There are many people out there living on a fixed income, unable to work. But, being on a fixed income is hard to manage. So, here’s how to cut back on certain things and find the help you need.
Take Advantage Of Benefits
If you haven’t applied for Social Security Disability benefits, or Social Security Supplemental Income Insurance benefits, do so. The process is long-arduous, and most people get denied, but you can always appeal, and those benefits will replace at least some of your income if you don’t think you’ll be returning to work within a year.
Aside from Social Security Disability benefits, you may also qualify for ancillary benefits, which can help you pay for basic living expenses.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): This program is the old food stamps program. Today’s program uses a debit card to instead of paper “stamps.” It helps low income and disabled individuals get the food they need when they cannot afford it themselves. The focus is on providing the essentials so you can stay healthy, even when you can’t work.
Lifeline Assistance Program: This program is for low income individuals who cannot afford a phone. It provides you with a free cell phone that you can use to make phone calls and text messages. See if you qualify for Lifeline, because it could save you $100 every month.
The Low-Income High Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): These types of programs help you pay for heating and cooling your home. They also help defray the cost of electricity. It’s available at the state level.
Rent Out A Room
If you still can’t make ends meet with federal and state assistance, you could always move, but that costs money. Money you probably don’t have. You could rent out a bedroom, but this would require you to report additional income to the Social Security Administration. Instead of renting out the room for money, however, you could rent it out in exchange for housework and upkeep, other chores, and a share of the bills.
In other words, you could transfer certain bills into the name of the person renting the room and have them take it over. The SSA may consider this “income” so check with your local SSA office for details.
Any change you make to your living arrangements, including any additional income you receive, you must report.
A one-third reduction rule is applied to you if you lived in another person’s household for the full calendar month or you received both shelter and food from others. In either case, the SSA might reduce your SSI payment by one-third.
Sell Arts And Crafts
One way people make ends meet on Social Security is to sell arts and crafts. It’s not a glamorous lifestyle, nor does it allow you to get rich, but it might fill in income gaps. You could take out ads in your local newspaper, go to flea markets or get a free website set up and sell them online. You could also sell them through your local church or civic group or association.
Make Your Own Food From Scratch
Making meals from scratch is an artform. But, if you’re disabled but still able to cook, this could be a blessing in disguise.
Cheap meals can be made from beans, rice, lentils, and a variety of cheap spices that can be purchased in bulk from ethnic grocery stores. You could also source cheap cuts of meat from stores like Walmart or have a friend shop for you through discount stores like Sam’s Club, B.J.’s, or COSTCO.
Some people even make things like pasta, from scratch. To do this, you’d need a pasta-maker, but those can be picked up pretty cheaply. A food dehydrator is another useful item that will help you make snacks (think jerky and dried fruits).
And, basics, like peanut butter, bread, soup bonds (for stock and homemade soups) are all very inexpensive items at the grocery store. You can even render your own cooking fat, which tends to be expensive.
Thankfully, most butchers often sell tallow (fat from a cow), for example at the butcher’s area for $0.99 per pound. You can also buy Fatback, pork belly, and leaf lard relatively cheaply. These can be cut into small chunks, and rendered in a slowcooker overnight.
When you wake up in the morning, your home will smell wonderful, and you’ll have cooking fat that costs less than half of commercially prepared stuff.
Robert Allen works in the community and understands the problems that people with disabilities often face. He likes to share his thoughts and suggestions online and is a regular writer for a number of different websites.