supposed to

How much are you supposed to get for back pay? And are you supposed to get it all at once?

Sun, 07/19/2020 - 16:49 Permalink

In reply to by Cindy (not verified)

Hi Cindy,

Hi Cindy,

Back pay is different for each person. It depends on when the SSA establishes your disability on set date, how long you were waiting for benefits and how much the SSA establishes you should have been receiving.

If you are awarded back pay and are receiving SSDI, you'll get one lump sum. If you are receiving SSI, then your back pay will come in 3 installments about 6 months apart.

Fri, 08/21/2020 - 15:00 Permalink

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