PALady (and others here), have you applied for SSI/SSD? (When you apply for SSD, they will automatically assess your situation for SSI, while waiting for SSD.)
From '93 until 2005, I was only able to work P/T, due to fatigue from hep C and pain from osteonecrosis and resulting hip replacements. For the past nearly-10 yrs., I have lived alone and been responsible for only myself...but also alone in dealing with finances. I moved to Federal HUD housing, where the rent is 30% of one's gross income. Not actually that much, as they give a credit for utilities, and for Rx co-pays, etc., for those over 62. Some places are not so nice, but at least it's a roof over your head where you have low rent. Since May, I have been on the waiting lists of 2 senior complexes that accept HUD applicants, and I expect to be able to move into one of them by next summer (nicer environments.) Prior to being approved for SSD in '05, my P/T work kept dwindling in hours as my health got worse. When I finally stopped working, I was only putting in about 12 hours a week. Even after getting SSD and Medicare, I had huge dental expenses and no insurance coverage. Thankfully, a rich aunt with no children or husband, was able to pay for my dental bills. She also helped me out with other unexpected emergency expenses. She finally put about $3000 in a special acct. for me, over which she had total control. I would call her when I needed emergency money, and she would send me money from that account. Tues., she went into a NH. By then, I had only $1800 left in that account. It was sent to me in a lump sum, and I banked most of it today. There will be no more forthcoming, so I have to use what's left very wisely and carefully.
Even with help from my aunt, I have had to cut expenses and use coupons for food and toiletries, paper goods, etc. I also clip Walgreen's coupons and use those. I went there today and got 5 boxes of Royal gelatin for $1, Butterball chicken broth for .50/can, a half-gallon of OJ on sale for $2, etc. I usually don't buy anything that doesn't have a coupon or isn't on sale. It's best to combine both. I eat very little meat and only use milk for cereal. I use store-brand items whenever possible. I also stock up on canned goods, etc., when there is a good sale. I have a Medicare RX plan that costs me nothing. My generic Rxs only cost me $1 ea.
My landline phone is totally basic. I don't even have the wiring maintenance plan. Also, as I live in Section 8 housing, I get a credit called Lifeline...which pays for the residential line. I only pay the taxes...about $6/mo. I got a low-cost long distance plan by searching online. Mine is only 2.7 cents/min. Interstate, with no fees. I haven't bought minutes for my prepaid cell phone since May. I have a free checking account.
I don't have a car--never learned to drive. Before becoming disabled, I took the bus. Now I use a handicap van service for $1.50 one-way. I use it for everywhere I need to go, if I have nobody to drive me, which is 99% of the time.
Prior to getting Medicare, I got my care for free at a teaching hospital, including prescriptions. Since Medicare, I'm going to Mayo. Anything that Medicare doesn't pay for, their charity program picks up. I have to be reevaluated every year to get this help. It has been a God-send, as I had liver cancer and would have died had it not been for the treatment I received at Mayo.
I go to a $13 haircut chain for haircuts. I have also gotten cuts at beauty schools, which are even cheaper. They also do manicures and pedicures.
I buy all my clothes at thrift stores. The only thing I buy new is underwear and shoes.
When I worked outside the home, I always took my lunch... a Slim Fast shake, microwavable soup, or leftovers from the previous night's dinner.
I had 7 major surgeries in 5 yrs., starting Nov. '02. The result was that I needed help with household cleaning. I use a neighbor...actually am on my 3rd neighbor to clean for me. I used one every week until the past 6 mos. or so, when it has become too expensive for me, with the rising price of groceries. I still use that help once a month for approximately $22. I get a thorough cleaning for that.
I use my crockpot, microwave, or contact grill instead of the stovetop or oven. I unplug appliances such as toaster, computer, etc., when they aren't in use, as they continue to draw power, even if turned off.
These are just some of the tips I use to help me get by on my SSD income. I hope that some of them will help you or others here. Even with keeping a close eye on spending and cutting services to the bone, it is still really difficult to make it these days, as everyone knows.