Q: I have a chronic back condition that makes it increasingly difficult for me to work. I'd like to retire and apply for Social Security disability, but I'm afraid I'll run out of money before my application is approved. What can I do?
It can be tempting, in this situation, to make a seemingly “rational” decision: stay at your job and file for Social Security disability at the same time. Once your application is approved—no matter how long that takes—you can quit your job and be secure in receiving at least a certain monthly stipend.
Sometimes, alas, a “rational” decision isn't what the complex Social Security system demands. The fact is that if you still have a job while applying for benefits, your application will almost certainly be denied, because the examiner will conclude that you're still capable of pursuing at least some kind of employment and not in need of government assistance. On the other hand, if you quit your job, and then apply for benefits, you may be without a source of income for over a year (especially if your initial application is denied on a technicality, and you have to jump through the SSA disability hoop again).
All things considered, your best option is indeed to quit your job before applying for disability benefits—but to make sure that you have some kind of financial cushion in place to cover your expenses over the next one, or possibly two or three, years. How much money do you have in your savings account? Can you call on assistance from friends or family? Are there any valuable items you can sell on eBay, or stocks or bonds you can liquidate to tie you over? These are all the questions you will need to ask as you consider tackling the disability process.
At the Ledgerwood Law Group, we know how arduous a process applying for Social Security disability can be. If you have any questions, call our northern California Social Security disability experts today at 888-761-7383!