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Living on a Fixed Income: 6 Budgeting Tips for Social Security Disability Claimants

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Because the wait for a Social Security disability appeal hearing is often several months, I am often asked: 

“How do I live and pay my bills while waiting for my Social Security Disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge?”

Recently, I attended a training that focused on how individuals who are unable to work can better manage their finances by making and sticking to a budget.  Here are some highlights that I hope you find helpful:

 (1).  Don’t try too much at once – your first budget should be for a month.  If you have early success with your budget, you are more likely to stick with it.

 (2).  Have everyone in your family participate in the budget process to understand the importance of a budget and to decide on your goals together – you have a greater chance of success when everyone in the family understands the need for the budget and what you want to achieve.

 (3).  Identify your fixed expenses first – expenses such a rent, car payments, etc. – expenses you know you will need to account for each month.  For the most part, these never change and are your most important expenses.

 (4). Identify your flexible expenses – expenses such as eating out, school activities, clothing, entertainment, etc.  – these can be expenses for things you “need” or things you “want” -which leads us to -

 (5).  Identify “needs” and “wants.”  If the expense is a “want” – before making the purchase, ask yourself why you want it and how your life will be different with it and without it.  If you cannot identify how your life will be better with it – it may be an expense that you can eliminate.

 (6).  Use cash as often as possible to pay for expenses.  Credit cards (even debit cards) can lead to more purchases of “wants.”  When you buy with plastic – you do not see the money coming out of your hand/wallet/purse.  If you have the cash with you and are committed to spending only that amount – you are forced to stop buying things when the cash is gone.  This is a great tip for grocery shopping – we tend to buy things that we do not need at the grocery store.

 I hope that this information proves helpful to you and shows why it is so important to have your claim reviewed by an attorney and to be prepared for your appeal hearing.  Please contact me at (717) 737-7574 or [email protected] for a free consultation.


Andy Norfleet represents Social Security disability claimants in Pennsylvania.  Andy edits a monthly newsletter of various Social Security disability topics and speaks to a variety of service providers in the Central Pennsylvania region on how to better prepare their clients for the Social Security disability process.  Andy lives in Northern York County with his wife and two children.

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