Affordable Prescriptions

When you lose your job, you usually lose your health insurance, which means your prescription plan is history, too.  Many of my clients are given prescriptions by their doctors that they never fill because they do not have the money to pay for them.  Or so they think.

There are an increasing number of ways to get free or heavily discounted prescription medications today if you know where to look.

The newest and probably most wide spread is the $4 prescription programs introduced by large retailers like WalMart and Target.  They offer an extensive list of generic prescription drugs for $4 for a 30-day supply.  They have recently begun offering a 90-day supply of some medications for $10 as well.  Both stores have a list of all prescription medications offered for $4 on their websites.  I was able to reduce a client’s monthly prescription costs from $280 per month to around $40 per month by going through his prescriptions and finding that most were available for $4 at WalMart and Target.

Many grocery store chains have also started $4 prescription plans.  Brookshire’s and Kroger both have them.  Others do, as well, but beware because a few have a “sign up” fee of $10 – $25 and when you have so many places who do not charge that, it’s really more economical to go elsewhere.  You could purchase two or more $4 prescriptions for the amount you spent to “sign up” for that program.

Some prescriptions are not available in generic form and tend to be expensive.  If you take a drug, such as Lyrica or Advair that is very expensive, even if you have insurance, then go to  This website is a great resource for information about individual prescription medications, coupons for some medications, information about free clinics in your area and disease-based assistance programs.  You just look up the drug that you need and it tells you who manufactures it, gives you contact information for the company and lets you know of coupons or specials for that drug.  The site also details what criteria you have to meet in order to qualify for assistance for a particular medication.

You can also ask your doctor to get you the information about the manufacturer and contact the manufacturer directly to find out if they have an assistance program for patients who cannot afford the drug.

Many doctors will also give their patients free samples that they are given by the companies to give to patients to try.  It’s worth asking your doctor for free samples if you cannot afford to fill the prescription or to use until you can get into an assistance program.

No one should be denied the most effective treatment for their illness or condition because they don’t have insurance or enough money to buy it.  If it happens to be the answer to your health problems, it may just be your ticket back to work!

Can you receive Social Security benefits while receiving other payments?

If you are applying for Social Security disability insurance benefits, which are based on your work record, then you may receive other benefits, such as Workers’ Compensation, VA benefits or disability benefits through a private insurer, concurrently with Social Security disability benefits.  There may be offsets in the payments of some of these benefits as a result of receiving multiple payments at the same time, but the offsets are far better than not having any benefits coming in at all.

Ideally, you need to apply for Social Security disability benefits as soon as you discover that you may be eligible for them.  It takes approximately two years from the date of original application to go through the appeals process and get a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, so the sooner you get the claim started, the sooner you can get to a hearing.

Additionally, you want to apply while you are still receiving benefits of some sort and not wait until those benefits are exhausted and you are left without any income to live on.

For example, Workers’ Compensation benefits only last for approximately 104 weeks so you want to make sure you apply before those benefits run out.

Keep in mind that if you apply, but then are able to go back to work before you have been off for 365 days, you can just let the Social Security Administration know that you would like to cancel your claim – it does not cost you anything to do so and you may reapply if you become unable to work again in the future.

Can you work?

Because my clients are typically in financial dire straits, they often ask if it will hurt their case if they try to go back to work. 

No, it will not hurt your case and may, in fact, improve it.  Why?

In order to qualify for Social Security disability under the Administration’s rules, a person has to be unable to perform “substantial gainful activity.”  Substantial gainful activity basically means that a person makes over approximately $980 per month. 

Now, the reason working is helpful.  If  you go back to work and you are able to do so on a full-time basis, you are much better off doing so than waiting around hoping to get on disability but not having any guarantee of doing so.  If you have been off work for at least 365 days and you go back to work, you can keep your claim open and try to get a “closed period” of disability.  This means if you are determined to have been disabled during the period that you were not working, you will receive one lump sum payment for the time that you were off. 

You are allowed a 9-month trial work period.  You can use this up all at once or a little at a time.  This means that you may work two weeks and then stop, then work two months and later work three months.  It just keeps adding up until you reach 9 months.  If you try to work and are unable to, it lets the Judge know that you are out there attempting to find something that can do and trying to help yourself. 

So if you try to work and you are able, then you are much better off than you are when you are not working.  If you are unable to work for at least 365 days and eventually return to work at the level of substantial gainful activity, then you might get paid for a closed period of disability for the time that you could not work and if you try to work and are not able to continue on a full time basis or for an extended period of time, you can, at the very least, let the Judge know that you tried to go back to work and just could not do it.