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Will the Holidays Affect My Evansville Disability Claim?

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The holiday season is a joyful time to spend with your family and friends, but it can also be a time of stress. Many families struggling financially find it difficult to afford the meals, the gifts, and the other traditions associated with the holiday season. In December, every penny counts, and many people turn to Social Security disability benefits to get them through the end of the year.

However, the holidays may affect your disability claim. It depends on where you are in the process. Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about how the holidays may or may not affect your disability claim.

Will My Local Office Be Closed for the Holidays?

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The Evansville Social Security office will be closed December 25 and January 1 in observance of federal holidays. It’s also important to remember that the Evansville office closes every Wednesday at noon as opposed to 4 p.m. on other weekdays. The office is always closed on the weekend.

Will This Affect My Disability Claim?

It’s unlikely. Because of how lengthy the process is to get approved for disability, Social Security not working on your claim for a day isn’t likely to delay their decision. However, if you’re expecting to receive a decision soon, just know that it likely won’t arrive on Christmas or New Year’s Day.

Do Gift Cards Count as Income?

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Many people receive gift cards over the holidays from their loved ones. However, for those applying for or receiving disability benefits, this can make them nervous. Typically, to qualify for disability benefits, there are strict income limitations on recipients. Whether or not gift cards count as income could potentially push some people over the limit.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) typically only counts gift cards as income if the gift card in question can be used to purchase either food or shelter. They may also count the gift card as income if it can be resold.

Will This Affect My Disability Claim?

Potentially. If you receive supplemental security income (SSI), your gift card(s) could count toward your income in the month you receive it. Any remaining balance on the card would then roll over to the next month. Since the SSA only allows you to have $2,000 in countable resources as an individual ($3,000 as a couple), this could affect you if you’re already receiving benefits.

However, the SSA is allowed to exclude gift cards when calculating your countable income if you receive gift cards infrequently or irregularly. They understand that you may receive gift cards over the holidays, and it wouldn’t exactly be fair to penalize you for someone else’s generosity. But they reserve the right to count gift cards as income if you receive them regularly or frequently. For example, if your daughter gives you a $100 Visa gift card at the beginning of every month to help cover your rent, that would likely be considered income.

Can I Get Approved Before the Holidays?

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Understandably, many people wish they could get approved for disability benefits before the holiday season. However, no accelerated program exists to make sure applicants receive their benefits in time for Christmas.

Will This Affect My Disability Claim?

That’s up to you. It can be frustrating to wait to receive a decision from Social Security, but don’t lose hope. Even if you receive a denial, you may be able to request a reconsideration or a hearing to fight for your benefits.

If you receive an initial denial before the holidays, know that you’re not alone. About two-thirds of all initial applications are denied. You may be tempted to just close your claim and reapply, but the odds for approval are actually better if you stick with your claim through reconsideration to a hearing. Of course, every case is different, and reapplying may be the best option for you, depending on the specifics of your case. An Evansville disability attorney can guide you on the best course of action for your case.

Help from an Evansville Disability Attorney

The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but they can be difficult for those struggling to make ends meet while managing a disability. If you’ve made the decision to apply for disability benefits, an Evansville disability attorney can help. Call Hensley Legal Group or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim.